Carlsen wins Norway Chess

by André Schulz
4/29/2016 – After seven rounds Magnus Carlsen looked almost certain to win the Altibox Norway Chess tournament. But then he lost against Levon Aronian in round eight, endangering his tournament win. But things went his way in round nine. Aronian drew against Pentala Harikrishna while Carlsen defeated Pavel Eljanov to win Norway Chess for the first time.

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After Carlsen's loss against Aronian in round eight Carlsen an Aronian shared the lead, followed by three players with half a point less: Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Veselin Topalov and Vladimir Kramnik.

Ready to start the last round

The press

In round nine Carlsen had to play with White against Pavel Eljanov while Aronian had Black against Pentala Harikrishna. Vladimir Kramnik met his old rival Veselin Topalov - since the "toiletgate" match in Elista 2006 these two prefer not talk to each other nor to shake hands before or after the game. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave had Black against qualifier Nils Grandelius.

Levon Aronian tried the Nimzo-Indian against Pentala Harikrishna and with 9.a3 the Indian grandmaster steered the game into relatively unexplored territory. But Aronian continued to play quickly while Harikrishna took a bit more time for his moves. However, Aronian failed to get anything from the position and the game finally ended in a draw.


After this draw Carlsen knew that he would win the Norway Chess tournament if he managed to beat Pavel Eljanov. This crucial game began as a Catalan and later turned into a Stonewall. But first of all it was a typical Carlsen game. Though the World Champion did not get much out of the the opening he gradually increased the pressure until Eljanov finally cracked in time pressure and Carlsen won the game and the tournament.

The first move


Happy end for Magnus Carlsen

Nils Grandelius had White against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and with 6.Ne2 in the Fianchetto Variation of the Grünfeld Grandelius tried to stay clear from too deep a theoretical discussion. Black soon developed some initiative which led to a better endgame but did not sufice for a win.

Veselin Topalov and Vladimir Kramnik discussed an Anti-Berlin line, in which Topalov managed to secure a space and the initiative. Kramnik had to defend but could not free his position. But Topalov failed to make any progress and in the end found himself in an opposite-colored bishop ending in which he had to accept the draw.

The only game in which not much was at stakes was the encounter between Li Chao and Anish Giri. The Chinese Grandmaster countered Giri's Grünfeld Defense with 4.Bf4 which was the beginning of a popular long line that led to an interesting endgame. Both players seemed to enjoy this endgame and they played it for a while before agreeing to a draw.

Li Chao


Results of round 9

Br. Tit Name Coun ELO Ergebnis Titel Name Coun ELO
1 GM Nils Grandelius
2646 ½ - ½ GM Maxime Vachier Lagrave
2 GM Magnus Carlsen
2851 1 - 0 GM Pavel Eljanov
3 GM Veselin Topalov
2780 ½ - ½ GM Vladimir Kramnik
4 GM Penteala Harikrishna
2758 ½ - ½ GM Levon Aronian
5 GM Chao B Li
2757 ½ - ½ GM Anish Giri




Final standings

Tournament page...


André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.
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weerogue weerogue 5/5/2016 02:52
Not seeing much about the fact that Carlsen has won his last four Classical tournaments in a row(!); four of the most important and most competitive tournaments on the Chess calendar:

London - 2856TPR - also meant he won Grand Chess Tour
Qatar - 2887TPR
Tata - 2880TPR
Norway - 2884TPR

Over the last 3 he's gone +13 over 31 games for an overall TPR of c. 2885.
Back on form, I'd say...
jarreth22 jarreth22 5/2/2016 07:43
I was myseld disappointed by Giri's play at the candidates but I really find some critics are going too far. You can't achieve having an elo of almost 2800 without having a very deep understanding of chess. I guess he is still adapting to very high level of chess and try not loosing. If any oponent misplays an opening he will beat them, because he knows what he plays, not just by heart, this is a silly argument. Btw Leko wasn't the most combattive chess player but was still an incredible player, having reached WC final
where he played great chess. Let's not crush these poor elite players :))
lajosarpad lajosarpad 5/1/2016 11:58
x_ileon, the goal of the tournament was to gather the very best players in the world, so one of the main criteria was rating. I believe you will not argue with me if I state that Giri has an exceptionally high rating. Apparently you did not like Lékó when he was in the top few of players, but he was still invited to many tournaments because of his sheer strength and knowledge. When he started to lose form around 2009 up to this day, his rating started to drop. Now, when he is just above 2700, he is no longer invited to super tournaments. So, the main criteria is current strength at super tournaments, as the most interesting thing in chess is to see the very best players play against each-other. Beauty is a very subjective thing, therefore it does not have a definition. Since beauty is lacking a definition, it cannot be measured. So, there is no way to doubtlessly determine who plays more beautiful chess. Giri can decline, just like Lékó did and then he will not be invited to tournaments. Lékó could come back as well, he is very talented and might find motivation again. You should remember that Petrosian was a very drawish player. If subjective liking would have been the main decision factor back then, then the World Champion would not have been invited to tournaments. So, as I stated, I believe you misunderstand the game. Our subjective feelings are not among the main factors when the player list of a super tournament is determined and this is good as it is. Remember when Kramnik was called drawnik? If he was not invited to super tournaments after losing his title, he would have not been able to play and change his style. Nowadays his games are very enjoyable. To sum it up: there are some players who prefer to be solid, because they hate more to lose than they like to win.

