Altibox Norway Rd4: Spectacular sacrifices and stalemates

by Albert Silver
6/11/2017 – Round four of Norway Chess was nothing short of amazing on all boards. Let's just start with Aronian, who delivered a classic Bxh7+ shot to ultimately beat Carlsen. Then Giri beat Anand in a strong game, while Nakamura scored his second win, against MVL, to take sole first. Caruana almost had Kramnik, who survived, and Karjakin escaped So in a finale Houdini, had he been a chess player, would have been proud of. Huge illustrated report with great analysis by GM Alex Yermolinsky.

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Round four

Cover photo by Tone Marie Haubrick

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

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

The round was nothing short of spectacular. Not only were there three decisive results, but it seemed likely there would be five, and frankly, one of the draws was easily one of the most exciting games of the day, with an end that deserved applause.

There is no point in beating around the bush, and many readers will be skipping ahead searching for the fantastic win by Levon Aronian over Magnus Carlsen, so instead of trying to be clever and place it somewhere later in the report, let’s get right to it.

Levon’s record against Magnus in recent years has been less than stellar, it must be said. It isn’t a style issue, meaning some incompatibility between players that seems to favor one over the other independently of Elos, since the Armenian has certainly not lacked in his fair share of winning chances in his games. Things just haven’t seemed to work in his favor.

Whatever he has been doing with himself of late to get his head back is working, as seen in the recent smashing victory at the Grenke Classic, ahead of Carlsen and Caruana, and now, after two very promising games he failed to convert, he does so against the player it matters the most: world no.1 Magnus Carlsen.

A view of the playing hall (photo by Lennart Ootes)

Things started early, and after a highly unusual 10.Bc2, Magnus Carlsen went into a very deep thing, deliberating his next move over the following 25 minutes. Even live commentator GM Gustafsson was so taken aback, he was convinced it was a typo and the move played was the usual 10.Qc2. However, not so, and even GM Yermolinsky, who annotates the game in detail below, believes this was an on-the-spot inspiration, not a deeply prepared minefield.

Levon Aronian: the look of an inspired man (Photo by Lennart Ootes)

The first spot of true inspiration came when Aronian seemingly stuck out his pawn on a3 with 11.a3!!, played after nearly 17 minutes, inviting, no begging the World Champion to come and get it. It was hard to believe that he would oblige, since the positional drawbacks, not to mention danger to his queen, had to scream caution to Carlsen. Yet, he took the pawn and seemed taken aback when Levon sacrificed his exchange and locked up Black’s queen.

Levon Aronian vs Magnus Carlsen

 

This was not enough though, and after 16 moves played, came the bishop sacrifice on h7, a theme that is in pretty much all beginner attacking manuals. Viewers were in absolute shock, and the roar online and on social media was all over.

Magnus Carlsen stares at his wrecked position with a grim face (photo by Tone Marie Haubrick)

Levon Aronian vs Magnus Carlsen

 

The game was still a fight though, and a number of questions needed to be asked and answered. In the end, it was Carlsen, still punch drunk, who failed to continue standing.

Levon Aronian vs Magnus Carlsen (annotated by GM Alex Yermolinsky)

