Altibox Norway Rd5: Back to normal

by Albert Silver
6/11/2017 – It was a fairly quiet day overall, and after all the action from the previous round, round five was a return to normality. This isn’t to say that the five draws were entirely devoid of interest though. The two that really struck a note were the ones between Kramnik and Nakmaura, who battled it out in a Sicilian, while Caruana played a Petroff against Karjakin with a novelty that sacrificed an exchange. Illustrated report with analysis by GM Tiger Hillarp-Persson.

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Round five

All photos by Lennart Ootes

Round 5: June 11, 2017 in Clarion Hotel Energy
Magnus Carlsen
½-½
Anish Giri
Vishy Anand
½-½
Wesley So
M. Vachier-Lagrave
½-½
Levon Aronian
Sergey Karjakin
½-½
Fabiano Caruana
Vladimir Kramnik
½-½
Hikaru Nakamura

All images in this article are high resolution. Click on them to see them full-sized.

The game between Magnus Carlsen and Anish Giri was a fairly tame Italian in which both played very proper, with careful piece maneuvers that aimed to neutralize more than to destabilize. Even the light tactics at the end with 31. Qb4 seemed so well under control that the flurry of exchanges that followed left little doubt as to the result. It was no big surprise though, as Carlsen was still licking his wounds from the previous round, while Giri was more than happy to take the draw with black against the world champion.

For aficionados of the Ruy Lopez Marshal, a new leaf was turned in one of the main lines (they almost all seem to be a main line nowadays) between Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Levon Aronian. Aronian is a well-known expert of the defense and plays it regularly, though more often than not it seems more like his choice to guarantee a draw, unless White is so bold as to try for more, in which case: watch out. They repeated 19 moves of a previous game they played in…. Norway 2017. No, not a joke, this was their blitz game in the drawing of lots competition, which they also drew. It should be noted that the Marshall is sort of Sofia Rule proof, since with a regular 20+ moves of rote theory, if a draw is planned, it means 10 moves or fewer of actual play. You certainly wouldn’t get that with the St George Defense (1.e4 a6)!

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave was certainly not surprised by Aronian's choice of the Marshall as they repeated 20 moves from their blitz game in the Opening Ceremony competition

The game between Vishy Anand and Wesley So was also an Italian, and also a game from the Blitz event the previous week between Caruana and Aronian. There was a small twist, worth noting, and it was the conspicuous delay of d6 by Black. Instead he waited for White to commit 7.c3 and pushed 7…d5 straight away, equalizing as a result as well since White is one tempo behind in his piece development. The queens were off by move 15, and by move 23 it was a completely symmetrical rook and bishop endgame with nothing to grope for, and they shook hands on move 33.

In terms of theory, the game between Sergey Karjakin and Fabiano Caruana was certainly a surprise to viewers and pundits. Not only did Caruana swap his Berlin for the Petroff with black, but they followed a line that has barely been taken out of the theoretical basement in years, with the most recent essays by Nisipeanu in the 2015 World Cup. That might not seem so long ago, prior to that, for top players, you need to go back to 2007, with Ivanchuk and Kramnik giving it a one-time spin.

Fabiano was dying to try out a novelty he had prepared, involving an exchange sac, and after careful analysis, Sergey took up the gauntlet

Caruana had a nifty exchange sac in mind to explain his desire to roll back the clocks, and Karjakin was willing to take up the gauntlet, after making sure this would have a better fate than Carlsen when Aronian sacked his exchange. The Russian gave it back at the right moment, and emerged in a rook endgame up a pawn, but with strong drawing chances for Black. Caruana’s technique passed the test, and they drew after 73 moves.

Sergey Karjakin was in form and replied well to Fabiano's novelty. He came out ahead, but was unable to do more.