Also, you say that these people are invited without qualification. That is true. But they have high rating, which can drop at such events if they do not perform well, leading to a lower rating, which, as a result will result in smaller invitation rate to tournaments. They have earned that rating somehow in the past, playing top quality chess.
ulyssesganesh ulyssesganesh 5/1/2016 04:46
unbelievable stuff from eljanov! 5/1/2016 12:20
sorry @Augusta but it was _you_ who just proved you didn't understand my point! I was saying that those who are inclined on attack attack attack are usually patzers, and when we say a player is boring you shouldn't assume we are one of those patzers! I, and I'm sure other commenters, love all good forms of chess, whether attacking or deeply positional, or both. In fact you have to listen to the position - you generally can't turn one type of game into another, apart from certain positions or if your opponent is much weaker. However, attacking positional etc totally aside, there are also some players who just play unexciting chess! And it seems many people agree with me that Giri is generally such a player!
vladivaclav vladivaclav 4/30/2016 10:59
Giri doesn't lack for chess skills but for "chess guts". That's why he will never become WC
Augusta2022 Augusta2022 4/30/2016 06:05
@x_ileon, I don't think you guys understand my point. There are solid players and there are players more inclined to attack. Both types should be appreciated by a true chessfan. If you only can appreciate wild and sometimes dubious attacks then I think your chess knowledge is limited indeed.
I also don't get why being a prepared player like Giri is, is something bad. Kasparov was the most prepared player ever. Giri is both more solid but also not even close to Kasparov when it comes to playing the game.
I agree that the organizers could invite other players but in my view there are no really wild attacking players that are good enough to participate. Give me a new Kasparov and I would like him to be invited any day but unfortenately that isn't the case. 4/30/2016 02:57
@Lajosarpad, you are missing the point: players don't qualify for these tournaments, they are _invited_! That means that there is a commercial and an aesthetic criterion to their selection. And therefore what viewers want is paramount! And of course chess viewers _do_ understand chess to some degree (you were as pretentious as augusta in that comment), it's not like football where anyone can watch. People who watch chess, which is not really a traditionally "watchable" event, a spectacle, usually are quite in to the game. Of course no one understands chess beyond a certain depth, not even the world champions, that's why it is such a beautiful endless game 4/30/2016 02:50
And congrats to Magnus! Even though I'm a huge Magnus fan, I didn't think he'd pull it off yesterday. I watched all games for an hour and a half or so, and not seeing anything that caught my eye assumed they'd all be draws, and left it at that. Yet the norwegian won to order! Sheer blood-mindedness! And a very clear message to Karjakin too!
lajosarpad lajosarpad 4/30/2016 02:48
I do not understand the hate towards solid players. If they play well, then they become successful. If not, then they do not become successful. Chess is not a show to please the crowds, who do not understand it, but a sport, where everyone has his or her own tournament strategy. If you do not like Giri or Lékó, you can root against them, but calling the organizers to discriminate people because they do not play in the style you like, is, in my opinion a fundamental misunderstanding of the game. 4/30/2016 02:44
@Sayros Totally agree with you - I had been thinking the same for a while now. Giri ==
@Augusta Very pretentious comment you made about people not understanding chess not "getting" Giri. Yes, there are patzers who only understand swashbuckling mating attacks, but you shouldn't make that assumption for a player when you don't know them. I am all for subtle positional chess, I love Karpov's games for example, but Giri just doesn't cut it there either. He is simply, well... Boring!
We need other players like the ones already mentioned (from who I'd pick Jobava and Moro). Gelfand would be an interesting choice too.
Oh! and I'd love to see Hou Yifan getting another chance at such a tournament! The girl certainly knows how to fight!
Augusta2022 Augusta2022 4/30/2016 02:06
@sayros87 I don't what I said that was lack of respect or ignorant. I simply gave my opinion just like you did. I will avoid any personal attacks like you just did, possibly for not being able to handle my truth.
I'm not a Giri-fan, I know he draws to much. But the lad has alot of potential. His recent results, including the candidates has nothing about being a "Leko", he did fight til the bitter end.
I also love Morozevich, but he is past his best days. He would not bring anything in this tournament chess-wise. I also doubt Jobava would bring anything new, Rapport perhaps. But clearly you failed to see the organizers intensions. They wanted the worlds best players to participate, and this field was what they managed to get.
karavamudan karavamudan 4/30/2016 01:14
If Anand had played, his scores might have been
0.5 1 0 1 0.5 0 - 0.5 0.5 1 = 5 out of 9 with a gain of few ELO points
sayros87 sayros87 4/30/2016 01:06

