2015 Norway Blitz won convincingly by MVL

by Albert Silver
6/16/2015 – It was all you could hope for in the prelude to the elite Norway Chess tournament. A collection of the highest rated players in the world, a bit of trash-talking, and hours and hours of thrilling blitz chess. At stake the top five would enjoy one more game with white than the bottom five. The surprise winner, who led from the get-go was MVL, beating Caruana and Carlsen. Fun games and more.

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The third edition of the Norway Chess tournament runs from June 15th to June 26th, and will mostly be played in Stavanger, Norway. As in previous years, the drawing of lots was determined by the blitz tournament taking place the day before the official start.

The blitz tournament took place at the beautiful Flor og Fjære located just outside Stavanger
(photo: official tournament Twitter)

The incentive to play and perform go beyond the fun factor of blitz play or the FIDE Blitz Elo the games are rated for. The uneven number of rounds mean that some players will play one more game with white than others, so as a result, the top five players are rewarded with five whites and four blacks, while those in the bottom half will have to fight five games with black and only four with white.

The opening ceremony with Garry Kasparov saying a few words

There is little doubt that all eyes were on the world champion Magnus Carlsen, still the top rated blitz player in the world, followed by Hikaru Nakamura, the only other player to break 2900 FIDE Blitz. Of course, all players were expected to produce their share of pearls, but the limelight was a little brighter on those two.

In fact, the tournament started with a bit of trash talking even before the official start of hostilities, with American Hikaru Nakamura commenting on Norwegian TV that he found Carlsen’s style of play a bit dry, and there were other players he found more interesting. True, it wasn’t trash talking in the purest sense, but any uncomplimentary evaluation made to his home crowd had to be viewed as a bit provocative.

Still, this was but a small, albeit fun, throwing down of the gauntlet, always good to whet
the appetites of the fans, and the blitz tournament itself was surely the best way to have
the spectators salivate for the competition ahead. See the video clip.

The first round of the blitz tournament already saw a number of surprises, starting with the near loss by Magnus Carlsen to Anish Giri. Carlsen faced a losing position, and a combination of strong play and luck helped him save a half point. Still, the highlight of the round, picked out by Garry Kasparov himself as the best game, was Vishy Anand’s classy win with black over Alexander Grischuk.

Grischuk - Anand

Consider this position near the end. One possibility was for White
to play f3 attacking the knight. Can you see the strongest continuation?
Black to play and win.

Still the entire game was a treat and in it you will also see the solution to the position above.

[Event "Norway Chess 2015 Blitz"] [Site "Stavanger"] [Date "2015.06.15"] [Round "1"] [White "Grischuk, Alexander"] [Black "Anand, Viswanathan"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A45"] [WhiteElo "2839"] [BlackElo "2767"] [PlyCount "60"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] [EventCountry "NOR"] [TimeControl "240+2"] 1. d4 {59} Nf6 {59} 2. Bf4 {2} d5 {1} 3. e3 {1} c5 {1} 4. dxc5 {2} Nc6 {1} 5. Bb5 {1} Qa5+ {2} 6. Nc3 {2} a6 {1} 7. Bxc6+ {4} bxc6 {1} 8. Qd4 {2} e6 {1} 9. b4 {57} Qa3 {2} 10. Nge2 {17} a5 {9} 11. Rb1 {1} axb4 {6} 12. Rxb4 {2} Ba6 {85} ({Watching the game, Kasparov noted that} 12... Nd7 {was very strong, and thought Black might be close to winning already. The engines agree it is best, but are not quite so pessimistic just yet, and propose} 13. Ra4 $1 Rxa4 14. Qxa4 Qxa4 15. Nxa4 e5 (15... Nxc5 16. Nxc5 Bxc5 17. Kd2 Ba6 18. Rb1) 16. Bg3 Ba6) 13. O-O {22} Bxe2 {2} 14. Nxe2 {2} Be7 {5} 15. Bd6 {40} Bxd6 {2} 16. cxd6 {2} O-O {1} 17. Ng3 {3} Rfc8 {34} 18. Qd2 {14} Rd8 {10} 19. e4 {24} dxe4 {2} ({ Obviously not} 19... Rxd6 $2 20. e5) 20. c4 {2} Qxa2 {7} 21. Qxa2 {2} Rxa2 {1} 22. Rb6 {16} h5 $1 {4 Strong and aggressive. Note that Black could not capture d6 just yet due to the back rank weakness. This move also solves that issue.} 23. Rxc6 {2} h4 {2} 24. Nh1 {1} Rc2 {5} 25. Rd1 {5} Ng4 {3} 26. c5 {2 [#]} e3 $1 {3} 27. Rc7 {4} (27. fxe3 Nxe3 {and the rook falls or it is mate on g2.}) ( 27. f3 {[#] Though there is more than one move to win, the strongest deserves a diagram of its own.} h3 $3 28. fxg4 (28. gxh3 Nxh2 {and it is Ajax time.}) 28... Rxg2+ 29. Kf1 e2+ 30. Ke1 exd1=Q+ 31. Kxd1 Ra8 32. Rc8+ Rxc8 33. d7 Ra8) 27... exf2+ {3} 28. Nxf2 {1} Nxf2 {4} 29. Rf1 {1} Ne4 {4} 30. Rfxf7 {7} Rc1+ { 2 A superb game by the 5-time World Champion.} 0-1