[Event "Altibox Norway Chess 2017"] [Site "Stavanger"] [Date "2017.06.10"] [Round "4"] [White "Aronian, Levon"] [Black "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D45"] [WhiteElo "2793"] [BlackElo "2832"] [Annotator "Alex Yermolinsky"] [PlyCount "69"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 e6 ({In the Chebanenko line} 4... a6 5. e3 b5 6. b3 {Black gets to move his bishop out,} Bg4) 5. e3 a6 {I find this version somewhat inferior.} ({Obviously,} 5... Nbd7 {has been played million times.}) 6. b3 (6. Bd3 dxc4 7. Bxc4 c5 {leads to Queens Gambit Accepted - a good version for Black, since the white knight is already on c3 and therefore subject to a b7-b5-b4 attack.}) 6... Bb4 $1 7. Bd2 {The bishop is unfortunate here, but White has no other choice.} ({as} 7. Bb2 Qa5 8. Qc2 Ne4 9. Rc1 Qxa2 { loses a pawn.}) 7... Nbd7 8. Bd3 O-O 9. O-O Qe7 ({Carlsen already had this position on the board. Against Flores, World Rapid 2016, he chose} 9... Bd6 { and ended up in a bit of trouble after} 10. Rc1 ({White shouldn't rush in with } 10. e4 {because} dxc4 11. bxc4 e5 {gives Black play on the dark squares.}) 10... h6 11. Qc2 Re8 12. h3 Qe7 $6 {Perhaps a step too far in the waiting game. } ({There wasn't much wrong with} 12... e5 13. cxd5 cxd5 14. dxe5 Nxe5 15. Nxe5 Bxe5 16. Ne2 Ne4) 13. c5 Bc7 14. e4 e5 15. Rfe1 $1 {Here Magnus realized his mistake, shrugged his shoulders, played} Qd8 {and went on to win the game!}) 10. Bc2 $5 {A very fresh idea, no doubt invented at the board.} ({Routine is} 10. Qc2 {where one possible line goes as follows:} e5 11. Nxe5 Nxe5 12. dxe5 Qxe5 13. Nxd5 Nxd5 14. cxd5 Bxd2 15. Qxd2 Qxd5 16. Qc2 $14 {Tukmakov-Bacrot, 2007}) 10... Rd8 ({On} 10... e5 {Levon may have had an ace up his sleeve:} 11. Nxd5 $1 cxd5 12. Bxb4 Qxb4 13. dxe5 Ne8 (13... dxc4 $142 14. exf6 Nxf6 15. bxc4 Qxc4 16. Bb3 $14) 14. cxd5 {White's pawn mass is threatening to go critical!}) 11. a3 $3 {Absolutely incredible.} Bxa3 $6 {Carlsen takes up the gauntlet.} ({ Objectively speaking,} 11... Bd6 {would have been a wiser choice.} 12. c5 Bc7 13. e4 $1 dxe4 14. Nxe4 Nxe4 15. Bxe4 Nf6 16. Bg5 h6 17. Bxf6 Qxf6 18. Re1 $14 {appears to favor White by some small margin, but Black can think of a radical solution to the problem of his Bc8, and play} e5 $5 19. Nxe5 Be6) 12. Rxa3 Qxa3 13. c5 $1 {[#] The queen is about to be trapped.} b6 $1 ({Some sample lines to illustrate the point:} 13... e5 14. Nb1 Qa2 15. Bb4 $1 Ne4 16. Bxe4 dxe4 17. Nc3 Qb2 18. Na4 Qa2 19. Nd2 exd4 20. exd4 Nf6 21. Nc3 Qb2 22. Nc4 $18) ({or} 13... a5 14. Bc1 Qa1 (14... Qb4 15. Na2 Qb5 16. Bd3) 15. Qd2 Kh8 16. Bb1 $18) 14. b4 $5 {Levon continues to delight the audience.