Nakamura beats Caruana to win Norway Chess 2023

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
6/10/2023 – A final-round win over long-time leader Fabiano Caruana gave Hikaru Nakamura outright victory at the 11th edition of the Norway Chess super-tournament. Nakamura scored three wins and no losses in his nine classical games, which allowed him to climb to the second spot in the live ratings list. Caruana finished second, while 17-year-old Dommaraju Gukesh impressed by grabbing third place. | Photo: Lennart Ootes / Norway Chess

ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024 ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024

It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it. Start your personal success story with ChessBase and enjoy the game even more.


World number two!

In February 2022, Hikaru Nakamura shocked the chess world by winning the first leg of the FIDE Grand Prix in Berlin. His winning a tournament was not that surprising given his illustrious career, but the fact that he did it two and a half years after playing his last classical, rated game was nothing short of impressive. Moreover, he had knocked out a number of active, elite grandmasters in the process.

A year and four months later, Nakamura, who continues to stream constantly on his incredibly successful channels, has accumulated more triumphs in all time-control formats, including classical. Only this year, the 5-time US champion has won the American Cup, the Chessable Masters and now the Norway Chess super-tournament. Last year, he fell just short of finishing the Candidates in second place (which would have granted him a spot in this year’s World Championship match) and won the Fischer Random World Championship in Reykjavík.

Nakamura’s victory in Stavanger came after a remarkable showing in the final round. Fabiano Caruana, who grabbed the lead right from the get go by beating Magnus Carlsen in their first-round classical encounter, had a 2½-point advantage over his compatriot. Only a win in classical would allow Naka to get tournament victory. And that is precisely what he did, showcasing his brand of impassive chess to grab a couple of pawns in a technical position before converting his material advantage into a 55-move win.

The tournament winner’s classical-chess performance was remarkable, as he collected three wins and six draws to gain 12.2 Elo points and climb to second place in the live ratings list. Out of the six Armageddon deciders played by Nakamura, he won three and lost three, including his encounter against Magnus Carlsen. The well-known rapid-play specialist later noted:

For whatever reason, I think I’m playing better in classical than I am in blitz or rapid in probably the last six months.

Hikaru Nakamura

Hikaru Nakamura | Photo: Lennart Ootes / Norway Chess

Despite losing the all-important final classical game, Caruana’s showing in Stavanger was extraordinary. The former World Championship challenger grabbed four wins and lost twice in classical games, which means he only played three Armageddon tiebreakers (he won 2 out of 3). Caruana gained 8.7 Elo points and climbed to third place in the live ratings list, leapfrogging — much like Nakamura — Ian Nepomniachtchi and world champion Ding Liren.

Caruana will participate both at the No-Castling World Masters in Dortmund (starting June 24) and at the SuperUnited Rapid & Blitz Croatia (starting July 5), the third stage of this year’s Grand Chess Tour.

Fabiano Caruana

Fabiano Caruana | Photo: Lennart Ootes / Norway Chess

Nakamura 1 - 0 Caruana

Analysis by IM Robert Ris

Gukesh finishes third, now world number 13

The final round saw an all-American showdown for first place, while Indian prodigy Dommaraju Gukesh beat Wesley So in Armageddon (the youngster drew with black in the tiebreaker) to secure a remarkable third place in the elite tournament.

At 17, Gukesh has cemented his standing as the second highest-rated junior player in the world, only behind wunderkind Alireza Firouzja. The boy from Chennai collected two wins, six draws and one loss in his classical games in Stavanger, including a first-round win over Firouzja. His remarkable performance gained him 8.1 points in the live ratings list, as he climbed to world number 13, leapfrogging Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Levon Aronian and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave!

Gukesh stands now at a 33-point distance from Firouzja — at the start of the year, the difference amounted to 60 points (2725 to 2785).

Dommaraju Gukesh

Dommaraju Gukesh | Photo: Lennart Ootes / Norway Chess

Winless Carlsen

According to Tarjei J. Svensen’s unofficial count, this is the first time in 16 years that Magnus Carlsen went through a classical round-robin tournament without a single win. The Norwegian’s underwhelming performance in Stavanger comes after his amazing run of four consecutive tournament victories — albeit he also famously underperformed (according to his superhuman standards) in his home tournament back in 2015 and 2017.

Curiously, Carlsen was also the only player not to score at least a classical win in this year’s edition. The clear underdog, Aryan Tari, who finished in last place, scored his first win of the event in the final round, as he defeated Firouzja with the white pieces.

Carlsen did win all but one of his Armageddon tiebreakers, except the last one, against Nodirbek Abdusattorov. The Norwegian lost 18.4 Elo points in Stavanger, but he remains way ahead in the live ratings list as the only player with a 2800+ rating, a whole 48 points ahead of second-placed Nakamura.

Magnus Carlsen

Magnus Carlsen and Peter Heine Nielsen| Photo: Lennart Ootes / Norway Chess

Final standings

Norway Chess 2023

All games


Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.