London Chess Classic 2015 – Rounds 1-3

The start of the London Classic coincided with my trip to France where I played for Grasse Echecs in the second French division, Nationale I. After we were relegated from Top 12 in May our season in N1 started in October (for various reasons the matches in October and November were postponed). The trip to Toulouse was long and tiring, which luckily cannot be said for the games I played – I won easily against a rather weak opposition and we won both our matches allowing 3 draws in total. You can see the complete results together with the current standings here (when in the drop-down menu you have to choose Interclub Adultes, Nationale I and Group C).

Meanwhile in London things started slowly. From 15 games only 2 were decisive and there have been 6 Berlins (or Anti-Berlins) so far. Now, I really don’t like it when people start criticising the players for playing the Berlin, as if it’s the equivalent of watching paint dry (even the venerable doctor Nigel Short is guilty of this). I don’t know about Short, but this is mostly because people don’t understand (or, rather, try to understand) the intricacies of the positions that arise in this opening (for starters I can direct you to my comments to the 11th game of the match Carlsen-Anand in 2014). I know that for non-professionals understanding the Berlin is difficult and good explanations are necessary (for those interested I can recommend the fantastic book The Berlin Wall by John Cox), but reading the criticism from the professionals is shooting ourselves in the leg – criticising the very thing we’re trying to show the world that it’s interesting and worth investing in! So, in order to demonstrate the richness of the Berlin, here are the latest examples from London.

Grischuk (who never plays 4 d3 when confronted with the Berlin) was very close to a win in Round 3, but alas, his time management was again awful.

The duel between Anand and Carlsen was fascinating – first it was Anand who was pressing and then all of a sudden, in 1 move, the tables were turned and it was Carlsen who was playing for a win!

The decisive games in the tournament were courtesy of Topalov. Strangely enough, before the tournament I had a feeling that a Topalov collapse may be possible in London. And it’s difficult to call these losses other than a collapse.

In a Najdorf against Vachier he got a great position after the opening, but then it seems he got confused when white created some counterplay on the queenside.

So Giri and Vachier lead with 2/3 with everybody else (except Topalov) on 50%. It will be tight in London until the end.

Alex Colovic
A professional player, coach and blogger. Grandmaster since 2013.
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