LCC: opening press conference and Twitter game

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage

The 3rd London Chess Classic was officially opened on Friday afternoon, December 2nd in Olympia, London. The participants answered questions from the press and (internet) audience and played a game via Twitter against 'the World', which they won easily.

By John Saunders | all photos © Ray Morris-Hill for the official website

The opening press conference of the 3rd London Chess Classic took place at the Olympia Conference Centre, Kensington, London at 2pm on Friday 2 December 2011.

Video recording of the press conference

As tournament organiser Malcolm Pein pointed out in his opening address, this is something very special for British chess: it’s quite simply the strongest chess tournament ever held in these islands. That is quite an achievement for a country which held a stellar chess tournament as early as 1851, to celebrate the Great Exhibition of that year.

This year’s tournament is held under the auspices of the Chess in Schools and Communities, a charity set up to promote the teaching of schools in UK schools. As such, the tournament is not just about the elite grandmasters, it caters for players of all ages and abilities, with a general congress for competition players, numerous fun events in the foyer for those trying chess for the first time, plus organised tuition for the children.

The press conference with L-R David Howell, Luke McShane, Mickey Adams, Levon Aronian, Vishy Anand, organizer Malcolm Pein, Magnus Carlsen, Vladimir Kramnik, Hikaru Nakamura and Nigel Short

The players were asked questions, both from the people assembled in the room and spectators on the internet who had sent their questions earlier. Elite GMs can often be reticent about saying too much before the tournament and this was no exception, but they responded well to a few of the light-hearted questions. One of this year’s innovations is to have an odd number of players. OK, not totally unprecedented in itself but the novelty is to require the ‘bye’ player to join the commentary team for the day. It so happens that Nigel Short will have the bye in the very first round, so he will be the elite commentator to start the tournament.

Hikaru Nakamura next to Nigel Short, who will give commentary during round 1 on Saturday

Nigel is also scheduled to play a fun game with star guest, former Wimbledon champion Boris Becker. Boris has ‘form’ as a chessplayer, having played Garry Kasparov, opening 1 e4 e5 2 Qh5!?. “Ah, he hits the ball over the net,” the former world chess champion is alleged to have said. Today a questioner suggested that, since Boris has a broken foot, Nigel ought to take the opportunity to play him at tennis as well.

Short was also asked whether he had added something to his singing repertore. His answer: "We'll see!"

Mindful of what was coming next in proceedings, a questioner asked the panel about their attitude to Twitter, Facebook and other social websites, with Magnus Carlsen, Hikaru Nakamura and Levon Aronian being the only players in the line-up to tweet so far. Mickey Adams took the microphone to answer: “You haven’t done your research properly,” he replied. “I joined Twitter this morning!” He acknowledged the technical support of his wife in so doing. So, as well as the website, followers of the tournament might like to make a note of the players’ Twitter sites, to see if they make any comments as the London Classic unfolds - @magnuscarlsen, @GMHikaru, @LevAronian and @MickeyAdamsGM.

Mickey Adams: "I joined Twitter this morning!"

After the press conference came a new departure - a chess game on Twitter. Billed as London Chess Classic versus the World - the strongest chess game ever held on the medium (and it would be to argue with all those 2800 ratings), it was really just a bit of funny. Nobody quite knew how it would work out but in fact it was great fun. At least, it was good fun for the grandmasters, who entered into the spirit of the thing and bantered happily together as they plotted world destruction. A very good ice-breaker: perhaps all tournaments should start with this pleasant diversion, allowing the players to warm up a bit with the crowd. Maybe they should do this at tennis too - invite people from the crowd to knock up with the players for a few minutes. We can ask Boris Becker what he thinks tomorrow.

But you want to see some action? Have a look at the game between the GMs and the Twitter audience.


PGN file

Vladimir Kramnik, his daughter Daria and Vishy Anand during the reception

'Lev' Aronian caught in some last-minute preperation!?

Kris Littlejohn again second for Hikaru Nakamura ('Can I have my phone back now?')

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