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Nakamura New Leader In Norway As Round 4 Sees 5 Classical Wins
All change in Stavanger! Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Nakamura New Leader In Norway As Round 4 Sees 5 Classical Wins

PeterDoggers
| 72 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Hikaru Nakamura won a good game against GM Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu on Thursday to take over the lead from his opponent at Norway Chess 2024. Two more classical results included GM Magnus Carlsen scoring a vintage bounce-back-after-a-loss win vs GM Fabiano Caruana and GM Alireza Firouzja winning fairly easily against World Champion Ding Liren, who was once again a shadow of his former self.

GM Vaishali Rameshbabu increased her lead in Women’s Norway Chess to 2.5 points as she profited from a blunder by GM Pia Cramling in a rook ending. GM Anna Muzychuk beat GM Humpy Koneru and suddenly finds herself in shared second place with Women's World Champion Ju Wenjun, who got away with a threefold repetition from a worse position to beat her compatriot GM Lei Tingjie in the only armageddon of the day.

Round five starts Saturday, June 1, at 11 a.m. ET / 17:00 CEST / 8:30 p.m. IST.

Norway Chess Round 4 Results

Norway Chess 2024 round 4 results

Open: Nakamura Takes Over

Apart from the spectacle that comes with lots of fast armageddon games, the format of Norway Chess also brings many changes in the standings each day thanks to its points system. Three 3-0 scores in the open section brought Nakamura to the top, followed by Firouzja and Carlsen.

Standings After Round 4 | Open

Norway Chess 2024 round 4 standings

Nakamura-Praggnanandhaa 3-0

The second biggest chess content creator in the world is a pretty decent chess player too: he won Norway Chess last year and is again very much going for it this year. At the same time, Nakamura likes talking about chess so much that he paid a lot of visits to the confession booth today—so many that this author lost count.

In one of those sessions, he said: "Even though I like my position I am honestly just bored out of my mind, which is probably why I’m back here again," adding that he would "rather be streaming or trading stocks." Henrik Carlsen, Magnus' father, had an interesting take on it in the broadcast for international TV: "It’s one of his psychological tricks to get a distance from the game and the consequences of the game. He’s so good at that. He’s talking to himself, I think."

Hikaru Nakamura Norway Chess 2024
Hikaru Nakamura was "bored out of his mind" during the opening phase but later there was plenty of work to do at the board. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

In any case, it was once again Candidates preparation that helped the American GM to get a good position and one that allowed him to leave the board frequently. Praggnanandhaa was basically playing against Stockfish for a long time.

At some point, Pragg paid his first visit to the confession booth, acknowledging that he was not doing well and saying that he was hoping for some kind of a fortress.

Position after 24...Re5.

The Indian GM also mentioned that in this position, White couldn't play 25.Nxd6 because of 25...Qb6 26.Nc4 Qf6+ 27.Kg1 Re2 (hitting the queen and the rook on a1) but while he was saying that, he discovered 28.Rf1! in his head and shared that discovery with the fans as well. He then quickly went back to the playing hall, and all those moves got played out. Nakamura ended up with an extra knight and about 50 moves later he converted.

Here's GM Rafael Leitao's take on the game:

Hikaru Nakamura Norway Chess 2024
Hikaru Nakamura interviewed by the Norwegian TV channel TV2. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Carlsen-Caruana 3-0

Another remark from Henrik Carlsen today was that his son is known for doing quite well the day after suffering a loss in tournaments. That point was made during the early middlegame though, when the position between Caruana and Carlsen was more or less equal. Taking into account that both Praggnanandhaa and Caruana had played well the other day, "I think he is realistic enough to a consider a draw a good result," said Carlsen senior.

That was the expected scenario indeed until Caruana made one or two of the tiniest inaccuracies you can imagine. In the confession booth Carlsen said he started to like his chances on move 25, and from that point he was playing for two results, even though the computer doesn't really see any problems for White. For humans, it was more pleasant to play for Black, and that is enough for Carlsen to keep on trying and trying, as we have seen countless times.

Caruana-Carlsen Norway Chess 2024
The final moments of Caruana-Carlsen. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Caruana managed to avoid many pitfalls and found several only moves but the queen endgame was just too hard to hold during the "rapid phase" after move 40, as Carlsen called it. The computer said it was still a draw a move before the end, which was a surprise to Carlsen, who was told after the game. "It's definitely something new for me as well," he said about that.

