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Chess Stars Head for London

Chess Stars Head for London
Monday,November 30,2015

Chess fans (like me) will be wet round the gills at the prospect of the London Chess Classic which kicks off on Friday as Leg three of the Grand Chess Tour.

The London Chess Classic has, in recent years, become the curtain closer for the Elite Chess tournament calendar, but without really becoming a "major" event. But this year, it will be the strongest chess tournament EVER held in London with eight of the world’s top 11 players competing for around £1million in prize money!

Non-chess fans probably haven’t read this far. But if you have, here’s a bit of background: 2015 is the first year of the Grand Chess Tour, an innovation in the World of the highest level of professional tournament chess. The Tour has invited nine of the world’s top 10 players to play in three designated tournaments during 2015 who then earn points, Grand Prix style, for their result in each of these three tournaments. The Grand Chess Tour pays additional prizes (worth over $1m!) to the winners of each of these as well as the top three finishers overall.

The London Chess Classic normally a relatively sleepy affair pitting a few elite players against the best UK players - has been designated the third leg of the inaugural Grand Chess Tour (the first two legs were Norway Chess and the Sinquefield Cup in St Louis) .

So with the likes of Magnus Carlsen, Hikaru Nakamura, Vesily Topalov, Lev Aronian and so on (for non-chess fans still reading that’s like Messi, Ronaldo, Suarez and Neymar), pitching up to play for the best part of £1m, the London Chess Classic has been thrust onto the stage of super-elite chess.

It’s hard to imagine all that brainpower in one place at the same time. Surely they could get together in the breaks and solve world hunger or the Middle East crisis or something?

But what makes this tournament REALLY different is all the prize-money on offer. A £1m prize-fund is MASSIVE in chess more than the last World Championship prize-fund.

Add to this the fact that the format of the tournament all play all once (only nine rounds so some players get 5 whites 4 blacks, others get 4 whites 5 blacks), only one rest day, aggressive time-controls with only one hour after the initial two hours for 40 moves…boring details but a recipe for some Fire on the Board!

Chess for spectators has been enhanced exponentially by the innovations of the internet age. I remember watching Karpov v Kasparov on Ceefax, waiting for each page refresh eager to see if the next move was available (it never was!). Now you can watch every game live simultaneously with an instant engine evaluation and computer lines available to play through on the board on your display; whilst listening to the real-time commentary from grandmasters (plus Lawrence Trent of course sorry Lawrence).

All this while sitting on your sofa drinking home made cappacino. Who needs the Premier League?

To spice it all up even further, we’re running the London Chess Classic pool on i-pools. Just make nine predictions like Who will win? Who will come last? Who will top the Grand Chess tour rankings? How many Wins will be scored?

So if you know your Sicillian from your Kings Indian, or even if you don’t, then turn your predictions into £££ and jump in the London Classic chess pool!


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