Norway Chess: Rapport wins again

by André Schulz
9/15/2021 – There were three decisive games in the seventh round of the Norway Chess Tournament. Richard Rapport defended his lead with a win over Segery Karjakin. Alireza Firouzja staked a claim as the next world challenger with a win over Ian Nepomniachtchi, while Magnus Carlsen gave another endgame lesson against Aryan Tari. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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All decisive games

In the seventh round of the Norway Chess Tournament, the spectators saw a matchday with three decisive games in classical chess for the first time — and no Armageddon tiebreakers.

Sole leader Richard Rapport defended his lead with a win over Sergey Karjakin. An unfavourably placed rook forced Karjakin to give up a pawn. The following minor piece endgame was lost, but Rapport briefly let Karjakin off the hook.


27.e4 Now the d6-rook threatens to enter the fray. 27...f6 28.Bg2 Threatens e5.

28...e5 Black pulls the emergency brake and has to give up a pawn.

29.fxe5 fxe5 30.Nf3 Rxd2 31.Rxd2 Rxd2 32.Kxd2 Bb5


33.Nxe5 Wins e5 and covers c6.

33...Kf8 34.h4 Ke7 35.Ng6+ Kd6 36.e5+ Kc5 37.Ne7 Kd4 38.Nc8 Kxe5 39.Nxa7 A very agile knight, which almost plays the game single-handedly.

39...Kd6 40.Nc8+ [The right way was 40.Nxb5+ Nxb5 41.a4 Nd4 42.h5 Nxc6 43.Bxc6 Kxc6 44.Kc3 Kc5 45.Kb3 with a win. White still has the reserve tempo g3-g4.]

40...Kc5 41.Ne7 Ne6 42.Kc3 Kd6 43.Kb4


43...Ba6? [With 43...Nd4 Black holds a draw: 44.Nc8+ Kc7 45.Na7 Ba6 (45...Bxc6? 46.Nxc6 Nxc6+ 47.Bxc6 Kxc6 48.h5 again with a lost pawn ending.) 46.a4 g5=]

44.Nf5+ Ke5 45.Bh3 h5 46.Ne3 Nc7 47.Bg2 g6 48.a4 Kd4 49.Nc2+ Ke5 50.Kc3 Kd6 [50...Be2 51.Ne3 Ba6 52.Nc4++–]

51.Be4 Be2 52.Nd4 Ke5 53.Bxg6 [53.Nxe2 Kxe4 54.Nf4 also wins.]

53...Nd5+ 54.Kd2 Bg4 55.Nb5 Ne7 56.Be8 Bf3 57.c7 Bg4 58.Bf7 Nc6 59.Bxh5 [59.Bxh5 Bxh5 60.c8Q] 1–0


Alireza Firouzja | Photo: Lennart Ootes

On the second board, Alireza Firouzja played against Ian Nepomniachtchi. Some believe that Firouzja has what it takes to become a world champion. The Frenchman leads the U20 world ranking by a wide margin, has risen like a rocket to the top of the world and can beat anyone in the elite. To become world champion, however, he needs a few more qualities. Ian Nepomniachtchi has earned the right to challenge the champion. In round seven, however, Firouzja indicated with a victory over Nepomniachtchi that he might also perhaps make a good impression in a World Championship match against Carlsen.

Out of an Italian game, Nepomniachtchi had a weak pawn on e5. When it left the board, the way was clear for its white counterpart.


34.N1d2 Nh5 Threatens Nf4 twice, followed by Qg4 with a win.

35.Kh2 Nf6 36.Qc3 The e5-weakness is targeted.

36...Qc7 37.Kg2 c5 [37...Qd8!?]

38.Qd3 Ne7 39.Nc4 Nc6 40.Qd6 Qd7 [40...Qxd6 41.Nxd6 b6 42.Nd2 g5 43.N2c4+–]

41.Nfxe5 Nxe5 42.Qxe5 Qxa4 43.Qxc5 Qc2


White has reached the ending with an extra pawn. The passed pawn on the e-file decides the game.

44.e5 Ng8 45.Qd5 Qb3 46.e6 b5 47.Qa8 [47.Ne3? is no good: 47...Qxb2 48.Qd7 Qe5]

47...Kh7 [47...Qxc4 48.e7+–]

48.Qe4+ Kh8 49.Nxa5 Qxb2 50.e7 Nxe7 51.Qxe7 b4 52.Qe8+ Kh7 53.Qe4+ Kh8 54.Qd5 Qa3 55.Nb3 Pawn blocked, game won.

55...Qa4 56.Nd4 Qe8 57.Qb7 1–0


Ayan Tari and Magnus Carlsen | Photo: Lennart Ootes

In round 7, Magnus Carlsen met his compatriot Aryan Tari for the second time, now with the black pieces. In a Grünfeld endgame, the world champion easily outplayed his colleague.


The position originates from the Spanish Game, but actually it resembles a Grünfeld endgame, with Black’s pawn majority on the queenside. White has a passed pawn on the d-file. The chances are equal, but Black outplayed his opponent in the endgame.

28.Qf3 Kg7 29.Qd5 Qf6 30.a3 Qe6 31.Qc5 [31.Qxe6 fxe6 After the exchange, the d-pawn is devalued.]

31...Ne4 32.Qc2 h5 33.Qd3 Nd6 34.Qd2 Qf6 35.Nd5 Nc4 36.Qc3 Qd6 37.Nb4 a5 38.Nc2 a4


Black has made some progress in the last moves, White has not.

39.Qd3 h4 40.d5 Qe5 41.Ne3 Qa1+ 42.Kh2 Qe5+ 43.Kg1 Nxe3 44.fxe3 b4 45.d6 [45.axb4 Qa1+ 46.Kh2 a3 47.d6 Qe5+ 48.Kg1 a2 Black arrives first.]

45...Qa1+ 46.Kf2 bxa3 47.d7 Qf6+ 48.Ke2 a2 49.d8Q Qxd8 50.Qxd8 a1Q 51.Qxh4 a3 0–1


Standings after Round 7

Player Games Points
Richard Rapport 7 15½
Magnus Carlsen 7 12
Ian Nepomniactchi 7
Alireza Firouzja 7 9
Sergey Karjakin 7
Aryan Tari 7 3


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


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