Norway Chess R7: Carlsen Crushes Kramnik

Norway Chess R7: Carlsen Crushes Kramnik

| 20 | Chess Event Coverage

With a crushing victory over Vladimir Kramnik, Magnus Carlsen increased his lead at the Altibox Norway Chess to a full point on Wednesday. Levon Aronian, Carlsen's opponent tomorrow, joined the group of players who tie for second place by beating Pavel Eljanov.

The fourth Norway Chess tournament has entered its final and decisive phase, with the last three rounds held after the second rest day. The participants spent that day in different ways.

Levon Aronian and Pavel Eljanov (opponents the next day!) decided to make the hike to the most famous sight of the area: Pulpit Rock, or Preikestolen in Norwegian. You'll probably remember this steep cliff which rises 604 meters (1,982 ft) above the Lysefjorden and which as an almost flat top.

It was used in a promo video for the first edition of the tournament, with Magnus Carlsen playing on a giant chess set atop the cliff.

Pavel Eljanov wrote on Facebook: “One of the nicest places I've ever been!”

Carlsen himself went for an activity that has become traditional: some football on a local pitch. Other players included his second Peter Heine Nielsen, his manager Espen Agdestein and TV2 commentator Jon Ludvig Hammer.

Just like last year lots of kids gathered around the pitch shouting "Magnus! Magnus!" and whenever someone kicked the ball way out of the field, they tried their luck, ran towards their idol and asked for an autograph. Agdestein played the role of strict parent and asked them to wait until halftime. And they did.

Meanwhile the organizers and especially the technical crew were busier than on regular playing days since they had to move all equipment to a different venue. The last three rounds of the tournament are held in the Stavanger Konserthus, a concert hall along the harbor. That sounds a bit like Harpa in Reykjavik, and its Norwegian little brother also looks a bit like it:

The Stavanger Konserthus.

The seventh round saw the big clash between Magnus Carlsen and Vladimir Kramnik, the world numbers one and two on the FIDE rating list. (Meanwhile Fabiano Caruana has surpassed Kramnik thanks to his victory in St. Louis.)

The opening was an Exchange Queen's Gambit with Kramnik going for a line mostly popularized by Nigel Short: 6...Bf5 7.Qf3 Bg6 8.Qxf6 gxf6. (Interestingly, a young Anatoly Karpov played it in 1966 and Boris Spassky tried it in 1973 against Mikhail Tal.)

It went horribly wrong for Short once too, when he lost in the final round of the 2005 Wijk aan Zee tournament to Loek van Wely. The final position of that game nicely demonstrated a nightmare scenario for Black players:

“It's about the f5-square,” Jon Ludvig Hammer must have thought when he came up with the maneuver Nc3-e2-g3. It was Hammer who told Carlsen about this, as the world champion “confessed” in the confessional booth. This bit of preparation worked out perfectly.

A surprisingly easy win for Carlsen today.

Kramnik didn't react well, going 14...Na4? where b2 wasn't really hanging yet. He said he hadn't expected 15.Ngf5! there, and suspected it was preparation. For the remainder, his own knight was completely out of play and the Carlsen's knights soon dominated the board. After about two hours of play White was already strategically winning.

Here's a video with both Carlsen and Hammer talking to about this game:

Carlsen now leads by a full point, but with four players trailing and two rounds to go, the tournament hasn't been decided yet. One of those players is Levon Aronian, who moved to plus-one with a win against Pavel Eljanov. It wasn't a smooth win and Aronian wasn't too happy with it.

Eljanov was fine out of the opening, an English, and found a nice regrouping of his queen. He failed to notice that Aronian blundered a pawn, was still OK, but around move 30 Eljthe Ukrainian started to lose the thread.

Levon Aronian moves to plus-one and a shared second place.

Another English opening was seen in Veselin Topalov vs Anish Giri, a game that could have gone either way. Topalov's opening wasn't impressive and on move 16 Giri could have gained a strong initiative. As it went, the Dutchman was fine but not better. It looked like he got an attack on the king, but the computer points out that his neat combination at the end that led to a draw was at the right moment.

Giri found a remarkable way to end the game.

Like against Li Chao, Pentala Harikrishna played the 3.f3 system against the Grünfeld (or King's Indian, for that matter). Maxime Vachier-Lagrave followed that game for four moves, but then went for a topical setup based on an early ...Nh5. Also there Hari seemed well prepared, and the Indian kept a slight plus until things got really sharp just before the time control. It seemed really risky what he did there, but it turned out to be a draw.

Another good and interesting game by Harikrishna.

At the end of the day Nils Grandelius and Li Chao also split the point. Their game started with a rare opening at top level: the Bronstein-Larsen variation of the Caro-Kann. Like in a similar line of the Scandinavian, Black buried his bishop on g6 and basically said goodbye to his dark squares, but at the same time he was extremely solid. Grandelius couldn't get through it after he missed a chance on move 75.

A great background for TV2's studio during the last three rounds.

Altibox Norway Chess | Round 7 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts SB
1 Carlsen,Magnus 2851 2916 phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ 1 1 ½ ½ 1 5.0/7
2 Vachier-Lagrave,Maxime 2788 2836 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 4.0/7 14.25
3 Aronian,Levon 2784 2807 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 4.0/7 12.50
4 Topalov,Veselin 2754 2815 ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 4.0/7 12.50
5 Harikrishna,P 2763 2814 0 ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png 1 1 ½ ½ 4.0/7 12.25
6 Kramnik,Vladimir 2801 2769 0 ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ ½ 1 3.5/7
7 Giri,Anish 2790 2737 ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ phpfCo1l0.png 1 3.0/7 11.25
8 Li,Chao 2755 2721 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ 3.0/7 11.00
9 Eljanov,Pavel 2765 2712 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 phpfCo1l0.png 1 3.0/7 9.25
10 Grandelius,Nils 2649 2557 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 phpfCo1l0.png 1.5/7

The seventh round in action.

The pairings for round eight, on Thursday, are Vachier-Lagrave-Topalov, Giri-Grandelius, Eljanov-Li Chao, Aronian-Carlsen, and Kramnik-Harikrishna. phpfCo1l0.png

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