Altibox Norway Chess, Round 9

by ChessBase
6/14/2019 – The 2019 Altibox Norway Chess Tournament is a ten-player single round robin taking place on June 3rd-15th in Stavanger. Every single match will have a winner: if the classical game ends in a draw Armageddon will follow, White has ten minutes, Black seven, but White needs to win. Magnus Carlsen won the tournament with one round to spare but there is still money and prestige stake. In the ninth and final round Carlsen will play against Caruana. The last round starts Friday at 17:00 CEST (15:00 UTC, 11:00 EDT). Follow the games live, with commentary by Judit Polgar and Anna Rudolf. | Photo: Lennart Ootes / norwaychess.no

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Round 9: Carlsen vs Caruana

The 2019 Altibox Norway Chess Tournament is a ten-player single round robin taking place on June 3rd-15th in Stavanger. If a game is drawn, a sudden death encounter with 10 minutes for White and 7 minutes for Black follows, with Black having draw odds. If a match-up is decided on Armageddon, the winner gets 1½ points and the loser ½ point. A win in the classical yields 2 points. [More details about the format at the end of this article].


Standings after Round 8
# Name Country Rating Points
1 Magnus Carlsen Norway 2875 13
2 Levon Aronian Armenia 2752 9
3 Yu Yangyi China 2738
4 Wesley So USA 2754
5 Fabiano Caruana USA 2819
6 Ding Liren China 2754 8
7 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave France 2779
8 Viswanathan Anand India 2767
9 Shakhriyar Mamedyarov Azerbaijan 2774
10 Alexander Grischuk Russia 2775 4

Classical games
 
Armageddon games
 

Live commentary with Judit Polgar and Anna Rudolf


Pairings and results

Results of Round 1 - Classical
 
Results of Round 1 - Armageddon
 

Report on Round 1 

Results of Round 2 - Classical
 
Results of Round 2 - Armageddon
 

Report on Round 2

Results of Round 3 - Classical
 
Results of Round 3 - Armageddon
 

Report on Round 3

Results of Round 4 - Classical
 
Results of Round 4 - Armageddon
 

Report on Round 4

Results of Round 5 - Classical
 
Results of Round 5 - Armageddon
 

Report on Round 5

Results of Round 6 - Classical
 
Results of Round 6 - Armageddon
 

Report on Round 6

Results of Round 7 - Classical
 
Results of Round 7 - Armageddon
 

Report on Round 7

Results of Round 8 - Classical
 
Results of Round 8 - Armageddon
 

Report on Round 8


An experiment

The organizers of the Altibox Norway Chess Tournament decided to deal with the problem of excessive draws in the elite (there is some disagreement in the chess world regarding this topic) by proposing a radical solution: every single game will have a winner. If a game is drawn, a sudden-death encounter will follow immediately (they will not wait for all the classical games to finish). Also, a faster time control will be used in the classical games, with each player getting two hours for the whole game — without increment! 

From the Norway Chess press release:

Each player will have 2 hours on the clock per game, without any increments.

2 points will be given for victory, ½ point for draw and 0 points for loss.

The players that have games that end with a draw will continue in an Armageddon play-off only a few minutes after their game. The player with the white pieces will continue with white in the Armageddon game. With this, there will be a winner in each game due to the fact that black pieces will win if the game ends in a draw. The winner in the Armageddon play-off gets 1 point.

The Armageddon games will not add to the rating of the players, only contributing to the results list in the tournament, which is FIDE rated.

Players will get following points per round:

  • Victory main game: 2 points
  • Loss main game: 0 points
  • Draw main game & loss Armageddon: ½ point
  • Draw main game & victory Armageddon: 1½ points

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Jacob woge Jacob woge 6/16/2019 08:42
“ feel sorry for Ding who otherwise had a good classical tournament”

This particular format allows you to win the tournament without winning a single game - and become dead last without losing any.
fgkdjlkag fgkdjlkag 6/15/2019 10:59
Draws ARE a problem. Anyone who disagrees needs to have a solution for when the next world championship finishes with 14 draws, as did the last world championship with 12 draws. And potentially in a plurality or majority of future world championships. One either must be okay with the CLASSICAL world championship being decided in blitz/rapid/Armageddon, or giving draw odds to someone, because even though both players are evenly matched in the CLASSICAL world championship, why don't we just award it to someone, even though they are not actually better.