If round one saw Carlsen’s legion of fans biting their nails, especially on his home turf where the attention is nothing short of rabid, round two had them downright queasy. Magnus started the game very well against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, but a series of imprecisions and errors reverted a near won game to unclear. It seemed as if he would save the endgame, despite being under pressure, but he cracked and went down.

[Event "Norway Chess 2015 Blitz"] [Site "Stavanger"] [Date "2015.06.15"] [Round "2"] [White "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Black "Vachier Lagrave, Maxime"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A05"] [WhiteElo "2933"] [BlackElo "2826"] [PlyCount "147"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] [EventType "tourn (blitz)"] [EventCountry "NOR"] [TimeControl "180+2"] 1. Nf3 Nf6 {4} 2. g3 {1} b5 {2} 3. Bg2 {3} Bb7 {1} 4. O-O {3} e6 {2} 5. d3 {2} c5 {8} 6. e4 {1} d6 {2} 7. a4 {21} b4 {1} 8. Nbd2 {3} Be7 {9} 9. Nc4 {8} O-O {9} 10. Re1 {5} Nbd7 {24} 11. Bf4 {8} d5 {18} 12. Nd6 {50 It is not a little mysterious how White managed to sneak in his knight to d6 on move 12.} Bc6 {2} 13. Ng5 {1} Nb6 {37} 14. Ndxf7 {24} Rxf7 {2 So far, great play by the world champion, but the best line highlighted by the engines is not easily seen, especially in a blitz game.} 15. Bh3 {1} ({The best move according to the merciless machines is} 15. a5 $1 Nbd7 16. Nxe6 Qc8 17. Ng5 Rf8 18. exd5 Bxd5 19. Rxe7 Bxg2 20. Kxg2 Nd5 21. Re4 Nxf4+ 22. Rxf4 Rxf4 23. gxf4 {and White's extra material outweighs the pawn structure.}) 15... Bd7 {11} 16. a5 {2 } e5 {28} 17. axb6 {25} Bxh3 {5} 18. b7 {11} Rb8 {3} 19. Bxe5 {2} Rxb7 {7 White has a crushing position, but misses an elementary sequence.} 20. Nxh3 $1 {1} (20. Nxf7 Kxf7 21. Bxf6 Bxf6 (21... Kxf6 22. Qh5 Bc8 23. Ra6+ Rb6 24. Rxa7) 22. Qh5+ Kg8 23. Qxh3 {and it is game over.}) 20... Qd7 {20} 21. Nf4 {3} dxe4 { 9} 22. dxe4 {12} Ng4 {1} 23. Qd5 {10} Nxe5 {6} 24. Qxe5 {1 The position has petered out to equality, but the shift has not stopped and Black gains momentum.} Bd6 {1} 25. Qd5 {12} Bxf4 {2} 26. Qxd7 {1} Rbxd7 {1} 27. gxf4 {1} Rxf4 {1} 28. Re2 {2} Re7 {5} 29. e5 {2} Rf5 {3} 30. e6 {2} g6 {3} 31. Ra6 {2} Kg7 {1} 32. Kg2 {5} Kf6 {1} 33. Re3 {3} Re5 {7} 34. Rxe5 {3} Kxe5 {1} 35. Kf3 { 0} Kd5 {6} 36. h4 {5} h6 {1 Low on time, and undoubtedly aware how much the position had gotten out of his control, Magnus begins to err fatally.} 37. b3 $2 {15 The difference in king activity is striking. White's king is cut off, while Black's king dominates the center.} (37. c4+ $1 {would restore balance by bringing in the king.} Kxc4 (37... bxc3 38. bxc3 Rxe6 39. Rxa7 Kc4 40. Rc7 $11) 38. Ke4 Kb3 39. Kd5 $1 $11) 37... Rxe6 {2} 38. Rxa7 {1} Kd4 {0} 39. Rc7 {1 } Rf6+ {1} (39... Re5 $1) 40. Ke2 {1} Rf5 {2} 41. Rc6 {3} Kc3 {1} 42. Kd1 {1} g5 {2} (42... Kb2 $1 43. f4 Rd5+ 44. Ke2 Kxc2 $19) 43. hxg5 {1} hxg5 {0} 44. Kc1 {1} Kd4 {2} 45. Rg6 {2} Ke4 {1 Again the position is equal, but the biggest factor here is time, and Black is clearly the one in the driver's seat. In the end, it proves too much.} 46. Kd2 {1} Kf3 {1} (46... Rxf2+ $1) 47. Ke1 { 0} g4 {2} 48. Kf1 {1} Rd5 {8} 49. Rf6+ {1} Ke4 {0} 50. Ke2 {1} Kd4 {2} 51. Rf4+ {4} Kc3 {1} 52. Rc4+ {1} Kb2 {2} 53. Ke3 {2} Re5+ {3} 54. Kd2 {5} Rf5 {1} 55. Ke2 {1} Rh5 {2} 56. Kf1 {6} Re5 {5} 57. Kg2 {4} Re2 {1} 58. Rxc5 {0} Rxc2 {1} 59. Rg5 Kxb3 {3} 60. Rxg4 {2} Ka3 {1} 61. Rg8 {2} b3 {1} 62. Ra8+ {2} Kb2 {1} 63. Kg3 {5} Rc3+ {2} 64. Kg4 {2} Kc2 {2} 65. Rb8 {5} b2 {2} 66. Rxb2+ {2} Kxb2 {1} 67. f4 {0} Rc4 {4} 68. Kf5 {4} Kc3 {1} 69. Ke5 {0} Rc5+ 70. Ke4 Rc8 {7} 71. f5 {2} Kc4 {1} 72. Ke5 {1} Kc5 {1} 73. Ke6 {1} Rc6+ {2} 74. Ke7 {1} 0-1

