Norway Chess, Round 6: One-move blunders

by Antonio Pereira
6/11/2019 – The sixth round of the Altibox Norway Chess Tournament saw all match-ups decided on Armageddon, as all the "slow" encounters finished drawn. Magnus Carlsen was close to lost in both his games against Ding Liren, but eventually managed to defeat the Chinese nonetheless. Meanwhile, Yu Yangyi and Levon Aronian also won their match-ups, thus staying in sole second and third places, respectively. Round recap by GM ERWIN L'AMI. | Photo: Lennart Ootes /

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Draws in Classical

For a third time in Stavanger, all five classical encounters finished drawn, which meant sudden death games would decide the outcome of the mini-matches. Three slow games, coincidentally, lasted exactly thirty-one moves, with only Carlsen v Ding Liren and Grischuk v Caruana going the distance. 

Results of Round 6 - Classical 

The world champion had the white pieces on Monday, but faced a well-prepared Ding Liren. Staying true to his '2019 style', Carlsen gave up a pawn in the opening, but this time could not make much of his initiative. When the position was simplified, Ding Liren found himself in a better rook endgame with material equality:


Not only does Black have the better pawn structure, but also will get his king active after 36...c5 37.bxc5+ xc5. Nonetheless, winning rook endgames is always a tough task, especially against someone like Magnus. Black's advantage slowly evaporated until the draw was signed on move 60, with one black pawn still alive but unable to promote.

Ding Liren

The third highest-rated player in the world, Ding Liren | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Meanwhile, Alexander Grischuk could not convert a rook and queen endgame with 4 v 3 on the same flank against Fabiano Caruana. The 43-move draw meant the Russian needed a win in Armageddon to get 1½ points.

Armageddon scrambles

Monday's round saw three players, perhaps already tired before the second rest day, making incredible mistakes in the blitz deciders.

Results of Round 6 - Armageddon

This was not the case of Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, who got a clean draw with Black against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov in Armageddon. Yu Yangyi, also with the black pieces, even managed to defeat Vishy Anand, after the Indian did not make the most of his initiative in the middlegame:


Yu Yangyi is undefeated in Armageddon encounters so far, as he won all four match-ups that were decided in this phase against higher-rated opponents. The Chinese also defeated Grischuk in Classical, but lost against Wesley So in round three. Nonetheless, he is in clear second place with three rounds to go, and will have a chance to take down the leader in round eight, when he will have the black pieces against Magnus.

Yu Yangyi

In second place — Yu Yangyi | Photo: Lennart Ootes

The other three match-ups were decided after one of the players blundered in unexpected fashion. The first one to do it was Wesley So, who, playing Black, was struggling throughout the game against Levon Aronian's active play. The Armenian was a pawn down but had the black king cornered on h8. After having endured the pressure for around thirty moves, Wesley forgot White had a mate-in-one threat along the seventh rank:


46...f5? allowed White to go 47.h7# immediately deciding the game. Wesley So was so shocked he even forgot to shake his opponent's hand when he left the board.

Levon Aronian

Levon Aronian had the better position nevertheless | Photo: Lennart Ootes

The next player to give up the game in one move was Alexander Grischuk. Right out of the opening against Fabiano Caruana, he forgot his knight was sitting on d2 and simply hung his bishop on h6:


Sasha resigned after 17.h6? xh6. Incredible.

Fabiano Caruana

2018 World Championship challenger Fabiano Caruana | Photo: Lennart Ootes

In the last game of the day, Magnus Carlsen was trying to keep the game complicated against Ding Liren, as a draw would give the Chinese overall victory in their match-up. Once again, the world champion gave up a pawn and had the initiative on the kingside, but Ding defended accurately — much like in their classical encounter — and was in the driver's seat after some simplifications. While a pawn up, the Chinese grandmaster missed a chance to simplify into a clearly better endgame:


Black could have forced a series of exchanges with 40...♝e6, as the game would have followed 41.♖e3 (or 41.♖c3, which does not make much of a difference) ♝xb3 42.♖xb3 ♜xb3 43.♕xb3 ♛xe4+ 44.♕f3 ♛xf3 45.♔xf3 when Black is two pawns to the good in a bishop v knight endgame.

Ding Liren chose 40...♝xf5 instead and went into a balanced endgame with rooks and opposite-coloured bishops. Ten moves later, however, he failed to see one of White's threats and lost the game:


Black needed to play 50...♝e3 instead of 50...♝d2. The point is that after the bishop went to d2 White had 51.g6+ f4 52.g4+ (here Ding Liren resigned) ♚f3 53.♖xg3+ winning the rook. Had the bishop been on e3, the rook would not have been skewered in this line.

Tuesday is a rest day in Stavanger. 

Magnus Carlsen

World champion Magnus Carlsen is having a great year | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Round 6 round-up show

GM Erwin l'Ami recaps the action from round five

Standings after Round 6

# Name Country Rating Points
1 Magnus Carlsen Norway 2875
2 Yu Yangyi China 2738 8
3 Levon Aronian Armenia 2752
4 Wesley So USA 2754
5 Ding Liren China 2805
6 Viswanathan Anand India 2767
7 Shakhriyar Mamedyarov Azerbaijan 2774 5
8 Fabiano Caruana USA 2819 5
9 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave France 2779
10 Alexander Grischuk Russia 2775 3

All games - Classical


All games - Armageddon



Antonio is a freelance writer and a philologist. He is mainly interested in the links between chess and culture, primarily literature. In chess games, he skews towards endgames and positional play.
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lajosarpad lajosarpad 6/13/2019 02:11
@Resistance agreed.
Resistance Resistance 6/12/2019 10:07
Good intentions + bad idea = bad results & (a lot of) broken hearts. I have nothing against coming up with new things from time to time, but using this format for such an important event was simply a bad idea (I agree with the sentiment of most commentators here, and elsewhere). And it is not as if you couldn't foresee it: mixing Classical Chess with Armaggedon, because you don't like it when there's no decisive results, is just primitive.

