Norway Chess: Armageddon

by André Schulz
9/10/2021 – The third round of the Norway Chess Tournament saw three draws in the classical games, two of them by perpetual check. Magnus Carlsen played 18 moves of a King’s Indian before signing a draw against Richard Rapport on move 18. The Armageddon tiebreakers that followed all favoured the black player. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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Rapport still leads

For a second day in a row, all three classical games finished drawn in Stavanger. The shortest game was played by Richard Rapport and Magnus Carlsen, after the world champion tried the King’s Indian against the tournament leader.

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.d4 0–0 6.Be2 e5 7.0–0 exd4 8.Nxd4 Re8 9.f3 Nc6 10.Nc2 Nh5

 

11.g4 [White can start with 11.Nd5. After 11...f5 White has 12.g4 and the battle goes on.]

11...Be5 [After 11...Nf6 12.Bg5 h6 13.Be3 Ne5 White should be better according to the engines, but that does not mean much in the King’s Indian.]

12.gxh5 [With 12.Rf2 the perpetual check could have been prevented, but after 12...Nf4 13.Bf1 Black stands very comfortably.]

12...Bxh2+ 13.Kxh2 Qh4+ 14.Kg1 Qg3+ 15.Kh1 Qh4+ 16.Kg1 Qg3+ 17.Kh1 Qh4+ 18.Kg1 Qg3+

There are over 30 examples of this draw in the Mega Database. 

Rapport and Carlsen most likely did not plan to end the game so quickly. Carlsen was obviously surprised by something in Rapport’s preparation, so decided to steer away from yet another inferior position after having twice found himself on the defensive side in this event.

In the Armageddon decider, a 42-move draw gave the world champion an extra point for the standings table.

 

Richard Rapport, Magnus Carlsen

Fist bump — Richard Rapport and Magnus Carlsen | Photo: Lennart Ootes

The classical game between Aryan Tari and Ian Nepomniachtchi also ended in perpetual check, though not so early in the struggle.

 

26.Nxe5 Bxe5 27.Rd8+ [The endgame after 27.Qxe5 Qxa4 is hardly winnable for Black, but the game move is easier.]

27...Ke7 28.Qxe5+ Kxd8 29.Qd6+ Kc8 30.Qc6+ Kd8 31.Qd6+ Kc8 32.Qc6+ ½–½

A rollercoaster tiebreaker saw Nepo coming out on top against the young Norwegian.

 

Ian Nepomniachtchi

Ian Nepomniachtchi | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Alireza Firouzja and Sergey Karjakin also drew their classical game, albeit not by perpetual check. For a third day in a row, Firouzja lost the Armageddon decider. Against Karjakin, the youngster erred in a technical rook endgame.

 

White can hold the draw here with 60.Kb5, with the king supporting the passed a-pawn. Firouzja’s 60.Ra3+, on the other hand, loses to 60...Ke2 61.Ra2 Ka1 62.Ra1+ d1Q.

Today’s round 4 will see the world champion facing his next challenger. This will be the penultimate encounter between the two before their World Championship match, scheduled to take place in Dubai at the end of the year — the last one will be played next week in Stavanger, in round 10.

 

Alireza Firouzja, Sergey Karjakin

Alireza Firouzja and Sergey Karjakin | Photo: Lennart Ootes


Standings after Round 3

Player Games Points
Richard Rapport 3
Magnus Carlsen 3
Ian Nepomniactchi* 2 3
Alireza Firouzja 3 3
Sergey Karjakin* 2
Aryan Tari 3 2

*Will play their round-1 game on Saturday, September 11


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André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.
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