} ({A mere mortal would have tried to follow through with} 14. Nb1 Qa2 15. Bb4 ({Better is} 15. Qc1 $5 bxc5 16. Nc3 Qa5 17. Nxd5 Qb5 18. Nc7 Qb7 19. Nxa8 Qxa8 (19... cxd4 20. Ba5 Rf8 21. Nc7) 20. Ba5 Re8 21. dxc5 Nxc5 22. Bxh7+ Nxh7 23. Qxc5 $16) 15... bxc5 16. dxc5 a5 17. Nc3 Qb2 18. Na4 Qa2 19. Bb1 {would have gotten the queen, and arrived in a totallt unclear position after} Qxa4 $1 20. bxa4 axb4 {Did Magnus see it all when he took on a3?}) 14... Ne4 ({In case of} 14... Qb2 15. cxb6 ( 15. Na4 Qa3) 15... Nxb6 16. Ne5 {the rescue operation had to continue at the cost of further concessions:} Ne4 17. Nxe4 dxe4 18. Bxe4 $14) 15. Nxe4 dxe4 16. Bxe4 Rb8 {[#]} (16... Nf6 17. Bxc6 Rb8 18. Ne5 a5 19. b5 bxc5 20. Nc4 Qa2 21. Bxa5 $16) 17. Bxh7+ $3 {This is how Greek gods played chess if they ever did.} (17. Qc2 f5 (17... g6 18. Bc3 {and again the black queen is lost}) 18. Bxc6 bxc5 19. dxc5 $16) 17... Kxh7 18. Ng5+ Kg8 ({In case of} 18... Kg6 {we all know the pattern of White's attack:} 19. Qg4 f5 20. Qg3 {but is it enought ot win? Probably is, if you can see the following lines:} Kf6 (20... f4 21. Qxf4 Rf8 22. Qh4 $1 Nf6 23. Qg3 Bd7 24. Nxe6+ Kf7 25. Nxf8 Rxf8 26. cxb6) (20... Re8 21. Nxe6+ Kf6 22. Qxg7+ Kxe6 23. e4 $1 fxe4 24. Qg4+ Ke7 25. Bg5+ Nf6 26. Qf4 { hitting the rook on b8.}) 21. Nf3 Re8 22. e4 $3 Bb7 23. Bg5+ Kf7 24. Ne5+ Nxe5 25. Qxa3) 19. Qh5 Nf6 20. Qxf7+ Kh8 21. Qc7 {An amazing picture. The White queen is rampaging in the enemy camp while her counterpart is taking a vacation.} Bd7 {Carlsen finds a way to stay ahead in material, but he's no longer in control of event, in fact he hasn't been since he took the bait with Bxa3.} 22. Nf7+ Kh7 23. Nxd8 Rc8 24. Qxb6 Nd5 25. Qa7 $2 {The first inaccuracy in Aronian god-like play today.} (25. Qb7 Rxd8 26. e4 Nf6 27. Bg5 {keeping the b4-pawn alive.}) 25... Rxd8 26. e4 {[#]} Qd3 $6 ({Only} 26... Nf6 27. Bg5 Qxb4 28. e5 Kg6 29. h4 Qxd4 30. exf6 gxf6 {would allow Black to stay afloat.}) 27. exd5 Qxd2 28. Qc7 Qg5 29. dxc6 $6 ({Instead,} 29. d6 {would have kept Black all trussed up, yet White would still have to show a winning plan.} Be8 30. h3 Bd7 31. Re1 Qh4 32. d5 (32. Re2 Qf6 33. Re4 Qf8 34. Qb7 Qf5 35. f3 Qf6 36. Qxa6 Rb8) 32... exd5 33. Re7 Rf8) 29... Bc8 30. h3 Qd5 31. Rd1 e5 $6 ({Simply staying put with} 31... Rf8 {was the way to go, as} 32. Qd6 Qb3 33. Qxf8 Qxd1+ 34. Kh2 Qxd4 35. Qxc8 Qf4+ {is perpetual check.}) 32. Rd3 exd4 33. Qe7 Bf5 $2 ( 33... Rg8 34. Qh4+ Kg6 35. Rxd4 $16) 34. Rg3 Bg6 35. Qh4+ {It took a Magnus blunder, but it's only fair Levon won this game.} 1-0

