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Norway Chess Round 8: Carlsen Overtakes Firouzja
Carlsen offers an explanation to Tari after their game. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Norway Chess.

Norway Chess Round 8: Carlsen Overtakes Firouzja

PeterDoggers
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29 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Magnus Carlsen is the new leader at the Altibox Norway Chess tournament. The world champion outplayed his compatriot GM Aryan Tari in round eight and is now a point ahead of GM Alireza Firouzja, who lost the armageddon game to GM Fabiano Caruana.

GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda held GM Levon Aronian to a draw and then won the armageddon game. With two rounds to go, Aronian is in third place. Wednesday is a rest day; the pairings for Thursday are Firouzja – Carlsen, Duda – Caruana, and Tari – Aronian.

How to watch
You can follow the games here as part of our live platform. Besides the official broadcast, daily commentary is provided on GM Hikaru Nakamura's Twitch channel starting at 8 a.m. Pacific / 17:00 Central Europe.


2020 Norway Chess | Round 8 Standings

# Fed Name Rtg 1 2 3 4 5 6 Pts
1 Carlsen, Magnus 2863 1.5 1.5 3 1.5 0 3 3 3 16.5
2 Firouzja, Alireza 2728 1 1.5 1.5 1.5 1 3 3 3 15.5
3 Aronian, Levon 2767 1 1 1 3 0 3 1 3 13
4 Caruana, Fabiano 2828 0 1 1 1.5 0 3 3 3 12.5
5 Duda, Jan-Krzysztof 2757 3 0 0 0 1.5 0 1 3 8.5
6 Tari, Aryan 2633 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.5 0 1.5

It is not often that a top grandmaster gets to play a textbook win where a plan is executed so perfectly as in Carlsen-Tari.

"You don't really often get these games, where you get to win with hardly any tactics. In that sense, it went according to plan," said Carlsen.

The all-Norwegian clash is reminiscent of GM Anatoly Karpov's best games. The former world champion often played quietly for almost a whole game and then decided it with a combination.

The position after 41...Rf7.

Carlsen's petite combinaison started with 42.Re8! that nicely mirrored his 26...Re1!, also against Tari, in round five.

"Oh yeah, there was one tactic!" said Carlsen. After the game, he had already forgotten about his rook sac.

"Yeah, it was nice, but actually, I felt that, in the spirit of the game, 42.Qh4 followed by 43.Nf6 would have been a more appropriate finish," he said with a smile.

Magnus Carlsen smiling Norway Chess
Carlsen almost regretted his rook sacrifice. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Norway Chess.

The game was a Ruy Lopez with 6.d3, an opening Carlsen has enormous experience with. Still, in the confession box, he seemed to suggest he wasn't well prepared. This prompted interviewer WIM Fiona Steil-Antoni to ask how serious his remarks in that confession box are.

Carlsen's reply: "I'm generally too dumb to lie. Mostly I'm telling the truth!"

I'm generally too dumb to lie. Mostly I'm telling the truth!
—Magnus Carlsen

The truth is that he didn't have much: "Objectively there was nothing for me after the opening, but I think with this whole 14...b4 approach, he played a little bit too much for exchanges and then eventually it got more and more difficult for him."

Position after 21.Nd2

Carlsen thought that after his 21st move, "strategically the game is kind of decided. The only question is whether I can win it." At that point, commentator GM Vladimir Kramnik perfectly predicted the white rook going to a8, the knight reaching d5, and White deciding the game with a kingside attack.

Norway Chess 2020 playing hall
The playing hall. The spectators consist of only crew members, volunteers, and sponsors. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Norway Chess.

The win gave Carlsen the maximum of three points in this round—two more than Firouzja, who got one point for losing his armageddon game.

The Iranian GM had been somewhat under pressure in the standard game, but Caruana failed to convert. The world number-two then repeated his 3.f3 Caro-Kann in the armageddon and was in full control from start to finish.

Fabiano Caruana closeup Norway Chess
Caruana won his first armageddon in the tournament. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Norway Chess.

At the halfway mark of the tournament, Aronian was in sole first place. Since then, things haven't gone well: he lost the standard game to Caruana and then two armageddons, against Firouzja and now Duda.

Levon Aronian Norway Chess
Levon Aronian. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Norway Chess.

The Armenian GM seems to have lost some confidence. The commentators didn't expect him to repeat the position so early in the standard game with Duda. The Polish grandmaster then chose an excellent strategy for the armageddon.

"I find playing armageddon games in this format, especially with just one second [increment], very difficult for Black," said Duda. "Actually, I would much rather prefer to be White, but I haven't managed to be White so far. With Black, I wanted to play super solidly, something like I had in the game, when you don't have to calculate that much."

Aronian Duda armageddon Norway Chess
The Aronian-Duda armageddon. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Norway Chess.

Round 8 | All games

The Norway Chess tournament is a double round-robin with six players taking place October 5-16, 2020, in the Clarion Hotel in Stavanger, Norway. The time control is two hours for all moves with a 10-second increment per move after move 40.

In the case of a draw, the players play an armageddon game about 20 minutes after drawing their standard game. The colors remain the same, and the time control is 10 minutes for White vs. seven minutes for Black (who has draw odds) with an increment of one second per move starting on move 41. 

The points system is as follows:

  • Victory main game: 3 points
  • Loss main game: 0 points
  • Draw main game & victory armageddon: 1.5 points
  • Draw main game & loss armageddon: 1 point


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