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Nakamura Crosses 2800, World No. 2 As Carlsen, Praggnanandhaa Also Win
Nakamura is back in the 2800 club for the first time since 2015 after a convincing win over the world champion. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Nakamura Crosses 2800, World No. 2 As Carlsen, Praggnanandhaa Also Win

Colin_McGourty
| 93 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Hikaru Nakamura is rated over 2800 for the first time in nine years after handing a third defeat in a row to World Champion Ding Liren. Nakamura is also world number-two after GM Fabiano Caruana cracked in the endgame for a second game in a row, this time against Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu. The same fate befell GM Alireza Firouzja, who was put to the sword by world number-one Magnus Carlsen on a day of crazy late drama.   

GM Vaishali Rameshbabu kept the lead in Women’s Norway Chess by checkmating GM Lei Tingjie in armageddon, but GM Anna Muzychuk's second classical win in a row, this time over GM Pia Cramling, puts her in sole second place, just a point behind the leader. Women's World Champion Ju Wenjun has won all five matches, but only in armageddon, and finds herself in third place at the halfway mark.

Round six starts Sunday, June 2, at 11 a.m. ET / 17:00 CEST / 8:30 p.m. IST.

Norway Chess Round 5 Results

Open: Nakamura Dominates Ding; Carlsen, Praggnanandhaa Snatch Late Wins

Nakamura remains on course to defend his Norway Chess title, but Carlsen and Praggnanandhaa are within striking distance after dramatic late wins. 

Standings After Round 5 | Open

Nakamura 3-0 Ding

Nakamura would end the day as world number-two. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Seldom do we see such stark contrasts in fortune in top-level chess, but this game was almost painful to witness. World Champion Ding has now lost three classical games in a row and plunged to world number-13, while Nakamura has returned to the 2800 club almost nine years since he could boast an official 2816 rating in October 2015. 

It's not just about the statistics. Nakamura told the commentary team that what sets him apart from his rivals nowadays is his approach: "I try to play and have fun!" For Ding, meanwhile, chess since winning the world championship title has appeared to bring only pain. Nakamura was shocked by the change in his opponent since the last time he'd played him, in the fateful final game of the 2022 Candidates in Madrid. 

Things also went wrong early at the chessboard, as Nakamura sprung a surprise on move three, though one he noted would likely not have worked against Carlsen or Caruana, since they would have spotted that Nakamura's Candidates second, Swedish GM Nils Grandelius, had played it a couple of hours earlier in the French Team Championship.

Nakamura explained his second Kris Littlejohn had found this move in some Titled Tuesday games by a 2200-player who would go on to get demolished in every encounter!

Grandelius only drew, but the five-time American champion soon took over and went on to score a thoroughly convincing win. 

That's our Game of the Day, which has been analyzed by GM Rafael Leitao below:

That second classical win in a row meant Nakamura retained the lead and also climbed above 2800 on the live rating list. 

Things would only get better for the chess world's top streamer, as he shortly regained the world number-two spot, while the first of two endgame tragedies unfolded before our eyes. 

Praggnanandhaa 3-0 Caruana

Praggnanandhaa pulled off another huge win. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

18-year-old Indian star Praggnanandhaa has now pulled off the remarkable feat of beating the world numbers one and two in the same tournament, as he followed his win over Carlsen by taking down Caruana. For the reigning U.S. champion, it was a case of lightning striking twice, since for the second round in a row, he blundered on move 66 of a theoretically drawn position.

The brutal time control in Stavanger—with no extra time at move 40 and a mere 10 seconds per move added after that point—is no doubt a factor, while Nakamura mentioned on the live broadcast that it was also his countryman's Achilles' heel: "He makes more of these ?? blunders when he gets low on time than other top players."

It was also fine judgment by Praggnanandhaa, however, who had realized in advance that the three vs. two-pawn knight endgame was more difficult to defend than it looked. 

In the end it was a tragedy of a single square.

That knocked Caruana out of the 2800 club and down to world number-three, while also seeing Praggnanandhaa return to the world top-10 and climb to second place in the tournament—but not for long. Another endgame tragedy would follow!

