Monday, December 03, 2012

Postcard from the London Chess Classic, Day 2

Hello chess friends,

Vindication and discrimination.

On day 2, I travelled again to the London Chess Classic.  This is the first time I'm able to watch the world's best players live, in person instead of online, where I've watched many top games before.  I flit between the player's auditorium, where all the top players are sitting on stage in various human thinking positions, and the commentary room, a bit overstuffed with fans listening to Danny King and others comment on the moves.  Mostly this commentary is excellent and randomly puncuated with audience queries about this or that tactic.  A kid might ask why White doesn't just take the hanging rook.  An obnoxious fan might rattle off a whole series of questions and comments, mostly vague bon mots like, "This game reminds me of some other game that Anand and I think Howell played back in 2002, with the kings and the queens all lined up on the side like that, with pawns here and there, and Howell made it really tough for Anand but he pulled through in the end."

Given that both the moves and the commentary are available live, you might wonder what difference or advantage actually being in person brings.  Focus-- my attention is devoted to chess instead of to work or chores.  And random interactions-- I meet a lot of other people who also love chess.  Today, standing around kibbitzing by the hall game monitors (setup everywhere in the venue), I was amused by our collective shock when GM Jones found the following rook sac to draw Judit Polgar.    

With 1. Ra8+!,  Black forces a perpetual on White's King and holds the game.
Magnus Carlsen impressed again, this time smoking a 2800 player.  In the FIDE live ratings, GM Carlsen has now broken Kasparov's all-time rating high, and he stands more than 50 rating points ahead of #2, a boggling distance.

Again, I participate in the evening Blitz tournament, which will be FIDE rated on the new blitz rating scheme.

In my first game, I am paired with a new friend, a FIDE rated 2000 player who had played me some blitz games casually on Saturday.  In typical blitz fashion, he threw his pieces at my king, and I was forced to desperately scramble my king laterally.  White to move: 

Yes, I used to have a Kingside.  Yes, my king had started over there behind a pawn shield.  And yes, Nc7+ followed by Nxd5+ is good for White.  However, in the time scramble, my opponent played 1. Ra7+ and then declared MATE.  When I played Kb6, not only am I now very safe, I am winning.  He immediately played Rb7+ and let me follow up with mate, but I wish I could say the following amazing basically forced line was on my radar screen (it wasn't)--  1. Ra7+ Kb6 2. Rxd5 Ra2+ 3. Kb3 Ne3 4. c4 (4...c4++ was a threat) Rhc2 5. Rxc5 a4+ 6. Rxa4 Rab2 7. Ka3 Kxc5 8. d7 Nd1 9.d8=Q Ra2+ 10. Kb3 Rcb2 ++.    Obvious, right?!

So I started on a high note and rode that save for a final 4-1 score, beating several FIDE ~2000 players in the process and losing only a tense game to a FIDE 2200.  Redemption from my first blitz day, and I was certain that I had just won the class prize and paid for my little chess weekend.

Instead, I was told that I am considered unrated and don't qualify for the class prize-- my 20+ years of rated chess in the US don't mean anything in England, and they don't accept the conversion for the purposes of giving out prizes.  Basically, this means that the US gets discrminated against while most of the regular European players have either an English or a FIDE rating.  Since the two top IMs agreed to a draw to finish 4.5, I didn't even nudge a share of second.

So I have a quibble now with the whole arrangement.  The US chess rating system appears to be better managed, updates instantly, and usually allows foreign ratings to qualify people for various Under-sections.  But here in England, I might as well have never played chess at all.

Time to get an established FIDE rating. 

Update:  Here is the top of the crosstable from Round 2

All the best,


Tony Cortizas, Jr. said...

Jason, I'm enjoying your posts.

Isnt' it a shame we dont have this kind of top intnl tournament in the U.S.

Tony Cortizas, Jr. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rihel said...


I sure wish there would be more top level events involving World Champion level players, but also more FIDE caliber events.

The London Classic is great! The concurrent FIDE Open has 113 BOARDS! And that doesn't include the weekend events, which also attracted a lot of players. I'm hoping to play this weekend and get close to a FIDE rating with 6 official games. Unfortunately, my previous 6 FIDE games won't count towards my rating anymore because of some statute of limitations.