Why this has become a debate in tournaments I am not quite clear, but given the number of blitz and rapid tournaments recently, presumably there is an important element in obtaining sponsorship funding, which was related to decreased viewership of classical tournaments? Does someone have insight into this? Presumably tournament organizers must have done some sort of analysis before adding all these blitz/rapid events.
melville59 melville59 6/15/2019 11:16
The idea to award points like in football sounds quite interesting and should be tried. As for poor old Grishuk - there should be a compulsory shot of vodka for each player after every fifth move in the classical games (men only!). He would be worldchampion in no time since Scandinavians can't hold their liquor, as we all know.
UncleTarrasch UncleTarrasch 6/15/2019 01:07
I feel sorry for Ding who otherwise had a good classical tournament
Jacob woge Jacob woge 6/14/2019 05:52
That’s Armageddon, or Ragnarok as the Scandinavian equivalent.
Jacob woge Jacob woge 6/14/2019 05:50
In rapid/blitz combined tournaments, one rapid victory equals two blitz victories. One could take a similar approach here: a blitz win is worth a classical draw.

Using Agamemnon, where blitz draw is abolished, that would amount to:

Classical win 3
Classical draw 1
Blitz win (or draw if Lady Luck gave you black) 1

Three points at stake in every match-up, and no chance of an even split.
imdvb_8793 imdvb_8793 6/14/2019 04:59
"This way, three draws, all followed by Armageddon wins, are 1 point more valuable than one classical win and two Armageddon defeats"

Apparently I can't do math anymore (in fairness, I'm also listening to something in the background, as I'm writing this), because these are equal (9 points for each scenario), and a classical win plus an Armageddon win and loss is what would bring the 1 extra point (10 points). Which is even better. You'd need four Armageddon wins to compensate for a classical win accompanied by split Armageddon results, and three to tie a guy with two Armageddon losses and a classical win. Sounds fair.
imdvb_8793 imdvb_8793 6/14/2019 04:53
I'm with those who don't mind the Armageddon itself (since the World Championship these days is almost always decided by who is better at rapid time controls, like the last two times, Anand-Gelfand, Kramnik-Topalov, or when Topalov went all-out in the last game, probably to avoid a rapid tiebreak vs Vishy, at least this way we get to see who is better under those extreme time pressure conditions - which we also get to see during all the rapid and blitz events on the schedule, of course, but I think this Armageddon thing might be even more relevant than that, somehow, although I can't quite put my finger on why I think that just yet... probably something to do with the psychological context or the fact that it's played immediately following classical play, like in the match -, and of course it's fun to watch), but think the scoring is very poorly thought out. I like fckeres' proposal of 5-3-2-0. It depends what fraction of a classical win (and how large compared to a classical draw followed by an Armageddon loss) we think an Armageddon win should be. I think the latter difference should be minimal, but still significant enough to impact the standings once those Armageddon wins add up. The former should perhaps be larger. A classical win is a lot more difficult to achieve than an Armageddon win, and certainly a far more infrequent occurrence under this system. So, 5-3-2-0 feels just about right to me. This way, three draws, all followed by Armageddon wins, are 1 point more valuable than one classical win and two Armageddon defeats, and bring the exact same points as a classical win plus an Armageddon win and an Armageddon loss, which, like I said, seems about right. A classical win plus an Armageddon loss being slighly more valuable (again 1 point) than a couple of Armageddon wins also feels quite fair. These numbers could still be improved on, I'm sure. Maybe using the available statistical data to come up with the right numbers... (Same for the Armageddon clocks.)
lajosarpad lajosarpad 6/14/2019 11:34
@klklkl

So, if you are on the position that this format is good and should be introduced at as many places as possible, which seems to be the case according to your earlier comments, then at least be honest, play with open cards and explain that this is your preference. So, the solution to the mistery you had difficulty to solve is that I perfectly know that this is about replacing chess with this format and I am 100% opposing that, which obviously means that this format is not "better" for me at all. Having a single tournament of this format is not a great problem for me. Since it is not very interesting from my perspective, I can choose not to watch. However, if this is introduced gratually in more and more cases, eventually overtaking classical chess, then it is a huge problem for me. In that case I would be deprived of classical tournaments.

