Harikrishna, Topalov Winners In Norway Chess Round 5

Harikrishna, Topalov Winners In Norway Chess Round 5

| 15 | Chess Event Coverage

In a good fifth round in Stavanger, where Vladimir Kramnik played 1.e4 and Anish Giri remained undefeated against Magnus Carlsen, two players left the playing hall with a win: Pentala Harikrishna and Veselin Topalov.

After the first rest day (don't miss Jon Ludvig Hammer's report here!), on Sunday the chess fans could enjoy one of the best rounds so far. Kramnik playing e2-e4, really? Topalov winning, and moving to half a point behind the leaders? And what about the Carlsen-Giri clash? Would the Norwegian finally manage to fix a “statistical anomaly,” as one observer tweeted?

To start with that last question: no. Yet again Giri managed to draw and keep that special status of never having lost a classical game to the world champion.

Giri still undefeated vs Carlsen, also after today.

The Dutchman was the first of all players to arrive at the playing hall today, whereas Carlsen entered last. About half an hour into the game the Norwegian was the first to enter the confession booth, and live on Norwegian television he said that he had not much to say except that he had spilled some of his chocolate drink on his white shirt!

He then showed the stain, adding “not something to be proud of,” and went back to his board. The world champ surely entertained the chess fans in his country there!

Was it a specific move that made Carlsen spill his drink? Well, we could point towards 3...a6, because today Giri didn't go for the Berlin. Instead it became a Ruy Lopez with an early d3 and ...Bc5. Black always looked quite OK, and the game might have ended in a draw quicker if the tournament rules didn't include the Sofia rule.

Giri made one inaccuracy and so, on move 40, Carlsen actually finally got a chance to reach a tangible advantage. However, he played too fast, thinking he would win a pawn but missing 42...f5! after his intended 42.Rg5. It was an instant draw there, so Giri once again escaped. 

Carlsen missed an opportunity in the endgame and was pretty annoyed about it.

Giri called it “a miserable game from both of us” but was of course happy with another good result against Carlsen. He's also optimistic about the remainder: “I'm sure that if I can get my game together I can pull ahead.” Here's an interview with where he speaks about the game and the tournament in general:

It wasn't difficult to chose the Game of the Day analysis by GM Dejan Bojkov: Pentala Harikrishna vs Li Chao. This was a very interesting Sämisch King's Indian which started as a 3.f3 Grünfeld where White got the chance to move his g1-knight to c3 and the other one to d2, an old idea by GM Evgenij Ermenkov.

Li Chao came up with a great new concept, answering White's early g4 with ...h5! even though he had already castled. A few moves later he had fixed the pawns there and traded the dark-squared bishops; a dream scenario for black players.

A Sämisch King's Indian in Harikrishna vs Li Chao.

But then, as if he hadn't made enough knight moves yet, Hari found a strong maneuver: Nc3-d1-f2-d3, after which the pawn break f3-f4 was in the air. Li responded badly, and the break got even stronger. A good start by the Chinese player but a better second half for the Indian.

Annotations by GM Dejan Bojkov

A fine win by Hari.

The start of the round saw a small shocker: Vladimir Kramnik, in his game with Pavel Eljanov, moved the king's pawn on the first move! The Russian hadn't done this in three years, and between 2006 and 2013 he played it only 15 times in 394 white games. (In the years 2002-2005 he played e2-e4 in lots of games, but then more or less said goodbye to it again.)

A rarity: Kramnik going 1.e2-e4.

To Kramnik said: “I try to surprise my opponents a bit. I'm playing different openings, different first moves. I have quite some knowledge in general about chess. I can play 1.e4. I checked the repertoire of my opponent and I thought with him it can be an interesting choice.

“It was funny to see that Pavel took eight minutes, in Bronstein style, to respond against 1.e4. There it was already clear that it was a good choice!”

After 1.e4 Pavel Eljanov spent eight minutes before making his first move.

Kramnik went for the Giuoco Piano but despite this quiet opening the game got pretty sharp. Even the endgame was not easy for Eljanov. Kramnik: “It's terribly dangerous for Black but somehow it seems to work by tempi.”

Kramnik will surely have annoyed his future black opponents, in this tournament (Aronian and Harikrishna) and beyond. “It's always good to play as many openings as possible. Everybody is used to that I have a very narrow repertoire but even here I played three different openings in three white games so far, so let me opponents have a headache preparing!”

Veselin Topalov plays 1.e4 much more regularly, and also today. Nils Grandelius responded with a Closed Ruy Lopez where he quickly went for Nc6-e7-g6 followed by pushing his pawns on the queenside. Topalov didn't do very much besides keeping his coordination, but his position remained better.

The Bulgarian said that he remembered this Benoni type of structure from commenting upon the 9th game between Anand and Kamsky from the 1995 PCA Candidates' final in Las Palmas. Sometimes it's useful to have more than two decades of experience. For the first time, Grandelius felt that he got outplayed.

After four draws Topalov scores a fine win.

The last game to mention (Levon Aronian vs Maxime Vachier-Lagrave) was also the least interesting, except for the opening. After 1.Nf3 c5 Aronian went 2.c3!?, a move that looks funny but was actually played by grandmasters such as Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Vassily Ivanchuk, Nigel Short, Richard Rapport and Pentala Harikrishna.

Aronian expected 2...Nf6 3.d4 e6, but instead an Exchange Slav came on the board. There MVL could make use of the knowledge he had from playing the line with the white pieces, and without too much difficulties he equalized.

An original way to reach the Exchange Slav.

Altibox Norway Chess | Round 5 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts SB
1 Carlsen,Magnus 2851 2889 phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 3.5/5
2 Vachier-Lagrave,Maxime 2788 2849 phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 3.0/5 7.25
3 Topalov,Veselin 2754 2832 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ ½ 1 3.0/5 6.25
4 Kramnik,Vladimir 2801 2819 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ ½ 1 3.0/5 5.75
5 Giri,Anish 2790 2797 ½ 0 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1 2.5/5 6.50
6 Aronian,Levon 2784 2748 ½ ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ 2.5/5 5.75
7 Harikrishna,P 2763 2755 0 ½ phpfCo1l0.png 1 ½ ½ 2.5/5 5.00
8 Li,Chao 2755 2727 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 phpfCo1l0.png 2.0/5 6.00
9 Eljanov,Pavel 2765 2709 ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ phpfCo1l0.png 2.0/5 5.75
10 Grandelius,Nils 2649 2550 0 0 0 ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png 1.0/5

The pairings for round six, on Monday, are Giri - Harikrishna, Eljanov - Grandelius, Vachier-Lagrave - Carlsen, Li Chao - Topalov, and Kramnik - Aronian. phpfCo1l0.png

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