Altibox Norway R2: Four draws, Two leaders

by Alejandro Ramirez
6/8/2017 – It was a day of small advantages in Norway, but most of them could not be converted. The games were of a very technical nature, without too many fireworks, but with plenty of interesting endgames and technical difficulties. It was not the type of chess that reminds us of people showering chess boards with gold coins, but it was a day of very high caliber...

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Altibox Norway Chess has in only a matter of a few years grown to be one of the world’s biggest chess tournaments. Altibox Norway Chess has proven from the start to be a world-class event and is celebrating its 5th anniversary in 2017. This super-tournament had the aim of inviting the ten strongest chess players in the World, and they proclaim themselves as the strongest tournament in the World.

 

The events began with a 3+2 blitz tournament, won by Magnus Carlsen, to determine the pairing order.

The time control is 100 min for 40 moves + 50 min for 20 moves, + 15 min for the rest of the game with an increment of 30 seconds per move, starting from move 61. The prize fund for the main event is 249,000 euros.

Round Two

All Photos by Lennart Ootes for the Official Website

It was a day of small advantages in Norway, but most of them could not be converted. The games were of a very technical nature, without too many fireworks, but with plenty of interesting endgames and technical difficulties. It was not the type of chess that reminds us of people showering chess boards with gold coins, but it was a day of very high caliber. Kramnik emerges as the sole winner of round two, and ties Nakamura for the lead.

Round 2: June 7, 2017 in Clarion Hotel Energy
Hikaru Nakamura
½-½
Levon Aronian
Anish Giri
½-½
Sergey Karjakin
Fabiano Caruana
½-½
Magnus Carlsen
Wesley So
½-½
M. Vachier-Lagrave
Vishy Anand
0-1
Vladimir Kramnik

The victory will again be our starting spot, as Kramnik faced some intriguing preparation by Anand in the Spanish:

Vladimir checking out a pretty good game behind him: number four vs. number one in the World!

