Vachier-Lagrave Sole Leader In London After Round 7

Vachier-Lagrave Sole Leader In London After Round 7

| 44 | Chess Event Coverage

A most spectacular seventh round at the London Chess Classic saw three decisive games. With two rounds to go Maxime Vachier-Lagrave is the sole leader.

The French GM defeated Viswanathan Anand on the Indian's birthday, finishing his game with a nice little combination. Levon Aronian quickly beat Veselin Topalov, and Magnus Carlsen ground down Hikaru Nakamura to increase his score against the American to 12-0.

After one round with five draws and five rounds with four draws, the fans had almost forgotten what a super tournament can also look like. Round seven had everything: a crushing victory, a nice combination, a Trompovsky and a Carlsen-esque endgame Carlsen.

The round had a promising start when the very first game ended decisively. Levon Aronian scored a quick win against Veselin Topalov.

“I think probably Veselin didn't expect me to play the topical line of the third move 3...d5 and he didn't review these positions too well, or maybe he forgot,” Aronian told “It's the kind of position that if you don't really remember what to play, it's very difficult to navigate during the game.”

Black's position was very difficult right out of the opening, and already at move 27 Topalov threw in the towel. Aronian was enjoying himself at the press conference, where he started quoting Siegbert Tarrasch:

“In a bad position every move is bad.” And his favorite one: “It's not enough to be a good player. You also need to play well.”

Nakamura had his birthday on the rest day and that was a pity for him, because he usually plays well on his birthday.

“In the last few years I have been improving my record but generally I'm not very good at my birthday,” said Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.

The Frenchman won a very nice game against Vishy Anand, who was celebrating his birthday. It was the second loss in a row for the ex-world champion.

“I feel like I played quite well today; at the same time I don't think it should win any beauty prize,” said MVL. “The final combination was nice but there were a lot of mistakes and oversights throughout the game.”

Annotations by GM Robert Hess

And then there was another win — what a luxury! Magnus Carlsen turned the word nemesis into an understatement as he scored his 12th victory in classical chess against Hikaru Nakamura. The American GM came close, but never beat Carlsen.

Carlsen, who arrived five minutes late for the game, gained the bishop pair early on — but that alone is not enough to win a game of chess. Nakamura's position was very solid, and so it remained drawish for long, but unpleasant to defend for sure.

A great seventh round in London it was. | Photo Ray Morris-Hill.

“I'm not a great believer of fortresses; I think they can be broken down!” said Carlsen after the game, as he had managed to find a win by sacrificing one of his bishops. Doing this with half a minute on the clock (plus increment), together with Nakamura's body language, added to the drama.

With “a great chess game is due to both players,” Carlsen gave credit to Nakamura's resilience. When asked from what point he was confident to win, the world champion replied: “Practically never till the end.”

The other two games both had a promising start, and the middlegame positions were quite interesting, but both quickly petered out into a draw.

This was also how Danny King described the game between Alexander Grischuk and Michael Adams, whereupon Grischuk said: “Boris Gelfand would say it was a very interesting game!”

And he had a point. Don't miss the moment where White could have played 18.b3. The refutation is amazing.

Fabiano Caruana made his game with Anish Giri exciting from the very start: he played the Trompovsky. Whether you like the opening or not, it's surely a welcome variety to the more regular openings played among the elite, from time to time.

Caruana had in fact never played it before. Although his manager IM Lawrence Trent (who also gives commentary in London) likes to play it, it was actually the idea of Caruana's second Rustam Kasimdzhanov. 

“I was a nice target to play it against. I got a disadvantage against Loek van Wely more than once!” said Giri. The Dutchman went for a line where Black sacrifices a pawn and after he won it back he need to be careful a bit, but that was all.

With two rounds to go, still anything can happen. Basically just the two oldest players in the field, Anand and Topalov, are out of contention.

“Of course to be leading two games before the end, it's a good feeling,” said Vachier-Lagrave. “But the standings are close so I need push again in the last two games normally to win the event.”

