London calling

12 December 2015

9:00 AM

12 December 2015

9:00 AM

By the time this article appears, the London Classic at Olympia and the newly created brainchild of the indefatigable Malcolm Pein, the introduction of the British Knockout Championship, will have been underway for some time. The prize fund in the Classic is $300,000, this being part of the new global Grand Chess Tour which has tournaments in St Louis and Norway, where the overall prize fund available amounts to over $1,000,000.

Given the lavish support for these two events, a recent article in the Guardian by Stephen Moss entitled ‘Grandmaster Crash — How English Chess Pawned Its Future’deserves attention. While criticising the English Chess Federation for frittering its energies on internecine feuds, Moss rightly lauds Malcolm Pein, who has made great efforts on behalf of British chess both at elite international level and with grassroots charitable activities (

The extracts this week see players from the main event in action. The puzzle is from the British Knockout Championship.

Giri-Shirov: European Teams, Reykjavik 2015

(see diagram 1)

White has a structural advantage due to Black’s doubled c-pawns which also inhibits his ability to create queenside counterplay. Giri now exploits this latter fact to build up decisively on the kingside. 22 c4 bxc4 23 dxc4 Rdd8 24 Qe2 e6 25 h4 Rd7 26 h5 Rfd8 27 hxg6 hxg6 28 g3 Qc3 29 Kg2 Preparing a heavy piece invasion along the h-file. 29 … a5 30 Re3 Rd3 This is a blunder but after 30 … Qb4 31 Ng5 Black will be hard-pressed to defend on the kingside. 31 Rd1 Black resigns

Aronian-Jobava: European Teams, Reykjavik 2015 (see diagram 2)

In the following extract, Aronian gives a masterclass in how to manoeuvre against weak pawns in an endgame. 26 Rd3 Rc7 27 Ra3 Bh6 28 Rc2 Rd8 29 Rxa5 a6 30 Ra3 e4 31 Rb3+ Ka8 32 Rb6 Rd5 33 b4 White cements his bishop on c5, giving his rooks complete freedom to decimate the black queenside. 33 … Bd2 34 Ra2 Rb7 35 Rxc6 Rbd7 36 Raxa6+ Kb7 37 Rab6+ Ka8 38 Rb5 e3+ 39 Kg2 Black resigns

Meanwhile, the new year beckons, and there are important tournaments at Hastings, Wijk aan Zee, Gibraltar and Bunratty in the offing. I am due to attend the last two and I hope to give some eyewitness accounts of the struggles that will take place.

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