Norway Chess R2: Nepomniachtchi Wins With The King's Gambit
Ian Nepomniachtchi employed the King's Gambit successfully today. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Norway Chess R2: Nepomniachtchi Wins With The King's Gambit

| 12 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Richard Rapport continues to lead the Norway Chess tournament after drawing both his classical and armageddon games with GM Sergey Karjakin, gaining 1.5 points. GM Magnus Carlsen is in second place after surviving a scare in the classical and then beating GM Aryan Tari in the armageddon.

After missing out on the first round, GM Ian Nepomniachtchi joined the tournament today and beat GM Alireza Firouzja in the armageddon as well, using the romantic King's Gambit opening.

How to watch?
The games of Norway Chess can be found here as part of our live events platform. Games start daily at 8:00 a.m. Pacific / 17:00 Central Europe.

Round 2 Standings

# Fed Name Rating C1 A1 C2 A2 C3 A3 C4 A4 C5 A5 C6 A6 Total
1 Richard Rapport 2760 3 1.5 4.5
2 Magnus Carlsen 2855 1.5 1.5 3
3 Alireza Firouzja 2754 1 1 2
4 Ian Nepomniachtchi 2792 1.5 1.5
5-6 Sergey Karjakin 2758 1 1
5-6 Aryan Tari 2642 0 1 1

Making his debut at Norway Chess (hard to believe but true), Nepomniachtchi entered the stage belatedly but well dressed. He was sporting the new outfit that we'll also be seeing him wear during the upcoming world championship, with logos of sponsors SimaLand (a Russian wholesale company) and our very own The latter can be seen both on the arms of his jacket and the end of his shirt's sleeves.

Ian Nepomniachtchi sponsor
Ian Nepomniachtchi, now sponsored by Photo: Maria Emelianova/

After Firouzja surprised his opponent with the Moller Ruy Lopez and held his own as Black in the classical game, it was time for Nepomniachtchi to promote a bit more than his sponsors. He showcased his recently published online course on the King's Gambit by playing it in the armageddon game. (Regular readers will know that he also employed it recently at the Smyslov Memorial blitz.)

Firouzja was either unaware of his opponent's published analysis or mixed up something because he played a losing novelty on move 10. Nepo then didn't really need his extra time on the clock to finish things off in style.

"Despite my poor endgame performance in the classical game at least I had my small revenge playing the gambit and at least having a good mood!" said Nepomniachtchi afterward.

Game of the Day Dejan Bojkov

Nepomniachtchi Firouzja armageddon 2021 Norway Chess
A "handshake" in times of Covid. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Norway Chess.

Rapport, the early leader of the tournament, had the better chances in his black game with Karjakin after bravely accepting White's pawn sacrifice in the trendy 7.g4 Taimanov. But even an exchange up, the position remained tricky and the time control (no increment before move 41) didn't help either, as Rapport said afterward, so at some point he had to accept a draw.

He then became the "winner" of the armageddon game, which was arguably the best of all six games of the day.

Richard Rapport chess portrait
Richard Rapport still leads after day 2. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Norway Chess.

Avoiding an all-too-dry middlegame position, Karjakin went for a positional queen sacrifice and got good play for it. After a tense middlegame, Rapport eventually went for a liquidation into an endgame with opposite-colored bishops where White had two extra passed pawns on the queenside but Black could still hold.

The Hungarian GM knows his classics: he referenced the famous Walther-Fischer (Zurich 1959) game at the press conference, where the prodigy and later world champion held the draw beautifully. See that game in the notes and learn:

Playing Hall 2021 Norway Chess
The playing hall in Stavanger, Norway. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Norway Chess.

And what about the world champion? Well, from the first two rounds we might conclude that, although he just won the Aimchess U.S. Rapid convincingly, over-the-board chess is a different cookie and he is not in top shape just yet. After surviving a lost endgame vs. Firouzja in the armageddon the other day, Carlsen also survived a lost position in his classical game with Tari.

Carlsen Tari 2021 Norway Chess
Tari had Carlsen on the ropes. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Norway Chess.

It was a completely different story, however, in the armageddon that followed. This time, Carlsen managed to confuse his opponent in the opening as he quickly won a pawn, then another one while easily dealing with Black's (lack of) counterplay:

Magnus Carlsen close-up
That was much better! Photo: Lennart Ootes/Norway Chess.

The third round is on Thursday with the games Rapport-Carlsen, Tari-Nepomniachtchi, and Firouzja-Karjakin.

TV2 Norway Chess
Like in other years, the Norwegian commercial channel TV2 is covering the tournament live daily. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Norway Chess.

Norway Chess takes place September 7-18, 2021 in Stavanger, Norway. The format is a double round-robin among six players. The time control is 120 minutes for the whole game, with a 10-second increment starting from move 41. In case of a draw, the players play an armageddon game with the same colors. White has 10 minutes and Black has seven minutes with a one-second increment starting from move 41. A victory in the main game gives three points, a loss in the main game zero points, a draw in the main game & victory armageddon 1.5 points, a loss in the armageddon one point.

Earlier report:

Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

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