Aronian Outplays Carlsen; Anything Can Happen In Stavanger

Aronian Outplays Carlsen; Anything Can Happen In Stavanger

| 17 | Chess Event Coverage

Just when it seemed to become a Magnus Carlsen show, the Altibox Norway Chess is wide open again. Today the world champion was outplayed by Levon Aronian, who joined his opponent in the lead.

A cloudy sky above Stavanger on Thor's day might have predicted doom for the top-ranked Norwegian chess player. After just two-and-a-half hours, Carlsen lost his game to Aronian, even quicker than he had won against Kramnik the other day.

Some prominent spectators could be spotted in the playing hall today: the organizers of the Bilbao super tournament (where Carlsen has already confirmed his participation!) and also the Tata Steel Chess tournament director Jeroen van den Berg. Were they passengers on the MV Britannia? No, this cruise ship left Stavanger harbor during the round.

Was it a coincidence that these organizers were meeting here in Stavanger? That remains to be seen, but if there will be a cooperation between the three tournaments in the near future it was here where you read it first!

But back to Carlsen, who arrived slightly late in the playing hall (about a minute). The clock would also play a role in the game. In a difficult middlegame for him, he was left with 24 minutes by move 19 (an hour for Aronian) and just 8.5 minutes by move 24.

In the studio with Jan Gustafsson and Peter Svidler, Carlsen summarized his loss as follows:

“It was a series of poor choices and also pretty bad time management.”

Kramnik would later say that Carlsen played badly and joked that the Norwegian perhaps had a hangover after celebrating his win against him too much.

Apparently the 14th world champion hadn't seen Carlsen's post on Instagram.

Napping is the best way to spend a free day @norway_chess

Een foto die is geplaatst door Magnus Carlsen (@magnus_carlsen) op

Carlsen admitted that Aronian surprised him in the opening, but added: “You're never doing to be too bad when your opponent plays g3.” Although Aronian felt that already 11...Qc7 was dubious, his opponent was more critical of his next move. “I thought that in principle Black should be fine but that was a complete misjudgement of the position, and also 12...Ne8 is really, really bad.”

Although the computer's evaluation only swings up with 26...Qxe5, the position was strategically over around move 20.

Aronian joked to Gustafsson that the whole game was preparation.

And so Carlsen's game was the complete opposite of yesterday's game, when Vladimir Kramnik was the one who got a bad position out of the opening and quickly lost. Well, the Russian was also a completely different player today, and bounced back with a fine win (in typical style).

His third move was remarkable: 1.Nf3 e6 2.g3 b5 3.e3!?, played only once before. Kramnik argued that a few moves later Black's pawn was worse on a6 than on a7, and the pawn on e3 also supported the d2-d4 push. Quite a concept! Pentala Harikrishna seemed to be very close to equalizing, but never fully managed.

Annotations by Dejan Bojkov

A good win for Kramnik vs Harikrishna.

That's two winners, and there was even a third. At the end of the day Li Chao defeated Pavel Eljanov as Black from a London System. The opening was quite interesting, and (correspondence) theory for 14 moves! Even with only heavy pieces the position remained sharp and difficult. The computer found a way for White to keep the advantage, but Eljanov erred and found himself in a lost position.

Crazy developments in the middlegame and endgame.

Anish Giri vs Nils Grandelius was the first game to finish in this round. It was a draw, but if anyone was better it was the Swedish GM. “I bluffed a little bit in the opening,” said Giri but it looks like the Dutchman also bluffed later in the game! He continued to avoid moves that would lead to a drawn position, and was probably in big trouble.

Giri then grabbed the first chance to force the draw with a combination, just like yesterday. His comment on 23.Nf6+! was: “I usually have a draw in mind when I do something like this.”

Giri finds another nice way to reach a draw!

The last game not mentioned yet was a draw between Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Veselin Topalov. As one of the last warriors still willing to enter the Berlin ending, MVL got nothing this time and actually was worse around move 20. After missing a good chance on move 24 Topalov allowed his opponent to escape.

Altibox Norway Chess | Round 8 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts SB
1 Aronian,Levon 2784 2857 phpfCo1l0.png 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 5.0/8 19.50
2 Carlsen,Magnus 2851 2850 0 phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 5.0/8 18.75
3 Vachier-Lagrave,Maxime 2788 2826 ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 4.5/8 18.50
4 Topalov,Veselin 2754 2811 ½ ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 4.5/8 16.50
5 Kramnik,Vladimir 2801 2811 ½ 0 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 4.5/8 16.00
6 Li,Chao 2755 2769 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png 0 1 ½ 4.0/8 15.75
7 Harikrishna,P 2763 2769 0 ½ ½ 0 1 phpfCo1l0.png 1 ½ ½ 4.0/8 14.50
8 Giri,Anish 2790 2726 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 phpfCo1l0.png 1 ½ 3.5/8
9 Eljanov,Pavel 2765 2672 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 phpfCo1l0.png 1 3.0/8
10 Grandelius,Nils 2649 2593 ½ 0 0 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 phpfCo1l0.png 2.0/8

The pairings for the final round, on Friday, are Grandelius-Vachier-Lagrave, Carlsen-Eljanov, Topalov-Kramnik, Harikrishna-Aronian, and Li Chao-Giri.

Carlsen still seems to have the best chances to win this tournament, but the three players on 4.5 points are still in contention as well!  phpfCo1l0.png

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