You speak about theoretical draws:

"But on the other hand, if the litany of theoretical, prearranged (to quote Bobby), over-rehearsed draws is the best package you can find for the masses, they're never going to turn up. "

One might consider it more risky to play for a win in classical chess if he/she is more comfortable with playing the Armageddon. In this case we will see more theoretical draws. Not to mention the fact that on long term if this format is introduced everywhere, players who are good in classical chess, but less good in faster time controls will have to search for another profession.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 6/14/2019 11:34
@klklkl

"Please sample a mouthful of your own logic. "There are classical tournaments already". Why you should be so bothered by an organiser succeeding in making its event better is a mystery I can't solve. "

I like to have a debate, but I prefer honest debates. You perfectly know that this format is not threatening Blitz tournaments. Blitz is a very quick game which is not very correct, but is very dramatic. Some people, maybe you as well consider draws in classical chess to be a problem. An attempt to "solve" this problem is this format. So those who like this format will not be satisfied with this format being played in Stavanger yearly and nowhere else. Proponents of this format would like this to replace classical chess. This was described in the initial idea of Kasimdzhanov, which was the base of this format. You would like this format to slowly take over classical chess as well:

"I hope we don't have to wait another year before the next tournament that picks up this long overdue innovation."
"Another point that needs to be made about this format, is that it's attractive to casual viewers. If we want elite tournaments to popularise chess, this is a good way to do."
lajosarpad lajosarpad 6/14/2019 11:32
@klklkl

"The chess in this tournament has been many things, but 'not interesting' isn't one of them."
The term 'interesting' and its negation 'not interesting' is subjective. When I use a subjective term, you need to accept the fact that this format drastically reduces my interest to watch tournaments organized in it. I know you do not care, as you say:

"Frankly, who cares what traditionalists think?"

and you say that our (traditionalist) opinion should be ignored, because we will watch chess tournaments anyway. Our opinion and preferences should not even be considered according to you, because:

"When the world's elite are playing, are indignant lifelong fans really going to ignore events in protest?"

But what if we lose so much interest that we will rather play ourselves games than to watch tournaments where Black plays ultra safely, banking on the fact that he has very good chances in the Armageddon due to the draw odds in the Armageddon? What if very good chess players will quit watching top tournaments and start to do something more intellectual instead of watching coin tosses called Armageddon games?

The fact that the normal, classical chess games are becoming less interesting is acknowledged by youtube analyses as well, according to you:

"Haven't you noticed that youtube analyses have been preponderantly focused on Armageddon? "

Why would the youtube analyses be preponderantly focused on Armageddon if the classical games would be so interesting?
dsilver70 dsilver70 6/14/2019 07:37
Agree. Ding impresses with steady and incremental improvements, both in rating and in quality of the games. He does not have a star tournament or short bursts of great results, like all other elite players (apart from Carlsen). Ding's strength is actually in slow but steady and progressive improvement
planner99 planner99 6/14/2019 04:06
"chessgod0 6/11/2019 03:19
If Carlsen doesn't realize that Ding Liren is a threat to his title, then he needs to wake up. Ding clearly does not fear Carlsen and routinely obtains better positions against him. He will eventually begin to convert against champ and then all bets are off.

If I can smell Magnus' blood in the water, what are the chances Ding cannot? Such interesting times. "

I'm sure Carlsen sees Ding as a genuine threat, and will be studying him closely for the next 12 months. I think Ding has what it takes to win the candidates and give Carlsen a good match. I just hope it doesn't go 14 draws, as I'd heavily favour Magnus in that situation against anyone.
planner99 planner99 6/14/2019 04:03
"dsilver70 4 hours ago
Ding is the biggest threat to Carlsen. He is the only elite player that seems to be still actually improving the level of his game. The others can have good and poor performances but they have reached their limit in the improvement of the game. Ding is still slowly getting to higher level of his game. "

Totally agree. Ding is super strong and hard to beat, very solid player. Hoping that he wins Candidates 2020 to challenge Carlsen Next year.
dsilver70 dsilver70 6/14/2019 12:10
Ding is the biggest threat to Carlsen. He is the only elite player that seems to be still actually improving the level of his game. The others can have good and poor performances but they have reached their limit in the improvement of the game. Ding is still slowly getting to higher level of his game.
fckeres fckeres 6/13/2019 10:42
I think, that Magnus is really a pure chess genius. Believe me or not, he really resembles me Mozart. Not because there is some documentary called like that, or anything else... I believe, chess is his life, and here and there there come seldomly some distractions, which turn his attention the other way - which is just perfectly fine! But in the end, there is no obstacle to make him look back to his chess board!
On the other hand, I would like to present my dissapointment to the organizers - for their effort to make this tournament to be as suitable for blahblahblah
klklkl klklkl 6/13/2019 04:22
@Roberto Ardenzi It's never long before the anti-Carlsen logic arrives. He wins in many other formats too, you realise. Should we scrap those too?
klklkl klklkl 6/13/2019 04:19
@lajosarpad The chess in this tournament has been many things, but 'not interesting' isn't one of them. It's been awesome, both in its classical games and in the Armageddon when classical has fallen flat.

