Altibox Norway R3: More draws

by Alejandro Ramirez
6/9/2017 – The players continue to exhibit an incredibly high level of chess in Norway, but unfortunately it comes at the cost of a bit too many draws.Five equal results make the tournament seem rather dull, and truly it hasn't been a shell-shocker of a tournament. There was some action today, as Nakamura was pressured by Carlsen, and at least Aronian's game against Giri was quite wild.

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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 three

All Photos by Lennart Ootes for the Official Website

Round 3: June 8, 2017 in Clarion Hotel Energy
Levon Aronian
½-½
Anish Giri
Magnus Carlsen
½-½
Hikaru Nakamura
M. Vachier-Lagrave
½-½
Fabiano Caruana
Sergey Karjakin
½-½
Vishy Anand
Vladimir Kramnik
½-½
Wesley So

Five draws make the tournament seem rather dull, and truly it hasn't been a shell-shocker of a tournament. The quality of chess continue to be high, though some games were just too technical to be entertaining.

The two games that I would highlight as the most interesting were definitely Aronian-Giri and Carlsen-Nakamura, we start with the World Champion.

Going as far to say that Carlsen's game today was a missed opportunity would be too much, but Nakamura definitely was worse most of the game.

[Event "5th Norway Chess 2017"] [Site "Stavanger NOR"] [Date "2017.06.08"] [Round "3.1"] [White "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Black "Nakamura, Hikaru"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B90"] [WhiteElo "2832"] [BlackElo "2785"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "80"] [EventDate "2017.06.06"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. h3 g6 {The reason that this move is not very popular is that many consider 6.h3 to be more useful generally than 6...a6 in the normal Dragon. That, however, is truly up to debate.} 7. g3 Nc6 8. Be3 {An example of h3 being useful, normally this runs into Ng4.} Bg7 9. Bg2 O-O 10. O-O Nd7 11. b3 Nxd4 12. Bxd4 Bxd4 13. Qxd4 { Black plays unambitiously, hoping to defend a solid though slightly worse position.} b6 14. Nd5 Bb7 15. c4 e5 {The weakness on d6 is not easy to target, while Black hopes to use the break b5 and the control over the dark squares to create counterplay.} (15... b5 {immediately was also possible.}) 16. Qe3 (16. Qd2 {keeping pressure on d6 rather than on b6, seemed more logical. Black is going to play b5 anyway.}) 16... b5 17. Rac1 bxc4 18. Rxc4 Bxd5 19. exd5 { The eternal fight between the bishop and the knight. In this instance the knight doesn't have many good anchor squares (it will get kicked out of c5 if it goes there), on the other hand the bishop on g2 causes no great impression.} a5 20. Rfc1 Nc5 21. a3 f5 $6 {Black gains space, but truly he simply weakens his position.} (21... a4 {it's strange Nakamura did not go for this option} 22. bxa4 $1 (22. b4 {strategically Black usually does not want to allow this, but after} Nb3 {the knight heads for the d4 square}) 22... Qd7 {and the knight is superb on c5.}) 22. b4 axb4 23. axb4 Nd7 24. Rc6 f4 25. gxf4 $1 {Black has to decide how to lose a pawn} exf4 (25... Rxf4 26. Rxd6 Qe7 27. Re6 $1 Qxb4 28. d6 $1 {and with the bishop activated Black's position is difficult, but not without resources:} (28. Rc7 {might be more precise}) 28... Ra3 29. Qe2 Qd4 { with counterplay}) 26. Qe6+ Rf7 27. Qxd6 Qg5 {again Black finds resources. Thanks to the exchange of the g-pawn, White's king is exposed and Nakamura clings on to this as his hope to battle White's passed pawns.} 28. Kh1 (28. Rc8+ Rxc8 (28... Kg7 29. h4 $1 {doesn't work for Black}) 29. Rxc8+ Kg7 30. Kh1 f3 31. Bf1 {was a better version of the game}) 28... f3 29. Bf1 Nf6 {The game is certainly sharp. White is up material but his king is weak, and so are his pawns. Black's king isn't particularly save either, and any move can be a fatal mistake.} 30. Qe6 $6 {Now Nakamura finds strong counterplay} (30. Qg3 Qxg3 31. fxg3 Ra2 32. b5 Rb2 {is better for White, despite the passed position of the f2 pawn}) 30... Kg7 {Unpinning the rook is an obvious start} 31. Rc7 Rxc7 $1 32. Rxc7+ Kh6 $1 {Black's king now hides on h6, where it is much safer than on g8. With the weakness of White's king it is Carlsen that has to be careful} 33. Qe1 Ra2 34. Re7 Ng4 {Forcing the result.} (34... Qxd5 {and Black isn't in much danger, but he is not better either.}) 35. hxg4 Qh4+ 36. Kg1 Qxg4+ 37. Kh1 Qh4+ 38. Kg1 Qg4+ 39. Kh1 Qh4+ 40. Kg1 Qg4+ 1/2-1/2

And handshake. Nakamura doesn't add to his bad score against the World Champion.

