Norway Chess R7: Rapport Moves To World Number 6
Richard Rapport is doing great in Stavanger. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Norway Chess.

Norway Chess R7: Rapport Moves To World Number 6

| 31 | Chess Event Coverage

For the first time, the Norway Chess tournament saw three decisive classical games and therefore no armageddons. GM Richard Rapport defeated GM Sergey Karjakin to jump to world number-six in the live ratings.

He is now 3.5 points ahead of the new runner-up in the tournament, GM Magnus Carlsen, who beat his compatriot GM Aryan Tari. GM Ian Nepomniachtchi dropped to third place after losing to GM Alireza Firouzja

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 7 Standings

# Fed Name Rating Classical Armageddon Total
1 Richard Rapport 2760 12 3.5 15.5
2 Magnus Carlsen 2855 6 6 12
3 Ian Nepomniachtchi 2792 3 6.5 9.5
5 Alireza Firouzja 2754 6 3 9
4 Sergey Karjakin 2758 3 5.5 8.5
6 Aryan Tari 2642 0 3 3

"Rapport is playing so good in this tournament, it's very difficult to catch him, I think," said Firouzja during his interview today. "He's played really well," said Carlsen. These simple statements are hard to argue with.

There are three more rounds to go, but so far it looks like the 25-year-old Hungarian grandmaster is having his ultimate breakthrough to the absolute world elite, as he is now occupying sixth place in the live ratings. An 18.4 Elo gain is huge at this level.

Rapport live ratings
Rapport is now the world number six. Image:

"It was completely unexpected, of course, that I converted this game," said Rapport modestly, emphasizing that the game was very concrete almost right from the opening. But of course, he was always the one pressing as he managed to keep his far-advanced c-pawn on the board throughout the game—almost a miracle in itself—until that pawn decided the game.

This was already Rapport's fourth classical victory; Carlsen and Firouzja have two, after today's round. Here are our annotations combined with Rapport's remarks in his interview:

Game of the Day Dejan Bojkov

Sergey Karjakin Norway Chess 2021
Karjakin beat Carlsen and Nepomniachtchi, but Rapport was too strong today. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Norway Chess.

"It feels like I'm not able to outplay my opponents so this is the only way I can win, by working very hard," Carlsen said after scoring his second classical victory in a row—after none in the first half of the event. "I wouldn't say it feels like a great accomplishment but it's the thing you sometimes need to do to turn a bad tournament around."

Tari Carlsen Norway Chess 2021
Nepomniachtchi watching a hard-working Carlsen. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Norway Chess.

There was an odd moment early on in Carlsen's game with Tari. Hardly out of the opening, the world champ spent a staggering 46 minutes on his 14th move. Asked whether it paid off, he replied: "I wouldn't say so because I played the same move that I was gonna play after one minute!"

We've all been there.

"It's a bit strange that this is a theoretical position with White to move but I realized that even a tempo up my position is probably not great," Carlsen further explained. After missing a chance for an advantage, Tari then got slowly outplayed:

Magnus Carlsen 2021 Norway Chess
The hard work paid off for Carlsen. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Norway Chess.

In his post-game interview, Carlsen also revealed something interesting about his bishop endgame with Firouzja the other day:

"The thing is, I have to be honest: I didn't see that he couldn't wait. So all this talk of brilliancy is like... He was thinking for a very long time, I didn't understand why because I didn't see that the pawn ending was winning. This was the point. He evidently saw it because he was spending so much time. So in retrospect, I feel like a complete fool."

In retrospect, I feel like a complete fool.
—Magnus Carlsen

Whereas the world champion won his game today, his challenger in the world championship match lost. According to his opponent, Firouzja, this was at least partly because of the Russian GM avoiding his main repertoire. 

"Ian normally plays the Najdorf but it's clear he wants to keep it for this match. OK, I don't know what his plan was!" said Firouzja, adding: "It was clear that maybe some experience was lacking there, in the middlegame. The engine probably shows 0.00 but experience is also important."

More concretely, Firouzja felt that Nepomniachtchi's decision to maneuver his c6-knight to g6 was, in this particular line, not good: 

"I'm learning," Firouzja reflected on his tournament so far. "Yesterday, the endgame was just a big lesson for me. I'm happy that at least I came back today."

Alireza Firouzja close-up
Alireza Firouzja, learning and winning. 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 followed by a victory in the armageddon, 1.5 points; and a loss in the armageddon, one point.

Earlier reports:

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