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    Monday
    Dec032012

    London Chess Classic, Round 3: Kramnik-Carlsen A Tough Draw; Three Players on +2

    Only one of today's quartet of games was decisive in round 3 of the London Chess Classic, but all the games were wars. This is especially true of the marquee match between Vladimir Kramnik - now .1 of a point behind Levon Aronian on the live rating list - and world #1 Magnus Carlsen. Carlsen botched the opening on the black side of an English, and his reward was a weak, isolated b-pawn that Kramnik eventually won. Carlsen defended spectacularly well, however, and at one moment he had practically managed to stalemate White's forces - especially the hapless bishop on a1. Kramnik managed to keep posing problems, but Carlsen's very active pieces enabled him to save the draw.

    It's almost shocking that a game between the world's #2 and the world champion could be almost an afterthought, but Aronian's poor form in the tournament and Viswanathan Anand's poor form since 2010 or so had that effect. Aronian had suffered more than once against Kramnik on the black side of the Exchange Slav, so he may have taken the old adage "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" to heart. Unfortunately, he forgot his prep and wound up a pawn down for practically nothing. Fortunately for his tournament, he defended well and avoided a third consecutive loss, thanks in part to Anand's mistaken 28...Qf6 (according to both players in the post-game press conference). He remained a pawn down to the end, but that end came in a rook ending that was dead drawn.

    Another long game that wound up drawn was Gawain Jones - Hikaru Nakamura. A sharp Russian System Gruenfeld transmogrified into a bishop vs. knight ending, with Nakamura's knight being the more useful minor piece. Jones had to defend that ending for more than 50 moves, but he did it.

    Finally, the one decisive game was Michael Adams' win over Judit Polgar in an unusual King's Indian Attack. Polgar clearly wasn't well-prepared for the line (not surprisingly, as it was a real sideline) and didn't manage to cope with the problems, and by move 20 she was already lost or nearly so. A few moves later he won a pawn, and Polgar's few tactical tricks failed to pan out. Adams thus closes to within a point (on 3-1-0 scoring) of the leaders, Kramnik and Carlsen, but he has played a game less; like them, he won his first two games. That's good both for the sake of tournament drama and for the sake of the locals - it's more interesting when the home players aren't there for fodder.

    There's one more round before the universal rest day, and here are the pairings for round 4 (with the players' scores followed by the number of games played):

    • Nakamura (4/3) - Adams (6/2)
    • Carlsen (7/3) - Jones (2/3)
    • Anand (2/2) - Kramnik (7/3)
    • McShane (1/2) - Aronian (1/3)
    • Polgar (1/3) - Bye + commentary

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    Reader Comments (2)

    Any idea why they always do these odd day late starts?
    This round will start 2 hours late, and they (organizers, bloggers, big chess mags) never tell anyone, just as a passing note (only at the very end of the broadcast)

    December 4, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermonster_with_no_name

    First of all, they do tell EVERYONE. It's on the website. Its been posted since the day the tournament schedule went live with pairings. It is just the fans don't pay attention to it... that certainly isn't the organizers fault.

    2nd, they have a late start because they host mini chess festivals for about 600 kids those days with lectures, simuls, lunch, tournaments and loads of FREE programs for the London Chess Kids (Participants include loads of GMs and IMs for the kids Chris Ward, Danny King, David Howell, Stephen Gordon, Malcolm Pein, Nigel Short(!), Stuart Conquest, Neil McDonald, Lawrence Trent, Adam Hunt). This tournament is sponsored after all by one and only one organization: Chess in the Schools and Communities which is trying to help kids and chess for ENGLAND. The tournament does this by providing the kids a great environment in which to participant and learn from all of the UK's great players. I would remind you of the constant ads Malcolm does about the organization before each round and the ceremony opening moves by the kids.

    A few other short stories to relate:

    Well I was thinking at the end of the Round4 McShane-Aronian game that it felt like a wild5 game. I asked Lev and his girlfiend Arianne if they had played before. They had not. However, I put the question to them about 69. Rf7+ Kb6 70. g8=Q Qh5+ 71. Nh6 Qb1+ 72. Kg7 Qbg6+ 72. Kf8 (as opposed to 69. g8=Q Qh5+ 71. Nh6 Qb1+ 72. Kg7 Qbg6#). Where Lev said it was simply going to be mate with Qxg8+ and Arianne thought it was very tricky but still winning. On my way out though, I ran into Luke and put the question to him. He thought his position was "hopeless and pointless no matter what he played" which he said with a smile. I suspect his comments come from having lost a tough struggle though the game was truly amazing.

    I think though the trivia question I want to pose is when was the last time (if ever) that the same tournament said the No1 & No2 having QUEEN SACS played against them? I won't even add in the N underpromotion thing.

    a quick post about the Round4 Anand-Kramnik game. It seemed that Anand and Kramnik told the commentary team that it was a boring game not worth commentating. So they shot a quick video to post on chessbase.de later. Then after they were done, Anand and Kramnik stood in the hallway discussing the game intently without a board (blind) for nearly 30 minutes! Some "boring" game. Must have been extremely boring!

    I am extremely happy to see Mickey made it to +2! As I hosted Mickey in Chicago for a few events back in May.

    Re: Round3Kramnik-Carlsen I feel Kramnik's commentary was funny. He came into the room and said he felt after a certain move he made that his position was okay. Then he went to the bathroom and came back while Carlsen was still thinking... he realized his position 'was more than ok! It was actually quite good!' I think the opening to the round should be shared as well. A little 8 year old British boy by the name of Josh Altman (Bronze Medal at the World Youth) (Taught by IM Lorin D'costa), made the opening move for Kramnik. Anyways, he went to the left side of Kramnik so he could reach the c4 pawn for the ceremony move. Kramnik stopped him and waved him over to the right size. Then Josh made the move Nf3 and Kramnik patted him on the back and told the arbiter that he would keep the move. He even gave Short a huge run for his money later in a simul this morning!

    At one point during the Kramnik game I felt he was winning after Rxb7 but there was much much work left to do. I left the hall to change places with another staff member and let him take a break to look at the game. He went in and came out later and told me that "Kramnik is losing, he blundered a piece!" I was bewildered how in two or three moves at most Kramnik had gone from winning to losing. However, I went and checked the game and found it was still favorable to Kramnik but much more difficult.

    Link to my photos here: http://londonchessclassic.shutterfly.com

    December 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel

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