The 2016 London Chess Classic, the final leg of the Chess Grand Tour, began on Friday and features all of the world’s top 10 apart from Magnus Carlsen and Sergey Karjakin. Wesley So leads the Grand Tour after three of the four rounds and with the World Champion absent, he is the favourite to win the overall prize money of $100,000 ($75,000 for the winner of the London Chess Classic). Hikaru Nakamura, the only person who can stop Wesley from taking first prize, was drawn with the white pieces against him in Round 1 and blundered with 13.Ne2?, giving So a comfortable victory which he followed up with another win in Round 2 after another blunder, this time from Michael Adams. As the only player with a 100% score after two of the nine rounds, So’s position as favourite is even stronger now than it was at the start. In beating Adams, So took his rating beyond 2800, only the 12th player in history to achieve the feat. A draw in Round 3 maintained his half-point lead at the top.
White: Hikaru Nakamura (2779) Black: Wesley So (2794)
London Chess Classic 2016 Round 1
Broadstairs 2 Bridge 2
|1 ||John Couzens (125) ||0-1 || Tim Spencer (130) |
|2 ||Andy Flood (117) ||0-1 || Chris Stampe (127) |
|3 ||Reg Pidduck (107) ||1-0 || Graeme Boxall (83) |
|4 ||Bob Cronin (103) ||1-0 || Ray Rennells (81) |
Andy Flood writes:
A well-equipped Broadstairs team (torches, coats and boots) registered an early victory by locating the new Bridge venue, known as “the pavilion” at around 7.35. Both teams had a 100% win record, so something had to give. First game to finish was Broadstairs Bob who secured an early point on Board 4 and was always in control, quickly getting to the end game and promoting his two pawn advantage to a queen. The other games were close and difficult to call but Bridge managed to even up the match as Gullbuster John lost on the top board against his higher-graded opponent. The President (Reg) on Board 3, emulating the world championship games with a Ruy Lopez opening managed to gain an advantage with white to beat the Bridge skipper to guarantee as a minimum a draw for Broadstairs. So the final game on Board 2 was to decide the result. The match was always close, difficult to call with Broadstairs playing black and at one stage up by two pawns. However black was always defending against aggressive white play before finally succumbing under time pressure to a pawn breakthrough in the centre of the board resulting in a resignation at around 10.45 as the pawn was promoted to a queen with five minutes left on the clock. A good team performance and a valuable draw for Broadstairs in their final 2016 match which keeps the Hargreaves team jointly on top of the league with their Bridge rivals with both teams undefeated.
How could we ever have doubted it? Surely it was written in the stars that Magnus Carlsen would retain his World Chess Championship title. Perhaps he was toying with us by losing Game 8 then disappointing us all by drawing Game 12 meekly when everyone was expecting the grand finish. Was this a deliberate ploy to ensure that he retained his title via the tie breaks on his 26th birthday? Well, if people were denied a grand finish in the classical format, they got a spectacular one instead with the dénouement of the decisive fourth tie break game.
White: Magnus Carlsen (2853) Black: Sergey Karjakin (2772)
World Chess Championship Tie Break 4
The excitement that accompanied the final day of this enthralling match was not confined to the 600 spectators crowded into the Fulton Market Building in New York. As well as the millions following the game online, here is the reaction in Moscow’s Red Square……and remember this is in the middle of the night in late November! And the excitement among the spectators only increased when Karjakin opted for the Sicilian Defence in reply to Carlsen’s 1. e4, suggesting that if he were to go down he would not go quietly. Eventually, however, Carlsen’s pressure told and the reaction of the spectators when the Champion played 50. Qh6 – gasps and then applause – finally made them realise that here was the grand finish they had hoped for but at the right moment.
There has been almost unanimous agreement that Carlsen has not been at his best and that Karjakin excelled most predictions by clinging on to within touching distance of winning the championship, and there can be no doubt that the match has grabbed the public’s attention. The poetic nature of Carlsen’s victory – a queen sacrifice to conclude the final game to win on his 26th birthday – was the perfect way to win a world championship.
