Chess Notes

Weekly chess column

Magnus Carlsen reigns supreme! He has not only won the 2012 London Classic but has now surpassed Garry Kasparov’s all-time highest chess rating. Kasparov reached the mark of 2851 in 1999. Carlsen has vaulted over this figure to 2862.4. It is all the more remarkable for many reasons: Carlsen is only 22 years old and has a bright career still ahead of him. He comes from Norway, a small country never afflicted with chess fever. Lastly, he achieved this result against a field of great players with access to a mother lode of books and computers dealing with chess.

Carlsen took charge of the Classic (3 points for a win and 1 for a draw) right from the beginning. He had wins against Luke McShane and Levon Aronian, had a draw against Vladamir Kramnik, and then wins against Gawain Jones, Mickey Adams, and Judit Polgar, for a total of 16 points in the first six rounds. He had draws with Hikaru Nakamura and Viswanathan Anand in the following rounds.

Carlsen’s games were not flashy; they constantly steady, reliable moves with no gambits or daring sacrifices. In those with McShane, Jones, and even Aronian, his opponents were the aggressors. McShane got overextended against a careful defense and Jones and Aronian sacrificed with no success. Carlsen got a gradual build-up against Polgar and finally prevailed after getting a rook to the seventh. The game against Adams was a thriller, but Carlsen got an extra pawn in a queen and pawn ending. He then provided a lesson in distant opposition.


Kramnik had a fine tournament, with victories over Nakamura, McShane, Jones, and Polar (which we shall publish in our weekly Saturday column). Kramnik had a chance to catch up to Carlsen in the last round. He needed a win against Adams but had to settle for a draw and thus trailed Carlsen by two points. Both Nakamura and Adams ended in third and fourth places with 13 points, five behind Carlsen.

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World champion Anand’s play continues to be disappointing. He had a loss against Adams, only one win against Jones, and drew all his other games. He ended with only 9 points. Other surprising scores included 8 points for Aronian and only 6 for Polgar. McShane and Jones were frequent victims, ending in the last two places.

There will be much drama in 2013, at which time the faltering Anand will have to defend his crown against the winner of a candidates’ tournament to be held in London in March. That competition will be a double round robin with Carlsen, Peter Svidler, Alexander Grischuk, Kramnik, Vassily Ivanchuk, Boris Gelfand, and Teimour Radjabov. There will be no easy games in this competition.

Brevity: R. Fischer vs. J. Sofrevski (1967) 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Bc4 e6 7. Bb3 Be7 8. Be3 O-O 9. Qe2 Qa5 10. O-O-O Nxd4 11. Bxd4 Bd712. Kb1 Rad8 13. Qe3 b6 14. Bxf6 gxf6 15. Nd5 Rfe8 16. Nxe7+ Rxe7 17. Rxd6 Rc8 18. Qd4 Be8 19. Qxf6; 1-0

Winners: Harry Nelson Pillsbury: 1st, GM Alexander Ivanov, 3½-½, 2nd-3d, IM David Vigorito, Grant Xu, 3-1; Boylston Quad #1: 1st- 2d, Jesse Nicholas and Arthur Tang, 2-1, 3d, Eric Godin 1.5-1.5


Coming Events:Boylston CC: Saturday, Grand Prix; Sunday, BCC Scholastic GP; Jan. 1, Open House. All at 240B Elm Street, Somerville;