Norway Chess Round 8: Carlsen defeats Karjakin

by Alex Yermolinsky
6/15/2017 – It was a very tense round with so much at stake. Not only the top spot, which is still open to be challenged, but the world no.1 spot was under assault. Magnus Carlsen played a topsy-turvy game against Sergey Karjakin in which anything could have happened, but fortunately for him and his legion of fans, he won, and staved off disaster. Vladimir Kramnik was also visibly pressured by the possibility and lost to MVL. Full report and analysis by GM Alex Yermolinsky.

Round eight

All photos by Lennart Ootes

Round 8: June 15, 2017 in Stavanger Concert Hall
Hikaru Nakamura
½-½
Wesley So
Anish Giri
½-½
Fabiano Caruana
Levon Aronian
½-½
Vishy Anand
Magnus Carlsen
1-0
Sergey Karjakin
M. Vachier-Lagrave
1-0
Vladimir Kramnik

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

I have been following top level tournament chess quite closely for the past six years or so. For a long time one constant was Magnus Carlsen being head and shoulders above his competition, while the rest of the guys were busy leapfrogging each other and then falling back, time and time again.

The latest generation of fans and players have lived through the Carlsen Era, in which the Norwegian genius has dominated. The idea that it might end is sacrilege, and to suggest it is blasphemy.

Now we seem to welcome the newest addition to the club. Contrary to all expectations, it is not some up-and-coming star – such as Wei Yi or Fedoseev, although they might be arriving any time soon. No, it's the god of chess himself, Magnus Carlsen, who is descending from Mount Olympus. Maybe it's only temporary, but over the course of the past three years Magnus has somehow let his rating drop about 60 points. He's no longer up there by himself; he's no Fischer, Karpov or Kasparov anymore. He's more of what Botvinnik described as “first among equals”.

Today Magnus finally scored his first win of the tournament, but it was far from convincing...

Sergey Karjakin vs Magnus Carlsen (annotated by Alex Yermolinsky)

