Finals, Classical Game 2
Two very different draws set the GCT semi-finals in motion at the Olympia Conference Centre in London. Levon Aronian played it safe with White against Ding Liren as he did not feel well after a bad night’s sleep, while Magnus Carlsen decided to challenge Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in a rare line of the Sicilian Najdorf. The draw signed by the world champion and the Frenchman was as memorable as it was complex. Day 1 Report.
Two more draws were signed on Tuesday at the Grand Chess Tour semi-finals in London. Day 2 Report.
Ding Liren and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave are the finalists of the GCT closing event of the year, as they overcame Levon Aronian and Magnus Carlsen at the rapid and blitz phases of the semis. Day 3 Report.
Two long and exciting games kicked off the final stage of the Grand Chess Tour in London. Ding Liren had a large advantage but could not convert it into a win against a resilient Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, while Magnus Carlsen defeated Levon Aronian with the white pieces to get ahead right out of the gate in the match for third place. Day 4 Report.
Live games and commentary
In classical chess the players receive 130 minutes for the entire game plus 30-seconds delay per move starting from move one. For the rapid and blitz players receive 25 minutes + 10 seconds delay and 5+3 for the blitz. The scoring is 6 points for a win, 3 points for a draw and 0 points for a loss.
Commentary by WGM Jennifer Shahade, GMs Peter Svidler, Alejandro Ramirez and Maurice Ashley
Grand Chess Tour Finals: A 4-player KO
When Magnus Carlsen plays his first move in the Grand Chess Tour Finals in London on Monday, he will be hoping to crown an impressive year of achievement, building on his imperious 27/36 result at the Tata Steel India Rapid & Blitz just a few days beforehand, achieved despite suffering from a stomach bug on the last day in Kolkata.
And while for anyone else, finishing atop the Grand Chess Tour table with 67½ points, including three tournament wins out of five, streets ahead of second place Ding Liren on 43.8, would be cause enough for celebration, everyone knows that Magnus will not just be going for the $150,000 GCT first prize. He will be trying to push himself higher and higher, as he pursues his personal quest: to approach the Holy Grail of 2900 in Classical chess.
Magnus Carlsen in London ahead of the finals | Lennart Ootes / Grand Chess Tour
The stage is set for a potentially mould-breaking final, as China’s Ding Liren vies to best Carlsen for the second time in a tournament this year, after his dramatic playoff win at the Sinquefield Cup in August. He will no doubt be heartened by his two blitz victories over Magnus in India.
And with the Moscow Candidates just around the corner in March, Ding will be seeking to establish himself as the potential next challenger for Carlsen’s title.
But first, before any possible Magnus v Ding matchup, Carlsen faces Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, just days before the Frenchman seeks to book his own ticket to the Candidates via the final FIDE Grand Prix event in Jerusalem. (The crowded schedule of elite events in the last third of the year means that MVL will have to start his challenge in Israel just 2 days after the end of the GCT Finals in London — a tough ask for anyone.)
Meanwhile, Ding will play Levon Aronian in the other semi-final. The Armenian faces a struggle to shrug off his poor form in Kolkata, where he was only able to finish in last place, and in the last few days has announced that he will miss the Jerusalem FIDE Grand Prix to undergo treatment for an ongoing medical issue.
The format for the GCT Semi-Finals and Final — two classical games, followed by a nerve-shredding day of two rapid and four blitz games, will provide plenty of excitement for the spectators, and if the matches go into overtime, a further two blitz playoff games (and an Armageddon blitz game if required) will decide each match.
The London Olympia conference centre, the Classic’s traditional venue, is likely to be packed out for both the semi-finals and final. Organisers recommend that fans book their spectator tickets online now for London Olympia on December 2-4 (Semi-Finals) & December 6-8 (Final) to avoid disappointment.
Whoever gets to lift the Grand Chess Tour trophy in London on Sunday, December 8th, chess fans can be assured of a brilliant and fitting climax to the biggest Grand Chess Tour to date, thanks to its expanded roster of tournaments in Europe, Africa and Asia.
Best of British
The London Classic also plays host from Monday to the semi-finals and final of the British Knockout Championship. In the preliminary round on Saturday, FM Marcus Harvey emerged as the surprise winner with 8½/9, and almost defeated long-time England No. 1 Mickey Adams in the quarter-finals on Sunday. Adams eventually triumphed in an Armageddon blitz game, but was close to losing.
