Newsletter no.2 - February 2016 - Classic Special


What makes the London Chess Classic special? by Sagar Shah


An extended version of this article is available here.


On the surface the London Chess Classic 2015 looks like any other elite tournament. Top players like Magnus Carlsen, Vishy Anand, Hikaru Nakamura, Veselin Topalov, Anish Giri showcase some high class chess, and the entire chess world learns from their games. However for a person who was present at the playing venue for all of these ten days of the event I have to say that there is much more to the London Chess Classic than what meets the eye. The moment the doors of the elevator open on the third level of the Olympia Center in Kensington, London, you can see the entire floor buzzing with chess activities. This article pays a tribute to many of the individuals and special things that make the London Chess Classic what it is – a celebration of chess!


The huge audience and the chance to meet your idol


In the past grandmasters loved to play in Russia. The reason: crowds there understood chess really well, and they would in some ways motivate the players to showcase their best chess.



The scenario was not so different in London. A huge number of chess-literate people turned up to watch the top players in action, and the organizers reciprocated by giving them a chance to not only see their chess idols up close but also to take pictures, selfies and autographs with them.


Simuls and blitz with GMs


If you are greedy, and just meeting the grandmasters is not enough for you, the London Chess Classic gives you plenty of opportunities to play against titled opponents, and in fact face world famous players like John Nunn (pictured below) Jon Speelman and Luke McShane.



These three gave a simultaneous exhibition on three different days of the festival, and many chess enthusiasts, young and old, enrolled themselves for a lifetime opportunity to play against a GM.


School events and the chess atmosphere


More than 1700 kids from different schools of London converged upon the Olympia Center from the 7th to the 11th of December to participate in chess events representing their schools.


I am sure you can imagine how this chess atmosphere can really get the kids hooked onto the game of chess for a lifetime.


London Chess Conference


This year’s London Chess Conference was bigger than ever with more than 120 participants from nearly thirty countries, spanning all continents. It was held nearby the London Chess Classic at the Hilton Olympia in Kensington on the 5th and 6th of December 2015. Some of the really well thought out topics included chess with refugees, chess and old people, chess in prisons, where to invest public money in chess, chess and mathematics, chess and football and others. The number of speeches and talks were so great that it was impossible to keep a track of all of them. But one thing is certain – attending this conference will surely give you new horizons and dimensions in which to perceive the game of chess. This unique meeting was rounded up by a Social Chess Entrepreneurship Bootcamp starting on 4th December and workshops on New Chess Research and Advanced Topics in Teacher Training on 7th December.



TDAH y ajedrez: rehabilitación cognitiva, a Spanish project that develops chess as an educational intervention for children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), has been voted as the clear winner of the Best Social Chess Project competition by the attendees of the Chess and Society conference.


The Pro-Biz Cup


The Pro-Biz Cup was held on the 14th of December 2015. It brings the best business minds and the world’s leading grandmasters together in a fun knockout tournament to raise money for the UK charity, Chess in Schools and Communities (CSC).



The businessmen bid for their favourite players and one who bids the highest gets the chance to team up with the grandmaster.


British Knockout Championships


Top players of Britain, with the exception of Michael Adams and Nigel Short, took part in the inaugural British Knockout Championships. The eight players at the start included David Howell, Luke McShane, Nicholas Pert, Gawain Jones, Jonathan Rowson, Jonathan Hawkins, Daniel Fernandez and Yang-Fan Zhou.



Top seeded David Howell won the event and took home a hefty check of £20,000, by beating Nick Pert in the six-game final by a score of 4-2. Nick Pert, however, was surely the man of the event, as he knocked out two higher rated players, Jonathan Hawkins and Luke McShane, to bag the runners-up prize of £10,000.


London Super Rapid and Fide Open


On the 12th and the 13th of December a ten-round Super Rapid with the time control of 25 minutes + 10 seconds increment was held. The first prize was quite a high sum of £2,500, which attracted a lot of strong players to the event.



Parallel to the elite event a strong FIDE Open consisting of 216 players from all around the world took place. The rating average of the tournament was 2125 and there were 27 grandmasters taking part, six of them having an Elo above 2600.





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