Please sample a mouthful of your own logic. "There are classical tournaments already". Why you should be so bothered by an organiser succeeding in making its event better is a mystery I can't solve.
klklkl klklkl 6/13/2019 04:10
@thing50 It is in every players hands to win through classical. A win in classical is worth more than a win in Armageddon.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 6/13/2019 12:46
@klklkl

"Frankly, who cares what traditionalists think?"

I couldn't disagree more. As about the format, there are blitz tournaments already. There you can watch dramatic decided games full of errors. No need to make chess uninteresting.

@thing50

If this format will be a standard, I'm not sure I will follow top-level chess tournaments from there on.
Tigervita Tigervita 6/13/2019 09:24
Why not to just adopt football scoring system? Three points for win, one point for draw. This would encourage fighting spirit more and would not destroy classical chess.
thing50 thing50 6/13/2019 06:40
Seeing as there are going to be around 80% draws in classical tournaments at the top flight these days, the Norway tournament has essentially become decided on a players blitz chess skills...this is not a classical tournament.
Kpawn Kpawn 6/13/2019 06:23
I frankly don't care if chess players become millionaires. In any case, I suspect all the fretting about draws has more to do with the media parasites leaching a living off of the talents of top flight players than the greed of the competitors. While I certainly appreciate some of the high quality chess event coverage of late, a disturbing trend is emerging. The media apparatus is using its powerful position to attack the thinking game with pipe-dream promises of huge jackpots and massive chess popularity just around the corner if only we listen to them and eliminate this tedious move pondering and the inevitable draws this leads to. Turning the thinking game into a circus of quick reflex instinctual tic tack toe is too high a price just to get a few more sponsors. Some tweaking of the competition may be good but taking the thinking out of the thinking game simply cannot be the correct answer as it destroys the thing itself.
Roberto Ardenzi Roberto Ardenzi 6/13/2019 02:55
I totally agree with Babysplitz (6/10/2019 08:48): "Altibox Norway has found a way to MAKE SURE MAGNUS WINS THIS TOURNAMENT. NOT VERY FAIR PLAY BY NORWAY!!!"
klklkl klklkl 6/11/2019 03:27
@chessgod0 re Ding. You're absolutely right - Ding is the real deal, and unlike Caruana (Carlsen's other putative challenger) he doesn't have a one-dimensional game. His prep and calculation is as goog as Caruana, but he has the intuition Caruana lacks.
klklkl klklkl 6/11/2019 03:18
@chessgod0, you miss the point of the exercise. It's not to disincentivise draws: rather it's to guarantee blood in every pairing.

It's been a terrific change and revitalised elite level chess. Every round has been exciting, and many of the richest & most fascinating games have been Armageddon games. Haven't you noticed that youtube analyses have been preponderantly focused on Armageddon?

And the decision not to schedule the round's Armageddons simulatenously was a stroke of genius in itself.

The event has been so exciting and dramatic, there's been a festive atmosphere around it that even remote viewers can't avoid being swept up in. The mundanity of GCT Croatia in two weeks time is going to be like a rainy Monday morning after a carnival weekend. I hope we don't have to wait another year before the next tournament that picks up this long overdue innovation.

The other thing I've loved about Armageddon is the extreme light it casts on the players' strengths and shortcomings: Carlsen's relentlessness, Caruana's over-reliance on prep and calculation, Grischuk's proneness to tilting, Anand's sparkling brilliance.

Another point that needs to be made about this format, is that it's attractive to casual viewers. If we want elite tournaments to popularise chess, this is a good way to do. Frankly, who cares what traditionalists think? When the world's elite are playing, are indignant lifelong fans really going to ignore events in protest? I don't think so. But on the other hand, if the litany of theoretical, prearranged (to quote Bobby), over-rehearsed draws is the best package you can find for the masses, they're never going to turn up.

