Norway Chess Round 7: Carlsen tied for last

by Albert Silver
6/14/2017 – My, oh my, what a round. If these words sound like an echo of several of the previous ones, it is for good reason. Once again chess fans were treated to exciting chess, and tremendous drama. Who would have thought to see Magnus Carlsen not only lose his second game, to Kramnik, but also be tied for dead last. On the other hand, Aronian continues his streak, beating Karjakin and taking sole lead. Report with GM analysis by Alex Lenderman and Daniel King.

Round seven

All photos by Lennart Ootes

Round 7: June 14, 2017 in Stavanger Concert Hall
Wesley So
½-½
Fabiano Caruana
Vishy Anand
½-½
Hikaru Nakamura
M. Vachier-Lagrave
0-1
Anish Giri
Sergey Karjakin
0-1
Levon Aronian
Vladimir Kramnik
1-0
Magnus Carlsen

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

Without taking anything away from Levon Aronian’s great win over Sergey Karjakin today, or Anish Giri’s win over MVL, the tale of the day was unquestionably Magnus Carlsen’s loss to Vladimir Kramnik. The reason is because there is a lot more than just a single loss, and any claiming otherwise are kidding themselves.

Magnus Carlsen has two rounds left, and his opponents will be none other than his world championship rivals: Vishy Anand and Sergey Karjakin

For a while now, Magnus Carlsen has not been his dominating self, and for a while, it was mostly shrugged off as a temporary thing. A phase, a glitch, nothing to get all bent out of shape over. During this period, his rating has been slowly but surely ebbing away like the tide, and though he was and is still no.1, there is little to no cushion for that to remain true. After his surprising and dramatic loss to Vladimir Kramnik, 10 Elo or less separate him from three other players: Kramnik, So, and … Aronian! What ails him is a matter of debate and speculation, but perhaps the most tangible (and thus fixable) reason is one voiced by both Garry Kasparov, and now in conversation, by GM Yermolinsky: Carlsen’s chess has stagnated.

Unable to win the 'drawn' endgame he used to milk, Magnuis has been forced into positions outside his current comfort zone

For years, he was winning one long endgame after another, many times dead equal, where he was able to trick his opponents and eventually score. His rivals all took notice and began working hard on their endgame skills, acknowledging that he had showed them, like none other before, the importance of this. They might still be behind him, but the difference is no longer enough to secure a 50+ Elo edge over them. They have adjusted. This is also producing other problematic consequences: his self-confidence is shaky, and his patience is shakier still. Is this the end of the Carlsen Era? Oh puh-leeze.

Certainly, if no action is taken, then yes, it might, but my money is firmly on his huge fighting spirit. Plus he is only 26. In 1996, after Las Palmas, Vladimir Kramnik declared that while Garry Kasparov might indeed have won the event, based on his chess, he could not claim to be ahead of the rest. We all know what ensued though: Kasparov, with his incomparable drive, got back to work, and in 2000 hit 2851, a full 70 Elo ahead of world no.2 Vishy Anand. He was 37.

Vladimir Kramnik is always a class act

Daniel King analyzes Kramnik vs Carlsen and Karjakin vs Aronian

 

Wesley So was one of the big names going into the event, with many wondering whether he would continue his superb streak. However, aside from his very entertaining draw against Karjakin, most of his games have been quite dry. Round seven was that in the spades, and while he did manage to squeeze water from a rock against Fabiano Caruana, more specifically a pawn from a queenless symmetrical middlegame, it was not enough due to the opposite colored bishops, and sure enough it drew after 67 moves.

Although So can be said to have outplayed Caruana inasmuch as he squeezed a pawn from a queenless symmetrical position, it was not enough to win

The spectators and photographers as the round started

Vishy Anand and Hikaru Nakamura fought an excellent battle with Nakamura knowing full well that with Aronian storming ahead, every chance counted, even when that means black against a 5-time world champion. Vishy’s equanimity was untouchable, understandably after his excellent win against Caruana, and in spite of all the parrying and feints, Nakamura was forced to content himself with the draw.

Anand's mood and confidence were untouchable

MVL’s game against Anish Giri was strange, especially since he is such an accomplished attacking player. Anish Giri played the Sicilian Dragon, Yugoslav variation, with black (no, you did not misread) against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, and while it was not quite the chaos the line is best known for, it was still a position with opposite-side castling and attack. White seemed to falter precisely when he had the means to keep the initiative with 21.f4! but instead chose to follow a less promising and slower continuation that let Black get his own counter-play underway and after that the snowball never stopped growing.

