Tuesday 11 December 2012

London Chess Classic - The last round

Magnus Carlsen from Norway won London Chess Classic 2012.
He played extremely good, and his victory is completely deserved.
Slightly behind Carlsen was Vladimir Kramnik.
On classical table he finished just half point after Carlsen, and made    fantastic result with +4 (every player played 8 games, compared with usual 9 games).
After they there were some bright moments from Adams and Nakamura but nobody else deserved so much praise as Carlsen and Kramnik.
In the ninth round Kramnik had a very little chance to do something.
He agreed on draw with Adams much earlier then Carlsen finished his game against Anand.

Here are the results of the ninth round:

Hikaru Nakamura - Luke McShane     1-0
Magnus Carlsen - Vishy Anand           draw
Michael Adams - Vladimir Kramnik    draw
Judit Polgar - Levon Aronian              draw

After these results the final tables are:

Classical Table

London Table

What actually happened in the games is not very interesting. Judit Polgar and Levon Aronian played completely unambitious, and drew very early.
Michael Adams played very solid and Kramnik, who was black, could not create enough play.
Kramnik is very pragmatic in his decisions and he decided not to push to hard.
It was the moment when everything was obvious. Magnus Carlsen won in London 2012!
Magnus pressed Vishy Anand deep into the endgame but Anand defended very well, and even this game ended in a draw.
The only win in the last round came in the game between Nakamura and McShane.
McShane sacrificed an exchange (he was more or less forced to do it), and he got plenty of compensation.
This win gave Nakamura the third place (on tie break) in the tournament.
Somewhere near the end he blundered, already when he pushed his pawns too far.
All the details you can found if you go through the games in the chess viewer.

Before I finish with this years edition of London Chess Classic I will write some thoughs about top chess and this tournament.

In terms what is needed to be on top of rating list (let´s say top 20) Magnus Carlsen showed the most and he won in the nice style.
He had more energy than his opponents, and it was very clear in the last round when he tried to squeeze life out of Anand, while Kramnik alredy enjoyed a mingle somwhere in Olympia complex.
Magnus is young, hungry of success and one can see that his statements in public improved dramaticlly. It is very interesting looking at his comments that one can see clear influence of his working sessions with Gary Kasparov.
Magnus had two suspicious positions, one against Kramnik which he defended very well and one against Michael Adams which he even won!
He was slightly worse against Aronian on some point in their game.
He won that game too!

In terms of quality of the play I think that Vladimir Kramnik was not worse than Magnus Carlsen. On the contrary to Magnus Carlsen, Vladimir Kramnik did not got any worse positions during the tournament.
I can not remember one point in his eight games when he was even slightly worse!
In my opinion, the best two games in the tournament are his victories against McShane and Jones (the third is Magnus victory against Polgar).
Kramnik is not as young as Magnus, and he has not unlimited reserves of the energy.
This is very important in today's chess, and I think that this will be even more in Carlsen´s advantage during Candidates in London in March 2013.
While they played only eight rounds in London Chess Classic, and had a free day, in The Candidates it will be 14 rounds. One more thing is very important to notice.
In London we had some interesting players, but they are not really the players in the top.
I mean, Judit, Jones and McShane are extremely strong players, but they are not on the same level as Gelfand, Svidler and Ivanchuk. All of them are going to play in The Candidates 2013.
My opinion is that Kramnik will not succeed to win The Candidates Tournament, and that London Chess Classic was his chance to be in front of Magnus.
He did very well, he won in 2011 with the same score of +4 but this year it was not enough against Magnus in the best form with some luck on his side.

What to say about rest of the field?

Nakamura and Adams played very good and only the details decided that they are not maybe  on the very top. While Adams had one slip, against Carlsen, Nakamura had one defeat against Kramnik.
Adams had some luck against Anand while he was very unlucky (or just lacked energy) against McShane.
Nakamura is not anywhere near with his knowledge level compared to Kramnik and Carlsen, but he tries hard with his fighting spirit, and at the end he grabbed the third place in front of Adams.

The World Champion Vishy Anand is not in his best days. Already in his match against Gelfand he struggled to win in the twelwe classic games.
In London he showed some class in terms of defending some positions (against Carlsen and Nakamura) but he is not ready to win the games in the row. The level of resistance in today's chess is much higher ten the level of resistance which is used to be when Anand won a tournament last time.

The rest of the field, Judit Polgar, Gawain Jones and Luke McShane were not on the level of the whole event.
Judit are not playing in the top tournaments these days and she is not ready to compete with the next generation of player, at least not on the equal terms.
Jones is very strong Grandmaster who lacks experience in these kind of tournaments.
He put some good resistance and played some decent games but that is not enough on this level.
Do not get me wrong. Jones can play for example in Gibraltar Open or in Aeroflot and win these extremely strong international tournaments, but closed events on the top are completely different level.
Luke McShane had some bright moments in the first three editions of London Chess Classic.
This year, after his participation in Tal Memorial, guys on the top are used to his optimistic and dynamic play.
Chess in not his main occupation and it was clear in London.
While very talented, he just do not works on chess as much as other guys on the top, and this must be the reason of his failure in London 2012.

And here are the games from the last round:

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