Wesley So Double Winner In London

Wesley So Double Winner In London

| 85 | Chess Event Coverage

A day after clinching victory in the Grand Chess Tour, Wesley So also won the London Chess Classic. He was the first to finish his game, drawing with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. He then saw his rival Fabiano Caruana reach the same result against Anish Giri, who drew all his games in London.

Wesley So couldn't have wished for a better first appearance in London. His phenomenal debut brought him both tournament victory ($75,000) and, more importantly, a win in the Grand Chess Tour ($100,000). "This is definitely my best achievement ever," he said.

"I guess the word that comes to my mind is effortless," said Vishy Anand about So's performance this year. "It really looks effortless. He doesn't even seem to be trying very hard. He's been undefeated for so long... I'm very impressed by how easy he makes it seem."

Wesley So impressed the experts and the fans this year. | Photo: Lennart Ootes.

Today the double winner was quick to finish his game. He played Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, and the two followed their blitz game from the Leuven 2016 tournament, which was also part of the tour. Both players weren't too ambitious, and they quickly reached an equal endgame.

"Wesley, given the tournament situation, chose a very solid line, and I didn't have any reason to force matters. I didn't really mind it today given how I've been playing so far," said MVL.

"I would have done exactly the same in his situation. Maybe not the same line, but the same approach." 

So speaking to Maurice Ashley after the game. | Photo: Lennart Ootes.

After the game, So congratulated Vachier-Lagrave for qualifying for the 2017 Grand Chess Tour as the third player based on rating. That is not official yet, and, besides, earlier in the day, the organizers launched a new rating system, called the Universal Rating System. No doubt we'll hear more on that, but for now, here's a paragraph from the accompanying press release:

"The new system will introduce the concept of a universal chess rating, a single rating value that represents a player’s universal strength across all time controls. The release of the initial rating list on 1 January 2017 will represent the culmination of 2 years of research and analysis by a team of notable experts in the fields of mathematics and statistics."

Theoretically Fabiano Caruana could still catch the tournament leader, but that was unlikely with the black pieces against Anish Giri. In fact, it was the Dutchman who got the (slightly) better chances in this game, as Caruana played a few inaccuracies.

The American called his 27...e5 a mistake, but he then joked that "Anish is an unstoppable force" (toward a draw). Caruana quickly added that he was the one who drew all his games in the 2015 London tournament!

When that happened, Giri commented: "I never had a tournament where I drew all my games." Now he has two.

Caruana got under slight pressure versus Giri. | Photo: Lennart Ootes.

"I missed some chances," said Giri about his tournament. "I had clear wins against Anand and against Topalov so it was a pity of course to waste those opportunities."

About his 2016 chess year, Giri said: "In general, my play has been a bit more with ups and downs. I was trying to add some variety to it, but in the process, it got a little complicated. I was trying to experiment a little bit more, and sometimes it didn't really work out."

A nine-draw streak for Anish Giri. | Photo: Lennart Ootes.

Again the round only saw one decisive game. Veselin Topalov got a consolation win against Levon Aronian, who repeated a mistake he had made earlier in the tournament: He over-pressed.

Topalov played a very interesting sacrifice in the early middlegame, and his comment about it was rather down to earth (once again): "I'm playing just for fun. The result doesn't matter at all. Minus four, five or six: I don't see a big difference."

About the game turning in his favor, Topalov said: "After the first time control, he pushed too hard. It was almost equal. Suddenly the ending was very dangerous for White."

Topalov: "It's always better to win than to lose, but I don't think it changes
much. I just spoilt Levon's tournament." | Photo: Lennart Ootes.

Both Anand-Kramnik and Adams-Nakamura were uneventful draws. The most interesting comments came from the two former world champions, who are both 40+, and who both expressed ambition for the new year.

Anand: "I'm definitely going to play in the World Cup; that's my main chance to qualify for the Candidates'. In the mean time, I'm very excited to be in the Tour so definitely my ambitions are quite high. I'm gonna play a lot of chess, and I'm gonna enjoy it as well."

Kramnik said that he is planning to take a few months of rest and work on his physics and his chess, and that he is looking forward to a new tour and playing for the main prizes—which wasn't possible this year because he had to withdraw from the Sinquefield Cup due to health issues.

2016 London Chess Classic | Final Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0
1 So,Wesley 2794 2904 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 6.0/9
2 Caruana,Fabiano 2823 2859 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 5.5/9
3 Kramnik,Vladimir 2809 2821 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 5.0/9 21.00
4 Anand,Viswanathan 2779 2824 ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 5.0/9 20.50
5 Nakamura,Hikaru 2779 2824 0 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 5.0/9 19.75
6 Giri,Anish 2771 2786 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 4.5/9
7 Aronian,Levon 2785 2747 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 1 0 4.0/9 19.50
8 Vachier-Lagrave,Maxime 2804 2745 ½ ½ ½ 0 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ 4.0/9 17.50
9 Adams,Michael 2748 2750 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 4.0/9 16.50
10 Topalov,Veselin 2760 2571 0 0 0 0 0 ½ 1 ½ 0 2.0/9

Image: Spectrum Studios.

Image: Spectrum Studios.

Games from TWIC.


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