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Carlsen Leads Norway Chess After Ding Blunders Mate-In-2
"I hope he gets better, but for now it’s just sad to see," said Carlsen after defeating Ding. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Carlsen Leads Norway Chess After Ding Blunders Mate-In-2

Colin_McGourty
| 60 | Chess Event Coverage

World number-one Magnus Carlsen has taken over as the leader of Norway Chess 2024 after World Champion Ding Liren blundered into mate-in-two and sank to a fourth loss in a row. Elsewhere there was armageddon revenge for the first-round results, with GM Fabiano Caruana getting the better of GM Hikaru Nakamura, while GM Alireza Firouzja defeated GM Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu in a fiercely tactical matchup.    

GM Ju Wenjun ground out a 102-move win over GM Vaishali Rameshbabu to pick up a first classical win of the tournament and join GM Anna Muzychuk in the lead of Women’s Norway Chess. The Ukrainian grandmaster beat GM Lei Tingjie in armageddon, while there was also an armageddon win for GM Pia Cramling, who collected her first match win of the event by defeating GM Humpy Koneru.

Round seven starts Monday, June 3, at 11 a.m. ET / 17:00 CEST / 8:30 p.m. IST.

Norway Chess Round 6 Results

Open: Carlsen Takes Lead As Ding's Woes Continue

Carlsen took over as the leader of Norway Chess by scoring a three-point classical win over Ding, while the other matchups went to armageddon. 

Standings After Round 6 | Open

Carlsen 3-0 Ding

When the tournament began with Carlsen making an effortless draw with Black against Ding, there was no reason to believe that was anything other than a good result. By round six, however, the wounded world champion had a target on his back, with Carlsen commenting: "I had a job to do today. I needed to win the game, especially the way that he’s been playing, so I’m happy I managed to do that."

Carlsen didn't need to find the most brilliant move of his career. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

The opening that the world number-one chose was a Reversed Benoni, with Carlsen unsure of just how effective his choice had been. He explained in the confessional:

"I think an expression that’s been used quite a lot in chess is that ‘It’s a good Benoni, but it’s still a Benoni!’ That’s kind of how I feel right now. I feel like I’ve gotten a pretty good version of everything, and I feel like there are a lot of tempting moves, but I’m not quite sure I’m actually close to being better still, but he’s thinking a bit, so that’s promising. Apart from that, I’m not so sure, but we’ve got ourselves a double-edged position, and that’s really all I wanted." 

Carlsen got the upper hand, but just when a smooth win looked in the cards, he allowed counterplay, and an in-form Ding would have shut the door on the attack or even taken over. Instead we got what GM Rafael Leitao describes as "the worst move ever played by a world champion," 29...Rb2??.

You didn't need to be arguably the greatest chess player of all time to spot the winning reply 30.Qxh7+!, with the rook ready to give checkmate the next move.

Carlsen paused briefly before playing it, but he didn't prolong the agony. A dejected Ding resigned on the spot.

 You can play through the game with analysis below.

Carlsen had done his job, but like Nakamura the day before, he reflected on Ding's current state.

"Obviously missing mate-in-two like that can only happen if you’re completely out-of-sorts, as Ding is, and I feel bad for him because he looks miserable while playing."

Obviously missing mate-in-two like that can only happen if you're completely out-of-sorts.

—Magnus Carlsen

Carlsen summed up:

"He just seems to be off. You can see it both from his demeanor, but also from the way that he often makes critical decisions quickly. He doesn’t think when he needs to think and just generally plays without any confidence. I wish him well, I hope he gets better, but for now it’s just sad to see."

Carlsen is clearly enjoying his chess... and his friends' record attempts. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

The battle for the Norway Chess crown is going to be intense, however, with Carlsen just a point ahead of Nakamura. 

Nakamura 1-1.5 Caruana

Caruana took revenge for his loss in armageddon to Nakamura in the first game of the tournament, but the big story of their round-six matchup is the opening bomb that was quietly defused rather than allowed to explode on the board. Caruana went for 9...Bxf1!? and, in the confessional, admitted, "I hope that I'm not mixing up my lines!" 