For the Frenchman, things seemed to be under a geas of good fortune, and after beating Caruana in round one, beating Carlsen in round two, he stormed to a perfect 3/3 with a convincing win over Levon Aronian in the third round. This was all the more remarkable as he had suffered inordinate difficulties arriving in Stavangar due to flight issues from Paris, and he had probably slept very little the night before. Still, who needs sleep when you are just 24 and a chess junkie?

Norway has gone gung-ho in support of their champion. Behold the first edition of Norway
Chess newspaper. In Norwegian needless to say. (Photo: official tournament Twitter)

On the other hand, good fortune was seriously lacking for blitz aficionado and expert Alexander Grischuk, who completely flubbed his game against Topalov in a terrible oversight.

[Event "Norway Chess 2015 Blitz"] [Site "Stavanger"] [Date "2015.06.15"] [Round "3"] [White "Grischuk, Alexander"] [Black "Topalov, Veselin"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D00"] [WhiteElo "2839"] [BlackElo "2641"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "6k1/5pp1/2q1p2p/pp1pP3/P2P1nP1/1PQ4P/4NPK1/8 w - - 0 37"] [PlyCount "4"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] [EventType "tourn (blitz)"] [EventCountry "NOR"] [TimeControl "180+2"] {The position is quite equal, but Grischuk blunders horribly and loses on the spot.} 37. Kf3 $4 {2} (37. Kf1) 37... Nxe2 {3 and White resigned since} 38. Qxc6 Nxd4+ {is all she wrote.} 0-1

Round five saw the much awaited encounter between the two top rated blitz players, Carlsen and Nakamura, but Carlsen was up to the task, and soundly defeated his rival to recover some of his lost ground in the tournament. Magnus took advantage of this, and his lukewarm final result, to give Hikaru a bit of payback, commenting on TV2, "Today I played ‘Nakamura chess’ and that just isn't enough." He further joked on Twitter:

"You play a bit like Kvakkamura" Makspuls Clarsyn said on my play today

For those who wonder at this, it is a direct quote of a comic book made with him playing chess against Donald Duck.

