The first of the two weekends of the 9th London Chess Classic saw the whole event move lock, stock and barrel from Google HQ to Kensington Olympia.
The temporary relocation from our classic Classic venue had been a great success but now it was back to 'business at usual' in the place we have traditionally occupied every December since the very first London Classic, back in 2009.
Incidentally, Malcolm Pein broke the excellent news over the weekend that the London Chess Classic will indeed return in 2018 (dates and details to be confirmed). We live in a very uncertain financial climate so it was wonderful news to hear our flagship tournament will reach (at least) it's 10th edition.
The first weekend brought the London Education Conference - held at the London Hilton Olympia, a short walk from the conference centre - which brought together many experts from around the world. The conference was supported (in part) by Chess in Schools and Communities but unfortunately our logo was omitted from their printed programme. Nevertheless, our support was definitely there!
The British KO Championship continued to entertain with some fascinating games. Luke McShane and David Howell eventually battled their way to the final, at the expense of Nigel Short and Matthew Sadler respectively.
There were also three rounds played in the big FIDE Open, an event featuring many Grandmasters and other titled players.
The highlight of the day was Sunday's return to action of the world's elite players following their rest day on Saturday. It is unusual to have a rest day after just one round, but anyone who saw the amount of boxes that needed unpacking at Olympia on the Saturday morning following the move from Google HQ would not doubt the need for a little extra preparation time before the Classic games recommenced.
The first move played on one of the main boards at Olympia this year was made by His Excellency Yashvardhan Kumar Sinha, India's High Commissioner to the UK, who made the opening move for the most famous of Indian players, Vishy Anand.
All five games played in round two ended in draws, just as they did in round one. The key pairing of the day featured World Champion Magnus Carlsen and Sergey Karjakin, his challenger from 2016 (the most recent title match). Incidentally, the next World Chess Championship match will be held during November 2018 in London. Carlsen's challenger will be determined by the very strong Candidates tournament of March 2018, which will take place in Berlin. It could be Karjakin again or it could be a new challenger.
|John Foley at the Conference|
|Malcolm Pein welcoming the delegates|
|British KO Championship: Luke McShane vs. Nigel Short|
|British KO Championship: Matthew Sadler vs. David Howell|
|Big names, big games for the second round of the Classic|
|The World Champion and his most recent challenger|
|Lots of tough games in the FIDE Open tournament|
Today brings the first big junior day. Indeed, as I am typing this report 390 children from 15 schools have just arrived and are walking by my desk in the foyer. The junior events will continue throughout the rest of the week and Olympia will be packed to the rafters which eager chess players of all ages.