Caruana Beats Karjakin In Norway Chess Round 5
Fabiano Caruana next to Simen Agdestein after his win. | Photo: Peter Doggers/

Caruana Beats Karjakin In Norway Chess Round 5

| 29 | Chess Event Coverage

Fabiano Caruana is back at 50 percent thanks to a good win over Sergey Karjakin today at the Altibox Norway Chess tournament. As a result, Magnus Carlsen's lead increased back to a full point.

This Saturday started with the sad news that Ding Liren decided that he had to withdraw from the tournament. "His surgery went well, but it will take time for him to recover so he is not able to continue to play in the tournament," stated the organizers.

Because the Chinese GM had played less than 50 percent of his games, his three draws will be removed from the tournament table. They will be FIDE rated.

The tournament continues with nine players, and it was Wesley So who was paired against Ding today and thus enjoyed his extra rest day. In the coming days, Karjakin, Carlsen, Aronian and then Mamedyarov will all have one extra rest day.

That means Shakhriyar Mamedyarov is the one who is finishing his tournament after round eight. He probably won't mind a shorter tournament, just as he didn't mind a quick draw with Hikaru Nakamura today. Only 37 minutes into the round, the players repeated moves.

Mamedyarov cited health problems and taking antibiotics—at the start he suffered from a toothache and he visited the dentist more than once here in Stavanger. "I am sleeping all the time. The first days it was a big problem: I can’t sleep. But now I sleep too much," said Mamedyarov.

Mamedyarov Norway 2018

Mamedyarov: too sleepy to put up a fight today. | Photo: Peter Doggers/

Nakamura revealed that he used a line in the Nimzo-Indian that he had prepared more than two years ago for the Moscow Candidates'. He even has the endgame, which is reached if White avoids the draw, analyzed on his computer. 

Mamedyarov: “After 17...Qxc5 I understand: he knows everything so it’s better for me to draw and go to sleep.”

Hikaru Nakamura Norway 2018

Good prep by Nakamura unfortunately led to the quickest draw of the tournament so far. | Photo: Peter Doggers/

At least the players spent some time in the studio with Simen Agdestein looking at the other games. Evaluating Maxime Vachier-Lagrave vs Levon Aronian, Nakamura felt it was a worse version of the mainline for White. "I think Maxime mixed up his move order or forgot his lines."

Nakamura was spot on, as the Frenchman had to admit: "I need to apologize to my helpers. It doesn’t matter if they do a good or a bad job if I don’t remember the lines which I had on my computer in the morning!"

The key moment in this 4.Nf3 Nimzo-Indian was move 13, when MVL erred with Rd1. "I knew all the candidate moves but I couldn’t remember which one is good and I took the wrong decision."

Luckily for the Frenchman the position looked worse than it was, and a bit more than an hour after the first game concluded, this one suddenly ended in a draw as well.

Aronian, MVL, Norway 2018

Aronian: "Like in the cooking, it was a mutual failure!" MVL: "I cook better dishes for myself than what I did that day!" | Photo: Peter Doggers/

Magnus Carlsen had won his two white games before, but failed to win his third. He called his play "pretty bad" and perhaps that was the reason why he didn't join the post-mortem with his opponent Vishy Anand and Simen Agdestein (although he did spend about 20 minutes in the TV2 studio).

The game was exciting for a bit, especially for Anand, who briefly feared he had blundered with 13...Nf6, just when he was trying to be precise.

"For a second I thought I had blown it," he said about 14.Nd4. It was the kind of position that can be lost after just one small mistake. But then Anand did find some precise moves, and held the position comfortably.

Carlsen vs Anand Norway 2018

1.c4 by Carlsen vs Anand. | Photo: Peter Doggers/

Fabiano Caruana's first two rounds weren't great, with 0.5/2 and two big mistakes in both games. Even worse, he had also lost a Bundesliga game three days before the tournament.

Today's excellent win over Sergey Karjakin boosted his confidence greatly. He said the two rest days in a row helped him, and having fun during the cooking contest wasn't bad either.

Caruana vs Karjakin Norway 2018

Caruana was in a winning mood today. | Photo: Peter Doggers/

In a reversed Sicilian, Karjakin looked fine out of the opening but in reality he was already a bit worse around move 17. His queen was a bit annoyingly placed, but White's bishop pair was going to matter at some point.

Allowing the doubled f-pawns was a sad decision to make, but there was still no concrete way to break though for White, according to Anand. Some fine maneuvering (especially Be2-d1-c2-f5) brought Caruana the full point.

"Yeah, it seemed like a smooth game. He didn't make clear mistakes until the end, when he kind of collapsed but probably in an objectively losing position," Caruana said.

null's interview with Caruana.

Altibox Norway Chess 2018 | Round 5 Standings*

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts SB
1 Carlsen,Magnus 2843 2926 ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 3.5/5
2 Karjakin,Sergey 2782 2808 ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 2.5/5 5.25
3 Aronian,Levon 2764 2795 0 ½ ½ 1 ½ 2.5/5 4.75
4 Anand,Viswanathan 2760 2788 ½ ½ ½ ½ 2.0/4 5
5 Nakamura,Hikaru 2769 2797 ½ ½ ½ ½ 2.0/4 4.75
6 So,Wesley 2778 2769 ½ ½ ½ ½ 2.0/4 4.5
7 Caruana,Fabiano 2822 2806 0 1 ½ ½ 2.0/4 4.25
8 Mamedyarov,Shakhriyar 2808 2715 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 2.0/5 4
9 Vachier-Lagrave,Maxime 2789 2706 0 ½ ½ ½ 1.5/4
10 Ding,Liren* 2791 0.0/0

*Ding won't continue the tournament and his results are not counting.

Round six pairings (Sunday): Aronian-Caruana, Nakamura-MVL, Anand-Mamedyarov, So-Carlsen.

Games via TWIC.

Previous reports:

Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

Between 2007 and 2013 Peter was running ChessVibes, a major source for chess news and videos acquired by in October 2013.

As our Director News & Events, Peter writes many of our news reports. In the summer of 2022, The Guardian’s Leonard Barden described him as “widely regarded as the world’s best chess journalist.”

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