Carlsen Beats Caruana In Altibox Norway Chess Round 1
Just like in the blitz, Magnus Carlsen beat Fabiano Caruana today. | Photo: Peter Doggers/Chess.com.

Carlsen Beats Caruana In Altibox Norway Chess Round 1

PeterDoggers
PeterDoggers
May 28, 2018, 12:56 PM |
88 | Chess Event Coverage

As the only winner of the round, Magnus Carlsen defeated Fabiano Caruana on day one of the Altibox Norway Chess tournament in Stavanger, Norway. Caruana was scratching and clawing for every inch, but had to resign after 77 moves in a queen endgame.

"It was decent," said Carlsen. "It was a little nervous at times and my technique wasn't perfect but first rounds aren't usually when I'm in top shape so I feel like I'm yet to hit my stride and I already got a win, so that's great."

As usual after a win, Carlsen was realistic and somewhat self-critical after he had dealt a small psychological blow to Caruana, his opponent in this year's world title match. In what was their fifth first-round encounter in the last six tournaments they played (draws the first four games), Carlsen broke his "opening-round curse" and took off right away with a win.

His mediocre performance in the blitz hadn't worried the world champion. "I hadn't played blitz in a long time so I didn't expect to play particularly well," said Carlsen. "It's never pleasant to play as poorly as I did yesterday but anyway I got my five Whites and I didn't really care as much as I usually do."

Carlsen vs Caruana Norway Chess 2018

Carlsen starting the game with his king's pawn. | Photo: Peter Doggers/Chess.com.

The game started with 1.e4 e5, and then for a brief moment both players were away from the board, as if they wanted to build up the tension even more. When Carlsen returned, he moved his king's bishop three squares over the diagonal he had just opened.

The Bishop's Opening couldn't have been a surprise for Caruana (Carlsen played it before against him), and initially he seemed fine out of the opening. Yasser Seirawan, in the Chessbrahs' live coverage on Chess.com/TV, even preferred Black for a while.

However, after Caruana refrained from an interesting exchange sacrifice and Carlsen found a positional pawn sacrifice, things started to look nice for White. Carlsen wasn't sure himself how nice: "I was thinking along the lines of: am I really better or is my position just comfortable," he said.

But then Caruana suddenly gave back the pawn on move 25, a decision described as "insane" by Carlsen. "His position is unpleasant but I am really not sure if I can make serious progress," said Carlsen.

Caruana Norway Chess Carlsen

Caruana gave back his extra pawn too easily. | Photo: Peter Doggers/Chess.com.

The game lasted longer than expected; even three pawns down in a queen endgame Caruana refused to throw in the towel. "I'm sure I was winning earlier on but he kept on fighting," said Carlsen. "I'm sure there were knockout blows but I couldn't find them. I just wanted to be safe and not spoil it."

He didn't think his opponent played on too long in a lost position. "Especially since I'm not playing too certainly he has every right in the world to fight on," said Carlsen. "You fight for whatever chance you have. I would do the same. You scratch and claw for every inch, as they say!"

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Carlsen TV2

Carlsen in the TV2 studio explaining his game for the Norwegian TV audience. | Photo: Peter Doggers/Chess.com.

Carlsen also remarked that Caruana seems to be playing better in events for the world-championship cycle, and in the evening he would send a tweet about that as well.

"Whenever you're playing a tournament you should be able to play your A-game," Carlsen told Chess.com. "It's not always easy, but that's on him; I just try to play my best game every time and worry about other events later."

The other four games ended in draws and of those, Hikaru Nakamura vs Ding Liren was the most interesting. The American grandmaster probably missed a win, but at that point he was in time trouble and in Stavanger players only get 30 seconds increment from move 61.

With this narrow escape, Ding maintained his incredible unbeaten streak—he hasn't lost a classical game since August 2017.

Nakamura vs Ding Norway

Nakamura missed a win that wasn't easy to find. | Photo: Peter Doggers/Chess.com.

The good news, at the start of the round, was that Shakhriyar Mamedyarov appeared for his game. He had seen a specialist in the evening, and will need to visit the dentist at least once more, but it looks like he will be able to play the whole tournament. 

Mamedyarov Norway

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov didn't need to withdraw from the tournament. | Photo: Peter Doggers/Chess.com.

Mamedyarov drew quickly as White with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave today, and afterward Chess.com asked him for more details about his toothache.

Wesley So and Sergey Karjakin played until bare kings today.

So vs Karjakin Norway

A draw without a draw offer or a move repetition. | Photo: Peter Doggers/Chess.com.

The game Anand-Aronian can be found in the PGN file.

Altibox Norway Chess 2018 | Round 1 Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts SB
1 Carlsen,Magnus 2843 3622 1 1.0/1
2 Mamedyarov,Shakhriyar 2808 2789 ½ 0.5/1 0.25
3 Ding,Liren 2791 2769 ½ 0.5/1 0.25
4 Vachier-Lagrave,Maxime 2789 2808 ½ 0.5/1 0.25
5 Karjakin,Sergey 2782 2778 ½ 0.5/1 0.25
6 So,Wesley 2778 2782 ½ 0.5/1 0.25
7 Nakamura,Hikaru 2769 2791 ½ 0.5/1 0.25
8 Aronian,Levon 2764 2760 ½ 0.5/1 0.25
9 Anand,Viswanathan 2760 2764 ½ 0.5/1 0.25
10 Caruana,Fabiano 2822 2043 0 0.0/1

Games via TWIC.


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