Going into the round Hikaru Nakamura enjoyed a two-point lead over Magnus Carlsen, Vladimir Kramnik and Luke McShane. Not a bad place to be, and although they had already had their byes and he was about to take his in round 7, you'd still expect him to be in good shape by round's end, right?
Nope! After yet another massacre of the British (McShane counts as an honorary foreigner in this tournament), Nakamura dropped to fourth place with just two rounds to go. Magnus Carlsen was engaged in a tough tussle with Michael Adams, and despite having Black it was Adams who had the initiative much of the way. At some moment, however, Adams' queenside initiative came to an end, and in the meantime he underestimated Carlsen's sneaky threats on the kingside. Ultimately, Adams blundered with 35...Nc4, when 36.Rxd5 basically put an end to the proceedings.
Vladimir Kramnik had his way with David Howell in a QGA sideline. Howell followed theory and made natural moves, but somehow - and even Kramnik wasn't really sure what went wrong - the former world champion had a nice edge. Howell's 19...Bc6 may have been the decisive error, costing him a pawn and eventually the game.
Finally, McShane also won, and unlike his co-leaders he did it with Black. Nigel Short essayed the good old King's Gambit, but at some point got a bit too conservative. The compensation dried up and McShane took his extra material to the bank, eventually winning.
Finally, Levon Aronian failed to get anything from the opening against Viswanathan Anand, and their game was soon drawn.
Standings After Round 7 (on 3-1-0 scoring; note that Adams and Howell have played 7 games; everyone else only 6):
1-3. Carlsen, Kramnik, McShane 12
4. Nakamura 11
5-6. Aronian, Anand 7
7. Short 4
8-9. Adams, Howell 3
Round 8 Pairings:
- Anand - Carlsen (already drawn)
- Howell - Aronian
- McShane - Kramnik
- Nakamura - Short
- Adams - bye
Here's the tournament site for the London Chess Classic, and here are the round 7 games (without notes). Let me recommend ChessBase's report on the round, as it includes videos of the post-game press conferences. (Kramnik's was especially entertaining, and should prove a real eye-opener to fans who think that a super-GM's solidity has anything to do with his ability to imagine and calculate tactics!)
Perhaps even more noteworthy in that report is the brief transcript (and audio clip) of Nakamura answering questions about his working relationship with Garry Kasparov. One doesn't suspect it's going in a fantastic direction - especially after this interview.