General Dec 6, 2014 | 9:50 AMby Colin McGourty

London Chess Classic - a rapid start

The "Super Six" stars of the 2014 London Chess Classic | photos: Ray Morris-Hill, official website

The 2014 London Chess Classic starts today with the “Super Six” of Caruana, Anand, Nakamura, Kramnik, Giri and Adams competing in a two-day, ten-round rapid open against both dozens more grandmasters and a host of amateur and junior players. It’s all part of the build-up for the five-round classical tournament that starts next Wednesday. Watch all the action live here on chess24!

The attention of the chess world is about to switch to London!

The Super Rapidplay Open

Usually we’d say the top players rarely compete in opens, but after Vladimir Kramnik and Anish Giri took up the challenge of the Qatar Masters Open that’s perhaps not entirely true. Still, the pairings involving the top players for the first round of the Super Rapidplay Open are pretty remarkable:

  • Hikaru Nakamura (age 26, 2775) - Theodore Slade (age 14, 1869)
  • Richard Zhu (age 14, 1869) - Fabiano Caruana (age 22, 2829)
  • Vishy Anand (age 44, 2793) - Rishul Karia (age 14, 1646)
  • William Golding (age 9, rating 1382) - Mickey Adams (age 43, rating 2745)
  • Vladimir Kramnik (age 39, rating 2769) - Naomi Wei (age 15, rating 1762)
  • Alexander Jamieson (age 10, rating 1334) - Anish Giri (age 20, rating 2768)   

As you might have guessed, the pairings are specially picked to give junior players a once-in-a-lifetime chance to play the world’s very best as part of the London Chess Classic’s mission to support the Chess in Schools and Communities charity.

After Round 1, though, we’re into the rough and tumble of a 381-player open featuring not only the Super Six but also the likes of Matthew Sadler, Simen Agdestein, Loek van Wely, Bonelli Iturrizaga (a 2700-rated rapid player), Gawain Jones and John Nunn, who continues his return to chess after winning a medal at the recent World Senior Championship. GM Daniel Gormally (2499) is also in action:

The first prize is £8,000, while another attraction for much of the field is the chance to warm up for the 9-round, 200+ player FIDE Open that starts on Monday.

The time control for the rapid games is 25 minutes per player with a 10-second increment each move, so although it’s going to be intense it shouldn’t be too quick to follow and enjoy. chess24 is providing the official broadcast produced by Macauley Peterson and featuring IM Lawrence Trent, who began his commentating career in the first ever London Chess Classic back in 2009.

Tania Sachdev and Lawrence Trent at the close of the 2013 London Chess Classic | photo: Ray Morris-Hill

What’s next?

The London Chess Classic really does manage to be a festival of chess, and it’s hard to keep up with all the events. Apart from the FIDE Open mentioned above there are weekend tournaments, the English Girls’ Chess Championship, a 6-game match between Romain Edouard and Gawain Jones and a book signing by Garry Kasparov (Wednesday, 10 December). The other events involving the “Super Six” are as follows:

Monday 8 December: The Elite Blitz Tournament

Since the main event is only five rounds the players will get the white or black pieces a different number of times, so the starting numbers matter! They’ll be determined this year by a 10-round blitz tournament, in which each of the six players takes on each of their opponents in two consecutive games (switching colours). Of course we’ll again broadcast all the action live here on chess24, starting from 19:00 local time (20:00 CET).

Tuesday 9 December: The Pro-Biz Cup

One of the games last year was so good the teams applauded before it even began | photo: Ray Morris-Hill, London Chess Classic

This is a fun charity event that sees the top players (Nigel Short is added to the mix) paired with businessmen who bid to partner the player. The teams of two play 25-minute rapid games with each player making a move in turn without consulting their partner, although teams are allowed to take two one-minute timeouts to discuss strategy. You can find more details here.     

Wednesday 10 December: The London Chess Classic

Although the format was different - a knockout with no classical chess - Hikaru Nakamura won the 2013 event ahead of most of his competitors this year | photo: Ray Morris-Hill

This is the event most chess fans will be waiting for – a five-round classical tournament featuring some of the world’s very best. We’ll get the answers to some questions:

  • Fabiano Caruana has had time to recharge his batteries after his marathon Sinquefield Cup, European Club Cup, FIDE Grand Prix (x2!) series – can he continue to show he’s the man of 2014?
  • How will Vishy Anand adapt to life after the World Championship? Can he put all his hard work to good use and start another rise?
  • Can Anish Giri put to rest the suggestion that he’s better against slightly lesser opposition?
  • Can Hikaru Nakamura back up the claim that he’s the biggest future rival to Magnus Carlsen? He did his reputation no harm by tying Levon Aronian in the classical part of their recent match in St. Louis and then overwhelming the Armenian star in blitz.
  • Will Vladimir Kramnik be able to forget his last-round woes in Qatar and continue his recovery after falling out of the Top 10 in 2014?
  • Will Michael Adams have picked up some new tricks from his time spent in the Magnus Carlsen opening laboratory?

Michael Adams joined Laurent Fressinet and Jon Ludvig Hammer to plot Magnus Carlsen's victory from a Norwegian hideaway | screenshot: NRK

Games start at 16:00 local time (17:00 CET) for Round 1-3, and then at 14:00 for Rounds 4 and 5, with no rest day. The London Chess Classic will, of course, also be broadcast live on chess24.

So all that remains is for us to enjoy a feast of chess! The Super Rapidplay Open starts today, December 6, at 12:00 UK time (13:00 CET). Watch it here.

See also:

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