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London Chess Classic Preview

User Rating: / 7
Written by Administrator   
Saturday, 07 December 2013
By GM Daniel Gormally, England, FIDE 2504

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Gawain Jones and Vishy Anand- set to face off again.

Sadly I won't be playing in the London classic this year, the open that is. That's because I made a couple of big mistakes, the first of which was to turn down the £500 they offered me to play in the open (all the grandmasters in the open get the same I believe. Well maybe if you're 2600 plus it might be slightly different..)

And the second was to book my accommodation for Hastings in advance, thus depriving me of funds to play in London.

Still the upside of this is that I'll just be able to put my feet up, crack open a beer and watch what should be a very exciting rapidplay event. The London classic is of course the brainchild of Malcolm Pein, and knowing Malcolm personally I can say he's a thoroughly nice guy, and deserves to have a successful event.

Malcolm Pein- on the left to Luke McShane.

Of course the FIDE open players who start tomorrow, have the chance to fill the remaining two places in the "Super sixteen" At the end of four rounds, the top two on score and rating will qualify for the main event.

This is a particularly enticing carrot, as anyone who qualifies is guaranteed to win at least £3,000, as well as getting an incredible opportunity to test themselves against the very best players in the world.

Because of this all the sharks are out in force. There are several players over 2600 now in the open. Personally I'm going to tip Sutovsky to qualify and one other player, but for anyone under 2600 it's going to be very difficult.

Let's say I'd have played in the open. I get to 4/4 (a very difficult task in itself) I still think I'd have been very unlikely to qualify. It's not unreasonable that if I got to 3/3 that there would be 5/6 players on the same score who are higher rated than me. Even if I take one of these players out in our individual game, that still leaves at least four players who can sneak through to 4/4. So realistically although there's a chance, I'd have to win all of my games and hope there's some major slip ups. Unlikely.

Now let's move to the main event itself. Going into the event, Hikaru Nakamura will be most people's idea of the strong favourite. Not only has he made great strides recently, moving to number three on the rating list, but the scary consideration for the opposition is, he's even stronger at speed chess. So he's going to be incredibly tough to beat. Also the absence of Carlsen and Aronian is another factor in his favour.

Hikaru Nakamura- extremely strong at speed chess.

With Nakamura I'd say the other two favourites are of course big Vlad, Vladimir Kramnik, and Vishy Anand.

Kramnik although a very fine speed chess player, doesn't have the same level of results in this sphere that he seems to muster in classical chess. But it would hardly be a surprise if he were to win, and he's done well in the classic before. He'll also have the psychological boost of having just lead Russia to the world team title, to bring to the table.

Of course the argument against Anand is that he'll be tired after his world championship match. But I'm not so sure. They had a number of quick draws there, so I think to discount Vishy could be very dangerous. He's always been a brilliant speed chess player with a very quick eye.

It'll also be a relief to Vishy playing in this event. Having just been tortured by the "human computer" that is Magnus, it'll be nice for him to be facing mortals again, who make mistakes and play silly moves. I imagine he'll be going all out and I can't see him suffering in many long endgames.

Still, there are no real weak links in this event. The British players are on the whole slightly lower-rated than the opposition. They all have the chance to do well, but on the flipside, against such weighty opponents, there's the potential to struggle as well. Michael Adams is the best of the British contingent and he's been playing very well lately and has always been very strong at rapid chess, so he's my tip to do the best of the home brigade. Unoriginal I know.

There are many players worth mentioning but the only other one I will do for now, is Fabiano Caruana. He won't exactly be a dark horse of the event but he must have a fantastic chance of winning, especially as he'll be fresher than most not having played much in the last month or so. These next 2-3 years are crucial for him and Nakamura. Do they build on their recent improvement, get over 2800 and emerge as strong challengers to Carlsen's crown, or do they fall back into the pack? Ultimately it's up to them.

Still the time has come to pick a winner and I'm going to go for Vishy. Let's just hope that fatigue doesn't catch up with him.

P.S. from you can find the actual line-up at the official website.

Originally published in GM Danny Gormally's blog

Other posts by GM Danny Gormally:
Losing your motivation
Playing blitz chess online & all the computer cheats
Anand-Carlsen borefest continues
Magnus, is this all he has?
A clash of kings
Do we overrate ourselves?
Computers and their all-pervading influence on modern chess
From Russia with love
The England Chess Team & Jack Wilshire
Should the grandmaster title be scrapped?
ECF Book of the Year?
Is being a chess pro worth it - continued?
Is being a chess pro worth it?
An Elitist Game?
Does hard work in chess pay off?
World Cup Final preview
World Chess Cup Semi-Final preview
World Chess Cup Quarter-Final preview
World Chess Cup 1/8-final preview
Why are Russians so good at chess?
British Champs-2013
Ghent and now the British
I'll never be fat again!
Lessons learnt!
The sad case of Borislav Ivanov: Part II
Does Anyone Have a Cure for Anger Problems?
The Depth of Chess
Fundraising in chess
Nurturing a Chess Prodigy
The Sad Case of Borislav Ivanov
4NCL Impressions: no country for old men - Part II
4NCL Impressions: no country for old men
One move, one line - Part II
One move, one line
Candidates Final Review & Preview of Upcoming World Championship Match
Would Carlsen have beaten Capablanca?

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Last Updated ( Saturday, 07 December 2013 )
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