Altibox Norway Rd6: Aronian beats Kramnik and ties for lead

by Albert Silver
6/13/2017 – Though it was not the only result of the day, it was certainly the most significant one. The opening went well for Aronian, and very quickly things soured for Kramnik who was lost after just 22 moves. A huge win for the Armenian who also rejoins the 2800 club. Anand broke out of his rut as he soundly defeated Caruana with black, while Giri will be kicking himself as he squandered a won game against So. Illustrated report with GM analysis by Daniel King and Tiger Hillarp-Persson.

Round six

All photos by Lennart Ootes

Round 6: June 12, 2017 in Clarion Hotel Energy
Hikaru Nakamura
½-½
Sergey Karjakin
Anish Giri
½-½
Wesley So
Levon Aronian
1-0
Vladimir Kramnik
Fabiano Caruana
0-1
Vishy Anand
Magnus Carlsen
½-½
M. Vachier-Lagrave

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

Chess fans were blessed today with another round of exciting chess, and though not quite the standard of round four, there was nothing to complain about. The news of the day was without a doubt Levon Aronian’s very quick win over Vladimir Kramnik, who was dead lost after a mere 22 moves.

This was not the sort of position Kramnik had imagined in his preparation

Daniel King analyzes Levon Aronian vs Vladimir Kramnik

 

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The result of this monumental win is that Levon Aronian not only ties Nakamura for first in the Norway Chess tournament, but he also finally renews his membership of the 2800 club where he firmly belongs. There are no two ways about it: Aronian is on fire, and it bears reminding the readers that he had great chances in a couple of the draws he played too.

After six rounds, Magnus Carlsen is still struggling, and while he was never in trouble, nor did it seem like he was going to make any.

Magnus Carlsen has yet to score a win in the tournament, and his loss against Levon Aronian has still left a shadow of discomfort that was visible in his game today. His opponent, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, is certainly always game for a bloody fight as can be seen in his predilection for the Sicilian Najdorf, and while the world champion didn’t necessarily need to go for such a sharp struggle, one would have hoped for something more ambitious with white than a London system. Though the two left on the kings on the board at the end of the 44 moves, that didn’t make it an eventful game.

Hikaru Nakamura and Sergey Karjakin chose the Nimzo-Indian as their battlefield, and although it left a completely symmetrical queenless middlegame with no real  breaks to strive for, white had an infinitesimal edge thanks to his bishop pair. Nakamura had shown how much he had developed in technical play in his first round win over Giri in the famous Fischer endgame (RB vs RN), and here he tried to do a tribute to Steinitz as he transitioned into an endgame pitting his bishop pair against Karjakin’s knight and bishop. It wasn’t enough as the position didn’t allow him to harry the knight quite as Steinitz taught, and eventually they drew.

Hikaru Nakamura tried his best to make something out of the endgame in round six, but the position just didn't have enough in it

Anish Giri is going to spend another sleepless night, in spite of his good-natured humor, as he aches at the golden opportunity missed. He had Wesley So in his grasp, the win just a few precise moves away, but somehow a series of imprecisions as the time control approached robbed him of this window of opportunity and a draw was concluded.