If you missed out on this article, do read up on how Magnus Came about to face one of
Disney’s favorites. (Picture: Donald.no, © Disney)

Round six saw Carlsen playing another rival, one of his staunchest: Vishy Anand, his opponent in no fewer than two world championship matches. Here the game saw more of Carlsen’s mystique in play, as he found himself being trounced from end to end by his senior. Then, in a bolt of lightning when all seemed resolved:

[Event "Norway Chess 2015 Blitz"] [Site "Stavanger"] [Date "2015.06.15"] [Round "6"] [White "Anand, Viswanathan"] [Black "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C60"] [WhiteElo "2767"] [BlackElo "2933"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "4k3/8/p1p2Q2/2p1P3/6K1/1q6/5PP1/8 w - - 0 43"] [PlyCount "12"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] [EventType "tourn (blitz)"] [EventCountry "NOR"] [TimeControl "180+2"] {Anand has played superbly and has a crushing position. The problem is simply one of time, as both players are down to less than ten seconds, playing off the increments.} 43. e6 {1} Qd1+ {3} 44. f3 $4 {3} (44. Kg5 {was enough, but Anand misses the forthcoming disaster.}) 44... Qd4+ {0 Suddenly Black is the one who is winning as the pawn endgame is dead won.} 45. Kf5 {5} (45. Qxd4 cxd4 46. Kf4 a5) 45... Qxf6+ {1} 46. Kxf6 {1} c4 {1} 47. g4 {1} c3 {0} 48. g5 {1} c2 {1 Nasty.} 0-1

These two back-to-back wins put Magnus back on the map, so to speak, but MVL had not cowered in a corner crying after his loss, and was also back on the winning road. In round seven, he dispatched Magnus’s second and friend, Jon Hammer, who had earned his spot via qualification.

[Event "Norway Chess 2015 Blitz"] [Site "Stavanger"] [Date "2015.06.15"] [Round "7"] [White "Vachier Lagrave, Maxime"] [Black "Hammer, Jon Ludvig"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A06"] [WhiteElo "2826"] [BlackElo "2648"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "6N1/2p2r1p/1p4p1/p6k/2n4P/2Bn2P1/2b2PB1/4R1K1 w - - 0 31"] [PlyCount "5"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] [EventType "tourn (blitz)"] [EventCountry "NOR"] [TimeControl "180+2"] 31. Re7 $1 {(22s) The mating attack.} Rxf2 {20} (31... Rxe7 32. Bf3#) 32. Bh3 {3} h6 {7} 33. Rh7 {and Rxh6 mate cannot be stopped.} 1-0

Round eight showed that Carlsen was still struggling with his form, and the world no.1 suffered his second loss in the tournament, this time against Grischuk. In the meantime Nakamura and Aronian ended in a completely crazy time scramble which Naka managed to come out on top of.

Entering the final ninth round, both Nakamura and MVL shared the lead with 5.5/8 and Anand sole third with 5.0/8. Facing each other, Anand and Naka agreed to a quick draw, while MVL capped off his amazing day by beating Topalov fairly quickly picking up one and then two pawns, securing sole first.

Final standings

Nakamura was sole second, and in third to fifth, all earning that much desired one extra white: were Carlsen, Giri, and Anand. If you are now feeling ready for some top-notch action, then be sure to not miss round one starting tomorrow. You can follow it at the official site, or on Playchess with grandmaster commentary featuring Rustam Kasimdzhanov (2704 FIDE).

If you are lucky enough to be in Norway, you can also watch the games live, on location, for a modest 200 Krone per day, which is about US$25.

To put that in perspective, that is roughly four Big Macs (in Norway) according to the highly respected Global
Big Mac Index
. If you are Ukrainian, you may understandably balk at the idea of forking up over twenty Big Macs.

In any case, whichever your choice, you cannot go wrong, and to paraphrase “Wargames”, the only losing move is not to watch.

