All four games were drawn Tuesday in the penultimate round of the London Chess Classic, but that was only because Vladimir Kramnik of Russia badly miscalculated in his game against Magnus Carlsen of Norway, allowing him to escape from a lost position.
Heading into tomorrow’s final round, Carlsen remains tied with Viswanathan Anand of India, the world champion, and Luke McShane of England. Carlsen has the better tie-breakers, however, so if the three should remain tied, Carlsen, the defending champion, would claim the title.
Kramnik is tied for fourth with Hikaru Nakamura of the United States, Michael Adams of England is sixth, David Howell of England is seventh, and Nigel Short, the fourth Englishman in the field, is in last.
Kramnik, a former world champion, has certainly made mistakes and missed some opportunities before, including memorably walking into a checkmate against a computer, but Tuesday’s slip had to really hurt.
He played the early part of the game flawlessly and outmaneuvered Carlsen until he had a large advantage. Carlsen had to give up a piece just to stay alive, but the position that arose afterward was lost. Carlsen kept struggling, however, and when Kramnik seized an opportunity to force a trade of most of the remaining pieces, the resulting endgame was not so clear cut. Computer programs being used to analyze the game showed that there were ways for Kramnik to win (68 Ke4 instead of 68 Be6, or 70 g5 instead of Kh4, which threw away the win), but he missed them and Carlsen was eventually able to set up a blockade that Kramnik could not break.
Nakamura also missed some opportunities against McShane, though he never had an advantage as large as Kramnik did against Carlsen. Nakamura’s biggest error was playing 36 â€¦ Ke8 instead of 36 â€¦ Qb4. That allowed McShane to infiltrate with his queen and force a draw by perpetual check.
Of the other two draws, the more entertaining one was between Short and Howell. One round after playing an obscure line of the Marshall Attack in the Ruy Lopez, Short trotted out the little used King’s Gambit. The game was full of twists and turns with strange positions that don’t often occur in contests between grandmasters. In the end, after a number of exchanges, the position settled down to a calm draw.
The game between Adams and Anand was full of tension, but neither player managed to gain an edge and they were finally content to repeat the position and draw.