An absolutely stellar performance by Levon Aronian, through and through, and while Carlsen did not make the most of his chances to save the game, it was a wonderful bout to watch. (photo by Lennart Ootes)

With both players being known for very aggressive, gritty play, the game between Hikaru Nakamura and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave had promised to be one to watch for, and it did not disappoint. The Frenchman has become famous for his strong penchant for the Sicilian Najdorf with black, which makes him a somewhat easier opponent to prepare against than some. For example, trying to guess what a player like Ivanchuk will choose, a player who knows it all and plays it all, is a lost cause, and the time trying to predict and prepare against him might be better served grabbing some extra sleep.  However, there are two sides to this coin as one player once noted of GM Lev Alburt who played the Alekhine Defense unswervingly: yes, he is predictable, but how big an advantage is that if he is also one of the world’s absolute greatest theoreticians in it as well? It didn’t work out so well for MVL as the opening went sour, and he bet his all his chips on a kingside attack that never came to fruition. A huge victory for Hikaru Nakamura, who scores his second win, and is now the sole leader after four rounds.

Already winning, it shows in Hikaru Nakamura's body language. MVL's body language is equally expressive as he knows the game is lost. (photo by Tone Marie Haubrick)

Hikaru Nakamura vs MVL (annotated by GM Alex Yermolinsky)

[Event "Altibox Norway Chess 2017"] [Site "Stavanger"] [Date "2017.06.10"] [Round "4"] [White "Nakamura, Hikaru"] [Black "Vachier Lagrave, Maxime"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B90"] [WhiteElo "2785"] [BlackElo "2796"] [Annotator "Alex Yermolinsky"] [PlyCount "65"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bd3 {One of those sidelines that leaves Black with a choice of options.} e5 {I guess Hikaru counted on this one, as MVL only plays Najdorf setups.} ({The Dragon response} 6... g6 7. O-O Bg7 8. a4 O-O 9. Kh1 Nc6 {was seen in Judit Polgar's games against Anand and Grischuk in World Blitz 2014}) (6... e6 7. f4 Nbd7 8. O-O b5) 7. Nde2 Be7 8. O-O O-O 9. Ng3 Be6 (9... g6 $5) 10. Nd5 Bxd5 11. exd5 g6 12. c4 {This is a standard structure, the same we saw in Carlsen-Nakamura from round three.} Ne8 $2 {I don't like this retreat because it narrows Black's options to a K-side attack alone, and later in the game we will see how iffy this strategy can be.} (12... Nbd7 13. Bh6 Re8 14. b4 a5 15. a3 axb4 16. axb4 Rxa1 17. Qxa1 b5 $1 {is where your Nf6 comes in handy.}) 13. Bh6 Ng7 14. b4 Nd7 15. Rc1 $14 a5 16. a3 axb4 17. axb4 Ra3 (17... f5 18. c5 $1 dxc5 $140 19. d6 Bg5 20. Bxg5 Qxg5 21. bxc5 $16) 18. Ne4 $1 {Nakamura gets his knight to support his Q-side offensive.} f5 19. Nc3 e4 20. Be2 Bg5 21. Bxg5 Qxg5 22. c5 Ne5 ( 22... dxc5 23. bxc5 Nxc5 24. Nb5 Rd3 $1 {was worth taking a look at, but White has his own ideas:} 25. Bxd3 Nxd3 26. Rc7 f4 27. Rxg7+ $1 Kxg7 28. Nc7 { winning back the exchange.}) 23. c6 {Strategically the game is decided. The only thing left to do is put it away by exact calculation.} Nh5 24. Bxh5 gxh5 { [#]} 25. Kh1 {Easier said than done...} ({The most resolute was} 25. cxb7 Ra7 ( 25... Nd3 26. Ra1 Rxc3 27. Ra8) {and now the surprising shot,} 26. Nxe4 $3 fxe4 27. Rc7 Ra6 28. Rc8 Nd7 29. Qc2 Qxd5 30. Qc7 Qb5 31. Rxf8+ Kxf8 32. Qxd7 Qxd7 33. b8=Q+ Kg7 {secures White a large advantage,} 34. h3 {The black king is too open for Black to have any hopes of advancing his d-pawn.} d5 35. b5 Qa7 36. Qe5+ Rf6 37. Qxd5 {etc.}) 25... Qh4 $2 (25... Nd3 26. Nb5 Nxc1 27. Nxa3 Nd3 28. Qc2 $16) 26. Qd4 Ng4 27. h3 f4 {MVL tries a desperado attack.} 28. Kg1 e3 29. hxg4 hxg4 30. cxb7 exf2+ 31. Rxf2 g3 32. Rxf4 Qh2+ 33. Kf1 1-0

The third win of the day was Anish Giri’s over Vishy Anand. The 5-time world champion has been having trouble with his form in this tournament, suffering two losses by now, but he is always a contender and cannot be discounted at any stage of any event. Anish repeated a line of the English he had played against Grischuk at the recent FIDE Grand Prix in Moscow, a game that had gone badly for him, and left him fighting for a draw after he went gung-ho. However, as GM Yermolinsky pointedly notes in his game comments, the young Dutch player had missed a very powerful continuation that could potentially leave him with a winning position. Whether Anand had already analyzed this or not is not known, but he clearly smelled a rat when Giri showed himself so willing to repeat a line that had only given him grief.

