Norway Chess: Anand Wins; Mamedyarov Admits Pre-Arranged Draws
Anand joined Aronian, Carlsen and So in first place today. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Norway Chess: Anand Wins; Mamedyarov Admits Pre-Arranged Draws

PeterDoggers
PeterDoggers
Jun 5, 2018, 11:32 AM |
151 | Chess Event Coverage

Viswanathan Anand defeated Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in round seven of the Altibox Norway Chess tournament and is now tied for first place. The other news today was Shakhriyar Mamedyarov admitting to having been involved in pre-arranged draws.

It's at the same time a taboo and common knowledge in the chess world: pre-arranged draws at top level chess. It happens, probably not as often as in the past, but every now and then "games" like that do occur.

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov today admitted that he has been involved in such agreements. This happened after Magnus Carlsen had discussed the topic in the TV2 studio, where he appeared as commentator today (he was supposed to play Ding Liren today, who had to withdraw from the tournament after injuring his hip).

Carlsen TV2

For a while, Carlsen took over for the regular TV2 host Fin Gnatt. For the last three rounds, the tournament has moved to the Stavanger Concert Hall. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Carlsen: "I know that Karjakin and Mamedyarov have made pre-arranged draws in previous tournaments. So if their game [from round three] was pre-arranged as well, of which I have no proof whatsoever, I would not be very surprised."

Carlsen TV2

"I do not do it myself. It's very hard to prevent people from doing it, but it's not the way it should be," Carlsen added. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Later, a TV2 reporter confronted Mamedyarov with Carlsen's statement. The Azerbaijani denied that his game with Karjakin was prearranged (Karjakin also denied that), but then he admitted that he has been involved in pre-arranged draws in the past.

"Sometimes we do it, yes, before the game. It doesn't happen every time or in every tournament, but sometimes if you are sick or not in a mood, and you play against White, you think it's fine. But it's better for the sport and for the spectators to compete."

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov

Mamedyarov: "Sometimes we do it, yes, before the game." | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Mamedyarov said a pre-arranged draw isn't much different from a game being agreed to a draw after 10 or 15 minutes: "It's not good either. I think it's best to try to play chess, try to win."

The topic will surely lead to more discussion, and might be covered in more detail here on Chess.com, but it's time to talk about today's round seven in Stavanger.

The only winner was Vishy Anand, who set 0-1 on the scoreboard for the first time this tournament. He won a great game against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in which his play, according to GM Robert Hess, was "practically perfect."

Viswanathan Anand Norway 2018

After six draws, Anand scored his first win. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Anand's choice of the Open Ruy Lopez failed to surprise MVL, who had something in store there himself. Thanks to an original rook shift (Re1-e3-c3) and his g2-g4 in front of his king, the Frenchman allowed the game to get sharper.

On move 24 Anand made an excellent judgment, setting his pawn force in motion and sacrificing the exchange. He wasn't immediately aware of the strength of that sacrifice, though.

"Even a little bit later I realized that I'm better," said Anand. "It's a strange sensation that you're not realizing what's happening at first."

Already there it was time for MVL to play for equality, but he realized it too late. Soon after the trade of queens, Black was winning in the endgame.

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Chess.com's interview with Anand.

Fabiano Caruana and Hikaru Nakamura drew an interesting game in the Mikenas variation of the English (1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e6 3.e4 d5). The funny thing in the opening was that Caruana played the rare move 7.Bd3 (instead of 7.d4), and Nakamura had forgotten that he had once played that move himself! 

Nakamura Caruana Norway 2018

Caruana vs Nakamura. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

The game quickly reached an endgame where White's horrible pawn structure was compensated by the bishop pair. Well, that was the plan for Caruana. As it went, he had to pull the emergency brake before Black would get the advantage.

"I knew I should go for this ending and that was the extent to my knowledge," Caruana said. 

Nakamura Caruana Agdestein

Nakamura, Caruana and Agdestein in the post-mortem. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

The other two games were rather insipid. Sergey Karjakin vs Levon Aronian was a Ragozin where Aronian surprised his opponent somewhat by playing an older variation, but he knew it well. "I was familiar with this line. After all I was the first player to play it," he said.

About the position after move 12, he noted with typical Aronian humor: "Black’s play is very much like in the improved Tarrasch. You don’t have to be an intelligent person to play it, just Nc6, Rc8… So it’s perfect for me!"

Karjakin Aronian Norway 2018

A Ragozin in Karjakin vs Aronian. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Although his dental issues have downgraded from serious pain to minor nuisance, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov doesn't seem to be much inspired anymore. Playing White, he split the point with Wesley So in 26 moves.

Mamedyarov didn't sounded very convincing when he said: “I had no ideas. Sometimes when you plan a bad tournament you just want to play fast and attack. It’s the only chance.”

That was refering to 14.g4 and 17.d5, a rather toothless form of aggression since it was soon followed by a move repetition.

There was a funny moment when Mamedyarov told his opponent about the recent game Giri-Wojtaszek in the same line, when So said: "Anish is very good at pressing the space bar." (This refers to working with an engine, where pressing the spacebar adds the computer's first suggestion to the analysis.)

Wesley So, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Ian Rogers, Norway Chess 2018

So and Mamedyarov speaking with the Australian journalist and grandmaster Ian Rogers. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Altibox Norway Chess 2018 | Round 7 Standings*

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts SB
1 So,Wesley 2778 2846 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 3.5/6 11.5
2 Carlsen,Magnus 2843 2838 0 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ 3.5/6 11.25
3 Aronian,Levon 2764 2797 ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 3.5/7 10.5
4 Anand,Viswanathan 2760 2850 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 3.5/6 10.25
5 Nakamura,Hikaru 2769 2800 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 3.0/6 9.25
6 Mamedyarov,Shakhriyar 2808 2731 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 3.0/7 9
7 Caruana,Fabiano 2822 2793 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 3.0/6 8.75
8 Karjakin,Sergey 2782 2800 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 1 3.0/6 8.75
9 Vachier-Lagrave,Maxime 2789 2664 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 2.0/6
10 Ding,Liren 2791 0.0/0

Ding won't continue the tournament and his results are not counting.

Round eight pairings (Wednesday): Nakamura-Karjakin, Anand-Caruana, So-MVL, Carlsen-Mamedyarov.

Ding Liren was able to join some of the players on a boat trip on the rest day.

Games via TWIC.

You can follow the games in Live Chess each day starting at 4:30 p.m. local time (7:30 a.m. Pacific, 10:30 a.m. Eastern) on our Live Server.

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The Chessbrahs are be providing daily video commentary with GMs Aman Hambleton, Eric Hansen and Yasser Seirawan on Twitch.tv/Chessbrah and Chess.com/TV.


Previous reports:

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