Carlsen Surges To The Top In Norway Chess Round 3
Magnus Carlsen smiled from ear to ear after claiming pole position today. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Carlsen Surges To The Top In Norway Chess Round 3

| 35 | Chess Event Coverage

In a round with four decisive standard games, Magnus Carlsen made his win vs. Alexander Grischuk look easy as he took over the lead at the 2019 Altibox Norway Chess tournament. Friday is the first rest day. 

Both with just a half-point out of a possible four, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Vishy Anand were the tail-enders after two rounds. They were the first to draw their standard game, after about two-and-a-half hours, with Anand equalizing comfortably in a Moeller Ruy Lopez.

Vachier-Lagrave Anand 2019 Altibox Norway Chess
Vachier-Lagrave and Anand starting the battle. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

After a short walk outside with his second Grzegorz Gajewski “to clear the head,” and a very quick look in his laptop, Anand was confident enough to repeat the same opening, and this time it went even better.

"I was trying to liquidate as much as possible," Anand said, and he was completely in control from start to finish:

Vachier-Lagrave Anand Armageddon 2019 Altibox Norway Chess
Vachier-Lagrave could only accept a draw in this position. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Levon Aronian recovered quickly from the unfortunate turn of events the other day, when he spoiled a completely winning rook endgame vs. Carlsen. The Armenian GM duly remarked: "It’s not the first time I have been an idiot. It continuously happens!"

He beat Shakhriyar Mamedyarov with the black pieces in a line from the English Four Knights that he felt is not too promising for White. Aronian apologized to commentators Judit Polgar and Anna Rudolf ("I know you guys are Hungarian...") while noting that he got roughly "the same position as the Budapest Gambit but with like five extra tempi!"

Levon Aronian 2019 Altibox Norway Chess
Aronian thought he had a good version of a Budapest Gambit. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

In the middlegame, Mamedyarov went for a line where he gave his queen for two rooks, but that was based on a miscalculation. He wasn't lost yet, but probably "demoralized" (Aronian). The Azerbaijani GM played passively and lost quickly:

Levon Aronian 2019 Altibox Norway Chess
Aronian: "It’s not the first time I have been an idiot. It continuously happens!" | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Carlsen was exchanging some big smiles with his second Peter Heine Nielsen after today's game. That was not just because Carlsen picked up the full two points by scoring a nice, attacking victory against Grischuk.

Shortly after the opening, Carlsen had entered the confession booth, and jokingly called Nielsen "a clown" for predicting Grischuk would play the King's Indian today, instead of what came on the board: the Gruenfeld.

Nielsen replied while Carlsen was still playing. He quickly changed his Twitter profile picture:

Peter Heine Nielsen Twitter Clown
Peter Heine Nielsen's Twitter account today.

Grischuk played a sideline on move 10 by playing his bishop to g4, where 10...Rd8 (Peter Svidler's recent preference) and 10...cxd4 are more common. Grischuk had played 10...Bg4 before, though, and in fact beat Vladimir Kramnik with it five years ago, also in Stavanger.

Grischuk already deviated from that game the next move after spending 12 minutes on the clock, and he took another five for 13...Bxf3, a capture Carlsen was happy with.

"Very risky, strategically speaking," said the world champion.

Carlsen Grischuk 2019 Altibox Norway Chess
Grischuk plays 1...Nf6 and 2...g6, but no King's Indian this time. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Grischuk kept burning time, but couldn't find the right plan. Somehow his moves on the queenside didn't lead to much, and mostly gave his opponent free hand on the other side of the board. The whole game the Russian player made the impression that he is missing his best form, perhaps still affected by his two Armageddon losses.

"He clearly misplaced his pieces," said Carlsen. "In the end, his pieces are all on the queenside and my attack is just too strong," he said.

Carlsen Grischuk 2019 Altibox Norway Chess
Yu Yangyi checks Carlsen's position. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Two more players scored their first classical wins in the tournament. First there was Wesley So, who somehow managed to squeeze something out of a rather dry Petroff middlegame vs. Yu Yangyi. The Chinese GM was too passive in the endgame and got outplayed:

Wesley So 2019 Altibox Norway Chess
A good win for Wesley So. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Altibox Norway Chess.

Shortly after, Ding Liren also won his game against Fabiano Caruana, who had himself to blame for a long and tough day at the office. Accepting Ding's pawn sacrifice in the opening was just too risky, and after another inaccuracy Black might have been lost already at move 13—at least, that's how the Chinese player saw it.

Suffering from a cold (annoying, but not as bad as breaking your hip, which Ding did a year ago at this tournament) Ding wasn't too happy with his subsequent play, but he kept the pressure. At some point he won a piece, and much later, the game.

Ding Liren Judit Polgar Anna Rudolf 2019 Altibox Norway Chess
Ding Liren showing his game to the commentators Judit Polgar and Anna Rudolf for the online viewers. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

In classical chess he would have tied with Aronian, Ding and So with a 2/3 score, but since these three players all lost one Armageddon game and Carlsen didn't, he is now the new leader. He didn't have reason to complain about the new format:

"So far I like the tournament very much," said Carlsen. "There has been plenty of fight in the classical games and having the Armageddon just gives it an extra dimension. It’s just extra excitement every day. I am sure there are people who like it, people who don’t like it, but I think it’s been very exciting so far and I look forward to the future," he said. 

Carlsen 2019 Altibox Norway Chess
Carlsen giving his comments for Norwegian TV. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

2019 Altibox Norway Chess | Round 3 Standings

# Fed Name Rtg 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Pts
1 Carlsen 2875 ½ 1 ½ 1 2 5.0/6
2 Ding Liren 2805 ½ 1 ½ 0 2 4.0/6
3 Aronian 2752 ½ 0 2 ½ 1 4.0/6
4 So 2754 ½ 0 2 ½ 1 4.0/6
5 Mamedyarov 2774 0 ½ 1 2 3.5/6
6 Yu Yangyi 2738 ½ 1 0 ½ 1 3.0/6
7 Caruana 2819 0 ½ 0 2 2.5/6
8 Anand 2767 ½ 0 0 ½ 1 2.0/6
9 Grischuk 2775 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 1.0/6
10 Vachier-Lagrave 2779 ½ 0 0 ½ 0 1.0/6

The Altibox Norway Chess tournament takes place June 3-12 in the Clarion Hotel Energy and June 12-14 in the Stavanger Concert hall in Stavanger, Norway. New this year is that players who draw their game will play an Armageddon game right after (with the same colors).

Armageddon at Norway Chess
White gets 10 minutes on the clock; Black gets seven minutes but has draw odds. Only after move 60 the players get three seconds increment per move.

  • Win, main game: 2 points
  • Loss, main game: 0 points
  • Draw, main game and loss, Armageddon: 0.5 point
  • Draw, main game and win, Armageddon: 1.5 points

Also new is a shorter the time control in the classical games: two hours for the whole game, with an increment of 10 seconds after move 40.

The games start 5 p.m. local time (CEST), which is 11 a.m. Eastern and 8 a.m. Pacific. You can follow the games here as part of our live portal with daily commentary by the Chessbrahs.

Round three was covered by the Chessbrahs, who were joined by GM Nils Grandelius. 

Previous reports:

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