[Event "5th Norway Chess 2017"] [Site "Stavanger NOR"] [Date "2017.06.07"] [Round "2.3"] [White "Anand, Viswanathan"] [Black "Kramnik, Vladimir"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C78"] [WhiteElo "2786"] [BlackElo "2808"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "120"] [EventDate "2017.06.06"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Bc5 {An Archangel seems to be a breath of fresh air after multiple Berlins and Marshalls.} 6. Nc3 $5 { Something Vishy must have cooked before hand. A specialty of Dominguez, it is very rare compared to 6.c3} b5 (6... O-O 7. Bxc6 dxc6 8. Nxe5 Re8 {recovers the pawn, which makes castling a viable alternative to the move in the game}) 7. Bb3 O-O 8. Nd5 (8. d3 h6 9. Nd5 {is much more common, seen in many of Dominguez's games. Anand has his own idea, involving a pawn sacrifice.}) 8... Nxe4 {Kramnik isn't one to refuse a challenge. Also, any other move lacks justification} (8... h6 9. c3 {with the idea of a quick d4, looks dangerous}) ( 8... Bb7 9. c3 {again might be an issue.}) 9. d3 Nf6 10. Bg5 Be7 11. Nxe7+ Qxe7 12. Re1 {After a more or less forced sequence we arrive at this position. White clearly has compensation for the pawn: two bishops, pressure on e5 and better development. Black must play accurately, but his position is still solid and it is hard to crack any weakness. Sometimes, recovering e5 will not be sufficient for an advantage.} h6 13. Bh4 (13. Bxf6 Qxf6 14. Bd5 Bb7 15. Nxe5 Nxe5 16. Bxb7 Rae8 {is completely fine for Black, even perhaps better for him due to the superior piece placement!}) 13... Bb7 14. c3 Rfe8 15. d4 (15. Nxe5 Nxe5 16. d4 Nf3+ 17. gxf3 Qd6 {gives Black an edge. The crippled pawns on the kingside are worth more than the, for now, uncoordinated bishops.}) 15... e4 16. Nd2 Na5 17. Bc2 g5 18. Bg3 Nc4 {Releasing some pressure off of e4 seems natural, though Black now has to suffer against the activation of some important pieces.} (18... d5 19. h4 {gives White obvious counterplay. The position is still terribly murky.}) 19. Nxc4 bxc4 20. b3 Bd5 21. Be5 $6 { despite recovering the pawn, this move isn't precise} (21. h4 $1 Qe6 22. hxg5 hxg5 23. Qd2 {puts real pressure on g5}) (21. Bxc7 $5 {is also worth considering, as the bishop will hide on a5 without problems.}) 21... d6 22. Bxf6 Qxf6 23. bxc4 Bxc4 24. Rxe4 Rxe4 25. Bxe4 Re8 {Material is even, but Black retains a nagging edge now that his rook controls the only open file and his pieces are slightly better placed.} 26. Bd3 Qe6 27. Bxc4 Qxc4 28. Qb3 Qd3 29. h3 Kg7 30. Rd1 Qe2 31. Rf1 Re6 32. Qd5 Qd2 {The situation hasn't changed. Anand has played very well to get to this position and continues holding on.} 33. Qc4 a5 34. Qxc7 $2 {But this is a mistake. Giving Black the outside passed pawn proves catastrophic.} (34. a4 Re1 {looks dangerous, but after} 35. Rxe1 Qxe1+ 36. Kh2 Qxf2 37. Qxc7 {there isn't anything but a perpetual.}) 34... Qxa2 35. c4 Qd2 36. Qb6 a4 37. Qa7 Qb4 38. f4 Re1 $1 {The transition to the queen endgame is perfectly timed. The Black king is not easily caught in a perpetual check.} 39. fxg5 Rxf1+ 40. Kxf1 hxg5 41. Kg1 Qxc4 (41... a3 {immediately was winning.} 42. Kh2 Qb2 43. Qe7 Qd2 $1 {and wWhite can't prevent the pawn from advancing}) 42. Kh2 Qb4 43. Qe7 Qd2 44. Qa7 Qf4+ 45. Kh1 Qc1+ 46. Kh2 a3 47. Qa5 Qf4+ 48. Kh1 Qc1+ 49. Kh2 Qe3 50. Kh1 f6 $2 (50... Kg6 {made Kramnik's life slightly easier. The point is that White is almost zugzwanged, as the queen has to keep an eye on the kingside and the a-pawn. This is easy for computers to see, but for humans it's a huge headache to calculate queen endgames.} 51. Qa8 Qb3 52. Qg8+ Kf5 53. Qh7+ Ke6 {and the king escapes successfully.}) 51. Qa4 (51. Qc7+ Kg6 52. Qc4 $1 {would have made Black's task much, much harder}) 51... Qc1+ 52. Kh2 Qf4+ 53. Kh1 Qe3 54. Kh2 Kf7 55. Kh1 ( 55. Qa7+ Kg6 56. Qa8 Qb3 $1 {is winning. Black places the king on g7, the queen on f7 and finally pushes a2.}) 55... Kg6 56. Qa8 (56. Qc4 $1 {is still winning for Black, but much, much harder}) 56... Kg7 57. Qb7+ Kg6 58. Qa8 (58. Qd5 $1) 58... Qb3 {Now the pawn advances without problems} 59. Qe4+ Kg7 60. Qe7+ Qf7 0-1

Long time rivals, long time friends. The players briefly discuss what happened after the game.

Vishy had a tough time today deciding when to regain his pawn.

All of the other games can be summarized in the same way: One side had considerable pressure, or even an extra pawn, but had no way of converting it for one of a multitude of reasons.

In the MVL-So game, the Frenchman had a tiny bit of pressure from the opening, but the symmetrical nature of the position was difficult to work with. The American even managed to win a pawn at some point, but his structure was shattered and the pair of bishops provided enough compensation. The draw was agreed in a position in which neither side could do much.

MVL isn't known for his quiet games, but today he had one

Giri traded into an endgame in which he was playing against Karjakin's isolated pawn. He even managed to win it at some point, but with the tremendously reduced amount of pawns and the superiority of the bishop over the knight, Karjakin never relented and defended his half point successfully.

Anish tried to come back with a win after yesterday's lost, but was unable to break Sergey's wall

Nakamura's dubious handling of the Nimzo-Indian left him in an inferior position. Aronian saw an opportunity to press for a long time, and again he managed to win a pawn. However, it was insufficient, as White's pieces were well placed and the amount of remaining pawns was too small. Nakamura was always slightly worse, but not much more than that.

