London Chess Classic Takes Off Tomorrow
It's the final leg of the Grand Chess Tour, and it's just around the corner: the London Chess Classic. Tomorrow the traditional super tournament in the British capital starts with eight players from the world's top 10.
When it all started in 2009, the sponsor of the Classic (who prefers to remain anonymous) wasn't yet sure if it would grow into an annual event. On the eve of the eighth edition, that definitely seems to be the case!
Magnus Carlsen, the winner of four of the seven previous editions, won't be playing. His challenger in last month's title match, Sergey Karjakin, won't be there either. But all other names from the current top 10 will be there:
2016 London Chess Classic | Participants
In fact the full pairings were made a few months ago, and so we know that the first round on Friday includes some very interesting match-ups: Aronian-Adams, Nakamura-So, MVL-Giri, Caruana-Anand, and Kramnik-Topalov.
Like last year, the London Chess Classic, a 10-player round robin, is the culmination of the Grand Chess Tour. After tournaments in Paris (France), Leuven (Belgium) and St. Louis (USA), London is the fourth and final leg.
At the moment Wesley So is leading the tour with 30 points. An outright win earns a player 13 points (whereas last place still yields one point), and for the final score of each player, only the three best tournaments count. This means that only Hikaru Nakamura can still catch So, which puts extra weight on their first-round encounter!
2016 Grand Chess Tour | Current Standings
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Wesley So, here in the final round of the Sinquefield Cup, leads the Grand Chess Tour.
The games of the Classic start 4 p.m. London time each day, which is 8 a.m. Pacific, 11 a.m. New York, 5 p.m. CET, 7 p.m. Moscow, and 3 a.m. Sydney. The time control is 40 moves in two hours, followed by the remainder of the game in one hour, with a 30-second increment from move 41.
The main event will be pre-empted by the traditional Pro-Biz Cup (PDF here), to be played on Thursday at 11 a.m. UK time at the Royal Automobile Club in central London.
In this fundraiser, business people will be paired with the super grandmasters, and they will play against other duos while alternating moves. Earnings go to the charity Chess in Schools and Communities.
Also on Thursday morning the British Knockout Championship starts at Hilton London Olympia. The semifinals and final of that event will be played in the traditional venue for the Classic: Olympia in Kensington, London.
The eight participants of the British Knockout. | Image: official website.
There's also the FIDE Open, another side event that has been going for years. Top names include GMs Eltaj Safarli (2691), GMs Etienne Bacrot (2689), and Titled Tuesday co-winner Laurent Fressinet (2672). Benjamin Bok (2598) will be defending his title.
On the final weekend there's the strong Super Rapidplay tournament, which will see more big names participating. The full list of festival events can be found here.