Anish Giri vs Wesley So

[Event "Altibox Norway Chess 2017"] [Site "Stavanger"] [Date "2017.06.12"] [Round "6"] [White "Giri, Anish"] [Black "So, Wesley"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A37"] [WhiteElo "2771"] [BlackElo "2812"] [Annotator "A. Silver"] [PlyCount "118"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] 1. c4 c5 2. Nc3 g6 3. g3 Nc6 4. Bg2 Bg7 5. Nf3 e6 6. h4 {5} Nf6 {This is certainly a curiosity, and prior to So, no GM had ventured to play this. Most have chosen 6...h6, so as to simply shut down White's ideas with g5 after h5. The fact is that White's king is no less vulnerable than Black's since the positon is a near mirror, and neither side has castled. I prefer Wei Yi's choice against Adams, which follows Nimzowitsch's precept: when attacked on the wing without proper justification, the best reply is a counter in the center.} (6... d5 7. h5 Nge7 8. d3 dxc4 9. dxc4 Qxd1+ 10. Nxd1 b6 11. h6 Bf6 12. Bg5 Bxg5 13. Nxg5 Bb7 14. Ne3 Nf5 15. Nxf5 gxf5 16. O-O-O Rb8 17. Rd2 Ne5 18. Bxb7 Rxb7 19. b3 Ke7 20. Rh4 Rd7 {1/2-1/2 (52) Adams,M (2744)-Wei,Y (2706) Wijk aan Zee 2016}) 7. d4 cxd4 8. Nxd4 O-O 9. O-O d5 10. cxd5 $146 {The official novelty, coinciding with a game via transposition.} (10. Nxc6 bxc6 11. Qa4 Qb6 12. Be3 Qa6 13. Rac1 Nd7 {1-0 (63) Le Roux,J (2276)-Vallin,G (2396) Amiens 2001}) 10... Nxd5 11. Nxc6 bxc6 12. Bd2 Nxc3 13. Bxc3 Bxc3 14. bxc3 Ba6 15. Qc2 Qa5 16. Rfd1 Qc5 17. Rd7 Rad8 18. Rad1 Rxd7 19. Rxd7 Bc4 20. Qd2 a5 21. Bf3 Qa3 22. h5 Qxa2 23. Qd4 {Intending h6 and mate.} c5 (23... Bxe2 {would lose swiftly after} 24. h6 f6 25. Qa7 {and mate is inevitable} Qb1+ 26. Kh2 g5 27. Rd3 $1 {with the idea of Qg7#}) 24. Qe3 $16 a4 25. Kg2 Qb1 {[#]} 26. h6 $1 {Qe5 is the Damocles Sword hanging over Black's position.} Qf5 27. g4 Qf6 28. Qxc5 Bd5 29. e4 Ba8 {[#]} 30. Ra7 $2 {The idea of moving the pieces to capture the a-pawn is right, but the execution is wrong. Black will force White to exchange his queen in a very unfavorable situation, or just lose his h6 pawn as a result.} (30. Qc4 $1 $18 {was the correct continuation. The difference is that now if Black plays} Qf4 {, as in the game, to capture h6, it runs into a serious little problem: it would lose the bishop!} 31. Qxa4 Qxh6 32. Ra7 $1 { and the bishop has nowhere to run to!}) 30... e5 31. Rxa4 Qf4 32. Qe3 Qxe3 33. fxe3 {Now things are very different. White's pawns are shattered and he has three pawn islands to Black's one.} Rc8 34. Ra5 Kf8 35. Kg3 Bc6 36. c4 Bd7 37. Be2 Be6 38. Rxe5 Bxc4 39. Bxc4 Rxc4 40. Kf4 Rc6 41. g5 Rc1 {This is a draw, and though White is certainly entitled to play on, So shows no problem holding. } 42. Ra5 Ke7 43. Ke5 Rc7 44. Rb5 Ra7 45. Rc5 Rb7 46. Ra5 Rc7 47. Ra8 Rc5+ 48. Kf4 Rc1 $1 49. Ra7+ Ke6 50. Ra6+ Ke7 51. e5 Rf1+ 52. Ke4 Rg1 53. Ra8 Rxg5 54. Ra7+ Ke6 55. Ra6+ Ke7 56. Kd5 Rh5 57. Ra7+ Kf8 58. Ra8+ Ke7 59. Ra7+ Kf8 1/2-1/2

Anish Giri shares his post-game impressions with Dirk Jan Geuzendam and Nigel Short (photo by Tone Marie Haubrick)

Fabiano Caruana is another player, much like Carlsen, who has been having trouble getting his engine into second gear. Perhaps as a means to ‘shake things up’ he eschewed his usual 1. e4 against Vishy Anand, and played 1. c4 instead. This was not the immediate cause for his downfall, but his lack of familiarity with the English with white did him no favors. He tried to set up an almost primitively aggressive pawn roller on the queenside (Black was castled on the kingside for the record), and when things didn’t work out, he closed shop there with a big 23. a5 padlock. Anand did not hesitate and went on the offensive himself, and the situation turned around swiftly and badly. A great win for the Indian. Enjoy the great detailed notes by GM Tiger Hillarp-Persson.

Fabiano Caruana vs Vishy Anand (annotated by GM Tiger Hillarp-Persson)

Win or lose, you can count on 5-time world champion Vishy Anand to bring the fight to his opponent when needed. His win over Caruana now leaves him tied with Caruana and Carlsen.