The Norway organisers deserve credit.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 6/11/2019 03:08
@chessgod0

I totally agree. If some people cannot enjoy high quality games if they are drawn, then they could organize tournaments of coin tosses. It would be slightly more random than armageddon games and much more equal. And hey, no draws at any toss.
bbrodinsky bbrodinsky 6/11/2019 12:14
With the exception of no increment, I'm in favor of this experiment. SOMETHING has to be done re the "drawing problem". Chess will not attract fans if 80% of the games are draws, with most of those being boring draws. That is not acceptable, except to those who think they are the "real" fans, whatever that means. Like the gentleman (or lady) said prior, if this one doesn't work, let's try another one. But leaving the status quo of scores like +1 -0 =15 is no longer a viable option.
chessgod0 chessgod0 6/11/2019 03:19
If Carlsen doesn't realize that Ding Liren is a threat to his title, then he needs to wake up. Ding clearly does not fear Carlsen and routinely obtains better positions against him. He will eventually begin to convert against champ and then all bets are off.

If I can smell Magnus' blood in the water, what are the chances Ding cannot? Such interesting times.
chessgod0 chessgod0 6/11/2019 03:05
This is not the way to disincentivize draws. Here is how you disincentivize draws:

1) Winner take all prize fund. 1st prize gets the whole pot, second prize gets an appearance fee and a set of steak knives, everyone else is publicly flogged and anyone with fewer than three decisive results is summarily beheaded.

This is the only way.

Of course, the alternative is to realize that chess is just fine the way it is and that draws aren't actually a problem. The real problem is this ridiculous drive to make gladiators out of thinking men. Once we stop this nonsense and just let Chess happen, all will be well again.
Babysplitz Babysplitz 6/10/2019 08:48
Carlsen has lost a number of tournaments in Norway. So Altibox Norway has found a way to MAKE SURE MAGNUS WINS THIS TOURNAMENT. NOT VERY FAIR PLAY BY NORWAY!!!
fgkdjlkag fgkdjlkag 6/10/2019 08:35
If the final classical draw percentage is high in this tournament, then even incentivizing the players with the modified scoring system of classical was not sufficient to lower the draw rate. Classical chess is just naturally too drawish at the top level, and more drastic measures would need to be taken to lower the draw percentage. Even more extreme scoring could be implemented, as suggested below. Or possibly 1 tournament with a unique format is not enough to allow players to sufficiently prepare. If all tournaments used the same format, perhaps players would be able to make larger changes to their game. But to what end?
Lilloso Lilloso 6/10/2019 09:10
"The organizers of the Altibox Norway Chess Tournament decided to deal with the problem of excessive draws in the elite". A great success again in round 5 !
jrf1831 jrf1831 6/10/2019 08:57
If the intention is to have less draws then I suggest simple "football" solution: 3 points for a win and 1 point for a draw.
It's quite easy for a GM to make a draw when he or she wants it, so this system favours those who are good at fast time controls.
I have to admit, I don't have interest in watching this, I rather watch women's candidates.
Roberto Ardenzi Roberto Ardenzi 6/10/2019 04:34
Terrible!
PEB216 PEB216 6/10/2019 03:16
A classical match between two players should NOT be decided by an Armageddon game. Chess should be about producing memorable games: games worthy of being preserved for future generations. An Armageddon game is worthy of the trash bin. What could have been an interesting tournament has been turned into a joke.
dumkof dumkof 6/10/2019 02:20
Watch the last Chessbase headline:
"Altibox Norway Chess, Round 5: All games go to Armageddon"

Really sad! What's the point to play classical games for 5 hours, and then determine the round winners with cheap few minute Armageddons? If, for some, Armageddon is "sooo exciting", why not satisfing their needs by organizing Armageddon only tournaments directly, without any classical components? They only want to see decisive games anyway. I also suggest adding some bullets, to maximize their excitements.
fckeres fckeres 6/9/2019 09:20
@Leavenfish: in a sense, pretty nicely said. @organizers: too late to think once again... Armageddon is a nice idea to solve the game result, indeed. However, when you value the armageddon game too much, you get the players adjusted, and overall results resulting into nothing else than this....
anthonyy anthonyy 6/9/2019 10:44
This tournament is a joke (a bad one).
Endgames En are impossible to play.
Chess is a game where you take your time THINKING,
not blitzing because it is supposed to be fun for some spectators.
For me, it is not.
A good draw is better than a decisive game full of mistakes.
jsaldea12 jsaldea12 6/9/2019 05:23
Congats GM SO!!