Anand stares at his position with justifiable concern. It was on off-day for the great Indian. (photo by Tone Marie Haubrick)

While Anand sidestepped any such embarrassing opening disasters, neither did he ask the most difficult questions of White, and after a couple of minor mistakes that seem to lead to serious problems almost by force, the position became untenable and White won the day.

Anish Giri vs Vishy Anand (annotated by GM Alex Yermolinsky)

[Event "Altibox Norway Chess 2017"] [Site "Stavanger"] [Date "2017.06.10"] [Round "4"] [White "Giri, Anish"] [Black "Anand, Viswanathan"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A21"] [WhiteElo "2771"] [BlackElo "2786"] [Annotator "Alex Yermolinsky"] [PlyCount "65"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] 1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Bb4 3. Nd5 Bc5 4. e3 Nf6 5. b4 {Anish doesn't quit on his ideas.} Nxd5 6. bxc5 Nf6 7. Nf3 Nc6 {The old lion smells the trap.} ({ Giri-Grischuk, Moscow Grand Prix 2017, went} 7... Qe7 8. Be2 $1 e4 9. Nd4 Na6 { and here Anish missed a great idea} 10. O-O $1 ({Instead he went crazy with} 10. g4 {and soon was forced to fight for a draw in a pawn down endgame.}) 10... Nxc5 11. Nf5 $3 Qe5 12. Nxg7+ Kf8 13. Rb1 Kxg7 14. Bb2 Qe7 15. f3 {with huge attack against the hopelessly pinned Nf6.}) 8. Be2 O-O 9. Bb2 d6 {By playing like this Black simply accepts a slightly worse position.} 10. cxd6 cxd6 11. O-O Re8 12. a4 b6 13. d3 Bg4 14. h3 Bh5 15. g4 Bg6 16. Nh4 Rc8 17. Nxg6 hxg6 18. Bf3 g5 (18... Nd7 19. Ba3 Qf6 20. Bd5) 19. Bg2 Nd7 20. f4 gxf4 21. exf4 { [#]} Nc5 {One of those small mistakes that leads to grave consequences.} ({ Black had to prevent the white bishop from coming to d5, and that could have been accomplished by} 21... Qh4 $1 22. fxe5 Ndxe5 23. Qd2 Qg3 {Eventually White will have to trade queens and be content with a mere endgame advantage.}) 22. fxe5 dxe5 23. Bd5 Rf8 (23... Re7 24. Qf3 Qc7 25. g5 $16) 24. Qf3 Qd7 25. Bc3 Ne6 26. Rae1 Ne7 27. Rxe5 Nxd5 28. Rxd5 Qxa4 29. g5 $6 {very consistent, yet inaccurate.} ({A player with an eye for a king hunt would quickly spot} 29. Rh5 $1 Rc5 30. Be5 f6 31. Qf5 Ng5 32. d4 {winning the exchange and the game in short order.}) 29... Rc5 (29... Qa3 30. Bf6 {favors White, but it's a game.}) 30. h4 Rxd5 31. cxd5 Nc5 $2 {Vishy appears to be off his best form.} ({The only way to continue was} 31... Qxh4 32. dxe6 Qxg5+ 33. Qg2 Qe3+ 34. Rf2 Qc1+ 35. Qf1 Qg5+ {and it doesn't seem to be totally hopeless.}) 32. g6 $18 Qd7 ( 32... Qxh4 33. gxf7+ Kh7 34. Kg2 Qg5+ 35. Kf2) 33. Bb4 {Now White will win by playing d3-d4.} 1-0

Caruana will be doing a lot of regretful sighing overnight as he misses a prime chance to score against his fellow 2808 colleague, Vladimir Kramnik. It started out as a game that echoed Fabiano’s fascinating opening play against Jeffery Xiong earlier this year in the US Championship, a cross between a Spanish Berlin (sideline) and a Giuoco Piano, but that he eschewed repeating in its entirety. His choice cannot be faulted as he soon got a significant upperhand that became quite winning.

