Dramatic Finish to a Dramatic Tourney: Norway Chess Day 9
We all thought we could guess the results of today's round, right? Wrong.
Before I go into the serious stuff, let me mention the official round report, which was titled "On Top-alov" (In Round 6 it was "Unstopalov") and dubbed Hammer-Carlsen as the Clash of the Vikings (which was not very Viking-like in the result).
There were two surprising results (at least, in my opinion), but one of them nearly gave me a heart attack. I think it's time I rewrote my answers for the 10 Questions for Norway Chess. Some very wise words came from Jon Ludvig Hammer in his post-game interview. He obviously isn't completely happy about the win, and it seems as if he is the only one of Magnus's competitors who actually understood the bad performance. It was good to hear his remarks on the "bittersweet" game. I suppose the "ugly duckling" Norwegian #2 did turn into a "beautiful" swan, but this is Magnus's worst tournament ever, causing a loss of 22.7 (!) rating points.
Fabiano Caruana, after his surprising draw (part of me was expecting a loss), said about himself, "Everything went downhill after those last two games." Change the "last" to "first" and you have Magnus. It's hard not to feel bad for him (Hikaru is an exception: "Obviously, who cares?", but even Anish Giri felt bad!), especially when "all these things happened at the same time". Yesterday, Levon Aronian remarked after his loss to Magnus, "I'm devastated. The position I had, I completely spoiled it. I don't find words to describe my feelings". One could say the same for Magnus today. And so we have Carlsen's worst tournament start in ten years, his first classical loss on time in eleven years (I think), his first loss to Hammer in fifteen years, and his worst tournament result in... nineteen years (since he started playing chess), maybe.
One thing that does make me (at least somewhat) happy is Hikaru's win and finish in third place (I guess he could be a little more kind in his words, though). Anish Giri did well, and even though I don't particularly admire him, one has to accept that. Fabiano does not seem to be having the time of his life, but hopefully Dortnumd can restore one or two (or more) of his lost rating points. MVL may have improved a little bit (as in, six rating points, I think), but he too did not have an overly satisfactory tournament, sadly.
It was a surprising win by Topalov (well, "we can cite the incident in the first round", says Jan), and besides the four who did well, "the others will go home with some bruises", unfortunately.
For the rest, we will have to wait until St. Louis.
As MVL knows, "the peak of my misery" cannot be avoided, but once it is here, it passes.
A report is not something that can be ended in the same way as a "story". So I sat thinking of a possible last sentence, and I found none that was to my liking and satisfaction. So, for fans of Veselin Topalov, I hope you are satisfied, and for fans of Magnus Carlsen, look to the summer of 1940 for inspiration and you will know that we will survive this.