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Carlsen, Nakamura, Praggnanandhaa Lead After Armageddon Wins
Magnus Carlsen was able to eat his dinner during his first classical game vs. Ding Liren since the title had changed hands. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Carlsen, Nakamura, Praggnanandhaa Lead After Armageddon Wins

Colin_McGourty
| 55 | Chess Event Coverage

GMs Magnus Carlsen, Hikaru Nakamura, and Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu lead Norway Chess 2024 after armageddon wins in round one, with the much-anticipated clash between Carlsen and GM Ding Liren most notable for the Norwegian eating dinner after the game had begun. Nakamura took down GM Fabiano Caruana, while Praggnanandhaa beat GM Alireza Firouzja with a second to spare on his clock.  

All the classical games were also drawn in the Women’s Norway Chess, with GM Humpy Koneru surviving a lost position against GM Pia Cramling to win in armageddon. There were also wins for Women's World Champion Ju Wenjun over GM Vaishali Rameshbabu, and GM Lei TIngjie over GM Anna Muzychuk

Round two starts Tuesday, May 28, at 11 a.m. ET / 17:00 CEST / 8:30 p.m. IST.

Norway Chess Open: Standings After Round 1

The most highly-anticipated game of round one was the first classical game between the 16th and 17th world champions since the title had changed hands. In the end, however, the greatest intrigue was what had happened to Carlsen on move four of an utterly unremarkable Catalan.

The Norwegian didn't return to the board for 15 minutes. Was he unwell, or engaging in some deep psychological tricks? "I was hungry," Carlsen told Norwegian TV, with Nakamura filling in the gaps during a confessional appearance:

Burning time could be fatal with the time control in Norway that gives players no increment before move 40, but perhaps Carlsen had foreseen what would follow. On move 11 the players began repeating moves, and the game was drawn on move 14.

It was too easy for Carlsen. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

The onus was on Ding to fight with the white pieces, but perhaps the world champion wasn't lying when he said his thoughts are on avoiding last place in Stavanger. Not all observers were impressed.

Classical draws in Norway Chess mean only more chess, however, with the players earning one point each and then playing for an extra half-point in armageddon, where the player with the white pieces has 10 minutes to Black's seven, but must win.

That became an impossibility for Ding, however, after Carlsen used a tricky opening, confused his opponent, and set up a wall across the board. Ding went for the one break available to him, but the best he could do was survive but lose the match.

The remaining two classical games were much more interesting, with Nakamura confessing he was somewhat bored as he blitzed out his opening preparation against Caruana, who had to figure things out at the board. Nakamura had beaten Caruana in the final round of last year's Norway Chess, and most recently in the Candidates, and it seemed that pattern might continue until a slip almost proved costly. 

Everything was going right for Nakamura until it wasn't. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Caruana briefly had real winning chances, but it would have taken a stunning computer resource to prove it. Instead we got a hard-fought draw.

Here's Nakamura's take on his games.

Nakamura talked to the confessional about "the classic clown fiesta" of armageddon. However, in fact, he went on to play an excellent game to take down Caruana. He mentioned afterward, "I felt I was Kasparov" about the way he handled the opening with Black. That's our Game of the Day, with analysis by GM Rafael Leitao below:

The most dramatic conclusion of a match came in the Praggnanandhaa-Firouzja armageddon, with the young Indian star winning on the board but having forgotten about his clock—they both had! "I didn’t really see the clock at all, and actually I didn’t realize that we didn’t make move 40. I thought we were already getting the one-second increment," said Praggnanandhaa.

Praggnanandhaa said they might have kept on playing if the arbiter hadn't intervened. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Praggnanandhaa won with a second to spare:

That came after a tense first game in which Praggnanandhaa had been ambitious until he failed to find any tactics that were working in his favor. He reasoned: "If I don’t bail out at some point, then it could go wrong for me, so I decided to pull the breaks and make a draw."

One of the world's most powerful chess families. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

It was the same story in the Women's tournament, with all three classical games drawn so that the matches were also decided in armageddon.

Norway Chess Women: Standings After Round 1

61-year-old Cramling had never beaten 37-year-old Humpy in classical chess, but she came incredibly close after completely outplaying her opponent. The women's world number-five wasn't going to go down without a fight, however, and seized her one chance to hit back and make a draw—in fact, Cramling had looked in real peril due to the situation on her clock. 

Humpy made good use of her escape to hold a convincing draw in the armageddon and take the 1.5 points.

Cramling was closer than anyone to winning a classical game. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Praggnanandhaa mentioned that he'd glanced at the game of his sister Vaishali against the Women's World Champion and noted she had an extra pawn, but... "then an hour later her opponent had an extra pawn, so I don’t know where the two pawns went!" Vaishali's five-game winning streak at the end of the Candidates came to an end, but she managed to hold a draw before Ju won smoothly in the armageddon.

Lei Tingjie and Ju Wenjun can be friends again with no world championship match on the horizon. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Lei's win over Muzychuk was more brutal than smooth, as she punished her opponent for failing to press an advantage in the classical game. Lei needed only a draw with Black in armageddon, but she spotted some killer tactics.

That means Lei is in the early lead on 1.5 points with Ju and Humpy, but there are nine rounds to go. The highlight of round two is Carlsen-Nakamura, with the five-time Norway Chess champion facing the defending champion.

Don't miss it!  

How to watch? You can watch Norway Chess 2024 on the Chess24 YouTube and Twitch channels. It will also be streamed on Nakamura's Kick channel. The games can also be followed from our events page: Open | Women.

The live broadcast was hosted by GM David Howell and IMs Jovanka Houska, Anna Rudolf, and Danny Rensch.

Norway Chess 2024 features Open and Women's six-player tournaments for equal prize funds of 1,690,000 NOK (~$160,000). It runs May 27 to June 7 in Stavanger, with players facing their opponents twice at classical chess (120 minutes/40 moves, with a 10-second increment from move 41). The winner of a classical game gets three points, the loser, zero; after a draw, the players get one point and fight for another half-point in armageddon (10 minutes for White, seven for Black, who has draw odds). 


Previous coverage:

Colin_McGourty
Colin McGourty

Colin McGourty led news at Chess24 from its launch until it merged with Chess.com a decade later. An amateur player, he got into chess writing when he set up the website Chess in Translation after previously studying Slavic languages and literature in St. Andrews, Odesa, Oxford, and Krakow.

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