Welcome To Valhalla: Carlsen Crushes Giri
Carlsen won his second classical game in a row in round 4 of Norway Chess. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Norway Chess.

Welcome To Valhalla: Carlsen Crushes Giri

| 32 | Chess Event Coverage

The situation at the top of the leaderboard is beginning to sharpen at the 2022 Norway Chess in Stavanger.

The current world champion, GM Magnus Carlsen, announced his intentions to play for the tournament title by winning the second classical game in a row. As former world champion, GM Viswanathan Anand drew his game and then lost the armageddon game, Carlsen caught up to Anand in the overall standings.  

This leaves Anand and Carlsen in a shared first place with 8.5 points, ahead of GM Wesley So with 7.5, and GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov with 7.

Round five will begin on Sunday, June 5, at 8 a.m. PT / 17:00 Central Europe.

How to watch?

You can follow the 2022 Norway Chess with expert commentary on or on our Twitch channel. You can also catch all our live broadcasts on

Follow the 2022 Norway Chess games live on our dedicated page on

The results in round four brought a lot of changes to the overall standings given victories by Carlsen and Mamedyarov as well as armageddon wins by two of the lowest-ranked players, GMs Teimour Radjabov and Veselin Topalov.


The game between number one and two on the tournament table was naturally highly anticipated by chess fans all around the world. In a Symmetrical English, So sacrificed a pawn to gain the initiative and take away Black's right to castle.

Anand, however, was well-prepared and equalized easily, although he afterward admitted that he had to think for a bit to recall his analysis of the line which was done five to six years ago. After a few additional inaccuracies by So, Anand had an extra pawn and a clear advantage. 

Then the mystery happened when Anand invited his opponent to a repetition of moves despite having 45 minutes left on the clock and an obvious advantage on the board. So happily agreed to the suggested draw.

In the armageddon game, So once more went for a Symmetrical English, which was quite a surprise in itself for a number of reasons: 1) The Symmetrical English is often very solid for Black, 2) He had not gotten anything out of the opening in the first game, 3) nearly all players have played 1.e4 in their armageddon games. 

That So nevertheless went for it is a testament to his faith in his own abilities. By choosing the Botvinnik System, with 5.d3 and 6.e4, he indicated that he would be maneuvering for a while, which can be an excellent weapon to kill your opponent on the clock, where he from the beginning of the game had a solid advantage, 10 vs. 7 minutes.

Was Wesley So watching "Armageddon", the movie, on the screens above him? Photo: Lennart Ootes/Norway Chess.

To begin with, the strategy seemed to work, So got further ahead on the clock while the position on the board was more or less balanced, but then So got to a crossroad: the best continuation would be to exchange into a pure heavy piece ending/middlegame without minor pieces. With only one open file on the board, the risk of a draw would be imminent. The alternative was to gamble on the kingside. So had to do the latter.

And what a gamble it was, Anand achieved a winning position, but with almost four minutes left on the clock, Anand missed the win and instead allowed White a lethal counterpunch. Shortly thereafter, So played the clever 36.Bc4 to force the queens off the board as well, leaving White with a simple, winning endgame.

Heartbreak city for Anand. These armageddon games are highly entertaining for the audience but with these special time controls and no increment until move 40, the quality of the games can be quite bad. In this game, however, Anand could only blame himself for not winning the game.


The public relationship between Carlsen and GM Anish Giri has always reminded me of the relationship between the two brothers in Norse mythology, Thor and Loki. Magnus is the powerful god, Thor, while Giri is the mischievous Loki. Thor is stronger and very powerful but Loki is sneaky and resourceful and should never be underestimated.

In the early days of their rivalry, Carlsen could not hit Giri who kept a plus score for some time. That has since changed and this year, Carlsen has won a couple of memorable games. In Wijk aan Zee, Carlsen's Catalan crush against Giri reminded us why some players are world champions while others are "merely" top 10 players, irrespective of their ambitions to knock the crown of the champion.

In round three, Carlsen had given Radjabov the Catalan treatment, so it was reasonable to expect that something different would be on the agenda for their encounter. Rather than 4.g3 that would take the players to the Catalan, Carlsen opted for 4.Nc3, taking the game to a Queen's Gambit Declined, and Giri then went for a line in the Semi-Tarrasch that Carlsen has played himself and which we have already seen in Radjabov-Tari in round 2 of this tournament.

Carlsen varied from that game by playing 7.Bg5 and then the players followed prior praxis until Giri's novelty 16...Qxa1 which seems to give White a near-decisive advantage. 

Giri wonders why playing Carlsen has to be so difficult. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Norway Chess.

Admittedly, Carlsen missed the best continuation on move 21, where he had the brilliant 21.Qf5!! available, but otherwise, the conversion was very convincing, leaving Giri in a hopeless bind while White collected pawns.

Giri finally resigned when Carlsen started running his e- and a-pawns up the board. Game of the Day Dejan Bojkov

Radjabov-Vachier Lagrave

Radjabov has not had the start to the tournament that he would have wanted. This event is essentially being used as a warm-up to the Candidates but with him in last place, it has been less warm-up and more of an exhibition of where his game has fallen short. That, unfortunately, is the logical consequence of taking a long break from classical chess and then returning to play against some of the best players in the world.

While GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave has not gotten any Najdorf Sicilians on the board, his results have been more satisfactory and entered the round in fourth place. However, there was not a Najdorf on the board in this game either as Radjabov opted for 1.d4 against which replied with his other love: The Grunfeld Indian.

The problem with that opening is that the theory is developed quite far, often inviting long forced sequences that lead to positions where neither side has a chance to win the game. That kind of became the narrative for this game as well. The first twenty moves were theory and then there was not too much tension left, some more pieces came off and then a draw was agreed upon.

For the armageddon, both players went in a very different direction. Radjabov played 1.Nf3, a novelty as far as first moves in armageddon games for this event go. Vachier-Lagrave, rather than entering some sort of Anti-Grunfeld Variation, in which Radjabov has had some measure of success in the past, for instance, in the semifinal of the 2019 World Cup (an event Radjabov went on to win to qualify for the 2020 Candidates tournament), the Frenchman went for 1...d5 and entered a Queen's Gambit Accepted of which he has played quite a few in recent events.

Radjabov responded with the popular b3-variation which seems to be all the rage these days, even if Black objectively seems to be doing fine. That being said, they had actually played it against each other before, in the Norway Chess blitz tournament that preceded this event! Vachier-Lagrave won that game, but Radjabov undoubtedly had an improvement ready.

As the game unfolded, White always had a tiny edge which gradually became slightly bigger whenever Black played an inaccuracy—and there were a few of those. In the end, the mistakes became too many, White won a pawn and shortly after, also the game.

A positional masterpiece by Radjabov who must have been pleased with his effort in this game.

Despite the win, Radjabov remains in last place but at least he has now convinced himself that he can play excellent chess when it comes down to it.

Wang Hao-Mamedyarov

Prior to this round, both players of this encounter, GM Wang Hao and Mamedyarov, had been in three armageddon games, but while Wang had lost all three of his armageddon games, Mamedyarov had won two and just lost one.

In an Open Ruy Lopez, Wang tried to play something original, or maybe he was angling for an early repetition, but Mamedyarov was not having any of that, playing a sharp exchange sacrifice that he had analyzed from home. Wang avoided the critical line, which very far down the line would have led to equal chances or even a draw, but fearing that he would be walking into home preparation, it seemed wise to stay clear of such sharp play.

Instead, Mamedyarov took over the control of the game and gradually gained a small but clear advantage, largely on the shoulders of his bishop pair and some weak pawns on White's queenside.

A happy Mamedyarov during the post-game interview. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Norway Chess.

Further mistakes from Wang had the advantage grow to a winning one. Although Mamedyarov in several situations could have chosen a shorter and clearer path, the victory always seemed to be in his hands.


GMs Topalov and Aryan Tari were rather unenviably sharing the 8th-9th place in the standings ahead of his round, both having lost a classical game and then lost two armageddon games. 

With White, Topalov this time opted for 1.e4 and entered a very rare line of the Italian Game which honestly resembled something played by much-lower-rated players. But Topalov apparently knew what he was doing because he gained a clear advantage and really had Tari under severe pressure.

Sharp-dressed man Topalov played well in the Italian Game in the games in round 4 against Tari. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Norway Chess.

Nevertheless, Tari defended well and was resourceful and rather incredibly managed to save the draw by getting a couple of crucial decisions right just before the time control.

The commentators were wondering whether the players would repeat the opening from the classical game, it quickly turned out that the players were very much up to doing that, although what ended up on the board seemed like some sort of variation of it, but where Topalov was allowed to exchange on c5. 

White gained a little advantage, albeit nothing serious, although you could be forgiven if you thought that Black was in control, putting his knights on both d4 and f4 in the early middlegame. They looked good, but as Steinitz taught us, those kinds of outposts are only good if the knight cannot be kicked away again. Guess what? That's exactly what happened! Tari put his queen on the rather unfortunate f6-square and after c2-c3 and g2-g3 on consecutive moves, the knights were sent packing. 

Rather than seeing that happen, Tari incorrectly sacrificed one of them, but it was refuted rather easily by Topalov.

Round 4 Standings

 All Games Round 4

The 2022 Norway Chess runs May 31-June 10, 2022. The event consists of a 10-player single round-robin in a classical time control of 120 minutes for the game with a 10-second increment after move 40. The scoring system is three points for a win instead of the usual one. If the game is drawn, competitors play an armageddon game with the winner scoring 1.5 points and the loser 1 point. The prize fund is 2.5 million Norwegian kroner (NOK).

Previous coverage:

More from FM chansen64
After Blunder By So In 4th Game, Nakamura Wins The American Cup

After Blunder By So In 4th Game, Nakamura Wins The American Cup

Krush Extends Queenship, Wesley So Defeats Nakamura In Tiebreaker

Krush Extends Queenship, Wesley So Defeats Nakamura In Tiebreaker