Magnus Carlsen Finally Wins On Home Soil

Magnus Carlsen Finally Wins On Home Soil

| 36 | Chess Event Coverage

He failed in the first three editions, but Magnus Carlsen finally managed to please the local fans in Stavanger. As the only winner on the last day, the world champion clinched his first Altibox Norway Chess title by beating Pavel Eljanov.

TV2 reporter Kaja Marie Snare gave Magnus Carlsen a bottle of champagne and not one but three small Norwegian flags after he had just won his game against Pavel Eljanov. Carlsen held up the flags and smiled, but not for long. His feelings must have been a mixture of relief and modest satisfaction, because he wasn't too happy with his play.

“It's not great,” he told, but couldn't exactly pinpoint what troubled him. “Especially with Black, [I was] playing sort of...I'm not was just not very good with Black. I should play more actively.”

Here's the brief interview with the winner:

At the start of the round, on all five boards the opening moves were performed by guests of the Norway Summit, a business gathering hosted by the Norway Chess organizers. The world champion's first move was made by someone who knows a thing or two about analysis.

It took a while before Carlsen's advantage became tangible, and with co-leader Levon Aronian heading to a draw, a playoff was still a possible scenario. However, in a Stonewall-like position, Black's plan of 13...Ra7 and 14...b6 wasn't great. Eljanov said he had missed the Nd2-b1-c3 maneuver and after that White was definitely better.

Also later Black's position should have been holdable, but when the white queen was allowed to penetrate into Black's position it was the beginning of the end for Eljanov.

“In principle defensible but extremely passive,” said Carlsen about the endgame with queens and minor pieces. “My moves suggest themselves and it's up to him to hold.”

Carlsen used his Stonewall experience (as Black) to beat Eljanov.

As said, Levon Aronian drew his game with Pentala Harikrishna, and that was even before Carlsen had finished. The Armenian GM revealed that he had recently played this sideline of the Nimzo-Indian in a rapid game against one of his sparring partners, and won that one. He was a bit better out of the opening but Hari continued to play healthy moves to keep the position balanced and finish on 50 percent.

Aronian playing the Nimzo-Indian with 4...b6.

With these two results the tournament was decided, but that was not all in the final round! There was also the clash between Veselin Topalov and Vladimir Kramnik, and although (or because) they can't stand each other, these two gentlemen tend to produce exciting battles against each other. Their last six classical games had been decisive; their last draw in classical chess was in 2007!

Today's game was again pretty good, despite its quiet start in an Anti-Berlin. There were so many tactical variations that the players both joined the commentators and sat next to each other, as if Toiletgate had never happened. (A handshake is still out of the question though.)

Interestingly, the players sometimes disagreed 180 degrees, for example about the seemingly anti-positional 17...a6 or about the evaluation of the position around move 30. 

Another excellent fight between Topalov and Kramnik.

Nils Grandelius finished his tournament with a draw against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. The young Swedish GM lost five games and drew four, which was slightly below his rating. What's good is that he kept his cheerful mood throughout the event, and playing his first super tournament will surely be good for his chess. 

Today his opening didn't work at all, and early on he had to go for a worse endgame. The fact that he didn't lose it against a player close to 2800 says a lot.

A draw, but a scary one for Grandelius.

Anish Giri started with a win and a loss and so nobody was talking about his long drawing streak anymore. The Dutchman won't be satisfied though, because after that he added one loss and six draws to end on minus one. Many expected more after he finished clear second in the blitz tournament on the first day. “It was a pity I was losing that momentum,” he said,

Last-minute substitute Li Chao, who joined the tournament because two-time winner Sergey Karjakin withdrew, can be satisfied with his 50 percent score. His last game with Anish Giri was quite interesting. It started with a line in the Grünfeld that's not considered dangerous for Black, but with the many pieces on the board this queenless middlegame was quite rich. Afterward Li Chao revealed that it was one of his 10 students who suggested this line!

A 4.Bf4 Grünfeld got quite interesting.

Altibox Norway Chess | Final Standings

# Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts SB
1 Carlsen,Magnus 2851 2881 phpfCo1l0.png 0 ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 1 6.0/9
2 Aronian,Levon 2784 2846 1 phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 5.5/9
3 Vachier-Lagrave,Maxime 2788 2806 ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 5.0/9 22.00
4 Topalov,Veselin 2754 2810 ½ ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 5.0/9 21.25
5 Kramnik,Vladimir 2801 2805 0 ½ ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 5.0/9 20.50
6 Li,Chao 2755 2771 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png 0 ½ 1 ½ 4.5/9 19.50
7 Harikrishna,P 2763 2770 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 1 phpfCo1l0.png 1 ½ ½ 4.5/9 19.00
8 Giri,Anish 2790 2730 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 phpfCo1l0.png 1 ½ 4.0/9
9 Eljanov,Pavel 2765 2651 0 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 phpfCo1l0.png 1 3.0/9
10 Grandelius,Nils 2649 2618 0 ½ ½ 0 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 phpfCo1l0.png 2.5/9

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