Carlsen-Nakamura Norway Clash Ends In Draw

Carlsen-Nakamura Norway Clash Ends In Draw

| 40 | Chess Event Coverage

Magnus Carlsen vs Hikaru Nakamura was a great fight that ended in a draw, the same result as the other four games in round three of the Altibox Norway Chess tournament. Friday is the first rest day.

The start of Carlsen vs Nakamura. | Photo: Maria Emelianova.

In November 2013, when Anand was struggling in his match with Carlsen, Nakamura made the following famous tweet. Ever since a clash between him and the world champion is something special.

After 12 losses and 18 draws, only in Bilbao 2016, Nakamura managed to win his first classical game against Carlsen. After that, they played the 2016 Blitz Battle and one blitz game in December in Qatar, but today's game in Stavanger was their first classical game in a year. It didn't disappoint.

Via a different move order compared to last year, the players reached a g3-Dragon and again Carlsen played b2-b3 early on. This time, Nakamura was well prepared for it.


For a change, Carlsen arrived early at the game, several minutes before Nakamura. | Photo: Maria Emelianova.

Carlsen was "ashamed" of 11.b3 as he "didn't grasp Hikaru's idea at all." That idea was to simply swap pieces on d4, which normally gives White a pleasant space advantage—but not here.

Happy with his position, Nakamura decided to play actively with 21...f5, the start of "insanely risky" play according to Carlsen.

However, the world champ didn't make the most of his chances. A key position:

Carlsen was unhappy with 24.Rc6, the best moves according to the engines but not very practical. 24.b5 would have been tougher to meet. A knight appearing on c5 will just be taken off the board.

Carlsen: "With this time control you need to play for the initiative..."
Nigel Short: "...and prevent his."
Carlsen: "Exactly. I have no clue what he is going to do..."

In the game, Nakamura sacrificed a pawn to create an active play, and in a phase where Carlsen missed several of his opponent's moves, he was almost lucky not to get in trouble.


Hikaru Nakamura correctly judged that he would have enough counterplay.| Photo: Maria Emelianova.

Interestingly, after the game, it turned out that both players had been optimistic about their chances. In that sense, a draw was a good result.


Carlsen joins the TV2 live show every day right after he finishes. | Photo: Maria Emelianova.

Levon Aronian vs Anish Giri was a great fight as well, which started slowly though, compared to the other games. While Karjakin and Anand had already drawn, and others reached endgames, these players were still in their early middlegame. That was mostly because of Aronian using a lot of time: almost 20 minutes on 13.0-0, 19 minutes on 16.Qb3, 13 minutes on 19.Bc1 and 18.5 minutes on 20.dxe5.


Giri in deep thought. In the post-mortem, he said that during the game he realized that Aronian probably looked at this opening for Black in preparation for his second round game against Nakamura. | Photo: Maria Emelianova.

That last move was right after Giri had put the board on fire as he pushed the g-pawn in front of his king two squares. A tactical sequence followed and the chessboard became a mess, but more important was Aronian's horrendous time trouble. He needed to make 12 moves in less than two minutes.

Giri: "What we didn't take into account here is that Levon had like a couple of minutes for 12 moves. The objective evaluation of the position is absolutely irrelevant."

"This time control is very strange. You're playing the classical control and then you have 20 minutes less. It's weird. Takes time to adjust," said Aronian, who was kind of lucky that an endgame was reached where he had a number of simple moves.


Giri is impressed by the "cheapo artist," as Short called Aronian the other day. | Photo: Maria Emelianova.

Aronian is not the only player having difficulty adjusting to the time control in Stavanger (which is 100 minutes for 40 moves, then 50 minutes for 20 moves and then 15 minutes to finish the game with an increment of 30 seconds per move, starting from move 61).

Today Vladimir Kramnik, who drew a long game with Wesley So, revealed that he got it wrong initially. He assumed two hours for 40 moves and was wondering why he was getting so low on time during the first round. Then, at the start of round two, he noticed the clocks saying 1:40:00, and thought it was a mistake!


Despite attending the players' meeting, Kramnik got the time control wrong during the first round. | Photo: Maria Emelianova.

The first game to end today was Sergey Karjakin vs Viswanathan Anand. It only took about 1.5 hours, but there was a nice story behind it.

First, Karjakin admitted that the line he played against the Berlin wasn't anything special, but Black needs to know what he is doing. Then Anand revealed how his memory had worked: at some point, early in the game, he remembered the position with 21...Bd7. From that point onwards he was trying to figure out how to reach it!


Karjakin vs Anand. The latter "won" the opening battle as he managed to remember his analysis. | Photo: Maria Emelianova.

Anand vividly remembered the conversation with one of his seconds, who suggested that 21...Bd7 move. "I almost fell off my chair," Anand said. But Black is fine there, his second told him, and today he could show it in the game.

Both Kramnik-So and MVL-Caruana can be found in the PGN file.

2017 Altibox Norway Chess | Round 3 Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts SB
1 Kramnik,Vladimir 2808 2913 ½ ½ 1 2.0/3 2.50
2 Nakamura,Hikaru 2785 2919 ½ ½ 1 2.0/3 2.50
3 Carlsen,Magnus 2832 2802 ½ ½ ½ 1.5/3 2.50
4 So,Wesley 2812 2812 ½ ½ ½ 1.5/3 2.50
5 Caruana,Fabiano 2808 2807 ½ ½ ½ 1.5/3 2.25
6 Aronian,Levon 2793 2788 ½ ½ ½ 1.5/3 2.25
7 Vachier-Lagrave,Maxime 2796 2802 ½ ½ ½ 1.5/3 2.00
8 Karjakin,Sergey 2781 2788 ½ ½ ½ 1.5/3 2.00
9 Anand,Viswanathan 2786 2675 0 ½ ½ 1.0/3 1.50
10 Giri,Anish 2771 2666 0 ½ ½ 1.0/3 1.50

In the evening a group of grandmasters joined in the hotel lobby. Guess what they were doing?

Friday is a rest day. The pairings for round four on Saturday are Aronian-Carlsen, Nakamura-MVL, Giri-Anand, Caruana-Kramnik, and So-Karjakin.

You can follow the games in Live Chess each day starting at 4 p.m. local time (7 a.m. Pacific, 10 a.m. Eastern). We're providing on-site coverage on and on our Twitter, Facebook and YouTube channels.

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