Standings after six 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
½-½
Sergey Karjakin
Anish Giri
½-½
Wesley So
Levon Aronian
1-0
Vladimir Kramnik
Fabiano Caruana
0-1
Vishy Anand
Magnus Carlsen
½-½
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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WildKid WildKid 6/13/2017 11:19
I find it remarkable that Carlsen, the world champion, is drifting along through the tournament under the 50% line, and no-one seems to consider this unusual.
Bojan KG Bojan KG 6/13/2017 12:14
This will probably be third straight big tournament after Tata Steel and Grenke where he is not a winner nor even close to winning. Going back to last year WC title match where he barely survived, his poor run of form has been lasting for almost 8 months with no signs of changing that trend whatsoever. Maybe he lost some passion for winning since he won virtually everything at young age and now motivation comes to play. Maybe girlfriend makes him losing a focus on chess. Who knows, but one thing is certain. He is not force he used to be, nobody is afraid of playing him and the most importantly he run out of ideas - in 6 games he played here in none he posed a danger to opponent except maybe in game vs Naka where he could have pressed for victory.
MiltonW MiltonW 6/13/2017 12:35
Giri - So: 'the win just a few precise moves away'. I tried 30.Qc4! but still can't win :)
SambalOelek SambalOelek 6/13/2017 01:13
Carlsen under performance is bit like Djokovic at the moment... Look at Nadal two years ago and now.. sometimes one has other things on his mind then just chess pawns or a tennis ball. Perfectly understandable.
hserusk hserusk 6/13/2017 02:06
I blame the hipster glasses! ;-)
SambalOelek SambalOelek 6/13/2017 02:20
@hserusk : a hipster beard might balance the glasses a bit and up the performance as well (more 'balanced' head ) ;)
drgenial drgenial 6/13/2017 02:38
If your Physician starts to underperform on his duties of taking care of patients for example, I doubt it would be "understandable".

Mentioning "girlfriend" as a possible reason for underperformance is laughable. Are you a teenager or what who skips school lessons to meet her? Giri has a wife and a child, and his form did not drop from that.
hserusk hserusk 6/13/2017 02:50
SambalOelek : You're on the money! :)
SambalOelek SambalOelek 6/13/2017 03:12
@drgenial : but your Physician is under performing on some days, even u didn't noticed it.... the only 100% performing chess player i know of was Deep Blue..and lately Stockfish. But we can't really call them humans, or do we?
Bertman Bertman 6/13/2017 04:48
Comparing Carlsen's current slump with Djokovic seem's a bit dodgy. For one thing, Djokovic dumped his entire team, who had been with him throughout his career, a sure sign this was not 'understandable', and he has also stated in the media that he is going through a crisis of sorts trying to solve this problem with form.

As to Carlsen, it bears remembering he completely crushed the opening blitz event, which had everyone (and no doubt Magnus himself) expecting a similar return to his winning ways in the main event. I think this may even have led to a nasty dose of overconfidence, though this is entirely speculation, since a slightly more wary player might not have jumped on Aronian's a3 pawn the way he did. The follow-up, with the sac, clearly rattled him badly, since he actually made more mistakes and lost badly, instead of recovering and producing one of his trademark turnarounds.
ulyssesganesh ulyssesganesh 6/13/2017 05:02
a good comeback by vishy!
drleonelhernandez drleonelhernandez 6/14/2017 02:18
What's going on with Magnus Carlsen ?.....very unusual, maybe playing at home has been very bad for the world champion.
fons fons 6/14/2017 04:27
What if Aronian had become a scientist instead?
Well I found him: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wXUkfGezM9U :D
planner99 planner99 6/14/2017 07:18
"
As to Carlsen, it bears remembering he completely crushed the opening blitz event, which had everyone (and no doubt Magnus himself) expecting a similar return to his winning ways in the main event. I think this may even have led to a nasty dose of overconfidence, though this is entirely speculation, since a slightly more wary player might not have jumped on Aronian's a3 pawn the way he did. The follow-up, with the sac, clearly rattled him badly, since he actually made more mistakes and lost badly, instead of recovering and producing one of "

Classical is a different beast to Blitz, its much harder to forumulate plans and find weaknesses, blitz weaknesses appear much sooner and you can capitalize on them.
Carlsen ia simply out of form in classical, as he said he simply cant find the right moves. This happens to eveyone though, he's bedn doing it so easily last 7 years that it seems strange now that he is like the rest.

He will be back though, give him time.
Resistance Resistance 6/14/2017 11:19
Giri needs to train harder, and find some better, tougher sparring partners. He's very talented, but lacks in 'animal' strength. Loosening up a little might end up being much more benefitial for him than he thinks...
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