Nakamura, Topalov Win And Lead After Norway Chess Round 3

Nakamura, Topalov Win And Lead After Norway Chess Round 3

| 66 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Hikaru Nakamura and GM Veselin Topalov are tied for first place with 2.5/3 at the Norway Chess tournament. Nakamura won against GM Fabiano Caruana, who misplayed a rook ending, while Topalov beat GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave very quickly as Black.

The incident in the first round, when Carlsen lost on time because he didn't know that no time is added after move 60, is still being discussed. On Thursday the organizers posted the following message on the tournament website:

On behalf of the Grand Chess Tour and the Chief arbiter, as well as personally, I would like to apologize to the players for the insufficient information with regards [sic] to the time control.

Allthough [sic] the information was on the and was also announced prior to the first round, we learned that several players, during the first round, were not aware of the new and unconventional time control. This fact tells us that our work providing the information leaves room for improvement. For this, we are truly sorry, and especially towards Magnus Carlsen who lost his first game due to not being aware of the time control. spoke with main organizer Jøran Aulin-Jansson:

In less than 2.5 hours the first game was finished. GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, who had started so well with a win at the blitz followed by 1.5/2, had a complete off day.

The Frenchman said that his opening choice was based on “having the momentum,” but it didn't work out and then he also had “problems calculating.”

It was a Meran Semi-Slav with opposite castling, and as it turned out GM Veselin Topalov knew all the ins and outs. He said that his former second Paco Vallejo has studied it deeply, and the Spaniard discovered that Black is OK, contrary to what computer engines suggested some years ago.

Early in the middlegame Vachier-Lagrave chose the wrong plan, and his position collapsed surprisingly quickly.

That went wrong amazingly quickly for White.

GM Vishy Anand and GM Alexander Grischuk played the old main line of the Sicilian Sveshnikov, and these days that's usually bad news. Almost all top-level games in the past few years have ended in draw there. Even though the result was the same, luckily this game was rather interesting.

Anand followed Leinier Dominguez’ play from the Khanty-Mansiysk Grand Prix earlier this year against the same opponent. Grischuk lamented: “I am one of the worst for recollecting my analysis!”

Soon Anand had reason to regret something too: putting his king on g2. For a moment Grischuk seemed to get some chances, but as he got low on time the Russian GM allowed an unfavorable queen trade after which he had to be very accurate, with only a minute for his last four moves.

Anand tried to argue that he was in time trouble too: “Everyone knows that three seconds for him is like five minutes for me!”

Once known for his speedy chess, Anand still (rarely) gets into time trouble à la Grischuk.

The players were asked if they went to the confession box. “I would love to but I don't have time to go!” said Grischuk. 

“It's a hard idea to execute,” said Anand. “Maybe they should have a rule that at a certain point they drag the players. To make it voluntary...nobody wants to jinx themselves by going and saying something, and looking like a complete idiot afterwards. Especially if you got everything completely wrong! That's not a pleasant thought.”

Grischuk: “They should offer some bonus. I don't know, some coffee with caramel.”

Quite an interesting Sveshnikov in Anand-Grischuk.

The next game to finish was GM Levon Aronian vs GM Jon Ludvig Hammer. The Norwegian number-two managed to hold the draw, and Aronian was clearly disappointed with the result. “He upset me by playing well,” the Armenian GM said. “After your opponent plays so badly in one phase of the game, you kind of expect him to continue!”

It was the opening where Hammer played badly. He said: “I seriously misjudged this pawn structure. He had the c-file and I was just doomed to some kind of passive defense.” But, in a bad ending, the Hammer simply defended very tenaciously.

The round also included the clash between U.S. grandmaster GM Hikaru Nakamura and soon-to-be U.S. grandmaster GM Fabiano Caruana, who is still playing under the Italian flag. The game seemed to be heading for a quick draw as Black looked perfectly fine after move 18.

“He kind of outprepared me, as he seems to be doing against everyone,” said Nakamura, who felt that Caruana's first mistake came right after the queens were traded. He called 28...Rd4 “a very big positional mistake.”

After excellent preparation, Caruana's play just wasn't solid enough.

Commentator GM Jan Gustafsson and many pundits on Twitter were surprised, no, flabbergasted about Caruana's two pawn moves just before the first time control. 

“Hikaru's technique is much better than people tend to think, but mama mia! b5?? and g5?? by Fabiano Caruana. OMG,” tweeted Spanish Paco Vallejo.

However, it's important to note that, although highly impractical, these two pawn moves were perhaps still not losing yet. It's possible that it's still a draw after 43...a4!.