Sergey Karjakin vs Fabiano Caruana

[Event "Altibox Norway Chess 2017"] [Site "Stavanger"] [Date "2017.06.11"] [Round "5"] [White "Karjakin, Sergey"] [Black "Caruana, Fabiano"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C42"] [WhiteElo "2781"] [BlackElo "2808"] [Annotator "A. Silver"] [PlyCount "146"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. d4 d5 6. Bd3 Bd6 7. O-O O-O 8. c4 c6 9. Re1 Bf5 10. Qb3 Qd7 11. Nc3 Nxc3 12. Bxf5 Qxf5 13. Qxb7 {[#]} Ne4 $146 ( 13... Qd7 14. Qxd7 Nxd7 15. c5 Bxh2+ 16. Nxh2 Ne4 17. Bf4 Rfe8 18. f3 {1/2-1/2 (53) Svidler,P (2728) -Ivanchuk,V (2750) Morelia/Linares 2007}) 14. Qxa8 Qd7 $1 15. cxd5 Nf6 $1 16. Re3 $1 Nxd5 17. Rb3 $1 Nb4 $1 18. Rxb4 $1 (18. a3 $2 {for example, with big eyes on the b7 square, is just the sort of mistake Black would dream of, but knows he is unlikely to get. } Nc2 19. Rb1 Qe6 {and here White would need to play} 20. Bf4 $1 ({The precipitated} 20. Qb7 $2 {would be severely punished by} Nxd4 $1 21. Re3 Nxf3+ 22. gxf3 Qg6+ {winning the rook on b1.}) 20... Bxf4 {before trying to get out with} 21. Qb7) 18... Bxb4 19. Be3 $1 Bd6 $1 20. d5 $1 c5 $1 21. b4 $1 cxb4 22. Rc1 Rd8 23. Qxa7 Qxa7 24. Bxa7 Nd7 25. Bd4 Ra8 26. Kf1 Ra5 27. Rc8+ Bf8 28. d6 Rd5 29. Ne5 Nxe5 30. Bxe5 f6 31. Bg3 Kf7 32. Rb8 Bxd6 33. Bxd6 Rxd6 34. Rxb4 Rd2 35. a4 Ra2 {[#] The dust has settled, and Black is down a pawn in a rook endgame, but his rook is all-powerful, secure behind the pawn, and with great activity. In rook endgames, activity is often the difference between a draw or defeat.} 36. h4 h5 37. g3 Kg6 38. Rf4 Kf7 39. Ke1 Ke6 40. Rb4 Kf5 41. Kd1 Ke5 42. Ke1 Kf5 $1 43. Kf1 Kg6 44. Rc4 Kh6 45. Rf4 Kg6 46. Ke1 Kf7 47. Kf1 Kg6 $1 48. Kg2 Ra3 49. Kh3 Ra2 50. g4 Ra3+ 51. f3 hxg4+ 52. Kxg4 Ra1 53. Rc4 Ra2 54. h5+ Kh6 55. f4 Rg2+ 56. Kf5 Rh2 57. Ke6 Rxh5 58. f5 Rh1 59. Rc5 Kg5 60. Kf7 Rh7 61. a5 g6+ 62. Ke6 Rh1 63. a6 Ra1 64. fxg6+ Kxg6 65. Rc6 f5 66. Kd6 Kg5 67. Kc7 f4 68. Kb7 f3 69. Rc2 Kf4 70. a7 Kg3 71. a8=Q Rxa8 72. Kxa8 f2 73. Rxf2 Kxf2 1/2-1/2

The battle between Kramnik and Nakamura was also chosen as the game of the day by Tiger Hillarp-Persson, and though also a draw as they all were, it was a good fight between the two players as usual.

An excellent fight once again, and Nakamura maintains the lead at the midway point

Vladimir Kramnik vs Hikaru Nakamura (annotated by GM Tiger Hillarp-Persson)

Standings after five 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
1-0
M. Vachier-Lagrave
Anish Giri
1-0
Vishy Anand
Levon Aronian
1-0
Magnus Carlsen
Fabiano Caruana
½-½
Vladimir Kramnik
Wesley So
½-½
Sergey Karjakin
Round 5: June 11, 2017 in Clarion Hotel Energy
Magnus Carlsen
½-½
Anish Giri
Vishy Anand
½-½
Wesley So
M. Vachier-Lagrave
½-½
Levon Aronian
Sergey Karjakin
½-½
Fabiano Caruana
Vladimir Kramnik
½-½
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

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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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Resistance Resistance 6/13/2017 06:47
A word about Caruana's openings so far (till Round 5). It is evident that he knows how to press with White against the Berlin (--I don't think anyone can feel safe as Black when he opens with his mighty 1. e2-e4--). However, and although I admire his extraordinary talent for the game, I'd recommend to him to modify his opening repertoire with the Black pieces. I mean, he's just getting miserable positions out of them (--'suffering' would be the right word to describe his experience so far from the Black side of the board--).

