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Carlsen, MVL Score 1st Wins At Norway Chess

Carlsen, MVL Score 1st Wins At Norway Chess

A nation breathed a sigh of relief. Magnus Carlsen finally won a game at the Altibox Norway Chess tournament, beating Sergey Karjakin and receiving an applause in the Konserthus. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave scored his first win as well, vs Vladimir Kramnik.

Carlsen and MVL finally win a game. | Photo: Maria Emelianova.

"I am relieved."

Today Magnus Carlsen was back in the TV2 studio, and he expressed the overall feeling among Norwegians. He can still play. He can still win.

By beating Sergey Karjakin the world champion avoided two things: playing a tournament without a win for the first time in a decade and losing his world number one status.

"I am happy with both because I want to keep that status," Carlsen said. But he was still critical of his play. 

"If I was sick before, I am still not well. This was just one game. But it's a much better feeling."

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The start of a very important game for Carlsen. | Photo: Maria Emelianova.

From a Nimzo-Indian Carlsen got a slight edge out of the opening, but Karjakin was finding good moves such as 21...Re6 and 22...Ba4.

Carlsen played a speculative pawn sacrifice, and at some point, the computer started to like Karjakin's position. Then the players got into serious time trouble and anything could happen. With just two seconds left on the clock, Karjakin made his 40th move, and the position was still unclear.

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A nickel for his thoughts. | Photo: Maria Emelianova.

After the time control, Carlsen thought for 11.5 minutes and played a good move. Then Karjakin thought for 27 minutes and... played a bad move.

"As soon as he played that, I knew I was going to win," said Carlsen.

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Carlsen can still finish on 50 percent. | Photo: Maria Emelianova.

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A fine game spoilt by a blunder. | Photo: Maria Emelianova.

Afterward, Chess.com briefly spoke to one of Carlsen's former trainers, GM Simen Agdestein. He didn't have a clear explanation for his former pupil's slump but noted an interesting psychological effect.

"It happens to everyone, but it hasn't happened to Magnus yet. It shows that he's human and that's a bad sign perhaps because when everyone thinks he's not, he can take advantage of that. This might be kind of a breakthrough for the others, who might think that also his blood can be haunted at."

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Back in the TV2 studio, and smiling again. | Photo: Maria Emelianova.

Asked what advice he would give Carlsen if he were his coach today, Agdestein said: "Magnus is very good in knowing what's good for him. He doesn't need advice. The best advice for him is just to follow his own feeling."

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Carlsen, walking away with his second Peter Heine Nielsen,
in the rain, but with a win in the pocket. | Photo: Maria Emelianova.

Like Carlsen, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave scored his first win of the tournament, at the expense of Vladimir Kramnik. The 6.4 point gap between Carlsen and Kramnik is now 15.9 points again.

And like Carlsen, MVL was still critical of his play. He didn't get a great position out of the opening as he mixed up his preparation.

It what was only the third Berlin Ruy Lopez in the tournament, the players left theory on move 12 but continued blitzing out moves until move 19. White's 20.Re2 was still fine, but 21.Nd2 already inaccurate.

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A warm handshake from the 14th world champion. | Photo: Maria Emelianova.

On move 28 Kramnik could have easily forced a draw, but "obviously Vlady was playing for a win," said the French GM.

Shortly before the time control, the tables turned, and White reached a rook ending with an extra pawn. Even that might have still been drawn, but Kramnik failed to hold it.

"It's a relief of some sorts but even today my play wasn't convincing so it's clear that something has gone quite wrong in this event," said Vachier-Lagrave. "Of course it's very important for my spirit."

Yesterday Kramnik said that the live rankings "didn't mean much" to him, but today's loss definitely was a big blow. He didn't attend the obligatory post-mortem for the international broadcast.

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Kramnik rubbing his eyes while remembering his prep. | Photo: Maria Emelianova.

Kramnik, in fact, dropped to world number four. Wesley So, who drew his eighth(!) game today (with Hikaru Nakamura), is back to being the number two in the live ratings.

Commenting on his many draws, So came with a remarkable suggestion today.

"I prefer to remove the draw result in chess. You play chess for the spectators, for the fans. I think that... you have a shorter time control and then if the game ends in a draw the players play again in a shorter time control and switch sides. If it still ends in a draw they play one more game, and it should lead to an Armageddon."

So suggested 60 minutes per player for the first game, then 25 minutes per player. His idea is similar to what Rustam Kasimdzhanov suggested six years ago.

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So: "I prefer to remove the draw result in chess." | Photo Maria Emelianova.

The new world number three (these players are incredibly close to each other on the list!) is Levon Aronian, who got some advantage against Vishy Anand. "Somehow I couldn't make it work," he said. "It looked really promising."

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Aronian continues to lead, with one round to go. | Photo Maria Emelianova.

The last game to finish was Anish Giri vs Fabiano Caruana. The U.S. grandmaster played the Queen's Gambit Accepted for the second day in a row, and again successfully defended the slightly worse endgame that arises in the 7.dxc5 line.

Just before the time control, Giri gained a pawn with a tactic, but afterward, the players weren't even sure if that was the best practical chance. Black might have had a fortress right from the start of the B-N endgame.

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Giri held his opponent under pressure throughout the game. | Photo Maria Emelianova.

2017 Altibox Norway Chess | Round 8 Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts SB
1 Aronian,Levon 2793 2932 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 5.5/8
2 Nakamura,Hikaru 2785 2886 ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 5.0/8
3 Giri,Anish 2771 2842 ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 1 ½ ½ 4.5/8
4 So,Wesley 2812 2796 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 4.0/8 15.25
5 Kramnik,Vladimir 2808 2800 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 1 1 ½ 4.0/8 14.75
6 Caruana,Fabiano 2808 2754 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ 3.5/8 14.00
7 Vachier-Lagrave,Maxime 2796 2756 ½ 0 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 3.5/8 14.00
8 Anand,Viswanathan 2786 2751 ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 1 ½ ½ 3.5/8 14.00
9 Carlsen,Magnus 2832 2751 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 3.5/8 13.25
10 Karjakin,Sergey 2781 2711 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 3.0/8


The pairings for round nine on Friday are Karjakin-MVL, Caruana-Nakamura, So-Aronian, Kramnik-Giri, and Anand-Carlsen.

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You can follow the last round in Live Chess tomorrow at 4 p.m. local time (7 a.m. Pacific, 10 a.m. Eastern). We're providing on-site coverage on Chess.com/News and on our Twitter, Facebook and YouTube channels.


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