London Classic Blitz: Adams Wins On Tiebreak

London Classic Blitz: Adams Wins On Tiebreak

GM Michael Adams won the London Chess Classic Blitz tournament on Monday evening. The English number one edged out GM Vladimir Kramnik and GM Hikaru Nakamura on tiebreak.

More and more tournaments are doing away with the drawing of lots at the opening ceremony. Instead, they organize a blitz tournament that decides the lot numbers. Much more fun for the chess fans, and probably for the players too!

This year's London Chess Classic also opted for a blitz tournament. The main event is an all-play-all of just five rounds (starting Wednesday).

Therefore, getting lot number 1, 2 or 3 instead of 4, 5 or 6 makes quite a difference. Three players will have three whites and two black games, and vice versa.

And so there was something to play for, in the auditorium of the Olympia Conference Centre, on Monday evening. The time control was 4 minutes plus 2 seconds increment.

An arbiter wrote down the moves at each board. | Photo © Ray Morris-Hill.

In a surprisingly empty playing hall a double round robin was played — 10 rounds, with each player facing an opponent with both colors before playing the next player.

Four players did OK, performing better than their expected score (based on their classical Elo), while two disappointed.

The “OK group” consisted of Michael Adams, Hikaru Nakamura and Vladimir Kramnik, who tied for first place with 17 points out of a possible 30 (the football score was used), and Anish Giri, who came fourth with 16 points.

Two players did badly: Vishy Anand (10 points) and Fabiano Caruana (9). The latter is known to be not great at blitz, but for Anand the result is slightly surprising. Speed chess used to be a speciality of the Tiger of Madras.

The first round set the tone. Anand started with two losses against Giri; the Dutchman would top the standings for most of the evening. 

Adams outplayed Kramnik as Black, but right when the latter decided to throw in the towel, the computer was suddenly pointing out a chance for survival!

Kramnik vs Adams. | Photo © John Saunders.

In the second round Nakamura escaped against Caruana. It was another example of his ability to create chaos when in trouble, when his opponents often need more time on the clock to find their way in the complications.

Caruana missed a win, and lost on time in an unclear position.

Occasionally Anand showed flashes of his greatness. With 2/2 Nakamura took some risk as Black in a Sicilian and was punished. However, an in-form Vishy would probably have won this game quicker.

Anand: not in great shape. | Photo © John Saunders.

But OK, this kind of blitz chess shouldn't be taken too seriously, of course. Look what happened in the next game, with only seconds on the clock for Kramnik.


Giri clearly had Caissa on his side, and it showed in his next game. Caruana probably missed that d6 was protected.

Anish Giri wasn't exactly unlucky. | Photo © John Saunders.

After six rounds, Giri and Nakamura were tied for first place with 13 points out of a possible 18. Adams was third with 10 points, followed by Kramnik (7), Caruana (6) and Anand (3). By then the Indian had won one game, and lost five.

Giri grabbed sole lead as he beat Nakamura in their first encounter:


But that's when Giri's luck ran out: he lost his last three games. First, Nakamura took revenge (despite missing a mate in two!), to join his opponent in the lead again. Unlike most of the other games, this one contained lots of theory:

A very theoretical Nakamura vs Giri. | Photo © John Saunders.

In the penultimate round Anand played an excellent game. Especially 18...g5 was a nice one.


In the last two rounds, Nakamura played Kramnik, Giri faced Adams and Anand played Caruana. The first game between Nakamura and Kramnik ended in a draw, while Giri lost as White to Adams.

Nakamura, who had won the rapid tournament the day before, had a one-point lead, with one round to go!

However, the American GM lost in the last round to Kramnik after an opening disaster. As early as move 14, Black was dead lost.


Giri still could have won the tournament, if he'd beat Adams in his last game.

However, the Englishman played another fine game and he was the one who won! As a result, three players ended on 17 points, and having the highest Sonneborn-Berger score, Adams was declared the winner.

Mickey Adams. | Photo © John Saunders.

2014 London Chess Classic Blitz | Final Standings

# Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 Pts SB
1 Adams,M 2745 2857 phpfCo1l0.png 10 33 33 01 30 17/30 30.75
2 Nakamura,H 2775 2851 13 phpfCo1l0.png 10 03 03 33 17/30 27.00
3 Kramnik,V 2769 2852 00 13 phpfCo1l0.png 10 33 33 17/30 24.75
4 Giri,A 2768 2817 00 30 13 phpfCo1l0.png 33 30 16/30
5 Anand,V 2793 2670 31 30 00 00 phpfCo1l0.png 30 10/30
6 Caruana,F 2829 2623 03 00 00 03 03 phpfCo1l0.png 9/30

Press officer John Saunders explained how the lot numbers for the main event were chosen:

“Number of wins or black wins couldn't separate the leaders but Mickey Adams was placed first based on a better head-to-head result against his rivals. He was invited to choose his preferred draw number. He chose number 3 (note that numbers 1-3 secure an extra white). Hikaru Nakamura (who was second on tie-break) chose 2 and Vladimir Kramnik 1. Then Anish Giri opted for 5, Vishy Anand for 6 and Fabiano Caruana was left with 4.”

You can find all blitz games for PGN download here at TWIC.

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