[Event "Altibox Norway Chess 2017"] [Site "Stavanger"] [Date "2017.06.15"] [Round "8"] [White "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Black "Karjakin, Sergey"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E48"] [WhiteElo "2832"] [BlackElo "2781"] [Annotator "Alex Yermolinsky"] [PlyCount "87"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e3 O-O 5. Bd3 d5 6. cxd5 exd5 7. Nge2 { A modest system, but not without venom. White plans a classic Botvinnik Pawn Roller, made famous by his win over Capablanca, AVRO 1938.} Re8 8. Bd2 Bf8 { The most solid choice.} ({Unlike in similar lines of the QGD, where the white bishop goes to g5, here White's K-side seems a bit vulnerable, so} 8... Bd6 { was tried on numerous occasions.} 9. O-O c6 10. Rc1 {[#] was seen In Khismatullin-Anand, World Rapid 2015. Vishy chose} Ng4 $5 ({The tempting} 10... Bxh2+ {doesn't quite work here:} 11. Kxh2 Ng4+ 12. Kg3 $1 Qd6+ 13. f4 ({ White can also contemplate} 13. Nf4 $5 g5 14. Rh1 f5 15. f3 $1 Nxe3 16. Bxe3 Rxe3 17. Ncxd5 $1 gxf4+ 18. Nxf4 {where he will soon get his turn to take potshots at the enemy king.}) 13... Rxe3+ 14. Bxe3 Nxe3 15. Qd2 $18) 11. h3 $2 (11. g3 {is normal}) 11... Nh2 12. Re1 Nf3+ 13. gxf3 Qg5+ 14. Kh1 {and should have won the game, but for some reason he rejected the obvious} Bxh3 ({The game went} 14... Qh4 15. Nf4 Bxh3 16. Ng2 Qxf2 17. Bf1 Re6 18. e4 Qg3 $2 19. e5 Bxg2+ 20. Bxg2 Qh4+ 21. Kg1 Qxd4+ 22. Be3 {and White eventually won})) 9. O-O b6 (9... c6 10. Rc1 a5 11. f3 b5 $5 12. Ng3 Ba6 13. Nce2 b4 14. Bxa6 Rxa6 { was seen in Jobava-Mareco, World Rapid 2016. Two of my favorite players slugging it out!}) 10. Rc1 c5 11. Nf4 Bb7 (11... Ba6 {appears a bit risky because of the d5-pawn coming under assault after} 12. dxc5 Bxd3 13. Nxd3 bxc5 14. Na4 c4 15. Nf4 Nc6 16. Bc3 {but, perhaps, Black can just give it away:} d4 17. exd4 Rc8 18. d5 Nb4 $44) 12. Qf3 {[#]} Na6 {Dull, standard play.} ({ Ivan Saric tried to uphold Black's colors (Jolly Roger?) a couple of times. One of his efforts saw} 12... Nc6 $5 13. Ncxd5 Nxd5 14. Nxd5 Ne5 15. dxe5 Qxd5 16. Qxd5 Bxd5 17. Bc3 Bxa2 {Black doesn't look to be worse at all. Martinovic-Saric, 2017.}) ({I like} 12... Bc6 $5 {There's no white knight anywhere near e5, and Black is planning to follow up c5-c4 with b6-b5!}) 13. Rfd1 cxd4 {True to his newfound identity of "MInister of Defense" Sergey dutifully accepts a slightly worse position.} ({Truth be told,} 13... Nc7 $6 14. dxc5 $1 bxc5 15. Na4 Ne4 16. Ba5 Qe7 17. b4 $1 {would have been a much worse outcome.}) 14. exd4 Nc7 15. Bc2 Bd6 16. Be3 Ne4 $1 17. Ba4 Re7 18. Bb3 Qd7 19. h3 Nxc3 20. bxc3 $5 {Magnus is desperate to unbalance the position. Actually, the resulting pawn structure is not that bad: with d4 defended White can concentrate on the d5-pawn.} (20. Rxc3 Rae8 21. Rdc1 g6 {doesn't lead White anywhere.}) 20... Bc6 21. Nh5 Re6 22. Bc2 $2 {Oh, Magnus....} ({First} 22. Re1 $1 {then Bc2 to keep that bishop alive!}) 22... Ba4 $1 {[#] Being Magnus at this moment in time: no wins to his credit, no chance to contend for first place, the media demanding explanations, the chess internet swirling with rumors, the damned glasses make his head ache.... He just had to do something about it.} 23. c4 $5 dxc4 24. d5 Rg6 $1 {So far Sergey is showing himself up to the task.} 25. Bd4 (25. Bxg6 fxg6 26. Ng3 Bxd1 27. Rxd1 Qf7 $17) ({Objectively best was} 25. Bxa4 Qxa4 26. Nf4 Rf6 27. Qg4) 25... Bxc2 26. Rxc2 Qa4 27. Rcc1 {[#]} Qxa2 $2 {I love the concrete approach to positions, but every once in a while we should think like Petrosian.} ({The natural defensive move} 27... Ne8 $1 {would leave Carlsen staring at the dreadful possibility of a third defeat in this tournament and the loss of the Number One position in the Live Ratings list for the first time since 2011.}) 28. Nxg7 $1 Rxg7 29. Bxg7 Kxg7 30. Qg4+ Kf8 31. Qh4 Qb2 32. Rxc4 $2 {In looming time trouble Magnus lets the black king escape.} (32. Qh6+ Ke7 33. Rxc4 Qe5 34. Kf1 {White's intiative should net him more pawns, such is the case in} Kd7 35. Qxh7 Re8 36. Qxf7+ Kd8 37. Qf3 Qh2 38. g4 {although he's hardly better here.}) 32... Ne8 $2 ({The position after the obvious} 32... Kg7 33. g3 Kh8 {favors Black}) 33. Re1 Qf6 34. Qxh7 Qg7 35. Qc2 Qf6 36. Rg4 Bc5 37. Re2 Qh6 38. g3 Nf6 39. Rh4 Qg7 40. Kg2 Qg5 $6 ({If only Sergey had another minute to calculate} 40... Nxd5 { as completely safe he would have never lost this game.} 41. Qf5 Rd8 42. Re6 a5 43. Reh6 Bd4 {etc.}) 41. Qc3 Bd6 $2 {This howler was a product of a 25 minute think.} ({Still,} 41... Qg7 $11) 42. Rh8+ Ng8 43. Re4 Qg7 44. Rxg8+ $1 (44. Rxg8+ Qxg8 45. Qf6 Bc5 46. Rg4 Qh7 47. d6 $18) 1-0