Carlsen 3-0 Firouzja

Suddenly everything is back on track again for Carlsen. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

This is a curious game, since it began with a variation of the Berlin that a tired Carlsen wasn't entirely sure why he'd chosen.

As he mentions, however, his appetite once again grew as the game went along, boosted by Firouzja's failure to find a way to equalize in the early middlegame. Then on move 26, the Frenchman sank into a 42-minute think before finally playing 26...Rc8!?.


The move itself is reasonable, but Carlsen diagnosed why it had been "a really agonizing decision" for his young opponent. After 26...Rb7 27.Rxb7 Bxb7 the world number-one said he was pretty sure it was a draw, but felt it would provoke "some bad memories for him, seeing as I won a kind of similar bishop endgame against him here in 2021."

It would indeed have been eerily similar to that game, which Firouzja should have been able to draw.

The problem for Firouzja was that there was no clear-cut way to draw in any other line, and Carlsen was licking his chops: "I’m just enjoying the prospect of him not enjoying the position and hopefully getting into time trouble."

The agony of choice. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

That's what happened, though it was still a surprising end. The young star had kept his head above water until suddenly exchanging rooks into a losing pawn endgame.

Carlsen, like Nakamura and Praggnanandhaa before him, had the decency to look apologetic at the chess tragedy that had taken place.

It had been a crazy round that had shaken up the standings on the live rating list. It's hard to believe that just a few days ago we'd been contemplating whether Caruana would beat Carlsen and close the gap at the top to under four points. Suddenly the Norwegian is almost 28 points clear, and it's Nakamura in second place.

What a difference a couple of rounds can make! Source: 2700chess.

Winning when the stakes are highest is a habit the great champions have, and Carlsen had also wrapped things up in time to see his team Real Madrid win the Champions League. 

Women: Muzychuk Storms Into 2nd, Vaishali Still Leads

There was much less drama in the Women's Norway Chess, though we did see a significant move in the standings.

Standings After Round 5 | Women

Muzychuk 3-0 Cramling

Muzychuk had suffered recently, going 21 classical games without a win, including the full length of the Candidates in Toronto. Her start in Stavanger was also sluggish with three draws in classical chess and three losses in armageddon. Now, however, after winning two classical games in a row, she's suddenly just a point behind the leader. 

Muzychuk came dressed in a Norway Chess sweater. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Her second win came against the legendary Cramling, who also suffered a second loss in a row. The game saw queens come off on move 12, but Muzychuk kept a nagging edge with her bishop pair. The advantage grew until, with just four minutes remaining, Cramling gave up a pawn only to enter a hopeless position. There was no way back.

The remaining two matches featured very quiet classical games, which meant armageddon.

Ju 1.5-1 Humpy

The women's world champion has pulled off the impressive feat of beating all five of her opponents in the first half of the tournament, but since she's only done it in armageddon (earning 1.5 points and not the three points for a classical win), it's only enough for third place.

Ju Wenjun has beaten the field but needs to win some classical games. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Still, her rapid play has been impressive, and once again it was a case of an extra pawn being converted into a win when her rival failed to find a narrow path to a draw. 

Vaishali 1.5-1 Lei

Vaishali won exactly the same endgame as Praggnanandhaa. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Vaishali, in the final game of the day to finish, could afford to lose and still retain the overall lead. She didn't, however, despite finding herself in a worse position. Lei, who needed only a draw, let things get out of hand, and the omens were bad when Vaishali, like her brother earlier in the day, entered a three vs. two knight endgame.

Lei tried claiming a draw by three-fold repetition when she put her king on e4 for a third time, but the position hadn't been repeated three times.

As a penalty the arbiter gave Vaishali extra time on the clock, and, in the chaos that followed, the Indian star managed to queen a pawn and deliver checkmate.

Vaishali will now have the white pieces against the women's world champion in Sunday's round six, while the overall world champion has the last thing he needs right now after losing three games in a row—Black against Carlsen. Black against Nakamura is also less than ideal for Caruana after his two losses in a row. Once again, we can expect blood to be spilled!  

Round 6 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:

    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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