Retaining the tournament lead, now shared with Vladimir Kramnik: Hikaru Nakamura

Last but certainly not least was the came between Caruana and Carlsen. In an Anti-Marshall White obtained nearly nothing from the opening, and further simplifications just reinforced the drawish tendencies of the position. Carlsen defends his first black of the event without any problems, while surely Caruana wanted to push his opponent harder than he was able to today.

Fabiano sporting his Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis jacket (more known as the Saint Louis Chess Club)

Replay games of the round

 

Pairings and results of Norway Chess 2017

Round 1: June 6, 2017 in Clarion Hotel Energy
Hikaru Nakamura
1-0
Anish Giri
Levon Aronian
½-½
Fabiano Caruana
Magnus Carlsen
½-½
Wesley So
M. Vachier-Lagrave
½-½
Vishy Anand
Vladimir Kramnik
½-½
Sergey Karjakin
Round 2: June 7, 2017 in Clarion Hotel Energy
Hikaru Nakamura
½-½
Levon Aronian
Anish Giri
½-½
Sergey Karjakin
Fabiano Caruana
½-½
Magnus Carlsen
Wesley So
½-½
M. Vachier-Lagrave
Vishy Anand
0-1
Vladimir Kramnik
Round 3: June 8, 2017 in Clarion Hotel Energy
Levon Aronian   Anish Giri
Magnus Carlsen   Hikaru Nakamura
M. Vachier-Lagrave   Fabiano Caruana
Sergey Karjakin   Vishy Anand
Vladimir Kramnik   Wesley So
Round 4:  June 10, 2017 in Clarion Hotel Energy
Hikaru Nakamura   M. Vachier-Lagrave
Anish Giri   Vishy Anand
Levon Aronian   Magnus Carlsen
Fabiano Caruana   Vladimir Kramnik
Wesley So   Sergey Karjakin
Round 5: June 11, 2017 in Clarion Hotel Energy
Magnus Carlsen   Anish Giri
Vishy Anand   Wesley So
M. Vachier-Lagrave   Levon Aronian
Sergey Karjakin   Fabiano Caruana
Vladimir Kramnik   Hikaru Nakamura
Round 6: June 12, 2017 in Clarion Hotel Energy
Hikaru Nakamura   Sergey Karjakin
Anish Giri   Wesley So
Levon Aronian   Vladimir Kramnik
Fabiano Caruana   Vishy Anand
Magnus Carlsen   M. Vachier-Lagrave
Round 7: June 14, 2017 in Stavanger Concert Hall
Wesley So   Fabiano Caruana
Vishy Anand   Hikaru Nakamura
M. Vachier-Lagrave   Anish Giri
Sergey Karjakin   Levon Aronian
Vladimir Kramnik   Magnus Carlsen
Round 8: June 15, 2017 in Stavanger Concert Hall
Hikaru Nakamura   Wesley So
Anish Giri   Fabiano Caruana
Levon Aronian   Vishy Anand
Magnus Carlsen   Sergey Karjakin
M. Vachier-Lagrave   Vladimir Kramnik
Round 9: June 16, 2017 in Stavanger Concert Hall
Fabiano Caruana   Hikaru Nakamura
Wesley So   Levon Aronian
Vishy Anand   Magnus Carlsen
Sergey Karjakin   M. Vachier-Lagrave
Vladimir Kramnik   Anish Giri

Links

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Grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez has been playing tournament chess since 1998. His accomplishments include qualifying for the 2004 and 2013 World Cups as well as playing for Costa Rica in the 2002, 2004 and 2008 Olympiads. He currently has a rating of 2583 and is author of a number of popular and critically acclaimed ChessBase-DVDs.
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juanviches juanviches 6/8/2017 12:07
These looong games are boring me, it's time to shorten times in favor spectators!!
Bojan KG Bojan KG 6/8/2017 09:03
Pitty Vlad did not win against Karjakin, he blew winning position. Nice victory yesterday though. Vladimir is my favorite chess player, quiet and modest genius playing on high level for more than two decades. Who knows, he might end up winning Norway chess.
Paraso Paraso 6/8/2017 07:14
Radjabov is playing against So in round 4. a nice substitution for karjakin. Is that allowed in chess he he.
VVI VVI 6/8/2017 03:28
Anand getting whacked by Kramnik pretty often, these days.
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