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    Entries in McShane (4)

    Sunday
    Dec112011

    London 2011, Round 7: Leapfrogging Leaders

    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.

    Monday
    Dec052011

    London Chess Classic, Round 3: Carlsen, Aronian and McShane Win (Updated)

    Here's a recap of the round 3 action:

    First, Magnus Carlsen continued his recent ownership over Hikaru Nakamura, defeating him for the sixth time in the last year (five times in classical events). Carlsen built up a kingside attack in a Ruy-style Italian Game, with the obvious blow 31.Rxf6 followed by the subtle 33.Bh5! Qg7 34.Bf3 apparently deciding the issue.

    Levon Aronian won pretty easily against Nigel Short, whose 11...Nc6 gave his opponent the chance to create permanent pressure along the c-file. Black never escaped the enemy grip, and after 60 moves of suffering allowed Aronian to deliver mate.

    Viswanathan Anand had White against the ostensible tournament rabbit, David Howell, but he was extremely fortunate not to lose. Howell's 22...h5! pretty much put an end to Anand's attacking ambitions, and after that Anand had to suffer a lot. 32...Rb2 would have kept a large advantage for Howell. A move later Vladimir Kramnik, the day's guest commentator, asserted that Howell missed a win with 33...Rxd4 34.Rxd4 Qe6! 35.Rd1 d4 with the idea of ...d3, ...d2 and Re1. His assessment is right, but White has a simple but crucial improvement: 34.Qxe2. Black is still better there, but White isn't yet at death's door. Howell was in serious time trouble by this point, and by the time he reached the control after move 40, the position was drawn. Howell tried through move 65, and then reconciled himself to the result.

    Finally, Luke McShane defeated Michael Adams with Black in a long game. The key moment came on move 19, after McShane's 18...Bxh3!? Kramnik noted that he had found a good rejoinder "half an hour ago": 19.gxh3 Qxh3 20.Qe2 Ng4 21.Qf1! with the point that 21...Qxf3 22.Bd1 gets the queens off and regains the extra piece. After 22...Qxf2+ 23.Qxf2 Nxf2 24.Kxf2 cxd4 25.cxd4 exd4 Black has reasonable drawing chances, but White is better (Kramnik, and the computer agrees). Black has some alternatives along the way, but White is always fine. After only two minutes, however, Adams - with plenty of time left on his clock - let McShane get away with the free pawn, and eventually it was just a matter of technique.

    After three rounds, the standings look like this (bear in mind that Short, Anand and Kramnik have only played two games):

    1. Carlsen 7
    2. McShane 5
    3-5. Kramnik, Nakamura, Aronian 4
    6-8. Anand, Adams, Howell 2
    9. Short 0

    Round 4 Pairings:

    • Carlsen - Kramnik
    • Adams - Short
    • Anand - Nakamura
    • Howell - McShane
    • Aronian - bye

    Tournament website here, games (with light notes) here (that's the update).

    Monday
    Dec052011

    London Chess Classic, Round 2: Kramnik and Nakamura Join Carlsen in First

    Magnus Carlsen started the day in clear first at the London Chess Classic, but was precariously close to ending it in third. Luke McShane gave him all he could handle and then some, but an error on move 60 allowed Carlsen to save the game. Carlsen chose the Neo-Archangelsk against McShane's Ruy and was the first player to make a new move, but that didn't stop him from getting into big trouble and a serious time disadvantage by move 20. White was up a pawn with a positional advantage, and he maintained both deep into the endgame. The difficulty was in finding a breakthrough, and his careless 60th move allowed Carlsen to reach a pretty easily drawn rook ending.

    Theirs was the last game to finish, and by that point it was Carlsen catching up to Vladimir Kramnik and Hikaru Nakamura. Kramnik was the beneficiary of a terrible opening by Nigel Short. Short miscalculated once or twice, and his reward was a (White) bishop on b3 permanently locked out of the game by the arrangement of his and Kramnik's queenside pawns. Kramnik was effectively a piece up, and had little trouble bringing in the point.

    Nakamura's road was much rockier. He played very aggressively against Levon Aronian's Queen's Gambit Declined and was worse, even in trouble. Fortunately for Nakamura, Aronian got into serious time trouble and lost first his advantage and then the rest of his chances. He made the time control, but by then it was just a matter of mopping up for the American.

    Finally, David Howell and Michael Adams drew in an Anti-Marshall line where Black sacrifices the d-pawn anyway. Maybe both players missed some small chances, but overall it seemed like a "correct" and well-fought draw.

    World champion Viswanathan Anand had the bye, so in the following standings remember that his score, like Short's, is based on only one game and not two:

    1-3. Nakamura, Carlsen, Kramnik 4 (they're using 3-1-0 scoring)
    4-5. Adams, McShane 2
    6-8. Anand, Aronian, Howell 1
    9. Short 0

    Today's pairings are as follows:

    • Aronian - Short
    • Carlsen - Nakamura
    • Adams - McShane
    • Anand - Howell
    • Kramnik - bye (and thus helping with the commentary)

    Games, with notes to McShane-Carlsen and Short-Kramnik, here.

    Monday
    Dec142009

    London, Round 5: Carlsen, McShane Win

    Magnus Carlsen extended his lead at the London Chess Classic to 3 points (meaning one win) thanks to his win over Ni Hua. Carlsen missed his opponent's 10.Qh5, but held fast, gradually obtained a slight advantage, and when Ni missed the idea of bringing his king to e2, crashed through on the queenside.

    Vladimir Kramnik couldn't keep pace. With a win over bottom seed David Howell he'd have stayed within a point, but Howell played well and the result was a well-played draw. The battle for English supremacy between Michael Adams and Nigel Short was also drawn, but eventfully so. Short outplayed Adams well enough to gain an advantage with Black, and only strong defensive play kept the latter in the game. Near the end, Short nearly lost, missing a startling trick from his opponent. Fortunately (for Short), he had one defense, and it was enough.

    Finally, Luke McShane bit again, defeating Hikaru Nakamura with Black in a King's Indian. Nakamura was worse most of the way, but McShane misplayed his advantage and (dynamic) equality was restored. Unfortunately for the American, he played too quickly and gave his opponent a second chance to win the game, and win it he did.

    With two rounds to play, here are the standings:

    1. Carlsen 11 (+3 =2)

    2. Kramnik 8 (+2 -1 =2)

    3. McShane 7 (+2 -2 =1)

    4-5. Howell, Adams 5 (=5)

    6-7. Short, Nakamura 4 (-1 =4)

    8. Ni Hua 3 (-2 =3)

     

    Round 6 pairings look like this:

    Kramnik - Short

    Carlsen - Adams

    McShane - Ni Hua

    Howell - Nakamura

     

    The games, with my annotations, are here.