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London Chess Classic Tournament

Hikaru Nakamura10/16(+5 -1 =10)[games]
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave9/16(+4 -2 =10)[games]
Fabiano Caruana7/16(+4 -6 =6)[games]
Levon Aronian6/16(+3 -7 =6)[games] Chess Event Description
London Chess Classic (2018)

The 2018 London Chess Classic, held from December 11-17, was a knockout tournament played between the four Grand Chess Tour finalists: Fabiano Caruana, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Levon Aronian and Hikaru Nakamura. Google HQ in London hosted the semifinals, and the final was held at the Olympia Conference Centre in Kensington. The matches consisted of eight games, two Classical (worth 6 points each), two Rapid (4 points each) and four Blitz (2 points each). To break a tie, a rapid mini-match (10+5) and an Armageddon (5 vs 4) would be played. The prize fund was $300,000 (about 280,000 Euros) with a First Prize $120,000. For the Classical games, each player got 100 minutes for the first 40 moves and then 60 minutes for the remainder of the game, with 30 seconds added per move throughout. The time control for the Rapid phase was 25+5 per player, and that of the Blitz was 3+2. (1)

Official sites: and Regulations: ChessBase report:

Nakamura won and took home $120,000, while Vachier-Lagrave pocketed $80,000 as runner-up. Caruana’s payday was $60,000, while Aronian had to be satisfied with $40,000. Caruana’s third place guaranteed him a place in the Grand Chess Tour 2019. Table:

Semifinal 1 Std Rpd Blitz Nakamura 2746 3 3 2 4 0 2 2 2 18 Caruana 2832 3 3 2 0 2 0 0 0 10 Semifinal 2 Std Rpd Blitz Vachier-Lagrave 2781 3 3 2 4 2 2 0 2 18 Aronian 2765 3 3 2 0 0 0 2 0 10 Bronze final Std Rpd Blitz Caruana 2832 3 3 2 4 0 0 2 2 16 Aronian 2765 3 3 2 0 2 2 0 0 12 Final Std Rpd Blitz Nakamura 2746 3 3 2 2 1 1 1 2 15 Vachier-Lagrave 2781 3 3 2 2 1 1 1 0 13

Nakamura also won the overall Grand Chess Tour 2018 and netted $225,000 in total, see

(1) Chess24: London Chess Classic

 page 1 of 2; games 1-25 of 32  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Caruana vs Nakamura ½-½512018London Chess ClassicD37 Queen's Gambit Declined
2. Nakamura vs Caruana ½-½332018London Chess ClassicC42 Petrov Defense
3. Aronian vs M Vachier-Lagrave ½-½582018London Chess ClassicA34 English, Symmetrical
4. M Vachier-Lagrave vs Aronian  1-0662018London Chess ClassicC02 French, Advance
5. Aronian vs M Vachier-Lagrave 1-0382018London Chess ClassicB51 Sicilian, Canal-Sokolsky (Rossolimo) Attack
6. Caruana vs Nakamura 0-1392018London Chess ClassicE71 King's Indian, Makagonov System (5.h3)
7. Nakamura vs Caruana  1-0522018London Chess ClassicA06 Reti Opening
8. M Vachier-Lagrave vs Aronian  1-0522018London Chess ClassicA00 Uncommon Opening
9. Caruana vs Nakamura 0-1502018London Chess ClassicD37 Queen's Gambit Declined
10. Aronian vs M Vachier-Lagrave  0-1552018London Chess ClassicB51 Sicilian, Canal-Sokolsky (Rossolimo) Attack
11. Nakamura vs Caruana 0-1472018London Chess ClassicA06 Reti Opening
12. M Vachier-Lagrave vs Aronian  1-0492018London Chess ClassicC67 Ruy Lopez
13. Caruana vs Nakamura  0-1542018London Chess ClassicD37 Queen's Gambit Declined
14. Aronian vs M Vachier-Lagrave  ½-½472018London Chess ClassicA34 English, Symmetrical
15. Nakamura vs Caruana  ½-½642018London Chess ClassicA20 English
16. M Vachier-Lagrave vs Aronian ½-½742018London Chess ClassicC84 Ruy Lopez, Closed
17. Caruana vs Aronian  ½-½282018London Chess ClassicC65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
18. Nakamura vs M Vachier-Lagrave ½-½502018London Chess ClassicD86 Grunfeld, Exchange
19. Aronian vs Caruana  ½-½212018London Chess ClassicC42 Petrov Defense
20. M Vachier-Lagrave vs Nakamura  ½-½532018London Chess ClassicC67 Ruy Lopez
21. M Vachier-Lagrave vs Nakamura  ½-½472018London Chess ClassicC67 Ruy Lopez
22. Aronian vs Caruana  0-1502018London Chess ClassicA45 Queen's Pawn Game
23. Nakamura vs M Vachier-Lagrave 1-0292018London Chess ClassicA34 English, Symmetrical
24. Caruana vs Aronian 1-0452018London Chess ClassicB06 Robatsch
25. Caruana vs Aronian 0-1772018London Chess ClassicC63 Ruy Lopez, Schliemann Defense
 page 1 of 2; games 1-25 of 32  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Dec-25-18  Pedro Fernandez: Merry Christmas to everyone!
Dec-25-18  Pedro Fernandez: I hope that my great friend <cro777> recovers very soon his health.
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <<Sokrates> He also suggest a quicker format since the present so obviously can't be satisfactory to anyone.>