To finish among the top three is the only way for Vachier-Lagrave to qualify for next year's Grand Chess Tour. He is now very close to reaching that pre-tournament goal.

2015 London Chess Classic | Pairings & Results

Round 1 04.12.15 16:00 GMT   Round 2 05.12.15 14:00 GMT
Topalov 0-1 Giri   Giri ½-½ Adams
Grischuk ½-½ Nakamura   Aronian ½-½ Anand
Vachier-Lagrave ½-½ Carlsen   Carlsen ½-½ Caruana
Caruana ½-½ Aronian   Nakamura ½-½ Vachier-Lagrave
Anand ½-½ Adams   Topalov ½-½ Grischuk
Round 3 06.12.15 14:00 GMT   Round 4 07.12.15 16:00 GMT
Grischuk ½-½ Giri   Giri ½-½ Aronian
Vachier-Lagrave 1-0 Topalov   Carlsen ½-½ Adams
Caruana ½-½ Nakamura   Nakamura 1-0 Anand
Anand ½-½ Carlsen   Topalov ½-½ Caruana
Adams ½-½ Aronian   Grischuk ½-½ Vachier-Lagrave
Round 5 08.12.15 16:00 GMT   Round 6 10.12.15 16:00 GMT
Vachier-Lagrave ½-½ Giri   Giri ½-½ Carlsen
Caruana ½-½ Grischuk   Nakamura ½-½ Aronian
Anand 1-0 Topalov   Topalov ½-½ Adams
Adams ½-½ Nakamura   Grischuk 1-0 Anand
Aronian ½-½  Carlsen   Vachier-Lagrave ½-½ Caruana
Round 7 11.12.15 16:00 GMT   Round 8 12.12.15 14:00 GMT
Caruana ½-½ Giri   Giri - Nakamura
Anand 0-1 Vachier-Lagrave   Topalov - Carlsen
Adams ½-½ Grischuk   Grischuk - Aronian
Aronian 1-0 Topalov   Vachier-Lagrave - Adams
Carlsen 1-0 Nakamura   Caruana - Anand
Round 9 13.12.15 14:00 GMT        
Anand - Giri        
Adams - Caruana        
Aronian - Vachier-Lagrave        
Carlsen - Grischuk        
Nakamura - Topalov        


2015 London Chess Classic | Round 7 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts SB
1 Vachier-Lagrave 2765 2896 phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 4.5/7
2 Carlsen 2850 2829 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 4.0/7 14.50
3 Giri 2778 2832 ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 4.0/7 13.25
4 Grischuk 2750 2831 ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 4.0/7 12.75
5 Aronian 2781 2843 ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 4.0/7 12.00
6 Caruana 2787 2788 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ 3.5/7 12.75
7 Nakamura 2793 2783 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1 3.5/7 12.25
8 Adams 2744 2794 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ 3.5/7 11.75
9 Anand 2803 2682 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 ½ phpfCo1l0.png 1 2.5/7
10 Topalov 2803 2547 0 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 phpfCo1l0.png 1.5/7


Virtual Standings Grand Chess Tour

# Title Name Rating Fed Points London Virtual
1 GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave 2723 FRA 12 13 25
2 GM Magnus Carlsen 2876 NOR 14 10 24
3 GM Hikaru Nakamura 2802 USA 16 5 21
4 GM Levon Aronian 2780 ARM 15 6 21
5 GM Anish Giri 2773 NED 13 8 21
6 GM Veselin Topalov 2798 BUL 17 1 18
7 GM Alexander Grischuk 2781 RUS 8 7 15
8 GM Viswanathan Anand 2804 IND 12 2 14
9 GM Fabiano Caruana 2805 ITA 9 4 13
10 GM Adams Michael 2744 ENG 0 3 3
11 GM Jon Ludvig Hammer 2677 NOR 1 0 1
12 GM Wesley So 2779 USA 1 0 1

The London Chess Classic takes place in Kensington Olympia, London and runs until Monday, December 14. December 9 is a rest day. You can watch live streaming commentary daily at with GMs Jan Gustafsson and Daniel King. phpfCo1l0.png


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