Carlsen catches Anand and McShane at London Chess Classic

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Carlsen catches Anand and McShane in LondonThanks to a win against David Howell in round 5, Magnus Carlsen caught Luke McShane and Vishy Anand in the standings at the London Chess Classic. The drama continued for Nigel Short, who lost to Hikaru Nakamura.

Round 5 of the London Chess Classic | Photo Ray Morris-Hill

General info

The second London Chess Classic takes place December 8-15 at the Olympiad Conference Centre on Hammersmith Road in Kensington, London. Besides the Classic itself there's a big open, a women's invitational, rapid and blitz events, simuls by Viktor Kortchnoi, lectures by GMs Boris Avrukh and Jacob Aagaard, and more. This wonderful fresh tradition in the capital of the United Kingdom anticipates a FIDE World Championship in 2012 and supports chess in schools and communities at the same time. In the top group Anand, Carlsen, Kramnik, Nakamura, Adams, Short, McShane and Howell play. More info here.

Videos by Macauley Peterson

Round 5 report by John Saunders

Today’s chess was an unofficial ‘England versus the World’ match as well as a critical juncture in the tournament as the joint leaders Vishy Anand and Luke McShane clashed. By the end of the round the number of leaders had swelled to three, as Magnus Carlsen took advantage of the ‘football scoring system’ to join Vishy and Luke at the head of the field.

The first game to finish was Anand-McShane, which ended in a draw. Luke seemed to be under some pressure from the opening and Vishy retained an edge for most of the game, but he was never able to amplify his edge. He tried a pawn sacrifice to activate his queen but it was only enough for a repetition of position.

Nigel Short had another off-day. In a spirit of recklessness born of desperation, he tried a sacrificial sideline of the Marshall Attack (9...e4) for which Hikaru was barely prepared but was able to find a stable continuation based on 11 g3 which suggests that this line may not be feasible at super-GM level. Short’s position after 20 Qf5 looked hopeless and so it proved. Nigel was his usual ebullient self in the commentary room and even treated us to a burst of his singing voice at the end.

Nigel Short

A horrible tournament for Nigel Short so far, scoring 1/2 out of 5



At this point in the commentary room, Nigel concluded the session with a short snatch of song with the first line "What do you get when you sac a pawn?" to the tune of the 1960s hit I'll Never Fall in Love Again by Bobbie Gentry. It was a show-stopping rendition, with the crowd on their feet begging for more and throwing garlands of flowers. A whole new career suddenly opens up for Nigel - this year Olympia, next year the Albert Hall. You can hear it for yourself on video 5.3 at the website. Nigel graciously attributed the libretto to former British champion and joker extraordinaire GM Jonathan Mestel. It was only a shame that GM Dan King hadn’t brought his guitar (he had been gigging the night before, playing latin music) or we could have had an Olympia jam session.

Jonathan Mestel - Nigel Short’s librettist

Jonathan Mestel - Nigel Short’s librettist



Mickey Adams confronted Vlad Kramnik’s celebrated Berlin Wall with 4.d3, which the great Russian said he thought of as the “second main line” against his trademark barricade. After some exchanges, the players reached a position with a small edge for White but one which proved readily defensible by Black. After some further exchanges a draw was agreed.

David Howell vs Magnus Carlsen

After a third win for Carlsen, against Howell, the Norwegian suddenly shares the lead with Anand and McShane thanks to the football system



David Howell, like his senior English colleague, found the cruel truth of the biblical quotation “he that has not, from him shall be taken even that which he has”. There is always a tendency to gang up on players who are not doing too well in a tournament. Of course, the fact that he was paired with Magnus Carlsen didn’t help. Even so, David was alive and only suffering from a slight disadvantage at the time control. However, he went astray almost immediately with 42.g5 and then the disastrous 43.Qg3 which cost him a piece.

This third win for Magnus catapulted him into the joint lead with Vishy Anand and Luke McShane; technically he is the leader on tie-break because he has had more Blacks (and more wins) than his rivals. The unofficial ‘England versus the World’ thus ended 3-1 in favour of the World. Asked whether he liked the ‘football scoring system’, Magnus smiled and answered “Now I certainly do!”.

Magnus Carlsen

'Now I certainly do!'



Monday is a rest day - round six is on Tuesday.

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London Chess Classic 2010 | Pairings & results
London Chess Classic 2010 | Pairings


London Chess Classic 2010 | Round 5 standings
London Chess Classic 2010 | Pairings


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