The only thing that was not satisfactory to me was determining the winning of a Classic time control match by playing games at faster time control. The latter has no relevance to the former. So, to give everyone something to complain about, here is my suggestion:

1. A World Classic (or Standard as FIDE prefers to call it) Chess Championship with all games to be played at Classic time controls. In case of a tie score at the end of an N-game match, the champion is determined by a Sudden Death (Armageddon) game played at Classic time controls at a 5:4 time advantage (or whatever time advantage ration is determined to be fair as I've suggested earlier) to White and draw odds for Black.

2. A World Rapid Chess Championship with all games to be played at Rapid time controls. In case of a tie score at the end of an N-game match, the champion is determined by a Sudden Death game played at Rapid time controls at a 5:4 time advantage (or whatever time advantage ration is determined to be fair) to White and draw odds for Black.

3. A World Blitz Chess Championship with all games to be played at Blitz time controls. In case of a tie score at the end of an N-game match, the champion is determined by a Sudden Death game played at Blitz time controls at a 5:4 time advantage (or whatever time advantage ration is determined to be fair) to White and draw odds for Black.

4. A World Overall Chess Championship with games to be played at Classic, Rapid, and Blitz time controls. Twice as many games to be played at Blitz time controls than at Rapid time controls, and twice as many games to be played at Rapid time controls than at Classic time controls. Scores at Rapid time controls to be worth twice as much as scores at Blitz time controls and scores at Classic time controls to be worth twice as much as scores at Rapid time controls. In case of a tie score at the end of each section (Classic, Rapid, Blitz time controls) a Sudden Death game with the same time control used in that section and a 5:4 time advantage to White and draw odds for Black will determine the winner of that section. The score for that Sudden Death game would be the same as the score for that particular section; i.e. 4 points for a win in the Classic Sudden Death game, 2 points for a win in the Rapid Sudden Death game, and 1 point for a win in the Blitz Sudden Death game. The winner of the World Overall Chess Championship would be the player with the largest score calculated by adding up the scores in all 3 sections.

There, that provides something for everyone to criticize.

Dec-25-18  gokusano: At the end of a tournament under classic time control, declare all with the same score for first place as co-champion if you don't want the tie to be resolved by faster time control. Or insist that an unlimited number of games must be played under classic time control until the players quit due to fatigue, which is ridiculously insane.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sokrates: Hi, <AylerKupp> and a fine second Christmas day to you.