Playchess commentator schedule

Date
Round
Commentator
16.06.2015
Round 1
Rustam Kasimdzhanov
17.06.2015
Round 2
Simon Williams
18.06.2015
Round 3
Erwin l'Ami
19.06.2015
Round 4
Daniel King
20.06.2015
 
 
21.06.2015
Round 5
Chris Ward
22.06.2015
Round 6
Chris Ward
23.06.2015
Round 7
Daniel King
24.06.2015
Round 8
Simon Williams
25.06.2015
Round 9
Daniel King

Tournament schedule

Round 1 - 16.06.2015
Name
Rtg
Res.
Name
Rtg
Giri Anish 2773
Grischuk Alexander 2781
Anand Viswanathan 2804
Caruana Fabiano 2805
Carlsen Magnus 2876
Topalov Veselin 2798
Nakamura Hikaru 2802
Hammer Jon Ludvig 2677
Vachier-Lagrave Maxime 2723
Aronian Levon 2780
Round 2 - 17.06.2015
Name
Rtg
Res.
Name
Rtg
Grischuk Alexander 2781
Aronian Levon 2780
Hammer Jon Ludvig 2677
Vachier-Lagrave Maxime 2723
Topalov Veselin 2798
Nakamura Hikaru 2802
Caruana Fabiano 2805
Carlsen Magnus 2876
Giri Anish 2773
Anand Viswanathan 2804
Round 3 - 18.06.2015
Name
Rtg
Res.
Name
Rtg
Anand Viswanathan 2804
Grischuk Alexander 2781
Carlsen Magnus 2876
Giri Anish 2773
Nakamura Hikaru 2802
Caruana Fabiano 2805
Vachier-Lagrave Maxime 2723
Topalov Veselin 2798
Aronian Levon 2780
Hammer Jon Ludvig 2677
Round 4 - 19.06.2015
Name
Rtg
Res.
Name
Rtg
Grischuk Alexander 2781
Hammer Jon Ludvig 2677
Topalov Veselin 2798
Aronian Levon 2780
Caruana Fabiano 2805
Vachier-Lagrave Maxime 2723
Giri Anish 2773
Nakamura Hikaru 2802
Anand Viswanathan 2804
Carlsen Magnus 2876
Round 5 - 21.06.2015
Name
Rtg
Res.
Name
Rtg
Carlsen Magnus 2876
Grischuk Alexander 2781
Nakamura Hikaru 2802
Anand Viswanathan 2804
Vachier-Lagrave Maxime 2723
Giri Anish 2773
Aronian Levon 2780
Caruana Fabiano 2805
Hammer Jon Ludvig 2677
Topalov Veselin 2798
Round 6 - 22.06.2015
Name
Rtg
Res.
Name
Rtg
Grischuk Alexander 2781
Topalov Veselin 2798
Caruana Fabiano 2805
Hammer Jon Ludvig 2677
Giri Anish 2773
Aronian Levon 2780
Anand Viswanathan 2804
Vachier-Lagrave Maxime 2723
Carlsen Magnus 2876
Nakamura Hikaru 2802
Round 7 - 23.06.2015
Name
Rtg
Res.
Name
Rtg
Nakamura Hikaru 2802
Grischuk Alexander 2781
Vachier-Lagrave Maxime 2723
Carlsen Magnus 2876
Aronian Levon 2780
Anand Viswanathan 2804
Hammer Jon Ludvig 2677
Giri Anish 2773
Topalov Veselin 2798
Caruana Fabiano 2805
Round 8 - 24.06.2015
Name
Rtg
Res.
Name
Rtg
Grischuk Alexander 2781
Caruana Fabiano 2805
Giri Anish 2773
Topalov Veselin 2798
Anand Viswanathan 2804
Hammer Jon Ludvig 2677
Carlsen Magnus 2876
Aronian Levon 2780
Nakamura Hikaru 2802
Vachier-Lagrave Maxime 2723
Round 9 - 25.06.2015
Name
Rtg
Res.
Name
Rtg
Vachier-Lagrave Maxime 2723
Grischuk Alexander 2781
Aronian Levon 2780
Nakamura Hikaru 2802
Hammer Jon Ludvig 2677
Carlsen Magnus 2876
Topalov Veselin 2798
Anand Viswanathan 2804
Caruana Fabiano 2805
Giri Anish 2773

Links

The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 13 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.



Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications.
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chessbibliophile chessbibliophile 11/13/2015 03:33
Many thanks for the report.
I was waiting for it.
dhochee dhochee 6/16/2015 07:43
Wow, that first picture is definitely not the way I picture Norway looking. Really looking forward to this tournament.

P.S. This site really needs to fix the issue with the left and right arrow keys bringing focus back to the boards up above when you're writing a comment. It would not be that hard to prevent that from happening if the comment box has the focus.
gmwdim gmwdim 6/16/2015 04:36
$4.79 for a Big Mac? Nothx.
KrushonIrina KrushonIrina 6/16/2015 03:39
Wei Yi beats MVL. MVL beats everyone else. Hmmmm . . . .
1