Last weekend I attended the London Chess Classic, which proved to be every bit as exciting as it was last year. Highlights included an unusual encounter with Viktor Korchnoi, watching IM Lawrence Trent and GM Stephen play giant blitz chess (which can be seen here), and of course watching Vishy, Carlsen and the other top players slugging it out in the main event. I was playing in the Weekender Open section, and was very pleased to score 3/5, with a 191 grading performance (which equates to about 2178 FIDE).
In the first round I was paired with Mike Lexton, and a quick search 5 minutes before revealed that he played the Dragon. I went for the 9. O-O-O and 10. Qe1 line, which he wasn’t very familiar with, and I emerged from the opening a pawn up. Unfortunately I was unable to convert this to a win, and the game was eventually agreed drawn after about 60 moves in a rook and pawn ending.
In the second game I was black against Jonathan Wells, who also managed to draw with Mickey Adams at the Paignton simul in September. He played the fianchetto variation of the King’s Indian, and, without knowing any theory, I developed awkwardly with b6 and got a cramped position. I was fortunate to get a draw, as my opponent missed some strong attacking ideas.
In the third round I was white against Isaac Sanders, a young lad of 12 (I believe) who plays great chess already and whose rating is shooting up. The opening was a Sicilian Najdorf, and I again played 6. Be2, as I did last month against Anastasios Nezis, but after 6…e5 my opening knowledge came to an abrupt end. I played reasonably and the game was fairly equal most of the way through, but my opponent kept pressing and a few endgame inaccuracies eventually allowed him to win.
A post about my day 2 games, both of which I won, will follow.