Mamedyarov Beats Anand In Standard Game, Leads Norway Chess
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (right) with his second and friend Eltaj Safarli. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Altibox Norway Chess.

Mamedyarov Beats Anand In Standard Game, Leads Norway Chess

| 26 | Chess Event Coverage

Just when the players started to enjoy their Armageddons, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov showed what it's worth to win the standard game. He beat Vishy Anand, got two points and is now the sole leader of the 2019 Altibox Norway Chess tournament after two rounds.

Fabiano Caruana also won his classical game vs. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, while the other three matchups did see Armageddons.

When the Norwegian organizers announced their Armageddon system, they said that they were hoping for "fewer draws per game" and to "create more excitement for spectators and put more pressure on the players."

Alexander Grischuk and Wesley So drawing their classical game under 10 minutes was perhaps not what they intended.

Grischuk used a well known drawing mechanism in the Berlin Ruy Lopez: 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. 0-0 Nxe4 5. d4 Nd6 6. dxe5 Nxb5 7. a4 Nbd4 8. Nxd4 d5 9. exd6 Nxd4 10. Qxd4 Qxd6

11. Qe4+ Qe6 12. Qd4 Qd6 13. Qe4+ Qe6 14. Qd4 Qd6 15. Qe4+ Qe6 ½-½

Grischuk So Altibox Norway Chess 2019
Grischuk went for a quick move repetition vs. So. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Altibox Norway Chess.

After he also lost his second Armageddon of the tournament, Grischuk joined the TV2 show where he explained that he was lacking energy. We have to thank Norwegian reporter Tarjei Svensen once again for providing the quotes:

"I feel bad of course. I lost. But I just felt I could not play. You could see in the Armageddon, that's why I made a quick draw. I thought after 20 minutes I could find some energy."

As it turned out, Grischuk still hadn't full recovered from his loss on time to Aronian yesterday.

Grischuk played a reversed King's Indian and seemed to be doing well, but So countered at the right time and took over completely on the queenside. That he didn't win the game a queen up was the most surprising of it all.

It seems Grischuk gambled, and lost. "If you draw so quickly as White, fate will punish you," said Aronian's second IM Ashot Nadanian.

Grischuk So Altibox Norway Chess 2019
Watched by Carlsen, Grischuk has to accept So's draw offer. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Altibox Norway Chess.

This time two players managed to win their standard game, thus avoiding the Armageddon and getting the full two points. The first one was Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, who beat Viswanathan Anand with the black pieces in a Rossolimo Sicilian.

It was a painful loss for the Indian grandmaster, who had managed to avoid complications, kept a positional plus and was better in the endgame but then lost track and blundered material. 

Anand Mamedyarov Altibox Norway Chess 2019
Anand and Mamedyarov discussing some lines afterward. The Azerbaijani GM is now the sole leader of the tournament. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Altibox Norway Chess.

Fabiano Caruana made a jump in the standings as well as he beat Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in his favorite Najdorf. For this, Caruana had cooked up a novelty on move 15 in the Poisoned Pawn variation, where he deviated from the recent game Wei Yi-Nepomniachtchi at the Moscow FIDE Grand Prix.

Here Caruana played 15.Bc4N where 15.Bb3 and 15.Bf5 had been tried before.

MVL said he had checked, but couldn't remember how to react against 15.Bc4. To completely surprise the opponent is hard these days!

In the confession box he admitted that he was "caught in serious prep" as he went for a line where he won a piece, but his king got stuck in the center. He had underestimated White's chances there.

Vachier-Lagrave Altibox Norway Chess 2019
Vachier-Lagrave, caught in serious preparation. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Altibox Norway Chess.

However, Caruana didn't get the most out of his board and clock advantage, and at some point Vachier-Lagrave was close to equal again, but then he went wrong in the rook endgame.

Caruana: "I thought I had spoilt it which was a big disappointment but the result is excellent. It's like winning two games."

Caruana Altibox Norway Chess 2019
Winning the standard game felt to Caruana like winning two games. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Altibox Norway Chess.

Yu Yangyi seems to be the first disciple of Ding Liren's strategy to play solid in the standard game as White, and then continue aggressively in the Armageddon (although it's not rocket science, as White needs a win in that Armageddon).

Yu adopted it successfully against Ding himself, playing a sharp line vs. the Nimzo-Indian and eventually winning an opposite-colored bishop endgame with an extra pawn in great style:

Yu Yangyi Ding Liren Altibox Norway Chess 2019
A full queen down and close to checkmate, Ding Liren resigns. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Altibox Norway Chess.

It was "some you win, some you lose" for Levon Aronian, who was fortunate to get 1.5 points out of his encounter with Grischuk the other day, only to get 0.5 points out of his clash with Magnus Carlsen, where that should have been two. 

The Armenian number one would have been tied for first with Mamedyarov if he had won the standard game with Carlsen, which was indeed completely winning. Carlsen once said that nobody has outplayed him more than Aronian, and it happened again.

Carlsen kept fighting, and miraculously escaped, channeling his inner Houdini:

Aronian Carlsen Altibox Norway Chess 2019
Carlsen was visibly relieved, not yet understanding how he saved this one. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Altibox Norway Chess.

Imagine you have the world champion on the ropes, let him slip away and then 15 minutes later you have to play another game—a must-win game. Not easy at all.

This time Carlsen's opening went much better, and Aronian never really came to close to an advantage. The world champion smoothly finished it off, watched by Grischuk (among others), who had returned to the playing hall as a spectator.

Aronian Carlsen Altibox Norway Chess 2019
Trapping his opponent's knight like Mamedyarov did to Anand earlier in the day, Carlsen cashed 1.5 points out of his games with Aronian. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Altibox Norway Chess.

2019 Altibox Norway Chess | Round 2 Standings

# Fed Name Rtg 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Pts
1 Mamedyarov 2774 ½ 1 2 3.5/4
2 Carlsen 2875 ½ 1 ½ 1 3.0/4
3 Yu Yangyi 2738 ½ 1 ½ 1 3.0/4
4 Caruana 2819 ½ 0 2 2.5/4
5 Ding Liren 2805 ½ 0 ½ 1 2.0/4
6 Aronian 2752 ½ 0 ½ 1 2.0/4
7 So 2754 ½ 0 ½ 1 2.0/4
8 Grischuk 2775 ½ 0 ½ 0 1.0/4
9 Vachier-Lagrave 2779 ½ 0 0 0.5/4
10 Anand 2767 0 ½ 0 0.5/4

Once again the Norway Summit is held alongside the tournament.

The Altibox Norway Chess tournament takes place June 3-12 in the Clarion Hotel Energy and June 12-14 in the Stavanger Concert hall in Stavanger, Norway. New this year is that players who draw their game will play an Armageddon game right after (with the same colors).

Armageddon at Norway Chess
White gets 10 minutes on the clock; Black gets seven minutes but has draw odds. Only after move 60 the players get three seconds increment per move.

  • Win, main game: 2 points
  • Loss, main game: 0 points
  • Draw, main game and loss, Armageddon: 0.5 point
  • Draw, main game and win, Armageddon: 1.5 points

Also new is a shorter the time control in the classical games: two hours for the whole game, with an increment of 10 seconds after move 40.

The games start 5 p.m. local time (CEST) which is 11 a.m. Eastern and 8 a.m. Pacific. You can follow the games here as part of our live portal with daily commentary by the Chessbrahs.

Round 2 by the Chessbrahs. 

Previous reports:

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