London Classic 2014 – Rounds 2-5

Switching laptops is always a bothersome task. Transfering data, uninstalling stuff from the old laptop, installing stuff on the new one, fine-tuning the new one with the set-up you’ve established it works best, but forgotten how exactly to do it… Anyway, I’m writing this on my old one (still), but I should be functional with the new one soon enough.

The switch is also time-consuming, so I didn’t really have the time to comment on the Classic. I’ll take a look at some moments that I found interesting below. The fact that Anand won is very surprising, but only because the peculiar tie-break system gave him the black-wins odds. Anand didn’t show any superiority and he played in his usual energy-saving mode, using his fantastic preparation to stay out of trouble, both with black and white. In fact, he won the tournament thanks to Adams’ collapse. Adams won the first game in impressive style, but then got into opening trouble against Giri and Nakamura and lost both. In the last round against Anand he made some inexplicable mistakes to lose from a drawn position.

Kramnik played exciting chess, he busted Nakamura thanks to his superior opening preparation and showed interesting and high-quality opening ideas against Adams (14…Bc4 in the Berlin) and Giri (11…c6 in the Catalan). Giri is thriving lately, while his girlfriend’s chess suffers (easy to guess which way the energy is going in this relationship) and Nakamura is stagnating. Caruana couldn’t come back after his first-round loss and I think he’s still getting used to the new level and expectations.

Adams-Kramnik, 14…Bc4!? instead of the usual 14…Rg6

Giri-Kramnik, 11…c6!?, a rare move

The tournament was interesting to follow, as it always is for a professional to watch the best players play against each other, but I wonder whether this over-saturation of elite events leads somewhere. If you take into account that starting with the Olympiad in August there was non-stop top-level chess going on (Sinquefield cup, the Grand Prix tournaments, the ECC, Bilbao, the WCh match in Sochi) while on the other hand the open tournaments are getting thinner by the day in every possible aspect (prize-fund, conditions for titled players, number of days) it seems that the non-elite players are slowly being forced out of active play and reduced to the role of observers. It’s fun to observe, of course, but playing still has some exciting moments…

Alex Colovic
A professional player, coach and blogger. Grandmaster since 2013.
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  • Dec 19,2014 at 12:28 am

    Thanks guys, I appreciate it. What I'm trying to do is explain the game to myself and then write that down. Hence you get human explanations. I'm happy there's market for those!

  • Anonymous
    Dec 18,2014 at 10:33 am

    I fully agree with Laurent. Your comments are designed for people. And that's their greatest value. Keep going that way Alex because we love the human word.

  • Dec 17,2014 at 8:43 pm

    Very interesting and witty comments ! Your annotations are maybe the best publicly available at the moment. They certainly change from the usual "Stockfish says that 23…Rf8?! is inaccurate and I will post its refutation pretending it's my analysis" stuff you see everywhere…

    I agree with your observations about elite events : as an avid amateur, I'm a bit fed up, and I find tournaments like the Qatar open much more exciting. Maybe if you have the inclination, it would be very interesting to see some analysis of "master (+2400) vs. amateur (-2200) games" from various opens, to highlight what pro do better.

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