FM Marcus Harvey almost defeated GM Mickey Adams in Sunday’s quarter-finals | Photo: Lennart Ootes
Apart from Adams, the semi-finals line-up is completed by the top players in the multiple medal-winning England Open Team. Adams faces Luke McShane, and David Howell faces last year’s winner, Gawain Jones. At stake is a total of £42,000 in prize money — the biggest pot in any British event this year.
All the fun of the Festival
A special feature of the London Chess Classic is its impressive range of Festival events — which appeal to chess players and fans at all levels. With free entry to female players and the Under 25s, the event organiser, UK charity Chess in Schools and Communities, has led the way for years in welcoming new players to the game.
Everyone from schoolchildren to club players and Grandmasters are welcome at Olympia, with the traditional days of expert training, fun competitions and ‘Meet the Grandmasters’ shows laid on for 2,500 schoolchildren from around the UK.
Meanwhile, there’s a total of £27,000 at stake in the FIDE Open, Super Blitz, weekend and weekday standard play events, and weekend rapidplays. Other notable events include simultaneous displays by legendary British GMs John Nunn (November 30) and Jonathan Speelman (December 4). Tickets to the Speelman simul are still available via the London Chess Classic tickets webpage.
There is also a lecture on December 7 by GM Matthew Sadler and WIM Natasha Regan on their acclaimed book, “Game Changer: AlphaZero and the Promise of AI,” which won the 2019 ECF Book of Year award.
Judit Polgar comes to London
The promotion of women’s and girls’ chess is a key theme at the London Classic this year, with the first edition of the brand-new English Open Women and Girls Rapidplay Championship taking place on December 7.
The theme of bridging the gender gap in chess was also top of the agenda at the 7th London Chess and Education Conference (November 30-December 1), which took place alongside the London Classic. This year the theme of the conference was ‘Chess and Female Empowerment,’ and the inspirational headline speaker is none other than Judit Polgar, the strongest female chess player of all time.
The conference, a regular feature of the London Classic festival, featured a stellar line-up of expert speakers from up to 40 countries, and examined initiatives to make the game more welcoming and accessible to women and girls at all levels.
Judit, an Honorary FIDE Vice-President, related how her experiences — breaking through to the world top 10 while overcoming obstacles to female participation in professional chess, and promoting chess for all in her home country of Hungary and around the world — can inspire new generations of female players to excel and compete on equal terms with their male counterparts.
Other keynote speakers at the conference included US Chess Federation Executive Director Carol Meyer and former British champion GM Jonathan Rowson, now an applied philosopher for the Perspectiva think tank, who presented his new book, The Moves That Matter: A Chess Grandmaster on the Game of Life. Also in attendence were England’s top female professional chess player, IM and WGM Jovanka Houska, and the renowned chess writer and investigative journalist Sarah Hurst.
The conference also saw the presentation of ground-breaking new surveys on women and girls in chess — a statistical analysis of numbers of women and girls in national chess federations by the European Chess Union, and a study conducted through the US Chess Federation, with qualitative insights into chess and gender issues. A third study of online chess games in the Netherlands provided details of how girls and boys compare.
The 7th London Chess and Education Conference was organised by ChessPlus and sponsored by FIDE, the European Chess Union, Chess in Schools and Communities, the London Chess Classic and the English Chess Federation.
Tim Wall is the official press officer of the London Chess Classic.
Schedule of the Grand Chess Tour Final
Times in UTC.
|December 2, 16:00||Carlsen vs Vachier-Lagrave
Aronian vs Ding
|Semi-final, Game 1|
|December 3, 16:00||Vachier-Lagrave vs Carlsen
Ding vs Aronian
|Semi-final, Game 2|
|December 4||Semi-finals Rapid & Blitz||3-8|
|December 5||Pro Biz Cup|
|December 6, 16:00||Final||Classical Game 1|
|December 7, 14:00||Final||Classical Game 1|
|December 8||Final Rapid & Blitz|
6 points for a win, 3 points for a draw and 0 points for a loss in the two Classic games
4 points for a win, 2 points for a draw and 0 points for a loss in the two Rapid games
2 points for a win, 1 point for a draw 0 points for a loss in the four blitz games
British Knockout Championship – All games