Wesley So Breaks 2800 In London Chess Classic
Today Wesley So became the 12th player of all time to break 2800. His win with White over Michael Adams was fluid and representative of the excellent form he has been in for much of 2016.
So is making a strong case that the next challenger to Magnus Carlsen is not the world number-two, Fabiano Caruana, or the recently dethroned number-two, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, but himself.
Games from TWIC.
Not only was So's game memorable for the result, the play itself was a clear and pure demonstration of the worth of the bishop pair. So patiently and steadily took over the entire board with his bishops in conjunction with space-gaining moves like 32.e4, 34.Qd5, and 36.f4.
By the time Adams permitted a nice tactic with 37...Nc7?, the position was approaching a technical win.
Adams' grimace conveys all. | All photos courtesy Lennart Ootes for the London Chess Classic.
Viswanathan Anand played a beautiful game against Vachier-Lagrave. The finish was especially aesthetic, but Anand's play throughout was characteristic of his smooth, classical style.
Vachier-Lagrave has earned a reputation as a Najdorf specialist, but after failing to get anything against Giri's Najdorf yesterday, and getting caught out by Anand's preparation today, his authority may be ever so slightly diminished.
Many called for the move 11...Rxc3, but Anand indicated it was part of his preparation, saying simply, "This position was not unknown to me."
For Vachier-Lagrave, it was a day to forget as he noted, "It's never pleasant to get out-prepared and to get out-played so convincingly."
Anand was assisted in making the first move by an enthusiastic junior.
Caruana's victory against Veselin Topalov continued his effort to catch Carlsen's current rating of 2840. Caruana's live rating is now 2826.2, only 13.8 points behind Carlsen.
Topalov got the sort of chaotic and exhilarating play that suits his style, but it was Caruana who had the more beautiful tactical opportunities. Readers should especially enjoy the missed tactical opportunity on move 30. As Carauna said when later shown the line, "That is brutal!"
Caruana did get another chance for brilliance on move 36. When 36...Re8! landed, Caruana said Topalov "looked surprised, and then he looked unhappy."
The final two games, Hikaru Nakamara vs Anish Giri and Vladimir Kramnik vs Levon Aronian, were both solid draws. The play was not uninteresting, but no players were very near a win at any point in the games.
London Chess Classic | Round 2 Standings
In the British Knockout, David Howell advanced to the final by defeating Gawain Jones in an excellent endgame which emerged from Jones' beloved Dragon variation. The other finalist, Nigel Short, overcame Luke McShane in both rapid games after the two classical games were drawn.
With two exciting players in Howell and Short facing off in a six-game final, fans of exciting chess will have no shortage of games to slake their thirst for fire on board.