Norway Chess, Round 4: Carlsen ahead of So and Yu Yangyi

by Klaus Besenthal
6/9/2019 – In the fourth round of the Altibox Norway Chess Tournament in Stavanger, only one of the five duels was decided in the classical phase: Yu Yangyi won with Black against Alexander Grischuk and is now in third place in the standings table. At the top is Magnus Carlsen — after a draw in classical chess, the world champion (with White) won his Armageddon encounter against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. Wesley So is in sole second place, after drawing the Armageddon game against Caruana with Black, thus securing 1½ points for the overall standings. | Photo: Lennart Ootes /

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Altibox Norway Chess, Round 4

The new format selected by the organizers has not really been convincing so far. If you win a game of classical chess, you receive two points; in case of a draw, with the same colour allocation, an Armageddon game is played, with the points awarded in this phase distributed in a ratio of 1½:½. This looks good when — as in the fourth round, in the match-ups of Carlsen and Anand — White wins the Armageddon game, but leaves a somewhat bitter aftertaste when there is a second draw which gives Black the 1½ points. In the latter case, it often seems that the desperately struggling player with White tends to take risks that are not necessarily beneficial to chess quality.

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

Carlsen 1½:½ Mamedyarov

Mamedyarov chose the Grünfeld Defense against the world champion. In a tactically demanding game, Carlsen had some advantage at times, but Mamedyarov proved to be a strong defender. In the end, the Azerbaijani reached a draw in a bishop v knight endgame a pawn down.

In the Armageddon game, the players showed incredible resources. As it has been seen so often in recent months, Carlsen got the better end of the deal:


Magnus Carlsen, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov

World champion Magnus Carlsen won the Armageddon game on demand, as he had the white pieces | Photo: Lennart Ootes 

Aronian ½:1½ Vachier-Lagrave

In the classical game, Aronian launched a fierce attack on the kingside early on, but the Frenchman stood strong in defence. Aronian's king remained in the centre, which later on left him with an inferior position. Probably the evaluation was close to equal when the draw was agreed:


In the subsequent Armageddon game (Aronian needed to win to get more than the already secured ½ point), the Armenian had a completely lost position, but in the end got lucky when MVL offered a draw. The extra point was nonetheless awarded to the Frenchman.

Levon Aronian, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

The world champion apparently had plenty of time to stop by and check out the game between Levon Aronian and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave | Photo: Lennart Ootes 

Caruana ½:1½ So

Apparently, the new scoring system used in Stavanger might actually lead to changes in the behaviour of the players. Fabiano Caruana, for example, sacrificed an exchange against Wesley So, but could have ended up regretting his decision later on...if So had taken advantage of his chances. However, from Caruana's point of view in this case, a draw with White is a particularly unpleasant result — after all, you are obliged to win the Armageddon game.

Unfortunately, Caruana did not get the victory — he missed a very nice move in the meantime:


Wesley So

Things worked out well for Wesley So in the Armageddon | Photo: Lennart Ootes 

Anand 1½:½ Ding Liren

The classical game between these two players lasted 107 moves! In the end, the Chinese was an exchange up, but could not crack Anand's fortress. In the meantime, Anand played with two knights against a rook and three pawns. Normally, that would have been a hopeless defensive task, but Anand's pieces skilfully manoeuvred around Ding Liren's pawn mass until effectively blockading the position.

In the Armageddon encounter, Anand showed he can still play quickly and well, and showed how to get an irrefutable victory. With youthful style, the former world champion launched a bold — and not completely correct — kingside attack which came through after 27 moves:


Ding Liren

Ding Liren ponders, Vishy Anand goes for a walk | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Grischuk 0:2 Yu Yangyi

Grischuk went down with the white pieces in the classical game. The defeat spared the Russian grandmaster from trying to force a win in the now no longer required Armageddon game. For Grischuk, things are not going well in Stavanger — he only has one point and is currently alone in the cellar. Yu Yangyi, on the other hand, is still within reach of Magnus Carlsen and Wesley So in third place.


Alexander Grischuk ,Yu Yangyi

Alexander Grischuk is having a tough time in Stavanger | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Round 4 round-up show

GM Yannick Pelletier recaps the action from round three

Standings after Round 4

Rk Player Classical Armageddon Pts
1 M. Carlsen 1 3 0 3 0
2 W. So 1 3 0 2 1
3 Yu Yangyi 1 2 1 2 0 5
4 Ding Liren 1 3 0 1 2
5 L. Aronian 1 3 0 1 2
6 S. Mamedyarov 1 2 1 1 1 4
7 V. Anand 0 3 1 2 1
8 F. Caruana 1 2 1 0 2 3
9 M. Vachier-Lagrave 0 3 1 1 2
10 A. Grischuk 0 2 2 0 2 1

All games - Classical


All games - Armageddon



Klaus Besenthal is computer scientist, has followed and still follows the chess scene avidly since 1972 and since then has also regularly played in tournaments.


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