Given the present time formats - classic, rapid and blitz - you have laid out the variations and combinations of them precisely. No criticism from me! :-)

But the crux of the matter, as suggested by Short and little me, is not how the present formats could be combinated, but the formats themselves. I have suggested a format between classic and rapid, a format that would still enable serious chess but not give the players enough time to secure their fortresses completely.

In his long musings about the WCC he says, I qoute, "(...) More pertinent is the point made by former European Chess Union President Silvio Danailov, who has criticised the 'insufferable, museum time-control'. I have rather more sympathy with this opinion because quickening the tempo is practically guaranteed to produce more decisive results. (...)"

He does not suggest a new format, though, and so we end with the same dilemma incorporated in the present formats:

1) The classic format has become too drawish because the top players have no motivation to deviate from the safe path and sufficient talent to avoid defeat.

2) The rapid format can't produce a sufficient quality in the game, since the shortness of time increases the rate of simple blunders, which could have been avoided by slightly more time.

Everything I have read in the past month has convinced me that a new format is called for, and I think 50-60 minutes + increments would both prevent the abundance of draws and enable a sufficient quality. Moreover it could and should allow two match games per day, thus, without increasing the cost for the match, enable for instance 18 games in a WC match.

Dec-26-18  LameJokes:

Ivanchuk won World Rapid 2016 and Anand 2017.

Nigel Short should try his hand in 2018.

If the trend holds, he could get lucky here.

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <<Sokrates> The classic format has become too drawish because the top players have no motivation to deviate from the safe path and sufficient talent to avoid defeat.>

Possibly true, although I don't know what "too" drawish really means. What is the threshold above which chess would be considered "too" drawish? After all, if a chess game is a theoretical draw if neither player makes a mistake, then it's not unreasonable to expect that as players get better, or if at least the average rating differential or the gap between playing strength (however that is measured) is reduced, that the number of decisive games will decrease. Perhaps it's our mindset that's the problem, although of course fans of the game will have their preferences, whatever those might be.

But if you believe, like I do, that the quality of chess declines as the rate of play increases, then any speed up of the game will increase the number of errors per game. The questions would then be (a) by how much as a function of the increased rate of play would the error rate increase and (b) would the increased number of decisive games substantially increase the interest in the game in spite of the greater number of mistakes made per game. I don't know the answer to either question.

Perhaps there are other ways to incentivize the players to take more risks in an attempt to increase the number of decisive games without reducing the playing time/increasing the number of errors. The 3-1-0 scoring system comes to mind although I don't have any data on the relative number of decisive games in tournaments using that scoring system compared to tournaments using the typical 1-½-0 scoring system. Or perhaps the tiebreaking rules should be modified to favor players who achieve a greater number of wins over players that achieve the same score but with a greater number of draws. Just 2 thoughts. But I just don't think that the interest in chess would necessarily increase if the number of decisive games is increased at the cost of reducing the quality of play.

And is the interest in chess really decreasing? Not if you look at the number of FIDE-rated active players since 2012 when the rating limit was reduced to its current value, 1000. It has increased every year, from 90,943 at the end of 2012 to 161,965 at the end of 2017. And the most recent FIDE rating list (Dec-2018) had 166,682 active players, so the number of active players at the end of 2018 is likely to also increase. So maybe chess is not as broken as some think, and the usual guide in this situation is "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sokrates: <AylerKupp>,

There is no reason to hide the plain fact that there is a corrolation between time and quality. The more time a player gets (to a certain extend, of course) the higher the quality of his play. He simply has more time to evaluate the position, to calculate various scenarios, to check and make sure that he doesn't fall into traps or makes blunders.

It seems that after circa one and a half century the game of chess has evolved to a stage where its professional performers - with a little help by their silicon friends - have reached such a level in the classical time format that they are very hard to beat, if they are careful enough. I present the last two WC matches as evidence.

But shall we accept a decrease of quality just to produce more decisive games? Are we not striving for the highest quality, for perfection? I have often read commentators burst into praise of a top player, Carlsen for instance, when they compare his moves with the best computer moves. "He has made X computer moves!", they exclaim - as if that is the closest you can get to divine perfection.