Broadstairs 2 Margate 2
|1 ||Reg Pidduck (107) ||1-0 || Colin Gregory (106) |
|2 ||Bob Cronin (103) ||1-0 || Clive Le Baigue (105) |
|3 ||Michael Doyle (90) ||0-1 || Leon Garfield (102 |
|4 ||Michael Jenkinson (83) ||0-1 || John Clarke (94 ) |
Reg Pidduck writes:
BOARD 4: JOHN HOLDS ON John Clarke gets to a solid position in the early stages then has to fend off Michael’s strong comeback. Michael offers a draw which gets turned down and John holds on. 1-0 down
BOARD 1: LOPEZ – MY FAVOURITE The Ruy Lopez is one of my best openings, and I quickly got in charge against Colin. He lost a lot of time in finding the correct moves to thwart my advances and when I was running out of ideas Colin was running out of time and his flag fell. 1-1
BOARD 3: LEON TOO STRONG Our Michael lost a bishop early and was always struggling to find a way back in but Leon held on. 2-1 down
BOARD 2: COMEBACK BOB. After losing an exchange early on, Bob looked in trouble and every time I took a glance at his game I feared the worst but slowly he got back to an even keel and while we all watched on at the final minutes he gained the upper hand and Clive lost on time.
Result: a 2-2 draw We now have played 4 won 0 drawn 3 lost 1 in the Walker Shield. Well done team and well done Margate.
The Rubies 4½-5½ The Pearls
|1 ||Reg Pidduck (107) ||½-½ || Bob Page (141) |
|2 ||Jordan Leach (46) ||0-1 || Bob Cronin (103) |
|3 ||Richard Bowles (55) ||1-0 || David Clifford (e20) |
|4 ||David Faldon (179) ||0-1 || Viktor Selyukov (73) |
|5 ||Paul Carfrae (131) ||0-1 || Brian Westover (154) |
|6 ||John Clarke (94) ||0-1 || Clive Le Baigue (105) |
|7 ||Michael Doyle (90) ||1-0 || Michael Jenkinson (83) |
|8 ||Colin Gregory (106) ||0-1 || Andy Flood (117) |
|9 ||Timofey Selyukov (111) ||1-0 || Ian Hames (160) |
|10 ||Nick McBride (e160) ||1-0 || John Couzens (125) |
Reg and Bob
Every year has its anniversaries but 2016 seems to have had more than its fair share: the death of Shakespeare, the Battle of Hastings, England winning the World Cup……and now we can add one more that appears to have been overlooked in all the hullaballoo. It is forty years since Reg Pidduck joined Broadstairs Chess Club and ten years later Bob Page played his first match. There will be another anniversary of sorts in two years’ time because it will then be twenty-five since they became Treasurer and Secretary respectively of the club. For now, the coincidence of forty and thirty years’ service seemed a good excuse for celebration and so the idea of an anniversary match was born.
Clockwise from the left: Viktor, Reg, John, Clive, John, Nick and David
Twenty players – sixteen from Broadstairs and four friends from local Thanet clubs – were divided into two teams, the Rubies, captained by Reg, and the Pearls, captained by Bob. Each team had equal grade totals and the draw was made on the night. A recipe for numerous mis-matches, I hear you say but not so because this match was run on a fiendish time handicap. With a two-hour limit, the least anyone could receive was ten minutes and when David Faldon (179) was drawn against Viktor Selyukov (73), that is precisely what he got with Viktor getting the remaining one hour fifty minutes. David would still have fancied his chances but the evening got off to a sensational start.
The crucial game: Colin v Andy
Viktor won his game on time to give the Pearls a surprise 1-0 lead. The Rubies soon fought back, however, when Viktor’s twelve year old son, Timofey (111) provided another shock, beating Ian Hames (160). Thereafter the lead swung to and fro as the Pearls’ 3-1 lead became a 4½-3½ defecit – Bob and Reg appropriately agreeing a draw in their match – with two games left. Clive Le Baigue looked likely to win against John Clarke in the all-Margate clash which would make the scores level with just Andy Flood’s game against Colin Gregory. Have a look at the position and see what you think. Typically, Andy said later that if he had known the score he would have offered Colin a draw. In the event, time told as is often the case, Colin made an error and Andy won. The match lasted the entire two hours, by no means a given with time handicaps, which was ideal and everyone then adjourned to the pub with a promise to repeat the match in thirty years’ time.