Norway Chess: Carlsen dominant!

by Johannes Fischer
5/31/2018 – Magnus Carlsen seems to be in top form at this year's Norway Chess tournament. In Round 3, he defeated Levon Aronian in a near miniature and in a manner that was typically Carlsen-esque. This puts the World Champion in the clear lead after with 2½ of 3. The four other games ended in a draw, leaving Carlsen the only player who has yet scored a full point — and with two of them, he's already a heavy favourite to win the tournament if history is any guide. | Photo: Lennart Ootes / Norway Chess

Master Class Vol.8: Magnus Carlsen Master Class Vol.8: Magnus Carlsen

Scarcely any world champion has managed to captivate chess lovers to the extent Carlsen has. The enormously talented Norwegian hasn't been systematically trained within the structures of a major chess-playing nation such as Russia, the Ukraine or China.


Magnus with 2875 performance rating in 2018

In the previous Norway Chess tournaments, Magnus Carlsen seemed to be struggling more than once with his "home advantage". But this year the Norwegian champion seems to be in shining form in front of the home crowd. In round one he showed a strong strategic performance against Fabiano Caruana, his challenger in the upcoming World Championship match, while in round two he easily drew with Black against Sergey Karjakin, his challenger at the previous title fight in New York. In his second white game in Norway, Carlsen scored another victory: a remarkable win in just 31 moves against Levon Aronian.

Levon Aronian

Aronian already looks worried | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Carlsen 1-0 Aronian

Carlsen has had problems with Aronian in many games throughout his career. But in round three of the Altibox Norway Chess Tournament, he managed a little gem. After a quiet opening, in a theoretically balanced position, he put Aronian increasingly under pressure with seemingly simple moves. Aronian struggled to find a concept, spent a lot of time and then made a mistake in a difficult position on the 28th move, which allowed Carlsen a petite combinaison, after which the game was over.


Magnus rarely lets this sort of a lead go since he became world number one.

Mamedyarov ½ - ½ Karjakin

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Sergey Karjakin played the shortest game of the round. After just over an hour, there was a perpetual check on the board and the scoresheets were signed. The game was rich in content, theoretically interesting, tactically complicated, but probably also the result of home preparation, especially considering that in the end, the computer's precision score for Karjakin was 100% and Mamedyarov's was 92%.


Shakhriyar Mamedyarov is fortunately over his toothache | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Anand ½ - ½ Ding

The second draw of the round came between Vishy Anand and Ding Liren. In a Ruy Lopez line that Ding had already had on the board at the Candidates Tournament in Berlin in March, Anand tried an interesting positional pawn sacrifice. But Ding seemed unimpressed and his active defence ensured a half point without much problems.


Ding Liren, currently number four in the world on the live rating list

Vachier-Lagrave ½ - ½ Caruana

An unspectacular draw came about in the game between Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Fabiano Caruana. In the Petroff Defence with 6...Bd6 there was a brief tactical skirmish in the opening leading to a position in which White had the pair of bishops, but also considerable pawn weaknesses. This eventually led to multiple exchanges and a draw in forty moves.

So ½ - ½ Nakamura

The American duel between Wesley So and Hikaru Nakamura was fiercely contested but also ended in a draw. In Queen's Gambit Lasker Defense, Nakamura sacrificed a pawn early to pressurize White and complicate the game. But before Nakamura could get too much compensation, So pulled the emergency brake and gave back the pawn resulting in a complicated but balanced endgame, which soon levelled out to a draw after 47 moves.

Queen's Gambit Declined - A repertoire for Black based on the Lasker Variation

On this DVD, Sam Collins presents a repertoire for Black based on the rock-solid Lasker variation, reinvigorated with new ideas by former World Champion Vishy Anand and forming the cornerstone of many strong GM repertoires today.

Standings after three rounds


All games of the round


Translation from German: Macauley Peterson


Johannes Fischer was born in 1963 in Hamburg and studied English and German literature in Frankfurt. He now lives as a writer and translator in Nürnberg. He is a FIDE-Master and regularly writes for KARL, a German chess magazine focusing on the links between culture and chess. On his own blog he regularly publishes notes on "Film, Literature and Chess".


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