Giri regretted his kingside expansion

[Event "5th Norway Chess 2017"] [Site "Stavanger NOR"] [Date "2017.06.08"] [Round "3.5"] [White "Aronian, Levon"] [Black "Giri, Anish"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "D38"] [WhiteElo "2793"] [BlackElo "2771"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "106"] [EventDate "2017.06.06"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 Bb4 5. Qa4+ Nc6 6. e3 O-O 7. Qc2 Re8 8. Bd2 a6 9. h3 Bd6 10. a3 Bd7 11. Be2 dxc4 12. Bxc4 h6 13. O-O e5 14. Rae1 Qe7 15. Nh4 Qd8 16. Qb3 Rf8 17. Qd1 b5 18. Ba2 Kh8 19. Bc1 {Aronian's last move seems timid, but actually it provokes Black into a strong reaction. Black has two logical ways of exploiting the knight's position on h4.} g5 $6 (19... e4 20. Qc2 g5 21. f3 $5 {is a huge mess. Here are some lines as an example:} gxh4 ( 21... Nh5 22. fxe4 (22. Bd5 $1) 22... g4 $1 $40) 22. fxe4 Rg8 (22... Bxh3 23. Re2 $1 $13 (23. e5 Rg8 24. Rxf6 Rxg2+ 25. Qxg2 Bxg2 26. Kxg2 Nxe5 27. dxe5 Bxe5 28. Rxh6+ Kg7 29. e4 $13)) 23. Re2 Bxh3 24. Bxf7 $1 $13) 20. dxe5 $1 (20. Nf3 g4 {gives Black some attacking chances, and was Giri's point}) 20... Nxe5 21. f4 {And we have a mess in our hands. Black has to take the knight on h4} gxh4 ( 21... Nc6 22. fxg5 hxg5 23. Nd5 $18) (21... gxf4 22. exf4 {is not much better}) 22. fxe5 Bxe5 23. e4 $1 {White is down a pawn, but this is inconsequential. He has plenty of targets on the kingside to attack. Both sides must hurry to create threats} Rg8 24. Bxf7 $6 {Tempting but perhaps not the most precise. The f7 pawn was not a key part of Black's defense or offense.} (24. Bf4 $1 Bxf4 (24... Bxh3 25. Bxe5 Rxg2+ 26. Kh1 {leads to nothing}) (24... Qe7 25. Qf3 $16) 25. Rxf4 Bxh3 26. Qxd8 Raxd8 27. Kh2 $1 Nh5 $1 {Otherwise Black loses material} 28. Rxh4 Bg4 29. Bxf7 Rg5 30. Nd5 $36 {with pressure on Black's kingside}) 24... Rg7 25. Bf4 Bxf4 26. Rxf4 Bxh3 27. Kh2 (27. Qxd8+ Rxd8 28. Re3 $1 (28. Kh2 Rxf7 29. Kxh3 $11) 28... Bxg2 (28... Rxg2+ 29. Kh1 {and Black can't save both of his pieces, nor create a mating threat}) 29. Rxf6 $16) 27... Bd7 28. Be6 $1 {Covering g4} Ng4+ 29. Rxg4 Bxe6 30. Qxd8+ Rxd8 31. Rxh4 Kh7 { Unfortunately at the end of the day we reached an endgame that is not much for either side, though black is to be preferred because of the bishop} 32. Re2 Rd4 33. Rf2 Rf7 34. Rxf7+ Bxf7 35. Rf4 Kg7 36. Rf5 Rc4 37. Kg3 c5 38. Kf3 b4 39. axb4 cxb4 40. Nd5 b3 41. Ne3 Rd4 42. Ra5 Bg6 43. Nf5+ Bxf5 44. exf5 Rd2 45. Rxa6 Rxb2 {the draw is now trivial} 46. Rg6+ Kh7 47. Rb6 Rb1 48. Rb7+ Kg8 49. g3 b2 50. Kg2 Kf8 51. Kh2 Kg8 52. Kg2 Kf8 53. Kh2 Kg8 1/2-1/2

Aronian baited Giri a bit, and the game turned wild

MVL achieved a slightly better position against Caruana, but the American's resilience combined with the reduced material allowed him to draw the game. The fight went on until king vs. king, as there has been some controversy on some of the draws in the tournament as Sofia rules are in place.

Three fighting draws for MVL. Actually, that's true for most people in this tournament.

Anish Giri, Rustam Kasimdzhanov, and Fabiano Caruana sharing a joke before the game.

Karjakin's 16.Bh4 was a novelty in the Berlin, stemming from an Andreikin-Jakovenko game of last year. The improvement was obviously analyzed by Anand, who expertly grabbed material only to return it later to simplify into a draw.

Kramnik put enormous pressure on So, and kept pushing in an unpleasant endgame for the black side. So, again, proved to have excellent defensive awareness and made an endgame, which most grandmasters would lose against Kramnik, to be simple.

Big Vlad and his opponent, Wesley, have the same live rating: 2812

Wesley and his mom, Lotis, on the background, with fans getting ready for round three

Replay games of the round

 

Standings after three rounds

(click image for full size)

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
½-½
Anish Giri
Magnus Carlsen
½-½
Hikaru Nakamura
M. Vachier-Lagrave
½-½
Fabiano Caruana
Sergey Karjakin
½-½
Vishy Anand
Vladimir Kramnik
½-½
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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Angelo Pardi Angelo Pardi 6/9/2017 04:26
I don't care about the number of draws. Look at Carlsen-Nakamura : you have a Dragon, a pawn sac, and a perpetual at the end. That's a good game. That's an entertaining game. Good play from both side should result in a draw. You can ask the players to try to win, you can not ask them not to try not to lose.
iamwell iamwell 6/9/2017 03:26
Haha... I really can't complain about the number of draws. Just look at correspondence chess!
Bojan KG Bojan KG 6/9/2017 08:57
Nice counterplay by Naka. At one moment I thought he was busted but it was only first look at the board. In reality he was never in big danger of losing the game. Games are on high level but only 2 decisive games out of 15 is too much - this is inevitable if games are played without major mistakes such as Giri's in round 1. After a rest day I expect more fireworks and exciting chess with more decisive games.
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