“I'm playing well when I have to play well in the game,” said Nakamura. “Somewhere around move 15 I wake up and start to play chess. It's been like that every day.” More specific about today's game, the American added: “I played the middlegame better and I played the endgame very well, I thought.”

Nakamura: “I played the middlegame better and I played the endgame very well.”

The last game to finish was a fantastic fight between GM Magnus Carlsen and GM Anish Giri. The Dutchman was under huge pressure (as in: completely lost at some point) but miraculously managed to keep his plus-one score against the world champ.

Giri got into a passive position and decided to sacrifice a pawn, but there was not enough compensation. In an attempt to create counterplay he weakened his kingside, and around then and there White was winning.

However, Carlsen sacrificed a piece and probably missed something important, because Giri's excellent 40th move suddenly saved everything. “It's strange, normally he doesn't do this,” said Giri. “Maybe it was not a joke after all that he plays bad against me.”

Annotations by GM Dejan Bojkov:

Indeed, normally Carlsen doesn't do this. also spoke with GM Yasser Seirawan about the Grand Chess Tour. The American GM, who has experienced his fair share of chess politics (for instance the GMA in the 1980s and early 90s, or the Prague Agreement), said he wished it was part of the official world championship cycle:

Norway Chess 2015 | Pairings & Results

Round 1 16.06.15 16:00 CET   Round 2 17.06.15 16:00 CET
Giri 1-0 Grischuk   Grischuk ½-½ Aronian


Caruana   Hammer ½-½ Vachier-Lagrave
Carlsen 0-1 Topalov   Topalov ½-½ Nakamura
Nakamura 1-0 Hammer   Caruana 1-0 Carlsen
Vachier-Lagrave 1-0 Aronian   Giri ½-½ Anand
Round 3 18.06.15 16:00 CET   Round 4 19.06.15 16:00 CET
Anand ½-½ Grischuk   Grischuk - Hammer
Carlsen ½-½ Giri   Topalov - Aronian
Nakamura 1-0 Caruana   Caruana - Vachier-Lagrave
Vachier-Lagrave 0-1 Topalov   Giri - Nakamura
Aronian ½-½ Hammer   Anand - Carlsen
Round 5 21.06.15 16:00 CET   Round 6 22.06.15 16:00 CET
Carlsen - Grischuk   Grischuk - Topalov
Nakamura - Anand   Caruana - Hammer
Vachier-Lagrave - Giri   Giri - Aronian
Aronian - Caruana   Anand - Vachier-Lagrave
Hammer   Topalov   Carlsen - Nakamura
Round 7 23.06.15 16:00 CET   Round 8 24.06.15 16:00 CET
Nakamura - Grischuk   Grischuk - Caruana
Vachier-Lagrave - Carlsen   Giri - Topalov
Aronian - Anand   Anand - Hammer
Hammer - Giri   Carlsen - Aronian
Topalov - Caruana   Nakamura - Vachier-Lagrave
Round 9 25.06.15 15:00 CET        
Vachier-Lagrave - Grischuk        
Aronian - Nakamura        
Hammer - Carlsen        
Topalov - Anand        
Caruana - Giri        

2015 Norway Chess | Round 3 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts SB
1 Nakamura,H 2802 3039 phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1 1 2.5/3 3.75
2 Topalov,V 2798 3079 ½ phpfCo1l0.png 1 1 2.5/3 3.25
3 Giri,A 2773 2940 phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1 ½ 2.0/3
4 Anand,V 2804 2787 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ 1.5/3 2.25
5 Vachier Lagrave,M 2723 2751 0 phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1 1.5/3 1.50
6 Caruana,F 2805 2827 0 ½ phpfCo1l0.png 1 1.5/3 1.25
7 Grischuk,A 2781 2666 0 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1.0/3 1.25
8 Hammer,J 2677 2648 0 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1.0/3 1.25
9 Aronian,L 2780 2607 0 ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png 1.0/3 1.00
10 Carlsen,M 2876 2513 0 ½ 0 phpfCo1l0.png 0.5/3

The Norway Chess tournament runs June 15-26 in the Stavanger region. | Games via TWIC phpfCo1l0.png
No time to watch the games live? No problem! The Norway Chess tournament is covered on with a daily recap show that runs 1.5 hours. The games will be analyzed and there's video material by Peter Doggers, who is covering the tournament from Stavanger. The show starts each day at 11 p.m. Central European time, 5 p.m. New York, 2 p.m. Pacific.

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.

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