It was a fierce fight as Caruana had Kramnik on the ropes (photo by Tone Marie Haubrick)

Unfortunately for him, when it came time to reap the fruits of his labor, he stumbled, and not once but twice. First it was a nice little zinger he missed with 32. Nh7! that could have capped his game in glory, and after missing it, he was given a second chance with a possible 39.Rc4! that would have also allowed him to walk home with the full point. There were no third chances, and the Russian was able to finally staunch the bleeding with 42…a5! and then 43…c5!

"And you missed a win here, and then another win here" (photo by Lennart Ootes)

The last game of the day, and also the longest, was the fascinating draw between Wesley So and Sergey Karjakin. The opening was a Giuoco Piano with play for both players, and nothing serious to write home about when the Russian played passively and soon found himself in a very difficult position. So found a superb exchange sacrifice that gave him a monstrous positional bind, and it looked like he was headed to a clear win, when he made a mistake that gave Black just enough breathing room to stay alive.

Wesley switched his base of operations to the kingside with another brilliant design in mind, one that had players and engines completely mystified. Some engines said it was winning, some said it was a dead draw. The same was true of fans watching it, who debated it on Playchess until the bitter end.

When Wesley was finally able to execute his grand plan 61.g5! it turned out there was a stalemate idea that could not be avoided, and while some engines were still spitting out huge scores of +3 and +4 even, the players both seemed to have already understood where this was going. Even with the spectacular stalemate many viewers without the grandmaster eye, argued that it was winning for white, and it probably did not help that some engines were blind to the draw as well. The players elegantly played it out to the forced draw for the benefit of the audience and shook hands.

Wesley So goes over the game With Sergey Karjakin, still unsure if he missed something, and if so, where (photo by Lennart Ootes)

The question remains, did Wesley So have a win or did he not? Analysis with the help of the electronic oracles says yes. While So’s concept with 44. h5 and a subsequent g5 was indeed brilliant, it fell afoul of Karjakin’s no less amazing stalemate resource. The winning line is indeed at that exact crossroad starting with 44.Re2! a baffling idea at first that becomes clear soon enough.

Wesley So vs Sergey Karjakin (annotated by GM Alex Yermolinsky)

