London Chess Classic – Round Six

All games drawn, report and photos by John Saunders

The sixth round at Olympia consisted of four draws out of four, so the leader board didn’t change. All four games were hard fought, as usual, and winning chances came and went on various boards.

The first game to finish was the all-English battle between Nigel Short and David Howell. Nigel treated us to some 19th century romanticism – a King’s Gambit. David chose a 1870s continuation by Blackburne (7…Bg7) rather than the older 7…Bd6, as played by Staunton amongst others. In the spirit of the opening, the players disdained to defend pawns and attacked hard but eventually the pieces came off and a level position appeared on the board.

Adams-Anand was a cagey struggle. Mickey perhaps had slightly more targets to aim at but he couldn’t make significant progress. It lasted 54 moves but always seemed likely to be a draw.

London Rd 6 Adams Anand

Michael Adams vs Vishy Anand

McShane-Nakamura saw Luke repeat his 1 g3 experiment of the fourth round. It transposed into the English Four Knights variation. Luke might have improved with Qa4 around move 18 and it did get mightily complex in the lead up to the move 40 time control, with both players short of time. Hikaru could probably have improved his play and was close to winning but Luke was allowed to get his queen near the black king, setting up some perpetual check opportunities. Hikaru found a way to win material but Luke’s queen rescued the draw on her own.

London Rd 6 Nakamura McShane

Hikaru Nakamura and Luke McShane

Magnus Carlsen snaffled a slightly warm pawn in the early middlegame but Vlad won it back and then proceeded to set up a typical Kramnik grind. GMs shook their heads at Magnus’s grim defensive task as Vlad’s big central pawns trundled inexorably down the board. The Russian eventually won a piece for a pawn but the reduced material gave Magnus a glimmer of hope. But the win proved elusive: Vlad could probably have won after 62 Rd3 and may also have missed a difficult computer-inspired variation based on 69 g5! and 70 g3, and the game was drawn. A remarkable escape for the young man from Norway and a tribute to his resourcefulness in an utterly depressing position.

London Rd 6 Kramnik Carlsen

Vladimir Kramnik- Magnus Carlsen

Scores after round 6: Magnus Carlsen, Vishy Anand, Luke McShane 10/18, Hikaru Nakamura, Vladimir Kramnik 9, Mickey Adams 7, David Howell 3, Nigel Short 2. (Note, games are scored 3 pts for a win, 1 pt for a draw and 0 pts for a loss).

Final round 7 Wednesday 15th, 12.00 noon start. Official website / Live with computer analysis

London Rd 6 Howell

David Howell

London Rd 6 McShane Kramnik

Luke McShane and Vladimir Kramnik before the start of the round

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