Norway Chess: Ambush in the Najdorf

by André Schulz
4/20/2016 – After the very lively first round of the Norway Chess tournament in Stavanger round two was more quiet. Four of the five games ended in a draw though three of them had a number of interesting moments. In the only decisive game of the round Anish Giri fell victim to an ambush Maxime Vachier-Lagrave had prepared in one of his pet lines in the Najdorf.

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Round two of the Altibox Norway Chess tournament may have been quieter than the first round but it had interesting strategic moments and one really tactical game.

Magnus Carlsen played with Black against Veselin Topalov but found no convincing idea against White's slightly unorthodox treatment of the Queen's Gambit Exchange Variation. After a number of exchanges the game quickly petered out to a lifeless position and a quick draw.

Levon Aronian played with Black against Nils Grandelius and with 6...bxc6 he tried something unorthodox in an Anti-Berlin. This move initiated a pawn sacrifice for which Black had enough compensation but after Aronian did not find the best later in the game he was content with a draw.


Pavel Eljanov and Pentala Harikrishna, who both had lost in round one, played an interesting game in the Nimzo-Indian with 4.f3. Black soon sought action on the queenside but this did not stop the white king from walking over to the queenside to flee the many checks and threats of Black's queen. However, White's king was not real safe on the queenside. But because the fierce battle led to a number of exchanges the game wound up in an endgame with opposite-colored bishops that soon was drawn.

Li Chao and Vladimir Kramnik played the Glek-Variation of the Vienna which led to a middlegame in which Li Chao fought with two bishops against two knights. After some tactical skirmishes White gave his queen for two rooks which led to a dynamically balanced endgame, n which Kramnik tried for some time to catch his opponent offguard before finally agreeing to a draw.

The only decisive game of the round was a theoretical duel between Anish Giri and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. The two discussed a sharp line of the Najdorf but it soon turned out that Vachier-Lagrave was better prepared. Two inaccuracies by Giri were enough to ruin the white position which Vachier-Lagrave exploited with some powerful tactical strokes.


Results of round two

Br. Tit Name Coun ELO Ergebnis Titel Name Coun ELO
1 GM Nils Grandelius
2637 ½ - ½ GM Levon Aronian
2 GM Li Chao
2755 ½ - ½ GM Vladimir Kramnik
3 GM Anish Giri
2793 0 - 1 GM Maxime Vachier Lagrave
4 GM Veselin Topalov
2780 ½ - ½ GM Magnus Carlsen
5 GM Pavel Eljanov
2760 ½ - ½ GM Penteala Harikrishna

Games of rounds one and two


Standings after round two

Tournament page...

André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.
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A7fecd1676b88 A7fecd1676b88 4/21/2016 09:44
Yup. Giri was out of his comfort zone having won last round. The loss brought him back to 50%. zzzzzzzz
Jim Daniluk Jim Daniluk 4/21/2016 08:21
Giri losing this round makes sense. He was uncomfortable after winning last round and just "returned to the mean".
lajosarpad lajosarpad 4/21/2016 04:11
It is the flag of Lao.
Krokx Krokx 4/21/2016 12:34
What is that kind of flag, beside Li Chao? Never seen this before?!
Aighearach Aighearach 4/21/2016 01:14

29.Kxd3 Qc4#

Great to see kid silver with decisive games and unbalanced positions.
Stupido Stupido 4/21/2016 01:01
Come on, MVL's win was brilliant! Risky opening, sacrifices, powerful play, that was a nice game. On the other hand, Giri departed from his cautious habits and was not rewarded.

DeepGreen DeepGreen 4/21/2016 12:30
No mention of the fact that both players spent over 40 minutes on one move:

MVL spent over 40 mins before playing 15. .... Rg8 (out of prep). Giri then took his time (out of prep), and after 40+ minutes he replied with 16. Rdg1. So he spent a lot of time finding a weak move, and he had a lost position soon after.
pwcca pwcca 4/20/2016 10:59
Come on, I am sure you can find a good picture of Maxime !
Hawkman Hawkman 4/20/2016 10:47
I'm happy for the #4 player in the world MVL who I predicted would finish top 5.