Tactical Play at the London Classic

Photo: Spectrum StudiosPhoto: Spectrum Studios

This month, Wesley So won the London Classic, the overall Grand Chess Tour, and became one of the few people to cross the 2800 FIDE rating mark. In addition, Hikaru Nakamura and Fabiano Caruana won 2nd and 3rd in the tour, making 2016 a fantastic year for American chess.

Can you solve tactics from some of the best games in the tournament?

Tactic #1

Veselin Topalov vs. Wesley So

Black to move.
Level: Warm-Up

Show Solution

[pgn][Event "London Chess Classic"] [Site "London ENG"] [Date "2016.12.15"] [Round "6.1"] [White "Veselin Topalov"] [Black "Wesley So"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C53"] [WhiteElo "2760"] [BlackElo "2794"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r1b3k1/b1p2r2/p1p2n2/P2p2q1/R5p1/2P3B1/1P1NBPP1/3QR1K1 b - - 0 22"] [PlyCount "11"] [EventDate "2016.12.09"]22... Nh5 {With this simple move, White's weakened kingside collapses. There is just too much pressure on the f2-pawn and g3-bishop.} 23. Bxg4 (23. Bh2 Bxf2+ 24. Kf1 Qh4) (23. Nf1 Nxg3 24. Nxg3 Bxf2+ 25. Kf1 Bxg3+) 23... Nxg3 24. Re8+ Kg7 25. Rxc8 (25. Nf3 Qh6 26. Bh3 Rxf3 27. Qxf3 Qc1+ 28. Kh2 Nf1+ 29. Kg1 Nd2+) 25... Bxf2+ 26. Kh2 Qe5 27. Kh3 Ne2 {and Topalov resigned.} 0-1[/pgn]

Tactic #2

Wesley So vs. Michael Adams

Can you find the winning tactic that made Wesley So the 12th person in history to pass 2800?

White to move.
Level: Intermediate

Show Solution

[pgn][Event "London Chess Classic"] [Site "London ENG"] [Date "2016.12.10"] [Round "2"] [White "Wesley So"] [Black "Michael Adams"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E06"] [WhiteElo "2794"] [BlackElo "2748"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/2n1kpp1/1pp4p/p1b2Pq1/P1P1P3/3Q2P1/1BB3KP/8 w - - 0 39"] [PlyCount "11"] [EventDate "2016.12.07"]39. Be5 $1 {Taking advantage of Black's scattered pieces.} Ne6 (39... Ne8 40. Bf4 Qh5 (40... Qf6 41. e5) 41. Bd1 {traps Black's queen.}) 40. fxe6 {and Black resigned. If} Qxe5 41. Qd7+ Kf6 42. Qxf7+ Kg5 43. h4+ Kg4 44. Qf3# 1-0[/pgn]

Tactic #3

Hikaru Nakamura vs. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

Hikaru Nakamura at the Paris Grand Chess Tour. Photo: Spectrum StudiosHikaru Nakamura at the Paris Grand Chess Tour. Photo: Spectrum Studios


With the exception of Topalov, Nakamura had more decisive games than anyone else in the tournament. Despite losses to So and Caruana, he fought back and won three excellent games. How did he finish off his attack against MVL?

White to move.
Level: Advanced

Show Solution

[pgn][Event "London Chess Classic"] [Site "London ENG"] [Date "2016.12.16"] [Round "7"] [White "Hikaru Nakamura"] [Black "Maxime Vachier-Lagrave"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B96"] [WhiteElo "2779"] [BlackElo "2804"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "2r5/5p2/p3p2k/7P/q7/B2Q4/7P/K5R1 w - - 0 35"] [PlyCount "5"] [EventDate "2016.12.07"]35. Rg6+ $1 {Forcing the Black king is remove his only pawn cover: White's h5-pawn.} Kxh5 36. Rg1 f5 37. Qf3+ {and MVL resigned.} 1-0[/pgn]

Tactic #4

Fabiano Caruana vs. Hikaru Nakamura

Fabiano Caruana at the U.S. Championships. Photo: Spectrum StudiosPhoto: Spectrum Studios


What tactic did Caruana use to convert his positional queen sacrifice into victory?

White to move.
Level: Advanced

Show Solution

[pgn][Event "London Chess Classic"] [Site "London ENG"] [Date "2016.12.15"] [Round "6.3"] [White "Fabiano Caruana"] [Black "Hikaru Nakamura"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B96"] [WhiteElo "2823"] [BlackElo "2779"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "1r2qr1k/5p2/p2Rb2N/1P2pB1P/4P3/4B3/1PP5/2KR4 w - - 0 30"] [PlyCount "15"] [EventDate "2016.12.09"]30. Nxf7+ $3 Rxf7 (30... Bxf7 31. Rh6+ Kg7 32. Rg1+ Bg6 33. Rgxg6+ Qxg6 (33... Kf7 34. Rh7#) 34. Rxg6+ $18) 31. Rxe6 Qxb5 32. Rh6+ {And Black resigned. If} Kg8 33. Rg1+ Kf8 (33... Rg7 34. Be6+ Kf8 35. Rh8+ Ke7 36. Rxg7+ Kd6 (36... Kxe6 37. Rh6#) 37. Rxb8 Qxb8 38. Bd5 $18) 34. Rh8+ Ke7 35. Rxb8 Qxb8 36. Bc5+ Kd8 ( 36... Kf6 37. Rg6#) 37. Rg8+ $18 1-0[/pgn]


London Classic Standings

London Classic StandingsImage: Spectrum Studios


Grand Chess Tour Standings

Image: Spectrum StudiosImage: Spectrum Studios

For more information on the Grand Chess Tour, including details on next season's additional rapid event and universal rating system, visit the Official website