Norway Chess, Rd. 8: Aronian beats Carlsen

by André Schulz
4/28/2016 – In round eight Magnus Carlsen suffered a setback at the Altibox Norway Chess tournament: He lost against Levon Aronian, who caught up to Carlsen with this win. Vladimir Kramnik outplayed Pentala Harikrishna and Li Chao, who played against Pavel Eljanov, was rewarded for his willingness to take risks. The two other games ended with a draw.

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Maybe the players at the Altibox Norway Chess tournament are a bit tired to see and to play the same openings again and again. However, the tournament in Stavanger offers more variety in openings than many a supertournament which might be partly due to the fact that some other players than the "usual suspects" were invited to play.

 

Round eight offered a particularly rich choice of rather unusual openings and unknown patters:

Aronian and Carlsen played a Reti, in which the World Champion who played with Black surprised the spectators with 10…Na5, a move that put the knight on the rim but avoided an exchange of knights and created a little threat. But the Norwegian had already used lots of time for his opening moves which suggests that he was not too happy with his position. At any rate, his unusual knight move brought Carlsen into trouble. He lost the game after an oversight in a bad position.

Aronian-Carlsen

 

 

A disappointed Magnus Carlsen

Vladimir Kramnik, who played against Pentala Harikrishna, started with 1.Nf3 e6 2.g3 b5 and now found the novelty 3.e3. Well, it was almost a novelty because the move had in fact been played before though only once. In the opening Kramnik failed to get anything but at the beginning of the middlegame he gradually increased his pressure and finally liquidated into a better endgame which the Indian grandmaster could not hold.

Kramnik-Harikrishna

 

 

Pavel Eljanov and Li Chao had a London System on the board and soon found themselves in a rarely played line which, however, once was tested in a correspondence game. In an equal position Li Chao made a risky winning attempt which entailed a queen sacrifice. For the queen he got a rook and two strong passed pawns. When Eljanov failed to find an adequate defense against Black's threats Li Chao was rewarded for his courage and won the game.

Eljanov-Li Chao

 

 

Anish Giri also openend with 1.Nf3 against Grandelius but wound up in a Semi-Slav. Black was slightly better after the opening and when Giri had the chance to force a draw by sacrificing a knight on f6, he quickly grabbed this chance.

But the Berlin Defense was also played - in the game between Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Veselin Topalov. In the typical queenless middlegame Topalov developed a distinct initiative but after he missed a couple of good opportunities the game wound up in a draw.

Results

Br. Tit Name Coun ELO Ergebnis Titel Name Coun ELO
1 GM Maxime Vachier Lagrave
 
2792 ½ - ½ GM Veselin Topalov
 
2780
2 GM Anish Giri
 
2793 ½ - ½ GM Nils Grandelius
 
2646
3 GM Pavel Eljanov
 
2765 0 - 1 GM Chao B Li
 
2757
4 GM Levon Aronian
 
2786 1 - 0 GM Magnus Carlsen
 
2851
5 GM Vladimir Kramnik
 
2801 1 - 0 GM Penteala Harikrishna
 
2758

Games of rounds 1 to 8

 

 

Aronian's win against Carlsen suddenly made the tournament exciting again. The Armenian now has the same number of points as Carlsen and is first on tie-break.

 

Standings after round eight

 

Tournament page...



André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.
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Hawkman Hawkman 4/29/2016 01:51
Carlsen's 10. ... Na5 was a blunder.
Thomas Richter Thomas Richter 4/29/2016 11:26
@dopelle/Pionki: Actually Aronian played this setup before, if only in blitz games. With 7.-dxc4 Carlsen deviated from Aronian-Wang Yue, World Mind Sports Games 2013 - in two other Aronian games his opponents (Harikrishna and Shirov) deviated earlier.
While Aronian joked that it was all preparation, it rather looks like successful improvisation over the board. BTW (while my knowledge of Spanish is limited) I am not sure Pionki referred to the opening. In that case, I think Aronian has played similar games before more than once - but of course it doesn't always work out like this against world-top players.
x_ileon@yahoo.co.uk x_ileon@yahoo.co.uk 4/29/2016 10:12
Sorry to disappoint Aronian fans but in this game MC wasn't beaten by the Armenian - he was beaten by his self! Of course Aronian is undisputedly a world class player so he capitalised
dopelle dopelle 4/29/2016 09:51
In reply to Pionki's question, I wondered the same thing. Maybe the reason he was able to defeat Carlsen was because he saved up the opening line that would cause the World Champion most psychological difficulty. So he would not want to play it in earlier games.
thing50 thing50 4/29/2016 09:43
Carlsen often plays like an engine but when things become difficult for him he has time and time again been unable to handle it...its called being a human being I think.
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