Can you show respect in your comments ? maybe i'm not the strongest chess player ever , but players at my level Managed to draw giri last year , believe it or not , i know some things about chess.
Aronian is more boring than Giri ? lol
end of discussion , enjoy Giri's games , amazing if you think people who don't appreciate Giri's boring chess , lack chess skills. this is what i call ignorant.
I said my opinion and i'm calling the organizers next year to think twice before inviting him. there are enough strong players at this level
Augusta2022 Augusta2022 4/30/2016 12:39
@sayros87 To me such a statement clearly shows lack of chess skills. There is no other way I can explain why you can't appreciate Giri's chess. He might be very well prepared but he often plays exciting chess, just look at the open tournaments he has competed in!
To me Aronian is even more boring than Giri. He's as well prepared as Giri and only plays the same openings over and over expecting a different result.
I also see no reason why you should invite less good players just because they have a more fun and "unsound" playing style. They would have no real chance to compete for the first place. Why not make another tournament where this "B-team" can compete.
Like it or not, modern chess is alot about preparation. If you want more "fun" games you should instead follow rapid or blitz events where the players are allowed to play more dubious stuff.
Once again, if you so dislike classical players like Giri or Eljanov, please quit watching chess.
sayros87 sayros87 4/30/2016 12:36
Dear @Augusta2022 yes i was totally serious !

regarding Simon Williams , i just gave an example of a player style , did not mean really he should play instead of Giri. by the way , be sure he can get more than a draw in such a tournament. he beated Gelfand before.
Jobava , Rapport , Ding or even Salem could indeed replace him and give us some excitment.

we are tired from Giri's drawish style. to be honest i find his style to be even more boring than Leko's. when was the last time Giri played a fun game or interesting game to watch ? when was the last time Giri won a tournament ? he is simply an opening book ! he knows Berlin and Grunfeld forced lines better than any other top GM. NO MORE GIRI PLEASE !
Augusta2022 Augusta2022 4/30/2016 09:25
Are you serious @sayros87? Giri had several decisive games this tournament and is not even close to being "Leko" in playstyle. I assume Ding was invited but declined to play and the others except perhaps Wei do not play good enough to compete in this tournament. As far as Simon Williams goes he's an entertaining promoter of chess, but in this tournament I'd be surprised if he even made a single draw.
oputu oputu 4/30/2016 08:48
And even Leko is almost falling off the 2700 list. Clearly drawing chess isn't it!
oputu oputu 4/30/2016 08:46
@ Sayros87: agreed! No more Giri. He comes with memorized lines and plays like a chess opening book, then loses when opening isn't in his prep. That's not a strong GM, just a well read one. More Rapports, Jobavas and Morezoviches please
MJFitch MJFitch 4/30/2016 02:57
Nice recovery Carlsen!!!
sayros87 sayros87 4/30/2016 12:52
I just hope next time they won't invite Giri who is becoming another Leko. super solid dry openings and boring.
exciting players like Rapport , Salem , Jobava , Wei , Ding and even someone like Simon Williams were missing in this tournament. we are tired from watching Grunfeld long theoretical lines that leads to a forced draw.
Compliments to Harikrishna for his interesting and fighting chess.
Hawkman Hawkman 4/30/2016 12:32
Giri is #7:

1 Carlsen 2855.1 +4.1 2878.0 2915.0 25
2 ↑1 Caruana 2803.6 +8.6 2829 i 2665.0 23

3 ↓1 Kramnik 2801.8 +0.8 2799.0 2830.4 40

4 ↑3 Aronian 2792.1 +8.1 2739.0 2797.6 33

5 Vachier-Lagrave 2790.5 +2.5 2784.0 2871.4 25

6 Nakamura 2786.7 −0.3 2846.0 2883.0 28
7 ↓3 Giri 2782.3 −7.7 2738.0 2822.0 21