As I am still several tournaments behind, this post will bring things up to date.
The seventh London Classic was the strongest yet, it was quite an experience to play such an awesome 10 player event. Due to Grand Prix rules I got an extra Black, and the pairings decided I would start with two of those which didn’t seem very reassuring. The result was surprising: nine draws. My last round opponent Fabiano Caruana also managed the same feat! A first for me, and maybe for Fabiano too, but not a bad tournament to go undefeated; seven of my draws remained fairly balanced, but I was very fortunate against the luckless Veselin Topalov. I finally managed a draw with Black against Magnus but it was far from easy.
I began the New Year in Wijk where I hadn’t played since 2009, although it’s a long tournament a good start is helpful and mine was anything but – sloppy preparation got me into trouble in round 1, however losing the position I had against Caruana in round 3 took real talent. I actually really liked the idea of playing rounds at different venues, but the quality of my game against Mamedyarov at the Science Museum in Amsterdam was appalling I think I made 5 serious errors.
I managed to keep on fighting, and made 50% from my remaining games which was not too bad in the circumstances, I had an unbelievable escape against Eljanov in round 8, and even managed to win a game against Sergey Karjakin which was rather welcome- my first win for 23 games! Ironically, as this was the second away day at the Railway Museum in Utrecht there was a special game of the day prize which I received. There was about as much chance of it fitting in my luggage as me winning the tournament so Yasser Seirawan is holding onto it in Amsterdam for the moment.
Since then, I’ve had a quiet time of it, my only games in the Bundesliga finished in six draws and after 10 championships in a row Baden- Baden were pipped to the post by Solingen, my first team in The Bundesliga. In my only other outing I doubled my win tally for the year when playing one game in the French Cup for Monaco, another team I played for in the distant past.
I’m looking forward to being back at the board soon, and will be busy with the British Championships, Baku Olympiad and Isle of Man.
I recently joined the team of expert writers who have revitalised the new look Chess Informant, details about Informant 128 with my article on the d2-d3 Lopez are here.