London Chess Classic: the rest of the world beats England

Three against three

The main event of the London Chess Classic 2021, which took place at the Cavendish Center, was a match between a strong English team consisting of Michael Adams, Luke McShane and Gawain Jones and an international squad including Boris Gelfand, Nikita Vitiugov and Maxime Lagarde . The match was a two-round Scheveningen contest, with each player taking on each representative of the opposing team twice. The winner was decided by points of the board. Going into Thursday’s final round, the teams were tied at 7½ points.

The final day of play saw some hard-fought matches on all three boards. In the end, the three games were decisive.

Maxime Lagarde sacrificed a queenside pawn against Michael Adams in the Benko-Gambit style on an open from Reti, but was never able to recover it. The compensation was neutralized by Michael Adams and the point ultimately went to Black.

Boris Gelfand and Gawain Jones had an exciting battle in the King’s Indian defense. Gelfand got the upper hand with White in the queenless mid-game, but Jones always brought up nowhere partner threats at the end.

The position arose out of the main variant of the king’s Indian defense. By exchanging queens, White managed to slow down his opponent’s attack. The Indian Dragon and King expert, however, was still attempting to attack in this tense position.

25 … f3 ?! [The machine considers that after 25…Nc2 26.Ra2 Nb4 27.Bxb4 cxb4 28.Rxb4 Be7 29.Nxc8 Rxc8 30.Rba4 Bd8= the game is balanced.]

26.Ra2 Bd7 ?! Abandon the b7 pawn to attack on the diagonal c6-g2. [Better was 26…Be7 27.Nxc8 Rxc8 28.Rab2 Rc7 and White is more active.]

27.Txb7 Rxb7 28.Nxb7 Bc6 29.Nxc5

29 … Rb8 Menacing companion.

30.gxf3 [30.Rb2 was also good.]

30 … Nxf3 + 31.Kg2 Nh4 + 32.Kg3 Kh6 To avoid attacks along the long diagonal.

33.a6 Pawn a will decide the game in favor of White.

33 … Fe7 34.Ne6 Bxe4 35.Bxe5 Tg8 [35…Rc8 36.Bg7+ Kh5 37.Be2+ and Black gets mated.]

36.Ng5 Rxg5 37.Bxg8 Nf5 + 38.Kh3 Bd3 Caution!

39.Bd5 White prevents mate from f1.

39 … Bf1 + 40.Bg2 Bc4 41.a7 Game over. 1–0

Equally exciting was the match between Nikita Vitiugov and Luke McShane. After the opening, the former English prodigy had a promising position with a majority of pawns on the queen side, but he failed to move the pawns.

White had sacrificed a queen side pawn of an Indian queen defense and had won and traded on the king side. Since there are no open lines being a down trade is not so relevant here, while the majority of black pawns can play a big role if they can move.

20 … Nd5 [20…Nb4!? 21.h4 h5 22.Bf3 Nbd5 is the machine suggestion. Unlike in the game, here the pawns can start advancing.]

21.h4 h5 22.Bf3 Bxh4 The pawn was unprotected and is captured. Now, however, the h file is also open to white attack and moreover the business is costing time.

23.Nc5 Qd6 24.Ne4 Qd7 25.Nc5 Qd6 26.Ne4 Qd8 Black avoids the triple repetition and plays for a win.

27.Cc5 Clear the e4 box for the bishop. White will constitute an attack battery with his next moves.

27 … Re7 28.Be4 Bf6 29.Df3 Kb6? [A better version of the black idea was 29…Qd6 30.Bxg6 Nxd4 31.exd4 Bxd4 32.Rd1 Qxc5 33.Bxf7 Bxf2 34.Rg5 Qe3 with equal chances.]

30.Bxg6 Nxd4 [30…fxg6 31.Rxg6 is not playable.]

31.exd4 Bxd4 32.Bxf7 Bxc5 33.Qxh5 [Strong was 33.Rg8 Qd6 34.Bxe6 Qxf4 35.Bxd5]

33 … Nf6 34.Dxc5 + Kxf7 Threatening Qd3 with perpetual failure.

35.Kg3 Kb8 [More resistance offered 35…Nd5]

36.Da7 + Ke8 37.Re1 Dd6 38.Txe6 + Qxe6 39.Re3 Kb6 40.Dxb6 1–0

Final results

12th LCC ENG v ROW
Teams 1 2 3 4 5 6 Points
1 Rest of the world 2 ½ 2 2 1 2
2 England 1 1 1 2 1

All the games


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