Carlsen Holds Berlin Ending vs MVL, Maintains Lead In Stavanger

Carlsen Holds Berlin Ending vs MVL, Maintains Lead In Stavanger

| 28 | Chess Event Coverage

He was a bit under pressure, but with a bishop sacrifice Magnus Carlsen held the draw as Black against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. The Norwegian still leads Altibox Norway Chess going into the second rest day. Pavel Eljanov and Pentala Harikrishna were the winners today.

In round six again the standings didn't change much except that it's getting more crowded at the top. Magnus Carlsen is still half a point ahead of the pack, but now four players are half a point behind him: Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Veselin Topalov, Pentala Harikrishna and Vladimir Kramnik.

Today the world champion was under pressure, but not right out of the opening. In a theory-heavy Berlin ending, MVL went for 17.f3 instead of the main line 17.Nxe6, hoping that his opponent wouldn't remember all the details. “It’s not very dangerous but you have to remember a lot of things, and it hasn’t been played for a while,” said MVL.

MVL and Carlsen shaking hands before their game.

That was not far from the truth. Carlsen: “Even a few moves ago I was thinking: s***, I am getting 17.f3. And I was remembering these lines that were all ending in a draw but looked horribly dangerous for Black. I was thinking I was seeing even more problems. Nothing huge but something everywhere.”

But Carlsen managed to avoid all the pitfalls until he made the bad move 25...Re8?.

The world champ called this rook move “absolutely ridiculous” and “a childish trap” (referring to its point 26.Bd6+ Kg8 27.Nxe6 Rh6! and Black is OK.) In the moves that followed, his rook on h6 was misplaced and he also missed 31.Ba5, which prevented Rd6-d8-e8.

One “ridiculous” move got Carlsen into some trouble.

But right there, with a few minutes on the clock (and no increment!) Carlsen made an excellent decision to give his bishop for White's remaining two pawns on the kingside — a move missed by MVL. It was pretty clear that the endgame after move 40 was drawn. “I was just playing for the sake of it and I knew Magnus would definitely play it against me as White,” said MVL (Carlsen smiled). “And with good reason.”

Analysis by GM Robert Hess

“I knew Magnus would definitely play it against me as White!” -- MVL

Pentala Harikrishna, or “Hari” as he's called by all his colleagues, managed to win two games in a row. After his battle with Li the other day, he won another good game this time as Black against Anish Giri. 

It looks like it was simply an off day for the Dutchman against a strong playing opponent. In the post-mortem it became clear that the Indian GM had seen more of the critical lines. A good sport, Giri said: “Good game by the black player!”

Giri next to his wife Sopiko Guramishvili and his second Erwin l'Ami, just before the start of the round.

When the commentator Peter Svidler remarked that he was also playing fast, Giri said: “Sometimes you play bad and slow and today I just played bad.”

Later in the day Carlsen would say: “I'm impressed by Hari, the way he's playing the French.” About his game with Giri yesterday he remarked: “I played badly yesterday, but he played even worse.”

Giri vs Harikrishna, a good French (for Black!).

After the spoke to Hari. In the video he discusses the critical moments of his two wins.

The other winner of the day was Pavel Eljanov, who didn't get much out of the opening but proved the stronger player in the end. That was exactly what he was hoping for when he entered the confessional booth at the start of the round: “Again very bad notes from home. I think the position is quite OK for Back, but I hope to outplay him.”

As it turned out Nils Grandelius was close to a draw right at the end. “I don't think it's an opening problem, I think they're playing better than I am,” he said. Eljanov: “It's going better. Also yesterday I felt my brain is working more less OK! (sic)”

Eljanov seems to have found his good form.

Levon Aronian also entered the confessional booth today, but for a very different reason. “There is a really strange sound in the playing hall. It sounds like when my cat catches a mouse. When it's tortured. But the position is about equal so it won't really matter.” It didn't become clear where the sound came from but it was definitely here because his opponent Vladimir Kramnik had mentioned it to the arbiter.

It was another white game for Kramnik and another one that started with the king's pawn. “I've played 1.e4 for the second time in a row which is a big achievement for me!” was how Kramnik started the post-mortem, but after analyzing everything he finished with: “My Italian experience is not bringing much so far.”

Another 1.e4, another Italian, another draw.

The final draw, between Li Chao and Veselin Topalov, saw an interesting opening and early middlegame. It was a Moscow Slav where the players followed a game Kramnik-Anand from London 2013, and Li was slightly deeper prepared than his opponent. He sacrificed a pawn for very active pieces, but Topalov, still in good form, defended accurately: he returned the pawn to reach an equal endgame.

Good preparation and imaginative play by the Chinese GM.

Altibox Norway Chess | Round 6 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts SB
1 Carlsen 2851 2870 phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 4.0/6
2 Vachier-Lagrave 2788 2849 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 3.5/6 10.50
3 Topalov 2754 2819 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 3.5/6 9.00
4 Harikrishna 2763 2819 0 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1 1 ½ 3.5/6 8.75
5 Kramnik 2801 2813 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 3.5/6 8.25
6 Aronian 2784 2757 ½ ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ ½ 3.0/6 8.25
7 Eljanov 2765 2758 ½ ½ ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png 0 1 3.0/6 8.00
8 Li Chao 2755 2732 ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png 2.5/6 8.75
9 Giri 2790 2734 ½ 0 0 ½ ½ 1 phpfCo1l0.png 2.5/6 8.25
10 Grandelius 2649 2507 0 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 phpfCo1l0.png 1.0/6

Tuesday is a rest day. Aronian: “Rest days always welcome, even if it comes right after a rest day. Chess players are generally lazy people.” The pairings for round seven, on Wednesday, are Grandelius-Li Chao, Harikrishna-Vachier-Lagrave, Carlsen-Kramnik, Aronian-Eljanov, and Topalov-Giri. phpfCo1l0.png

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