A topsy-turvy game in which all three results were possible

As the important position of Number Two goes, the chess public longs to see a clear challenger, but so far it has failed to materialize.

Levon Aronian sits at the table of Norwegian TV

First it was Aronian for some three or four years, sporting a 2830 rating, but it never came to the match we all wanted to see. Instead all we got was Levon's disappointing fails in the Candidates.

Then Caruana made his leap – remember the Sinquefield Cup 2014 and his 7/7 start? - it seems so long ago now. This year Fabiano has yet to notch one win against 2700+ opponents. My bad, I checked the database, he did beat Richard Rapport in the Bundesliga, but you get my drift. Today Caruana had to work up a sweat holding on against suddenly in-form and ambitious Anish Giri.

Anish Giri emanating with a new energy

Daniel King analyzes Magnus Carlsen vs Sergey Karjakin

 

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In the current list it's officially Wesley So, but these days he seems more determined to steal the King of Draws crown from Anish Giri, than chase loftier goals. Today's game Nakamura-So was a total dud. At least, Hikaru keeps his position just half a point behind Levon, who gave sort of a token effort today against Anand though he never really threatened to get anything.

Once again, who is going to displace Carlsen as Number One, if the bad run continues? Briefly we thought Kramnik could do it, but his dreams took a hard hit today.

MVL was a cold shower on Vladimir Kramnik's dream of no.1, but it is still on the table

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave vs Vladimir Kramnik (annotated by Alex Yermolinsky)