The move caused a furor online, since Stockfish, at modest depths, screams blunder, pointing out 10.dxe6!? and opening an attack on the a8-rook. Both players had dug deeper, however, and knew that the ultimate silicon truth is that Black should be able to force a draw despite ending up a full rook down—the white queen gets locked out of the game. Nakamura didn't want to test his memory, however, and chose, as Caruana had suspected he might, to "bail out" with 10.Kxf1!?, when only Black could be better. 

From there on the game hurtled toward a draw, with Nakamura commenting, "I'm trying to play something more on the boring side!" The intrigue remained in the unplayed variations...

...and in Nakamura's recap.

That meant armageddon, and since Caruana had the black pieces, he needed only a draw to clinch victory. Instead he soon took over and established complete control with his powerful knights. He traded some of that control for simplifications but found a strong plan just in time to force matters. When Nakamura's checkmating attack was refuted, he resigned.

Caruana wrapped up victory in armageddon. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

That was some revenge for Caruana's armageddon loss to Nakamura in round one, and Firouzja would also pick up revenge for his loss to Praggnanandhaa.

Firouzja 1.5-1 Praggnanandhaa

Firouzja-Praggnanandhaa was razor-sharp all day. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

This match between two of the hottest young stars in chess was all you could hope for, with sacrifices in the air from the early middlegame, when Firouzja brought his bishop back to target the h7-pawn. A thrilling exchange of blow and counterblow would soon follow.

The classical game was played at a fantastically high level given the complexity of the position. The armageddon had greater swings but also featured nice tactical moments. For instance, when Firouzja's pawn got to d7, it looked like game-over, but Praggnanandhaa still had a trick in reserve. 

The deciding factor was time, with Praggnanandhaa down to just a few seconds in the final stages while Firouzja had all the time he needed to pose difficult questions. That win brought the French star within an armageddon win of Praggnanandhaa and a classical win of Nakamura. 

Women: Ju Scores First Classical Win To Join Muzychuk In Lead

Women's World Champion Ju Wenjun had won all five of her matchups in Stavanger—but only in armageddon. That changed in round six, as she took down Vaishali in classical chess to hit the front.

Standings After Round 6 | Women

Ju 3-0 Vaishali

Vaishali had won seven classical games, drawn three, and lost none since a four-game losing streak in the Candidates. For the early part of round six, it looked as though she might defeat the world champion and extend her lead. However, Ju survived a shaky opening and emerged with the bishop pair and chances to grind out a win. She took that to extremes as she ultimately won in 102 moves, with Vaishali missing some saving chances and perhaps missing a trick near the end when she tried to claim a draw by threefold repetition.

Ju finally ended Vaishali's amazing run. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

If she'd instead kept making moves—and Ju hadn't realized the danger—she could soon have claimed a draw by the 50-move rule (when no piece has been captured or pawn pushed in 50 moves). Instead, the incorrect claim incurred a time penalty, Ju pushed a pawn to stop any repetitions or 50-move drama, and she quickly wrapped up victory.

Ju doesn't lead alone, since Muzychuk's armageddon win was enough to make her co-leader.

Lei 1-1.5 Muzychuk

Muzychuk actually came close to making it three wins in a row after going winless in the previous 21 classical games. Lei defended well, however, to take the match to armageddon, but Muzychuk then gave her opponent little chance of the win she needed to clinch the mini-match. Instead, it was Muzychuk who chalked up another win.

Anna Muzychuk co-leads with Ju Wenjun. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
   

Humpy 1-1.5 Cramling

61-year-old Cramling had played well in Stavanger but lost out in all her mini-matches until round six. What changed? Perhaps that she decided to become the first player in the women's event to enter the confessional!

The classical game was quiet, while in the armageddon Cramling found an energetic way to almost force the draw she needed with the black pieces. 

That was all for round six, and with just four rounds remaining, we're beginning to approach the crucial stages. Monday's Muzychuk-Ju will be a clash of the leaders in the Women's section, while Nakamura-Carlsen could easily decide the fate of Norway Chess in 2024.

Anna Cramling got the chance to congratulate her mother Pia on a win. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Round 7 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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