London Chess Classic 1: Nothing personal
Wesley So said he didn’t realise it was Hikaru Nakamura’s birthday after ruthlessly exploiting his opponent’s blunder on move 13 to almost seal victory in the overall Grand Chess Tour. Vladimir Kramnik said it’s “never personal” for him to win a chess game, but few were buying that after he crushed his arch-rival Veselin Topalov in 28 moves. It was a round that ended abruptly, and nowhere more so than when an apologetic Levon Aronian beat Mickey Adams after a one-move blunder in a position heading nowhere. MVL-Giri and Caruana-Anand were drawn, but not without some adventures.
The quality of the chess we saw recently in New York was perhaps emphasised by a dramatic but blunder-strewn day in London as the 2016 edition of the London Chess Classic got underway.
Levon Aronian would later call the first round the “most dangerous round”, and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Anish Giri perhaps wisely chose to get it over with quickly, playing a sharp Sicilian Najdorf that ended in a repetition on move 24. The surprise, perhaps, was that it was Giri who played the Najdorf against the leading modern proponent of the opening.