[Event "Altibox Norway Chess 2017"] [Site "Stavanger"] [Date "2017.06.10"] [Round "4"] [White "So, Wesley"] [Black "Karjakin, Sergey"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C54"] [WhiteElo "2812"] [BlackElo "2781"] [Annotator "Alex Yermolinsky"] [PlyCount "141"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. O-O Nf6 5. d3 O-O 6. a4 a6 7. c3 d6 8. Re1 Ba7 9. h3 Ne7 10. d4 Ng6 11. Nbd2 c6 12. Bf1 Re8 13. dxe5 dxe5 14. Qc2 b5 15. b4 Be6 16. Nb3 Qe7 17. Bd2 {[#]} h6 $2 {Sergey reverts to his old bad habit of playing passively.} (17... c5 $1 {was a must.} 18. bxc5 bxa4 19. Rxa4 Nd7 20. c4 Nxc5 21. Bb4 $14) 18. c4 Rac8 19. c5 Bb8 20. axb5 axb5 21. Ra6 Red8 22. Na5 Qe8 23. Bc3 Nh7 24. g3 Nhf8 25. Rb6 Kh7 {[#]} 26. Rxb8 $1 Rxb8 27. Nxe5 Nxe5 28. Bxe5 Ra8 29. Bd6 {This has all the makings of a classic positional squeeze. } Ra6 30. f4 Rda8 31. f5 Bc4 32. Bxc4 bxc4 33. e5 Nd7 34. Qxc4 $2 ({Just one accurate move, such as} 34. Re2 {was required to make sure Black's Nd7 never gets into play.}) 34... Nf6 $1 35. e6 Nd5 36. Qe4 f6 37. e7 Nxb4 38. Qxb4 Rxa5 39. Qg4 {Wesley's concept is of the grandest scale.} Kg8 40. Qg6 $1 Ra2 (40... Qxg6 41. fxg6 Re8 $18 {With the Black king shut out of play forever, his white counterpart will eventually find his way through.}) 41. g4 Rc2 42. Kf1 Rb2 43. h4 Rb4 44. h5 ({The explanation and lines that go behind the winning move} 44. Re2 $1 {are a mixture of keeping So's grand idea alive, but combined with the h4 support still behind g5.} Rb3 (44... Rba4 {Trying to stay on the 4th rank.} 45. g5 hxg5 46. hxg5 fxg5 {and the idea of Rba4 is clear. 47. Qe6+ Kh7 48.Rh2+ is no longer mate thanks to 48...Rh4!} 47. Kg2 Rh4 48. Qe6+ Kh7 49. f6 $1 { and White's attack breaks through at last.}) (44... Rb7 45. g5 Qxg6 (45... hxg5 46. hxg5 fxg5 47. Qe6+) 46. fxg6 Re8 47. gxh6 gxh6 48. h5 Kg7 49. Kf2 Rb4 50. Kg3 Rc4 51. Rb2 Rc3+ (51... Rc1 52. Rb6 Rh1 53. Kf2 {The point of this seemingly mysterious move is to cover the e1 square from the rook. Now White threatens Rb8! and after Rxb8 Bxb8, Black would not have the Re1 resource to prevent the e7 pawn from promoting.} Rh4 {Still with the idea of being able to play Re4 to cover the e-pawn.} (53... Rxh5 $2 {allows} 54. Rb8 Rxb8 55. Bxb8 { and the e-pawn cannot be stopped.}) 54. Rb7 Re4 55. Kf3 Re1 56. Kf4 Re2 57. Kf5 Re3 58. Rc7 $18) 52. Kf4 Rh3 53. Kf5 Rxh5+ 54. Ke6 $18) (44... Ra1+ 45. Kf2 Ra8 46. Re3 Rb2+ 47. Kf3 Rb4 48. g5 Qxg6 (48... hxg5 49. hxg5 fxg5 50. Kg3 (50. Qe6+ Kh7 51. Kg3 Qh5 52. Qg6+ Qxg6 53. fxg6+ Kxg6 54. e8=Q+ Rxe8 55. Rxe8)) 49. fxg6 Re8)) 44... Rb2 45. Bc7 Rd2 46. Bf4 Rd4 47. Bd6 Rb4 48. Re2 Rb1+ 49. Kf2 Rb3 50. Bc7 {The stage is set for the final assault, but Wesley hesitates.} ({ The thing is, his planned} 50. g5 $5 hxg5 51. h6 Qxg6 52. fxg6 {is met by} Re8 53. h7+ Kh8 {leading to an incredible fortress position based on stalemate ideas.} 54. Ra2 f5 55. Ra7 Rb2+ 56. Ke3 Rb1 57. Rd7 Re1+ 58. Kd4 Re4+ 59. Kd3 Ra4 60. Rd8 Ra8 61. Bc7 {[#]} f4 $1 ({It's too early to sac the rooks, as after } 61... Raxd8+ 62. exd8=Q Rxd8+ 63. Bxd8 g4 {White wins by carefully timing his play:} 64. Ke3 f4+ 65. Kf2 f3 66. Kg3 f2 67. Kxf2 g3+ 68. Kg1 $3 g2 69. Bf6 $1 {unstalemating Black just in time}) 62. Rxa8 Rxa8 63. Ke2 (63. Bd8 $4 Ra3+ 64. Ke2 Re3+ 65. Kf2 g4 $19) 63... Re8 64. Bd8 f3+ 65. Kf2 g4 66. Kg3 f2 67. Kxf2 g3+ 68. Kg1 g2 69. Kxg2 {and only now} Rxe7 $11) 50... Rd3 51. Bf4 Rd4 52. Bd6 Rb4 53. Kg3 Rb3+ 54. Kh4 Rba3 55. Re6 R3a7 56. Re3 Ra4 57. Kg3 Rb4 58. Bc7 Rd4 59. Bf4 Rd7 60. Bd6 Rb7 {[#] No other ideas were to be found and the game comes its logical conclusion.} 61. g5 $1 hxg5 62. h6 Qxg6 63. fxg6 Re8 64. h7+ Kh8 65. Kg4 f5+ 66. Kxg5 (66. Kxf5 g4 67. Ke6 g3 68. Kf7 g2 69. Re1 Rexe7+ ({ or even} 69... Rf8+ 70. Kxf8 g1=Q 71. Rxg1 Rxe7 $11) 70. Bxe7 g1=Q 71. Rxg1 Rxe7+ 72. Kxe7) 66... Rb1 67. Ra3 Rg1+ 68. Kxf5 Re1 69. Ra2 R8xe7 70. Bxe7 Re5+ 71. Kxe5 1/2-1/2

