The Pro/Biz Cup made for an excellent start at the London Chess Classic. The second and final day at Google HQ - home of DeepMind, one of the tournament's sponsors - brought the first round of the Classic itself plus a great day of junior chess.
The world's top players are very difficult to beat and this was proved yet again in the first round of the Classic when all five games ended in draws. That doesn't mean they played dull games and the variations hiding under the surface will show that some players had a small advantage they were pushing to increase and others had to play very well to avoid ending up with a significantly worse position.
We were already coming to the end of our big junior day as the top stars were taking their seats. Five London schools brought their chess players to Google HQ for a whole series of events including coaching from CSC tutors, a Masterlcass from International Lawrence Trent and a five-round tournament.
CSC London Coordinator Jonathan Bryant put together a fabulous series of varied events and had assembled a very strong team of CSC tutors to teach the children. The sessions were enjoyed by all (including the school staff).
We even took everyone into the playing hall to watch the start of the Grandmaster games and I am sure for many - if not all - of the juniors this was their very first opportunity to see Magnus Carlsen, the reigning World Chess Champion, in action. Some of the juniors asked me if they could stay to obtain his autograph and quite taken aback to discover that games at this level could take four or more hours to reach a conclusion.
Then it was back to the Ziggy Stardust room to award the medals and trophy to the most successful juniors. Malcolm Pein was on hand to congratulate everyone on a very successful day.
|CSC Tutor Anu|
|CSC Tutor Sabrina|
|CSC Tutor Lucas|
|CSC Tutor Roman|
|Solving Sabrina's problems|
|CSC Tutor Aga|
|The staff enjoyed the sessions too|
|Warming up the audience for IM Lawrence Trent|
|Examining the finale of Harry Potter's Wizard Chess checkmate|
|And...the moment they all waiting for; lunch!|
|Jonathan Bryant's chess quiz|
|The tournament - and my opponent - in action|
|Trying to read my new opponent's thoughts|
|I won all of my games but Jonathan refused to award me any points|
|Oh, that is what Aga was doing with my camera...|
|Malcolm Pein making the opening announcements|
|Demis Hassabis, addressing the players and audience|
|Game time! Adams vs. Karjakin|
|Carlsen - who appears to be removing a hair from a chess piece - and Caruana|
|Kasparov is there to make a ceremonial move|
|He seems pleased with the way things are going|
|So vs. Vachier-Lagrave|
|Nakamura vs. Anand|
|Nepomniachtchi vs. Aronian|
|Malcolm at the junior prizegiving|
|A selection of champions|
|Aga and Lucas showing off the DeepMind goodie bags.|
|King of the schools!|