London Chess Classic – Round Four

Vishy Anand wins again, joins McShane in the lead. Report by John Saunders

The tournament has passed the midway point and we now have joint leaders. World champion Vishy Anand celebrated his 41st birthday by defeating backmarker Nigel Short to join Luke McShane (who drew with Mickey Adams) in the lead. It wasn’t quite such a good day for the English players as Friday as David Howell also lost, to Vladimir Kramnik. The last game to finish was Carlsen-Nakamura, which Magnus won after five hours of play.

After emerging from some initial difficulties with his Closed Sicilian opening, Nigel Short seemed to be doing quite well around move 28, when Vishy allowed him to open the g-file and land a rook on the seventh. He worked a knight around to assist in the attack but then had an aberration, sacrificing first a pawn and then a bishop to hack a way through to Vishy’s king. But there was a flaw in his calculation – Vishy had the simple move 38…Qd6! which covered all the mating threats. He was left a piece adrift, so fell on his sword, allowing a mating finish.

London Anand Short

Vladimir Kramnik built up a steady advantage from the opening (a Grünfeld) against David Howell and opened up the h-file for his rooks to infiltrate. It wasn’t easy to make further progress and a liquidation occurred to what looked like a less dangerous position. However, Vlad established his rook on the seventh rank and his bishop on g4 and Black suddenly had difficulty protecting his king from their unwanted attentions. David tried a desperate b5 push and after a further inaccuracy found he couldn’t prevent the advance of Vlad’s d- pawn. Game over. Vlad is now a point behind Vishy and Luke in first place.

London Kramnik Howell

Luke McShane opened with the quiet 1 g3 and Mickey Adams gradually assumed the initiative. He established his queen and rook on the seventh rank but Luke had a tactical trick to swap the queens and relieve the pressure. Further exchanges were made and the game eventually came down to an opposite-coloured bishop – hence drawn.

London McShane Adams

Hikaru Nakamura answered Magnus Carlsen’s English Opening with a sort of Dutch Defence, but the Norwegian emerged from the opening with a steady edge. One interesting juncture was when Magnus exchanged a bishop for a knight (23 Bd4 and 24 Bxb6). It looked as though Hikaru might be OK with his two bishops but Magnus’s pressure told in time trouble when Hikaru didn’t have time to work out the consequences of 33…Rd8!? which he thought might have been a better try. He missed the desperado sacrifice 38 Rxg6+ after which he was left a pawn down in an endgame. Magnus’s technique was immaculate and he soon brought the game to an end.

Scores after round 4: Vishy Anand, Luke McShane 8/12, Vladimir Kramnik 7, Magnus Carlsen 6, Hikaru Nakamura 5, Mickey Adams 5, David Howell 2, Nigel Short 1. (Note, games are scored 3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw and 0 points for a loss)

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London Anand Kramnik Nakamura Adams

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