The Queen's Gambit Declined against Aronian (Round 1)? All of his pieces cramped on the back of the board as Aronian called the shots from begining to end. It is true that he (Aronian) didn't get much from the opening either, but you can't expect much from a game just by containing your opponent.

The Petroff Defense against Vachier-L (Round 3)? Contention City once again; cero (point) cero prospects of getting...

The Petroff Defense against Karjakin (Round 5)? Although much sharper than his previous Petroff against Vachier-L, White was never put into any real danger, and once he freed his queen from a8, and captured Black's b4-pawn at move 34, he (Karjakin) tortured Fabiano for almost 40 moves (in what seems to be a drawn position, however), 'till they got nothing but bare kings on the board.

Maybe the French does fit you better, Fabi; or maybe the fearsome Sicilian complex... (not that life-sucking Petroff downer... )
bbrodinsky bbrodinsky 6/12/2017 12:15
Nakamura playing some serious chess, defending a couple of difficult positions, and taking advantage of good ones to win. Wondering if ...e4 against Kramnik would in fact have yielded winning chances, as white's pieces look awkward. Guess that's a risk at the wrong time anyway.
dumkof dumkof 6/12/2017 10:26
Mark, thanks for your reply.

Bacrot's win with the a4 continuation doesn't prove that a4 is winning. His opponent simply did not play flawlessly.

After a4, the engine autoplay (SF8 at 1 min/move thinking time) drew the game. Black managed to defend easily, even at longer time controls.

But if white plays 35. Rb7+ (instead of a4 immediately) the same engine managed to win for white, but not at every time control. So the question, whether 35. Rb7+ is winning, is still open.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 6/12/2017 09:19
@ tom_70 :

"Carlsen may be the top rated player at the moment, but he certainly doesn't dominate the other players, the way Kasparov did in his heyday. At least not anymore." (a post on the round 4 article about this tournament)

Yes, "At least not anymore." Carlsen is really losing quite an impressive number of Elo point.

On June's list, he is at 2832 ; his maximum was 2882. This represents a 50 points loss (and, following the results of this tournament, it seems that this is not the end of it...).

For a comparison, Anand's best rating was 2817, so a 50 points loss, for Anand, would correspond to a 2867 rating. Yes, Anand is 47, but he hasn't lost at all so much points as Carlsen now : he is currently at 2786 : this represents only a 31 points loss, a big difference with Carlsen's 50 points loss.

In terms of Elo points, objectively, Carlsen is really hurtling down the Elo scale ; it is only thanks to the enormous gap that he had at one time on the other players that he is still World n° 1 (and if this continues in the same manner, he will not stay there for very long ; So, Kramnik, and Caruana are just behind, patiently waiting for an opportunity...).
Mark S Mark S 6/12/2017 08:50
dumkof Discussed in other chess sites too, that endgame after 34...Rd2 35.a5 already happened with Bacrot too. And Bacrot won that game. This type of endgame with an a-pawn passer happened many times. Would be nice if a DB search would unlock the previous secrets done in this position.
dumkof dumkof 6/12/2017 08:38
In the game Karjakin - Caruana, a rook endgame is reached at the 34th move.

After black plays 34 ... Rd2, can white win?

İnstead of the passive 35. a4, white can play 35. Rb7+. Is 35. Rb7+ winning? Please, let's analize this position in detail.
SambalOelek SambalOelek 6/12/2017 08:02
Nicely written piece of text. You have talent as a writer!
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