I have written this before, but if perfection is the goal of playing chess, we should leave it to computers.

A journalist once asked Groucho Marx, "Do you believe in computer dating?" - "Only if the computers really love each other," was his instant reply.

Likewise, I leave it to 3500 something programmes to play perfect games with each other, which, to me, are as exciting as perfectly fit wall paper.

No, this is the wrong path! Of course, it's admirable that Carlsen is able to make eight perfect moves in an endgame - applause! But I would rather see his creativity enfold itself in fascinating games with a few errors, because I am interest in the human player Carlsen, not the computer copycat Carlsen.

Games evolve over time. When you look at a soccer game from the 1950s and 60s the players seem to move with the speed of snails and at that time you were allowed to play the ball to the goal-keeper - a rule that was changed because it made the game utterly boring. Likewise in handball (a Danish national sport) rules have been made to quicken the game, thereby making it far more entertaining and lively. It is about time that chess makes some adjustments to what was good Latin decades ago, but simply doesn't work satisfactory with the contemporary level of play (and we are, of course, primarily talking about WC matches).

But I begin to repeat myself too much. I have made my points, and it is all written in sand, flushed away with the next wave - I know! :-)

Premium Chessgames Member
  diceman: <Sokrates:

My late fellow countryman, Bent Larsen, was much more than a great chessplayer. Besides a capacity of many languages he was witty in interviews, showed insight in politics and a broad understanding of other cultures. You had the feeling he could have made a career in many other fields (he actually left his study in engineering "because there are enough engineers in this world). You get my point.>

I was a big fan of Bent Larsen.
(and I still am in his games)

<First, using Fischer as an example leaves everyone else "angelic". He was in a league of his own in bad behavior.>

What you're missing is, Fischer's <bad behavior> is the only way I would have heard of Bent Larsen. :)

In my lifetime, Fischer was the only player to put chess on the map. I'm thankful for everything Fischer
walked out of, I'm thankful for his demands, I'm thankful for his crushing, devastating, play.

Ironically, he played a role in the situation we are in. The standards and prize funds he demanded, have now created a world where you can draw all day long and make a nice living.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Dionysius1: Hi <diceman>. I like your "have now created a world where you can draw all day long and make a nice living".

It's true of the top 10 maybe, but presumably people have to win lots to get their Elo up and draw the attention of sponsors.

And thereby hangs my hope of maintaining my interest in public chess for 2019 at least. Pseudo-logically there ought to be a layer below the SGM where players are keen to win to pull themselves into the top level.

I'll concentrate on that (maybe the 2500-2600) for the next 12 months and see if it's not more fun to spectate.

And mourn the rise of exciting players to the stratosphere, where they'll become dull, the way I used to mourn the waning of superstars into the lower echelons.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sokrates: Hi <diceman>,

Thanks for your response. You'll have to reveal a little about yourself, if I shall have a chance to put the significance of Fischer into your context. Are you American? How old are you? I got seriously interested in chess in 1963 because of two school-mates, who played in the local club.

First time I got aware of Fischer was the year before, in 1962, when he played an exhibition game on TV with Larsen. Highly entertaining game, I say:

Larsen vs Fischer, 1962

It's a fun fact that Larsen was a second for Fischer in the 1959 Candidates ("a surreal experience", according to Larsen, who was a student at that time). Those two became the only threat to the totally domination of the communist countries during the 60s.

Just like Fischer's importance to American chess can't be exaggerated, Larsen meant everything for Danish chess life. I have met him in person twice, once in a simul game. I shall never forget the colossal experience. Larsen, at that time at his height, had a fantastic radiating personality. Extremely erudite and eloquent, full of witty remarks, relaxed, yet concentrated at the simul.

He played (IIRC) against 52 good club players, not with white pieces as is common, but with every other game as black. I think only five survived with a draw (I was one of the lucky ones). Unfortunately, my notebook from that time was lost in my many moving around in those years.