[Event "Altibox Norway Chess 2017"] [Site "Stavanger"] [Date "2017.06.15"] [Round "8"] [White "Vachier Lagrave, Maxime"] [Black "Kramnik, Vladimir"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C65"] [WhiteElo "2796"] [BlackElo "2808"] [Annotator "Alex Yermolinsky"] [PlyCount "95"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. d3 Bc5 5. c3 d5 $5 {An intriguing line.} 6. exd5 (6. Nbd2 {is a practical choice, Vachier Lagrave-Hou Yifan, Grenke 2017}) 6... Qxd5 7. Bc4 Qd6 8. b4 {Energetic.} (8. Qe2 O-O 9. Nbd2 a5 { Topalov-Aronian, 2016}) 8... Bb6 9. a4 e4 (9... a6 10. Nbd2 O-O 11. O-O h6 12. Ba3 $14) 10. dxe4 Qxd1+ 11. Kxd1 Nxe4 12. Kc2 {[#]} Bf5 {Novelty, and a good one.} (12... Nd6 {was seen in Caruana-Xiong, US Ch 2017, where Fabiano at some point had a sizeable advantage only to squander it away and fight for a draw later on.}) 13. Nh4 Bd7 14. Re1 f5 15. Nxf5 (15. f3 Bf2 16. Re2 Bxh4 17. fxe4 fxe4 18. Rxe4+ Be7 {is equal, because White has to stop Bf5, and therefore has no time to exploit the pin on the e-file.}) 15... Bxf5 16. f3 Ne5 17. fxe4 Bg4 {Black enjoys full compensation for a sacrificed pawn.} 18. h3 (18. Na3 Bf2 19. Rf1 Rf8 20. Kb3 O-O-O {Same here.}) 18... Nxc4 19. hxg4 O-O 20. Re2 a5 21. Nd2 (21. Na3 Ne5 22. Bb2 Rf4 23. g5 c6 24. Rd1 Rg4 $11) 21... Ne3+ 22. Kb3 axb4 23. cxb4 Rfd8 {[#]} 24. Bb2 {The ensuing complications kept the game roughly balanced.} ({However, MVL had a much better move.} 24. Nf3 $1 Nxg4 (24... Nxg2 25. a5 Rd3+ 26. Kb2) 25. a5 Bf2 26. b5 $14 {Once Black's threats run out the active king will help White on the Q-side, while his black counterpart is miles away from the action.}) 24... Rd3+ 25. Bc3 Bd4 26. Rc1 Nd1 27. Nb1 Nxc3 28. Nxc3 Be5 29. a5 Rg3 30. Rf2 c6 31. Rf3 Rxg4 32. Na4 Rxg2 33. Nc5 Rb2+ 34. Kc4 Bd6 $2 {I suspect Vladimir stole a look or two at the Carlsen-Karjakin game, hoping his teammate could bring the Champ down. Grabbing that Number One Position in the live rating list would be so sweet.} ({Normally this game should have ended peacefully after something like this:} 34... Rb8 35. Rd1 h5 36. Rf5 Rc2+ 37. Kb3 Rc3+ 38. Ka2 (38. Ka4 $4 b5+ 39. axb6 Ra8+ 40. Na6 Rxa6#) 38... Bf6 39. Rxh5 Rc2+) 35. Rd1 Bxc5 36. Kxc5 {[#] Suddenly it's Black who's in huge trouble. From the hunted, harried piece the chameleon King turns into the fearsome hunter in the blink of an eye.} Re8 37. Rd7 Re5+ 38. Kc4 $1 h5 $2 ({The salvation was there after a rook trade:} 38... Rxe4+ 39. Kc3 Rbe2 40. Rxb7 R4e3+ 41. Rxe3 Rxe3+ 42. Kd4 Ra3 43. Kc5 g5 44. Kb6 g4 45. a6 g3 46. Re7 h5 47. Re5 h4 48. Ra5 Rxa5 {and both sides will get their new queens to arrive in a drawn ending.}) 39. Rxb7 Rxe4+ 40. Kc5 {Not the same script with four rooks present. Black will find it difficult to advance his pawns as his king falls behind.} Rc2+ 41. Kd6 Rd4+ 42. Kc7 Ra2 43. Kxc6 h4 44. Rb6 Rg4 $2 (44... Rc2+ 45. Kb7 Rd7+ 46. Ka6 Rd5 47. Rb8+ (47. b5 Rb2) 47... Kh7 48. Rff8 g5 49. b5 {Still, a lot of work left for White.}) 45. a6 Kh7 46. Rf5 $1 {[#]} Ra4 ( 46... g5 47. Re5 h3 48. Re7+ Kg6 49. Kd5+ Kf5 50. Rf7# {is a good visual on why four rook endings are of a special kind.}) (46... Re4 47. Kd5 Rg4 48. Rh5+ Kg8 49. Kc6 g6 50. Ra5 $18) 47. Rh5+ Kg6 48. Rxh4 $1 {An elegant finish, and MVL finally lights up the scoreboard!} 1-0

Going into the last round, it seems that only the three guys at the top of the standings can count this event as a success. The era of parity has arrived.

The huge, gorgeous venue

Standings after eight 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
½-½
Wesley So
Anish Giri
½-½
Fabiano Caruana
Levon Aronian
½-½
Vishy Anand
Magnus Carlsen
1-0
Sergey Karjakin
M. Vachier-Lagrave
1-0
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

You can use ChessBase 14 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs to replay the games in PGN. You can also download our free Playchess client, which will in addition give you immediate access to the chess server Playchess.com.


Yermo is enjoying his fifties. Lives in South Dakota, 600 miles way from the nearest grandmaster. Between his chess work online he plays snooker and spends time outdoors - happy as a clam.
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Pionki Pionki 6/16/2017 09:46
Kariakin misses again, like he did in New York, Kramnik looses again after winning, Carlsen wins after loosing. The world could have been a different place, but it's back to normal. What a disappointment!
Chandragupta Maurya Chandragupta Maurya 6/16/2017 11:10
Too soon to declare this the era of parity, Alex.
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