Carlsen also noted that he had indeed been happy with a draw initially. “As the game went along my appetite sort of grew as well. I started getting ambitious; I could feel that he was nervous.” He also noted that such queen endings are particularly hard to hold in that “rapid phase” at the end with just 10 seconds of increment. Not only the armageddon games, but also the time control in the classical games seems to suit him.

As the game went along my appetite sort of grew as well.
—Magnus Carlsen

Caruana-Carlsen Norway Chess 2024
"It feels amazing of course," Carlsen said in the Chess.com broadcast. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

It was a tough loss for Caruana and a very welcome result for Carlsen, whose last classical win at Norway Chess was in 2022, against GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov in round six on June 6. (Perhaps those three sixes were a bad omen...) 

With a win, Caruana would have come dangerously close to Carlsen’s rating: 3.7 Elo points. Caruana was even closer during the 2018 World Championship match, when any win would have made him the world number one. After today, the difference is 23.6 points. The official June FIDE rating list, which should come out tomorrow or the day after, will be the 150th consecutive published rating list with Carlsen on top, and the 156th in total.

Chess live ratings May 30 2024
Carlsen is now 23.6 points ahead of Caruana. Image: 2700chess.com.

Firouzja-Ding 3-0

"Normally I should be happy after a win but of course, clearly he is not playing his best," said Firouzja after his win against the world champion. "I hope he finds his shape because I didn’t do anything particular in the game today, it was just about him not finding accurate moves."

I hope he finds his shape.
—Alireza Firouzja

It was nice to see a colleague feeling just as bad about Ding's struggles as his many fans, who have been witnessing this fantastic Chinese player dropping in playing strength so much ever since he won the highest title a year and a month ago. He has now scored +3 =16 -7 in three classical tournaments wearing the crown, a score unworthy of his stature. It's only because of Praggnanandhaa's loss that Ding did not drop out of the top 10 today.

Ding Liren Norway Chess 2024
Who doesn't feel for Ding Liren? Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

The problems started early for Ding, who followed the sharp opening from Firouzja-Caruana earlier in the tournament but then mixed up the move order on move 12, a clear sign that he can't focus properly. Firouzja got a better version of that earlier game and saw his advantage grow quickly as Ding played several more suboptimal moves. 

Alireza Firouzja Norway Chess 2024
Alireza Firouzja moved into second place. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Women: Vaishali Increases Lead

Muzychuk's rise from last to shared second place was the biggest change in the women's standings while Vaishali added 1.5 points to her lead.

Standings After Round 4 | Women

Norway Chess Women 2024 round 4 standings

Vaishali-Cramling 3-0

Vaishali might just want to make use of the opportunity to play strong opponents, as she humbly pointed out yesterday, but while doing so she has definitely maneuvered herself into becoming one of the favorites to win the tournament (and its hefty first prize of over $60K, equal to the main tournament's top prize). Today, she was helped by her opponent as the 61-year-old Cramling, despite her four decades of experience, had to learn the hard way how tricky rook endgames can be.

Vaishali and mother Norway Chess 2024
Vaishali and her mother in the spectators' area. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Humpy-Muzychuk 0-3

In an Exchange Queen's Gambit, Muzychuk was better for most of the middlegame but Humpy fought well to get back into the game. Then, also in this game, things were decided in a rook endgame.

The following happened with just 34 seconds on the clock for Humpy and 1:11 for Muzychuk (and that 10-second increment per move) so the clock clearly played a role.

Anna Muzychuk Norway Chess 2024
Anna Muzychuk, suddenly in shared second place. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Lei-Ju 1-1.5

In what was also an Exchange Queen's Gambit, Lei got an excellent position by using the classical minority attack but apparently she didn't fully trust her position when she went for a repetition. She was less successful with the London System that she used for the armageddon game:

Lei-Ju Norway Chess 2024
Lei-Ju at the start of their classical game. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Round 5 Pairings (Saturday)

Norway Chess 2024 round 5 pairings

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 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:

    PeterDoggers
    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.

    Between 2007 and 2013 Peter was running ChessVibes, a major source for chess news and videos acquired by Chess.com in October 2013.

    As our Director News & Events, Peter writes many of our news reports. In the summer of 2022, The Guardian’s Leonard Barden described him as “widely regarded as the world’s best chess journalist.”

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