Wednesday 9 December 2009

Live From Olympia...

Reporting live from the Press Centre at Olympia...

The London Chess Classic got off to a dramatic start with two decisive games.

World No.1 Magnus Carlsen used the English Opening to defeat former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik and Luke McShane ground down former World Championship finalist Nigel Short after seven hours of play.

The other two games were draws, though not dull ones.

David Howell and Michael Adams was the second all-English encounter which ended up in an equal Rook endgame.

Ni Hua sacrificed the exchange for a Bishop and a protected passed pawn but Hikaru Nakamura sacrificed it back to reach what looked like a very favourable ending. Excellent active defence held the draw.

The scoring system of three points for a win, one for a draw and nothing for a loss should result in fighting chess throughout the whole event. There is very little possibility of an early leader being able to coast home with a series of draws.

Today's games will see a battle between the two leaders, with Carlsen enjoying a second White.

The entire Festival is going very well indeed. The Open tournament has already seen some surprise results, particularly the defeat suffered by GM Conquest at the hands of Alan Barton.

There have already been numerous juniors from various schools enjoying coaching and other free events.

The facilities are excellent here at the Olympia and the staff are friendly and efficient.

There are analysis rooms with Grandmaster commentary, a magnificent playing arena and lots of space and chess boards for friendly games.

Anybody in two minds about making the effort to come along and enjoy the live action should make the effort and seize the moment. This is the strongest UK chess event for 25 years and is part of a new initiative to bring the World Chess Championship back to London in 2012.

More flash reports should follow over the course of the tournament.

Full details of all events can be found on the official website:

Meanwhile, taking advantage of London being such an amazing city, I have already managed to visit three museums: the 'V&A', 'Natural History' and 'Science'; a book signing session by June Whitfield and Barry Cryer at Simpson's and a trip to see 'Oliver!' at Drury Lane.

Photos of all these things and more will appear on the blog shortly after my return.

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