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Kramnik Beats Anand, Joins Nakamura At Norway Chess

Kramnik Beats Anand, Joins Nakamura At Norway Chess

Vladimir Kramnik defeated Viswanathan Anand in the second round of the Altibox Norway Chess tournament. The Russian player is now tied for first place with Hikaru Nakamura, who drew with Levon Aronian.

Kramnik and Anand right after their game. | Photo Maria Emelianova.

Two giants of the game faced each other today, but only for the first time on Norwegian soil. World Champions Viswanathan Anand and Vladimir Kramnik have played close to 200 official games in total, and 82 classical ones including a world championship match.

The score after their 83rd classical game today? Totally even.

Kramnik, who lost the Bonn 2008 match, today leveled their overall score with the black pieces in a Ruy Lopez. In doing so, he is the new number two in the live ratings.

The game quickly got interesting as Kramnik deviated from his usual Berlin and Anand, perhaps taken by surprise, started to improvise early on.

His 8.Nd5!?—virtually new— involved a pawn sacrifice. Kramnik took it ("the first pawn can always be taken," a wise man once said) and Anand got some compensation, but not much.

"I expected more from this position," Anand said and then he pointed out that if White has to trade so many pieces, something has already gone wrong.

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Anand and Kramnik, meeting each other since 1989. | Photo Maria Emelianova.

The endgame with heavy pieces was uncomfortable for White, but only after Anand took a pawn on c7 it started to get problematic. That was "very close to the decisive mistake," as Anand put it.

Kramnik might not have played the queen endgame perfectly but the problem for Anand was that there were always some checks after which Black could try again. In the final position, Kramnik is about to put his queen on a7 and queen the a-pawn.

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Anand sees what's coming, and it's not good. | Photo Maria Emelianova.

Here's Chess.com's interview with Kramnik, who talks about the game but also about a long career of facing Anand, and their personal relationship.

Like yesterday, the second round only saw one decisive game. Kramnik caught Hikaru Nakamura in the lead, who was under pressure for most of the game against Levon Aronian.

Nakamura wasn't happy with his decision to take on c3 with the queen. This basically led to a Carlsbad middlegame where Black was absolutely fine. In fact, Aronian explained this by referring to the famous Bobotsov-Petrosian game: "Once he gets his knight on d6 Black is slightly better. White cannot afford just to shuffle the pieces here."

Nakamura at some point decided on the move f2-f3, hoping for e3-e4, but Black's ...f7-f5 made that impossible. The inclusion of these moves favored Aronian, who eventually won a pawn. But thanks to the reduced material Nakamura was never in serious danger of losing.

Like Carlsen and So yesterday, the players, in fact, agreed to a draw in a position where it wasn't allowed according to the regulations.

However, the position is totally drawn, so when the arbiter mentioned that a threefold repetition is needed, the players just refused. Aronian even used the word "disrespectful" before walking away with Karjakin, who asked him what was going on. The organisers are working on a solution.

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A clear case where both sides are right: arbiter Anemone Kulczak for
upholding the rules, and Aronian for ignoring them! | Photo Maria Emelianova.

The longest game was Anish Giri vs Sergey Karjakin, and for a long time, it was quite possible that there would be a second winner. Giri way playing a good game and kept his opponent under pressure, starting from the excellent maneuver Bf4-c7-b6.

Eventually, the Dutch GM won a pawn, but it was too difficult to win the game, especially against the "Minister of Defense," as Karjakin was nicknamed during the New York match last year.

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Giri ends his winning attempts. | Photo Maria Emelianova.

Asked whether he thought he had winning chances, Giri said: "I was enjoying myself but I wasn't really optimistic!"

How Karjakin keeps on defending these endgames? Well, one thing to mention is his deep concentration. Today he shared with Chess.com the funny anecdote that he had been wondering for 5.5 hours where players are getting their bottles of water until he suddenly noticed one next to him on the table...

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The Minister of Defense did it again. | Photo Maria Emelianova.

The other two games were not too exciting. In his favorite Grünfeld, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave got a slightly better endgame vs Wesley So which was drawn on move 43. Fabiano Caruana and Magnus Carlsen drew an Anti-Marshall in which both players played it safe.

The world champ hoped for a better game than this, but it wasn't meant to be.

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Carlsen, after changing clothes, chatting with his second Peter Heine Nielsen. Instead of attending the Justin Bieber concert in Stavanger, they would play basketball in the evening. | Photo Maria Emelianova.

2017 Altibox Norway Chess | Round 2 Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts SB
1 Kramnik,Vladimir 2808 2974 ½ 1 1.5/2 1.00
2 Nakamura,Hikaru 2785 2972 ½ 1 1.5/2 1.00
3 Aronian,Levon 2793 2796 ½ ½ 1.0/2 1.25
4 Carlsen,Magnus 2832 2810 ½ ½ 1.0/2 1.00
5 So,Wesley 2812 2814 ½ ½ 1.0/2 1.00
6 Caruana,Fabiano 2808 2812 ½ ½ 1.0/2 1.00
7 Karjakin,Sergey 2781 2789 ½ ½ 1.0/2 1.00
8 Vachier-Lagrave,Maxime 2796 2799 ½ ½ 1.0/2 0.75
9 Anand,Viswanathan 2786 2612 0 ½ 0.5/2 0.50
10 Giri,Anish 2771 2593 0 ½ 0.5/2 0.50

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

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