Magnus Carlsen Starts European Team Championship With A Loss

Magnus Carlsen Starts European Team Championship With A Loss

| 36 | Chess Event Coverage

Magnus Carlsen entered the Norwegian team in the third round of the European Team Championship, but lost his game to Levon Aronian. Russia and Ukraine are tied for first place with three victories each.

The wonderful team championship under way in Reykjavik was missing only one thing: the world champion. The fans were getting impatient, but on Sunday morning the pairings showed the name of Magnus Carlsen in Norway's lineup.

It was a logical moment for Carlsen to join the team: when it had to face Armenia, one of the giants of team chess and a three-time Olympic champion. The top clash, Carlsen vs Aronian, was obviously the game of the day.

Carlsen finally joined the Norwegian team on Sunday.

Before the game the mutual score was +5 in favor of Carlsen in classical games. The Norwegian had won the last seven (!) decisive games, with the last win for Aronian dating back to February 2009 in Linares, a tournament that doesn't even exist anymore.

“Generally I like to fight and to improve my score against opponents that I have a terrible score with,” Aronian said. “Once I had a score of -7 or -8 against Ivanchuk, and I got back. I was looking forward to winning a game.”

The head-to-head stats before Sunday's encounter:


Carlsen was in a combative mood: He played 4.d3 against the Berlin. Aronian felt just as aggressive: He sacrificed an irrelevant a-pawn for rapid development and play in the center. According to our annotator GM Robert Hess, Black already achieved an advantage there.

Black's pieces were extremely active. Carlsen had no choice but to give up his queen for a rook and a knight, but he never managed to build his desired fortress. Aronian had beaten the great Norwegian for the first time in more than six years.

After the game Aronian was happy to explain his win in our live broadcast. You can replay it below; the interview was done by Fiona Steil-Antoni.

“I'm happy I managed to play a decent game after yesterday. It's kind of refreshing,” said Aronian. “Normally it's not so difficult to recover when you play terribly. It's when your opponent plays well, when you get outplayed, then it's much harder.”

Carlsen's game drew the most attention on Sunday.

Aronian's answer to whether he was confident before the game: “I'm always confident, despite the fact that I play terribly sometimes!”

The Armenian number one also commented on the fact that he became the wildcard participant in the Candidates’ tournament: “I got very lucky that a sponsor of Armenian origin that lives in Russia is willing to trust in me. I'll try to do everything in my power to show that his trust has a basis.”

The grapes were sour for Norway, who were doing OK after about two hours of play. GM Jon Ludvig Hammer drew his game with GM Gabriel Sargissian, and IM Aryan Tari even won against GM Sergei Movsesian, but IM Frode Urkedal eventually couldn't save himself on board four against GM Hrant Melkumyan.

Meanwhile only two teams are left with a perfect score: Russia and Ukraine. They clash on Monday with the following board pairings:


Alexander Grischuk finally makes his Reykjavik debut, despite the suggestion of Sergey Karjakin (who recently became a father!) that it might not be necessary:

On Sunday it was Ian Nepomniachtchi who decided the match for the Russians. He beat Spain's Ivan Salgado Lopez in a Rubinstein French. Black sacrificed a pawn, but never got it back:

In Ukraine-Azerbaijan there were also three draws and one decisive game. Pavel Eljanov, the star of the last World Cup in Baku, defeated Shakhriyar Mamdyarov, who resigned somewhat early, confirmed by a peek at his scoresheet:

GM Mihail Marin, the author of so many great books (Learn from the Legends should be on every serious chess student's bookshelf), played a Tal-like miniature:

A nice one from Mihail Marin | Photo ETCC2015.

Richard Rapport's win over Laurent Fressinet should be included here as well, if only because if started with the Bird! It prompted our live commentator GM Simon Williams to advertise his beloved Dutch Defense even more. Laughing

With 1.f4, it was especially nice that White's decisive attack started with a f4-f5 break:

The women's section will see the top clash between Russia and Georgia in the fourth round. We'll definitely report on that in our next article on this tournament.


You can play back and watch the full show of the third round here: is providing a daily live broadcast on with commentary by GM Simon William, WIM Fiona Steil-Antoni and guests. Between November 13 and 22 (except for a rest day on the 18th), tune in from 3pm local time (7am Pacific).

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