Their TV match had a post mortem on TV, which I recall vividly. Fischer explaining his moves and analysing the positions, while Larsen, translating and giving his take simultaneously. Fischer very serious and chess-focused, without a smile. Larsen, trying to make it interesting to the viewers.

They had a strange relationship IMO. Larsen was somewhat, and sometimes rightfully, annoyed that Fischer got so much attention, since Larsen was far more successful in the mid 60s than Fischer. They were of very different character but huge egos both of them.

A lot has been written about the 6-0 victories over Taimanov and Larsen. But as said by Kasparov in his Predecessors and others, the result of the matches doesn't reflect the balance between Fischer and his two opponents. Taimanov did well in many games, but Fischer will to win was irresistable. Larsen could have made some draws, but it was far from Larsen's style to settle with draws when he wanted to win.

But there is not a iota of doubt that Fischer was the strongest of the two. His style was so driven by purpose and an inveterate will to win that in combination with his huge talent he became almost invincible. Larsen was very much prone to his mood and urge for the unusual, the artistic attempt to make the game interesting. His imagination and creativity was a great helper and a terrible opponent.

Enough said (again). Cheers to you.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Dionysius1: Hi <Sokrates>. It sounds as if you definitely don't want to leave chess to the perfection of the computers, and to players who have trained themselves to play like computers, and I agree with you.

Does that mean you come down on the side of shortening the time players have per game? I do in the end, because beautiful tactics can't really come from computer style perfection - they need one player to make a mistake (in relative terms of course).

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sokrates: Hi <Dionysius1>, greetings from a mortal to a divine! :-)

The short answer is Yes! I have become convinced that shortening the time for the players makes way for the original human approach to the game - and reduces the practical influence by computer programmes. Fortunately, the most beautiful music, the most interesting art, the most thought-provoking literature is still created by man.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi Sokrates,

If Nigel Short who has been there and has the experience also points to time being a factor then I think we (or the powers that be) should listen.

I do no think we need to shorten the time, just stop adding to it till the last quarter of play.

No increments till after move 60 (40 moves in 2½ hours then 20 moves hour then after move 60, 30 minutes on each clock with a 10 second increment to finish the game. ) that and the 13 game format which ensure no tie breaks sounds like a good alternative.

Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: Yes, increments make no sense when there are a fixed number of moves in the time control as the players know exactly how many moves need to be made and how much time they gave to make them.
Dec-28-18  JimNorCal: Congrats, Hikaru on the tournament win!
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sokrates: Hi Geoff,

Your suggestion would be an improvement, no doubt, but I still think we need to make a more radical change, if we shall be able to paddle out of the dead waters of endless draws.

I understand the reluctance of abandoning the classic time format, which has been the very benchmark of serious chess since the clock was introduced.

In case the world would follow Sokrates (a highly likely scenario, right?) I am sure the new one-hour would be met by fierce criticism by purists and traditionalists - but I think the games would be more more exciting, more interesting in fact, and much more entertaining and inspiring for the chess public.

Anyway, we are getting closer to 2019, so I just wish you, dear Geoff, and all others a Happy New Year.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: ***

Hi Socrates,

And a Happy New Year to you too.

Hasten to add these are not my suggestions but a mixture of what others have been saying. The 13 game format I first saw from Karjakin and increments I been rallying against in one format or another since 2008.

Although I enjoy upsetting the ' purists and traditionalists' I think one hour each is too short. The good news is people recognise there is a problem and hopefully it will be addressed.

Still reeling at the amount of money, £230,000, split up between these four for two games of classical chess. Getting £30,000 for coming 4th (last) is very silly money.

On the main site were they were billed as the 'Fantastic Four' there is an advert for 'CSC = Chess in Schools and Communities' who are asking for donations as low as £5.00, meanwhile these smug looking two, ist and 3rd...

...ran off with £140,000 between them.


Premium Chessgames Member
  Sokrates: Well, Geoff, the 60 minutes is just a suggestion - it should not become a new "holy" format. But IMO it can't be more than, say 80 minutes if you want the effect of pushing the players out of their comfort zone.
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <<Sokrates> Are we not striving for the highest quality, for perfection?>

I think that we're all trying to win and to play beautiful games, and that's hopefully achievable. Perfection is not, but it seems worthwhile to see how close we can get to it.

