Norway Chess R4: Rapport Increases Lead, Carlsen "Tortures" Nepomniachtchi
Carlsen defeated Nepomniachtchi in the armageddon. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Norway Chess.

Norway Chess R4: Rapport Increases Lead, Carlsen "Tortures" Nepomniachtchi

| 17 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Richard Rapport is the only player who won a classical game so far at the Norway Chess tournament, and on Friday he won his second (calling it "pure luck"). By beating GM Alireza Firouzja the Hungarian GM gained three points and is now two and a half ahead of GM Magnus Carlsen.

The world champion defeated his challenger in the upcoming world championship, GM Ian Nepomniachtchi, in the armageddon game. GM Sergey Karjakin now shares fourth place with his compatriot after beating GM Aryan Tari also in the armageddon.

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Round 4 Standings

# Fed Name Rating C1 A1 C2 A2 C3 A3 C4 A4 C5 A5 C6 A6 Total
1 Richard Rapport 2760 3 1.5 1 3 8.5
2 Magnus Carlsen 2855 1.5 1.5 1.5 1.5 6
3-4 Ian Nepomniachtchi 2792 1.5 1.5 1 4
3-4 Sergey Karjakin 2758 1 1.5 1.5 4
5-6 Alireza Firouzja 2754 1 1 1 0 3
5-6 Aryan Tari 2642 0 1 1 1 3

The game got a bit less attention due to the first clash between world championship participants Carlsen and Nepomniachtchi, but Rapport's slow grind vs. Firouzja was a fine game.

The 25-year-old Hungarian grandmaster got a slight edge out of the opening in a Grunfeld, and he noted that that was already something: "We're talking about this modern chess. I think it's already an achievement once you play someone who plays the Grunfeld that you didn't force a draw after 20 moves!"

He got a slightly more pleasant endgame thanks to the bishop pair, but Firouzja continue playing very concrete moves and thereby posing problems.

The break ...c5 had been prevented earlier on and when Firouzja missed his chance to play the other break ...e5, he allowed a pawn storm on the kingside and got really on the defensive side. Nonetheless, the game was not decided until Black, by now in time-trouble, blundered.

Rapport joked the other day that entering the world's top 10 didn't mean much because he was going to face Firouzja. After this second classical win, he surpassed GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and is now in ninth place.

Here's the game, based on Rapport's remarks in his post-game interview:

Rapport Firouzja Norway Chess 2021
A so far luckless Firouzja lost to Rapport. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Norway Chess.

Most of the attention obviously went to Carlsen-Nepomniachtchi. Whereas the Russian GM has stated that Norway Chess will most likely be his last classical event before the big match, Carlsen revealed that he will also be playing in the European Club Cup, right after Norway Chess: September 17-25 in Struga, Ohrid Lake, North Macedonia.

Today, Carlsen and Nepo started with a draw in a Berlin Endgame. For the armageddon, Carlsen switched to 1.Nf3 and then went into a Fianchetto Grunfeld.

Carlsen Nepomniachtchi Norway Chess 2021
Carlsen and Nepomniachtchi drawing their classical game. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Norway Chess.

Although Carlsen had the same line just the other week against GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda in the Champions Chess Tour, Nepomniachtchi wasn't super well prepared for it and missed an equalizer on move 15. After that, Carlsen was cruising and basically left his opponent without a chance.

"I'm not too thrilled about the classical game as I felt that at some point I was putting some pressure," said Carlsen. "At least I played a decent armageddon game today. Everything that I can gain before the world championship is of course nice."

Everything that I can gain before the world championship is of course nice.
—Magnus Carlsen

Asked about his slightly long think on move 25, he explained that on the one hand he wanted to make sure it's 100 percent winning, and: "Also, I thought it would be nice to torture him a little bit."

Game of the Day Dejan Bojkov

Magnus Carlsen focus
Carlsen: "Everything that I can gain before the world championship is of course nice." Photo: Lennart Ootes/Norway Chess.

Tari and Karjakin went more or less straight to the armageddon as their 5.Re1 Berlin was just dead equal from start to finish. Having to win in that other game, Tari played 4.d3 instead. Karjakin continued to play a very solid opening, equalized, and then gained a big advantage after Tari miscalculated in the early middlegame.

Tari Karjakin
Solid but powerful chess by Karjakin. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Norway Chess.

All games day 4

Saturday is a rest day but Nepomniachtchi and Karjakin will be playing their game from round one. The fifth round is on Sunday with the games Karjakin-Carlsen, Nepomniachtchi-Rapport, and Firouzja-Tari.

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 reports:

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