Chess

Wesley So wins London Classic & Grand Chess Tour

The tournament leader utilized the same strategy he employed during the Sinquefield Cup by drawing his last three games and putting the pressure on the competition to win and catch him.

Once again, this strategy worked,  as Caruana failed to win against Giri with the black pieces. Wesley So went on to convincingly and deservingly win the 8th London Chess Classic and the 2nd Grand Chess Tour, collecting an additional $100,000 bonus for his efforts. His total winnings from the tour round in at $295,000.

The winner received a lot of praise from the other competitors, several of whom named him as the player to watch and a potential next challenger to the World Championship crown.

In an otherwise peaceful day, the shocker of the round was Veselin Topalov recovering from a painful tournament to deliver a final blow to Levon Aronian. The win did not change his ranking in the final standings, but it must have been a great confidence boost and demonstrated that none of these players can be written off just yet, even when wounded.

So, Wesley vs Vachier – Lagrave, Maxime ½

So repeated the same line he played against Vachier-Lagrave in the Leuven leg of the tour. Black was first to deviate, but the American seemed very well prepared as he blitzed out the moves to completely equalize the position and trade enough pieces to kill any dreams his opponent could have had of complicating the matters. The game finished within the first hour and all that was left was waiting for the outcome of the Caruana game.

Anand, Viswanathan - Kramnik, Vladimir ½

This game was completely balanced throughout with neither side having any real chances. Kramnik needed to win, but, facing Anand with the black pieces, he simply had no opportunity. Black reached a position with hanging pawns, a long-term weakness that needs to be compensated with active piece play. Kramnik had just enough to force his opponent to resort to a repetition of the position.

Giri, Anish - Caruana, Fabiano ½

The game was completely equal and the commentators were ready to call the result until Caruana got a little too reckless with a pawn push in what looked like a complete draw. Recognizing the mistake, he was able to redeem himself and calculate out just the precise way to keep the game balanced. Giri tried for a long time to create chances using his opponent’s compromised pawn structure, but Caruana’s fortress could not be broken.

Adams, Michael - Nakamura, Hikaru ½

Nakamura implemented the Berlin Defense, an opening known for its high draw rate. Adams felt as though he had a slight advantage at one point but the symmetrical position did not have enough to offer against the world class player. Nakamura finished tied for third in London and second overall in the Grand Chess Tour, taking home an extra $50,000.

Aronian, Levon – Topalov, Veselin 0-1

As he had done several times already, Topalov once again delivered the only decisive result of the round. However, unlike the rest of the event, he was finally on the winning side. True to his reputation as a combative player, Topalov sacrificed a piece for three pawns to complicate the position. After Aronian let go of the advantage, he kept pressing too hard, first allowing his opponent equalize the position then blundering in the endgame where Black had a dangerous passed pawn. Topalov converted without much trouble, scoring his only win of the tournament.

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