Peter Lalić wins London Classic Blitz

Talented Kingston player returns to winning ways

Peter Lalić won the Blitz Tournament at the London Chess Classic on Sunday 5 December with an impressive 9.5/11, half a point ahead of Harry Grieve and two points ahead of grandmaster Keith Arkell, who was the top-rated entrant (2398). This was the third blitz in a series of four in the London Classic festival.

Peter Lalic, taken at Kingston’s recent Alexander Cup victory over Epsom

The Classic is an annual event that brings the cream of international chess masters to London. Due to Covid, the Classic was cancelled last year, and this year it has had to be scaled down. The World Chess Championship in Dubai has also diverted the chess world’s attention away from London. The associated London Chess Conference which I direct has also been postponed until a more propitious date in the New Year.

The blitz tournaments are the only London Classic events which are open to all – the other events are invitation only. The entry fee is £15 and the time control is the nowadays unusual “all moves in five minutes”. This gives rise to some fraught disputes mainly about not placing the pieces in the centre of the square, which unfortunately was also the case during this event. The games were FIDE blitz rated. The first prize of £250 was the first prize money Peter, who took a sabbatical from competitive chess before making a welcome return in the summer, has won in seven years. With a performance rating of 2337, he will not have to wait very long until his next prize.

Peter’s path to victory was as difficult as it gets because he played against all of the top contenders. In round 3, he beat FM Tarun Kanyamarala, the young prodigy from Dublin, who won the 1st EJCOA Forest Hall Invitational event in Newcastle in October with a performance rating of 2508. In round 4, he beat FM Harry Grieve, a mathematics undergraduate at Cambridge who plays for the well-funded Guildford Young Guns 4NCL team and has been tipped by leading English trainer IM Andrew Martin as a future grandmaster. In round 5, he drew with the Canadian FM Tanraj Sohal, a pan-American blitz chess champion, who won the second blitz in the London Classic series 9/11 after drawing with Peter in the final round on the previous evening. In round 6, Peter lost to Keith Arkell, the ubiquitous chess weekender. This is the second time that Keith has beaten a Kingston player recently and plans are afoot to spring an anti-Arkell trap next time. In round 8, Peter defeated IM Ezra Kirk (2308), and in round 10 swept aside the young prodigy FM Shreyas Royal. By the time he reached the last round, there were no comparable players left to pair, and Peter faced Heinrich Basson from South Africa, who had scored 2.5 points fewer. Basson did not present any obstacle.

Final results

Peter has a remarkable memory for chess and was able to reconstruct all 11 of the games he played in winning the event. He also performed well in the second of the four London Classic blitz tournaments, and here is his victory in the penultimate round against Harry Grieve.

Healey runner-up at Golders Green

In a double success for Kingston players at the weekend, Mike Healey obtained second place behind Alexander Cherniaev at the Golders Green RapidPlay on Saturday 4 December, scoring 5/6. Mike lost to perennial winner Cherniaev at their encounter in the penultimate round.

John Foley