The sole idea of having chess players enduring the threat of a (basically) random decision, while struggling for hours on end to create something real (beautiful, great; effective) at the board, in case they don't happen to produce a decisive result, is unsettling. You cannot expect really good chess under such circumstances, but unfinished, fainthearted attempts.

If you don't like Classical Chess, or just wanna see a more exciting, though much lesser in terms of quality, chess event, then have a Blitz/Bullet-only Norway Chess tournament. These artificial amalgams between Classical Chess and faster time controls (as also ventured, for example, by the Saint Louis Chess Club, whose eagerness to replace Classical Chess for one of these faster "Classical" versions is a little too evident by now), are not only capricious in nature, but totally unnecessary. If you want fast, exciting chess, but also prestige (the prestige that some individuals seem to be keen on taking from the jewel that is our Classical game), then bring in good, prestigious Blitz/Bullet chess players to your tournaments.

Lilloso Lilloso 6/12/2019 07:24
Considering the large number of draws in classical games and the importance given to armageddon games in the final result, this Altibox tournament is de facto a blitz tournament disguised in "supertournament".
KevinC KevinC 6/12/2019 01:54
@joshdarius, your post comes off as incredibly whiny and immature.

While I like watching the games because I like watching chess, in general, I am also not a fan of the format since it is supposed to be a classical tournament, but it inherently favors those, who are better at fast controls.

Typically, fast controls favor younger players, and we are seeing that especially with Yu Yangyi near the top, and in the overall standings as well. With the exception of Aronian being closer to the top and Caruana, who is known not to play well at fast controls, being closer to the bottom, all the older players are near the bottom.

I also think that the format does not achieve its primary objective to cut down on the number of draws (30 games, only 7 decisive or 23%), and the format favors being black (10-13). If I am a younger player facing Anand or Grischuk, I would be happy to go to Armageddon, especially with black. This puts an undue pressure on the non-speed players, which is not right, nor fair.

Fun to watch, but not a good format for the players, or the game of chess itself.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 6/12/2019 12:53
"Sasha resigned after 17.♗h6? ♝xh6. Incredible."

In an armageddon I'm not surprised at all. It would be a memorable, even interesting moment to see such a situation in a classical game, but in this time control a game without big mistakes would be quite an achievement.

@joshdarius I don't agree with you, but would not call you names. I prefer high quality games, high quality moves and high quality arguments. I do not worry about tournaments with exotic rules. I worry about movements which would want to replace my beloved game of chess with games slightly less random than a coin toss with strange formats. In this specific case the format did not yield more decided classical games, but if it would have yielded, I suppose you would be screaming that the format "fixes" chess. Someone commented that the format was ineffective now because it's used only here, so the solution according to that comment is to use this - ineffective - format everywhere.

@fgkdjlkag right, we can find many players who did 1-move blunders, but we are looking into their whole career for this extraordinary situation. In this format, that's daily happening in the armageddon.
fckeres fckeres 6/12/2019 12:29
One very good thing about this very wrong scoring system is that you can safely bet your money on the overall tournament winner. I would dare to predict that homester wins! Don´t get me wrong - this is just meant as a compliment to the winner ;)
Pionki Pionki 6/12/2019 10:05
Joshdarius, if there are "so many beggars complaining", then there is probably something to complain about.
Jacob woge Jacob woge 6/12/2019 07:52
Kramnik vs. Fritz, proper time control. Ivanchuk-Anand was also just a blitz game, albeit a final, new York 199...6 I Think. Ivanchuk stared at the board for half a minute without noticing he could mAte his adversary, who sat waiting, perfectly calm on the outside, and eventually won the game when Ivanchuk played something else. By this the match was tied 1-1, but Ivanchuk did not let this loss bother him, and wnet on to win the tie-break. It was played right away, and it seems no-one informed him of his blunder. Bliss in ignorance.
fgkdjlkag fgkdjlkag 6/12/2019 04:23
1-move blunders have a long history. Kramnik missed a mate in 1 . Either Ivanchuk or Anand missed a mate in 1. The list of top players who have missed mate in 1 is probably quite long.
Roberto Ardenzi Roberto Ardenzi 6/12/2019 02:12
joshdarius joshdarius 6/12/2019 02:01
If you people dont like this format get lost, i am so grateful for these organizers for allowing me to watch these exciting games. Bravo for giving chess fans something new, maybe you people should just watch the tournaments from the 1920s, enjoy. Never seen so many beggars complaining, if all you whiners put in 2 cents organize a tournament with game/24 hours and then all you can watch perfect chess, enjoy it cause only you whiners will be watching. btw any of these players would obliterate you with 3 minutes to your 3 hours, so stop your computer and enjoy the great commentary by judit and Anna (my favorite) among others and be thankful to these players and organizers for giving us for all these exciting days...then you can go complain about free TV shows you ungrateful snobs.
Igor Freiberger Igor Freiberger 6/12/2019 01:13
The photographer Lennart Ooes got a perfect shot with Carlsen wearing gray among other grays. Amazing!
Peter B Peter B 6/12/2019 01:07
Do we really need a format which gives such bad 1 move blunders? Who needs top class chess, I can see blunders like that in my own play any time!
Daniel Miller Daniel Miller 6/11/2019 10:46
Is it correct that the two biggest chess tournaments going on now, the Women's Candidates and Norway scheduled their rest days on the same days and didn't stagger them so fans can watch something each day?
ulyssesganesh ulyssesganesh 6/11/2019 05:44
come on vishy .... come on vishy ......