The annual London Classic, inspired and organised by the indefatigable Malcolm Pein, is now underway at London’s Olympia. The website is www.londonchessclassic.com and in the stellar line-up are Magnus Carlsen, Fabiano Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura, Veselin Topalov, Alexander Grischuk, Viswanathan Anand, Anish Giri, Lev Aronian, Michael Adams and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.
This is the highest-rated tournament ever held on British soil, though Nottingham 1936 can challenge for quality given that five world champions were competing, namely Emanuel Lasker, Capablanca, Alekhine, Euwe and Botvinnik.
London has been the scene of many brilliant games, jewels in the crown of chess art. This week I give two examples of coruscating brilliance.
Anderssen-Kieseritsky: London 1851
(see diagram 1)
18 Bd6!! Bxg1 The only defensive try was 18 … Qxa1+ 19 Ke2 Qb2 20 Kd2 Bxg1 21 e5 with unclear play. 19 e5 Qxa1+ 20 Ke2 Na6 This gets mated but 20 … Ba6 21 Nc7+ Kd8 22 Nxa6 is also winning for White. 21 Nxg7+ Kd8 22 Qf6+! Nxf6 23 Be7 mate
Zukertort-Blackburne: London 1883 (see diagram 2)
28 Qb4!! A superb deflection. After 28 … Qxb4 Black gets mated, e.g. 29 Bxe5+ Kxh7 30 Rh3+ Kg6 31 Rg3+ Kh6 32 Rf6+ Kh7 33 Rf7+ Kh6 34 Bf4+ Kh5 35 Rh7. 28 … R8c5 29 Rf8+!! Another deflection. 29 … Qxf8 30 Bxe5+ mates. 29 … Kxh7 30 Qxe4+ Kg7 31 Bxe5+ Kxf8 32 Bg7+! The final coup. 32 … Qxg7 33 Qe8 is mate. 32 … Kg8 33 Qxe7 Black resigns
The introduction of the British Knockout Championship, with a record £50,000 prize fund, is a most welcome innovation, and an achievement of which the chief organiser Malcolm Pein can be justly proud. The contestants are: David Howell, Luke McShane, Nigel Short, Gawain Jones, Jonathan Rowson, Jonathan Hawkins, Daniel Fernandez and Yang-Fan Zhou.
With Christmas approaching, those in search of unusual presents for chess-loving bibliophile friends and relatives would do well to consider Markus Stormson’s Curried Chess. This is a curio, packed with an interesting selection of ingenious and obscure variants on the game. Among the rarities it explores are Barbed Short Chess, Takeover Chess, and Stratak. This compendium is available from regular outlets and @troubador.co.uk.
You might disagree with half of it, but you’ll enjoy reading all of it. Try your first 10 weeks for just $10