Anish Giri played the Sicilian Dragon with black against MVL, and won

Levon Aronian has truly been playing some very exciting chess, with great courage and quality, and deserves all the results and accolades that have befallen him. With an opponent willing to fight on the board, Aronian sacrificed a pawn for the initiative, dictating terms mostly on the board. Karjakin held on to his pawn and the position, though Black’s compensation was real, and the balance held true for a long time. Possibly due to time pressure, or due to the pressure Black was exerting, Karjakin finally slipped with 31.d5? and things went downhill very quickly. A fantastic win for the Armenian, who now takes sole lead with 5.0/7, and climbs to 2808 in the Live Ratings list.

Sergey Karjakin was all smiles before the game

Sergey Karjakin vs Levon Aronian (annotated by GM Alex Lenderman)

Standings after seven 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
½-½
Fabiano Caruana
Vishy Anand
½-½
Hikaru Nakamura
M. Vachier-Lagrave
0-1
Anish Giri
Sergey Karjakin
0-1
Levon Aronian
Vladimir Kramnik
1-0
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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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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AgainAgain AgainAgain 6/15/2017 10:05
wrong game shown
Bojan KG Bojan KG 6/15/2017 10:06
Levon on a roll at the moment although Sergey helped him out by pushing a rook where it does not belong. What to say about Carlsen, agony continues. Excellent game by Vlad after meltdown against Lev in 6th round. We are witnessing something not seen very often - 6 players on the top of rating list within mere 18 pts. Only Magnus knows what is going on with him but, as always when he underperforms, he avoids post game analysis with Nigel Short which is very unprofessional and rude.
eiry_wave eiry_wave 6/15/2017 02:10
is retiring soon. Carlsen.
jonkm jonkm 6/15/2017 02:29
Shocker that Anish could win with the Dragon at this high level. Love it.
drgenial drgenial 6/15/2017 02:36
"His rivals all took notice and began working hard on their endgame skills"

Really?
drgenial drgenial 6/15/2017 02:38
"Carlsen’s chess has stagnated."

That was not said from Levon when he started to lose massive Elo points.

Don't be pessimistic
drgenial drgenial 6/15/2017 02:39
"his self-confidence is shaky, and his patience is shakier still. Is this the end of the Carlsen Era? Oh puh-leeze."


Pfff... poor journalism.
jonkm jonkm 6/15/2017 02:43
IMO Carlsen has two strikes against him. Sure he will try to make a comeback but as to whether he can do it with all the young talent coming along, is a big question mark.
Svato Svato 6/15/2017 02:51
Hm, I am sorry to say that, but the whole article seems as it it has been written by over-zealous 17 year old for the readers of U-15. Why such junk journalism instead of focusing on the tournament and games?
drgenial drgenial 6/15/2017 02:52
"However, aside from his very entertaining draw against Karjakin, most of his games have been quite dry"

According to whom?
koko48 koko48 6/15/2017 03:08
Carlsen has a GF and is enjoying life outside of chess.

It is only natural that after dominating the chess world for so many years and defending several World Championships, he might lose a bit of an edge. Such a huge rating gap over the rest of the world, as Carlsen had at his peak, is difficult to maintain.

And unnecessary to maintain. He is still World Champion and as long as he keeps winning WC matches and defending his title, he doesn't need to win every tournament. Perhaps he will find his motivation when it is time to defend his title....Or if he loses the #1 ranking
saurabh19 saurabh19 6/15/2017 04:06
Carlsen didn't perform ''bad'' at Grenek Chess Classic and Tata Steel. Here he perform very bad and I think the reason is he is under pressure as he is playing in his home, Playing in home give little pressure as whole media is only focus on you and too many fans, everyone in Norway focused at Carlsen. So I think this give some pressure to every Player.
Don't doubt Carlsen strength too quickly.
libyantiger libyantiger 6/15/2017 04:57
magnus chips are over heating ...he probably needs change of fans ...
Semyorka Semyorka 6/15/2017 06:04
IT'S THE GLASSES!! Magnus doesn't even need them behind the board -he's an excellent blindfold player-, so why wear such (t.m.h.o.) horrible spectacles. Opponents know it's Magnus, but the day they face him, he looks like a stupid guy trying to be intelligent. "Oh well, this one I will kick.off the board."
SambalOelek SambalOelek 6/15/2017 07:58
i m just wondering

if a player of let's say 2850 rating plays against a 2801 player...the draw changes are always high...and thus for the 2801 player to earn points and the 2850 player to loose some. If there is no other 2850 player to play against, he always will lose more then the others...correct? The lower rating players always gain, even draw...?
Masquer Masquer 6/16/2017 12:55
re: poor journalism, I agree , I was thinking the same as drgenial as I was reading the article. A very tabloid like quality of writing... ::{
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