Standings after four 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   Anish Giri
Vishy Anand   Wesley So
M. Vachier-Lagrave   Levon Aronian
Sergey Karjakin   Fabiano Caruana
Vladimir Kramnik   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

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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sheuga sheuga 6/13/2017 02:41
When was the last time (if ever?) a World Champion lost on a Bishop takes Pawn h7 sac?
tom_70 tom_70 6/12/2017 06:35
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.
diegoami diegoami 6/12/2017 12:51
You said draws can be exciting.
Round 5 is finished.....aaaand every game was a draw. I hope that at least they were intereresting draws.
tyre tyre 6/11/2017 11:14
Carlsen is superman.

Norway is planet cryptonite.

superman weakness is cryptonite.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 6/11/2017 10:43
@ turok : "The other issue is it bothers me that people think they can only find great chess is wins-some of the best chess is in draws when they battle and battle and in the end both played great chess."

I very much agree. What is important isn't the result, but the content of the games, regardless of the result, precisely... And, furthermore, it is only in draws than we can find "perfect" (near perfect...) play for both sides...
Bertman Bertman 6/11/2017 10:02
@eja616 - I cannot comment on the ChessBomb engine, but Komodo 11 has no issue with Kf4, and the mainline just leads to a slightly longer version of the stalemate:

67.Kf4 Rb7 68.Kf3 f4 69.Rd3 Rb1 70.Kg4 Rg1+ 71.Kf5 f3 72.Bg3 Ra1 73.Bh4 f2 74.Bxf2 Ra7 75.Bh4 Raxe7 76.Bxe7 Rf8+ 77.Ke6 Re8 78.Rb3 Rxe7+ 79.Kd6 Rd7+ 80.Kxc6 Rd6+ 81.cxd6 (0.00)
turok turok 6/11/2017 09:18
what leve did was only good because just as many of us know if a player is having an off day and time trouble is in store you can make mistakes. I mean really when one player wins it is because the other guy made mistakes. The BH7 is a normal chess strategy that even lower level players do on a regular basis. What the issue was how magnus decided to go for the bait and capture and allow for the rook exchange. The other issue is it bothers me that people think they can only find great chess is wins-some of the best chess is in draws when they battle and battle and in the end both played great chess.
eja616 eja616 6/11/2017 06:54
On So vs Karjakin game, how about 67. Kf4 with the idea of keeping the black f-pawn alive to prevent stalemate. White will eventually lose the e, g, and h - pawns but will have his rook, bishop, and c - pawn against black's rook, f, and g-pawns. His c-pawn will eventually reach the 8th rank and win the game. Did So and Alex Yermolinsky consider this line given by the engine from Chessbomb?
Malcom Malcom 6/11/2017 03:54
Bojan I agree TOTALLY, adding even I think it may be one of the best ever...very comparable to the golden era of Topalov, Ivanchuk, Kasparov, Anand, Kramnik and Karpov! At this incredibly high caliber, I would be curious who can come up with a better round of chess. I'm soul searching and still can't find one! Like I said, Linares and Las Palmas in the great days of Kasparov maybe but even then!
Bojan KG Bojan KG 6/11/2017 11:06
Sacrificing exchange to trap a queen, then good old Bh7+ sacrifice to gain further initiative - we saw it all from Lev yesterday. Ok, Magnus could have held the game but time trouble took its toll. This year Lev is pleasure to watch, full of briliant ideas. Their game in Grenke this year was phenomenal too, at one point R+2N vs Q duel was on the board. Most interesting round of any supertournament over past few years.
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