<I have written this before, but if perfection is the goal of playing chess, we should leave it to computers.>

Perfection in chess is a nice goal, but it is unachievable, as it is with computers given the current level of technology. I personally doubt that it will ever be achieved by computers, and definitely not in my lifetime. But, so what?

<A journalist once asked Groucho Marx, "Do you believe in computer dating?" - "Only if the computers really love each other," was his instant reply.>

That sounded doubtful to me, given that Groucho Marx died in 1977 at age 86, and computers were very rate. To put in perspective, the Apple II was introduced in 1977, and the IBM PC in 1981. So I doubt that an aged Groucho Marx, much less a journalist (assuming that he was not technically inclined) knew much about computers. Still, a nice comeback by whoever made it.

But there are many quotes that are misattributed. I have a book called "Hemingway didn't say that!" that is all about famous quotes attributed to the wrong person.

<It is about time that chess makes some adjustments to what was good Latin decades ago, but simply doesn't work satisfactory with the contemporary level of play.>

I agree. I'm just not sure if increasing the number of errors by increasing the rate of play in order to have more decisive games is the right way to go. For example, if increasing the number of decisive games is the goal, why not play all games at Classic time controls under Sudden Death rules? That will guarantee the maximum number of decisive games.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi AylerKupp,

It will be hard getting the balance time-wise correct and it will not please everyone. But chess survived and flourished for a long time before increments so why have them.

I like the idea of them making an appearance in the final quarter but that is all.

Thankfully technology (computers) have made adjournments obsolete but technology has taken over with these programmable clocks.

Computer Dating was up and running in 1965.

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <<Sally Simpson> Computer Dating was up and running in 1965.>

Oh, no doubt that it was. But my point was that Groucho Marx, who would have been 74 years old in 1965, would not likely have been too aware of them, and probably not for this purpose. After all, your link to Operation Match indicated that the questionnaire was geared to young college students seeking a date and that hardly fits Groucho Marx's description at age 74. Then again, maybe it did. Since what really matters is whether you are

And as far as getting the balance time-wise correct for Sudden Death games played at Classic time controls see my suggestion at Carlsen - Caruana World Championship Match (2018) (kibitz #1826).

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sokrates: <AylerKupp> It is quite easy to google "Groucho Marx" + "computer dating" - whereby you will find many qoutation sites quoting GM for saying this.

GM had a strong and vivid passion for women all his life, right until his last breath. At 74 he was very much aware of and updated on all this, according to everything I have read about him. Sorry to say, but your logic doesn't suffice if you think people over 70 have lost all interest in sex and dating, Groucho in particular!

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <<Sokrates> It is quite easy to google "Groucho Marx" + "computer dating" - whereby you will find many qoutation sites quoting GM for saying this. >

I had done something similar earlier, I don't remember the exact phrase I Googled, and I didn't get any. So this time I searched for exactly that phrase and I only got two. And there were several other references to computer dating but none of them referenced Groucho Marx. There were, of course, many sites referencing Groucho Marx but just 2 of them referenced that quote. So, since there are many misattributed quotes floating around and you can find many of them in the Internet, I'm not quite convinced that the quote was really his.

And I never said that Groucho lost his interest in sex and dating when he was 74, it's just that I'm not sure if he associated sex, dating, and computers when he was 74. For my part when I turn 74 (if I make it that far), I hope that I lose interest in computers.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sokrates: <AylerKupp>, really? Not convinced? Originally I found the quotation in a small portrait book about GM, written by a highly esteemed Danish movie expert, but I guess neither he would be able to convince you.

Clearly, my intention with the quotation was not to set you on a meticulous, acribic search for the source and legitimacy of the quote, but to prove a point with a grain of humour. I won't insult your intelligence by explaining that obvious point, so I shall have to leave you with your impenetrable scepticism and move on.

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