Aronian, Karjakin Win In Norway Chess Round 4; Ding Withdraws
Vachier-Lagrave resigns his game with Karjakin. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Altibox Norway Chess.

Aronian, Karjakin Win In Norway Chess Round 4; Ding Withdraws

| 31 | Chess Event Coverage

Sergey Karjakin and Levon Aronian won their games in round four of the Altibox Norway Chess tournament. Both defeated the Gruenfeld defense, against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov respectively.

Update: On Saturday morning Ding Liren decided that he had to withdraw from the tournament.

It was full house on Friday in the Clarion Hotel Energy in Stavanger, the first day of the weekend tournament held in a big room right next to the main playing hall. About a hundred amateur grandmasters are combining a visit to the main event and trying some moves on the board themselves, both rapid and classical.

These Norwegian tournaments tend to have a lot of kids, all big fans of Magnus Carlsen. There was little to enjoy as a spectator though, because the world champion’s game with Hikaru Nakamura was not exciting; actually it was just boring. That's what the players said, so there’s no need to mince words here!

It took a bit more than two hours to draw in a Queen’s Gambit Declined, after Nakamura was surprised by his opponent’s choice on move seven. In a more ambitious mood he might have taken back on d4 with the pawn to play an isolated queen’s pawn position.

That would have been OK for Black but more in Nakamura’s style, as Carlsen put it, but the American GM was not up for it today considering he was mildly underprepared. He still got a slight pull, according to Carlsen, who said in the confession booth that he had to defend a bit. But finding 16…b6! was enough to equalize.

Carlsen next to his sister and TV2 commentator Ellen Carlsen.

Today’s round was missing one game, because of Ding Liren’s bike accident during the rest day. For that, see our earlier news report.

This meant two rest days in a row for Fabiano Caruana, who did show up and joined the TV2 studio for about half an hour, commenting on the games.

Ding did undergo surgery today, and by tomorrow it should be clear whether he will be able to play. If anyone can play chess under such conditions it’s him, taking into account that he joined the cooking yesterday before visiting the hospital!

Two of the four games of today saw a line from the Gruenfeld that was fashionable about five years ago—quite a coincidence. Aronian only noticed that when Sergey Karjakin whispered “Good opening choice!” to him during the first hour of play. Both ended up winning their game.

Karjakin vs Vachier-Lagrave Norway 2018

MVL facing some heavy preparation today. | Photo: Peter Doggers/

Karjakin showed impressive preparation and blitzed out his first 24(!) moves. Only when Maxime Vachier-Lagrave sacrificed an exchange (“A typical Maxime move,” according to Carlsen) Karjakin took his first think, knowing that his opponent hadn’t followed the computer recommendation. 

Karjakin needed to find only a few moves himself to reach a winning position, and with MVL getting into time trouble (without increment!), the win came quick.

null's interview with Karjakin.

MVL Karjakin Norway 2018

MVL and Karjakin in the studio with Simen Agdestein. | Photo: Peter Doggers/

Although the opening line was the same, Levon Aronian couldn't rely on such deep preparation since he hadn't expected the Gruenfeld at all. "So I improvised," he said, "to play something I hadn’t played in a long time to surprise him back."

"Typical Levon. He thinks it's new when it's long forgotten!" said Carlsen while looking at the game in the commentary booth.

The world champion said he would be happy to be Black after 21...Rd7.

"That was probably because he hadn't seen my 22.c5 idea yet," explained Aronian. Indeed, White seems always better from there.'s interview with Aronian.

Soon Shakhriyar Mamedyarov had to give a healthy pawn, but he defended like a lion in what Anand and So considered to be a technically lost endgame. Aronian himself wasn't sure, but felt he had good winning chances in the R+N vs R with pawns ending.

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov Norway 2018

Good defensive play, but not good enough for Shak. | Photo: Peter Doggers/

Perhaps waiting for Aronian to join their daily Avalon game, MVL, Caruana and Rustam Kasimzdhanov were standing right next to the commentary booth with Simen Agdestein and Anna Rudolf for a while. When the latter asked for their expert opinion, Vachier-Lagrave joked: "That's your job!"

Kasimdzhanov, Caruana, Vachier-Lagrave Norway 2018

Kasimdzhanov, MVL and Caruana, eager to start another Avalon session. | Photo: Peter Doggers/

Caruana, however, rattled out a few moves, and Aronian later agreed that the American player had been spot on: the game was probably a draw only a few moves before Mamedyarov resigned.

Aronian, Agdestein, Rudolf, Norway 2018

Aronian with Agdestein and Anna Rudolf. | Photo: Peter Doggers/

Viswanathan Anand and Wesley So played an interesting and good game, in the sense that neither made a mistake and a fun tactical phase led to a draw before the time control.

Vishy Anand Norway 2018

Top chef Vishy Anand tried the English, but couldn't cook up a surprise for his opponent today. | Photo: Peter Doggers/

Altibox Norway Chess 2018 | Round 4 Standings*

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts SB
1 Carlsen,Magnus 2843 2975 ½ 1 ½ 1 3.0/4
2 Karjakin,Sergey 2782 2893 ½ ½ ½ 1 2.5/4
3 So,Wesley 2778 2769 ½ ½ ½ ½ 2.0/4 3.75
4 Aronian,Levon 2764 2797 0 ½ ½ 1 2.0/4 3.25
5 Nakamura,Hikaru 2769 2793 ½ ½ ½ 1.5/3 3.25
6 Anand,Viswanathan 2760 2770 ½ ½ ½ 1.5/3 2.75
7 Mamedyarov,Shakhriyar 2808 2701 ½ 0 ½ ½ 1.5/4 2.25
8 Caruana,Fabiano 2822 2693 0 ½ ½ 1.0/3 1.25
9 Vachier-Lagrave,Maxime 2789 2684 0 ½ ½ 1.0/3 1.25
10 Ding,Liren 2791 0.0/0

*Updated standings now that it has become clear that Ding won't continue the tournament.

Round five pairings (Saturday): Carlsen-Anand, Caruana-Karjakin, Mamedyarov-Nakamura, MVL-Aronian. So has a rest day because Ding withdrew from the tournament.

Games via TWIC.

Previous reports:

More from PeterDoggers
Honorary Grandmaster Title Posthumously Awarded To Sultan Khan

Honorary Grandmaster Title Posthumously Awarded To Sultan Khan

Wei Yi Wins 2024 Tata Steel Chess Masters In Thrilling Tiebreak

Wei Yi Wins 2024 Tata Steel Chess Masters In Thrilling Tiebreak