Norway Chess, Round 6: One win, four Armageddon games

by André Schulz
6/6/2023 – Monday was Armageddon day in Stavanger. Caruana won his classical game against Abdusattorov, and Nakamura, Carlsen, Gukesh and So improved their scores with Armageddon wins after draws. Fabiano Caruana remains in the lead. | Photos: Lennart Ootes/ Norway Chess

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Fabiano Caruana is the dominant player at the 11th Norwegian Chess Tournament in Stavanger. In the sixth round the US grandmaster and 2018 World Championship runner-up won another classical game, which at the Norway Chess Tournament is worth three points. His opponent was Nodirbek Abdusattorov. The game started with an Italian and was balanced for a long time, but then both sides took risks on the kingside, which Caruana handled better.

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The other games all ended in draws, leading to four Armageddon games. Magnus Carlsen played Black against his fellow countryman Aryan Tari, who was born in Stavanger. Tari responded to Carlsen's Sicilian Defence 2...d6 with 3.Bb5+ and later established a Maroczy bind. Carlsen was able to open up the position with 16...d5 and, after some exchanges, had the advantage in a heavy piece endgame. However, he did not make the most of his advantages and eventually the game ended in a perpetual. But Carlsen then won the ensuing Armageddon with an energetic kingside attack that led to mate.

Alireza Firouzja and Hikaru Nakamura practised a similar opening, the Rossolimo Variation, and caused astonishment when they both broke every traditional rule and developed their knights to the edge with 7.Na3 Na6. But of course the knights did not stay there. An interesting positional game developed, but there was no winner. In the Armageddon an interesting situation arose in the endgame when Nakamura had to play with two rooks against three white minor pieces. The rooks proved better and the half extra point went to Nakamura.

The classical game between Shakriyar Mamedyarov and Wesley So, which began with the Queen's Gambit, also ended in a draw. In the heavy piece endgame, So had a passed pawn but couldn't make use of it. In the Armageddon game, an English opening led to unusual positions and interesting endgame tactics. But Mamedyarov was unable to make any real headway and was eventually forced to accept a perpetual, giving So the match.

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The classical game between Gukesh and Anish Giri also ended without a winner.

The young Indian, who had White, decided to castle queenside in the Slav Queen's Gambit, but Giri's attempts to attack White's king failed and the Dutchman ended up in a minor piece endgame with a minus pawn. But this was not enough to win and the game ended in a draw.

In the ensuing Armageddon game, Gukesh quickly managed to get his a-pawn to a7, giving him a winning position. Giri tried to muddy the waters, but Gukesh defended carefully and won the game.

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