Karjakin in Sole Lead in Norway After Beating Kramnik

Karjakin in Sole Lead in Norway After Beating Kramnik

| 30 | Chess Event Coverage

With one round to go, the winner of the 2013 Norway Chess tournament has excellent chances to repeat his success. Sergey Karjakin defeated co-leader Vladimir Kramnik on Thursday while Fabiano Caruana and Magnus Carlsen both dropped half a point. The latter spoilt a winning position against Peter Svidler. Simen Agdestein lost his first game, to Veselin Topalov. If more than one player finishes in first place tomorrow, there will be a playoff.

The 8th round in action | Photo ©

After three rounds, not many people were expecting that Sergey Karjakin would win two Norway Chess tournaments in a row. With one round to go, that's quite a realistic scenario.

“I think I played very badly in the first three games. Somehow I recovered, maybe with a little bit of help from my opponents but I was fighting,” the 24-year-old Muscovite said to the commentators after he had just beaten his compatriot Vladimir Kramnik. That game took energy. “I am very tired, but actually when you win you have energy, if you lose you have not!”

Karjakin didn't play the opening too ambitiously, and in fact around move twenty he was trying to steer the game to a draw. “"If there wouldn't be Sofia Rule, I would have offered a draw, he said. But Kramnik avoided a move repetition, so the game went on.

And then, as the game got closer to the time control, Kramnik played a few inaccurate moves and was worse. Just after the time control he had to give an Exchange, but he couldn't hold it.

Magnus Carlsen could, and should have been in shared first place with Karjakin. With Black he got a big advantage out of the opening because of some very bad moves by Peter Svidler in an English. “I am extremely embarrassed about the way I played the first half of the game. Abysmal,” is how Svidler described his play in the first half of the game. “I completely forgot 10…b6 is a legal move.”

Grischuk said about Svidler: “During dinner he reads comic books, but if he plays 1.c4 he should at least once read Marin's books!”

Svidler's position got worse and worse, and on move 24 it was completely over. “It's really the sort of position you don't analyze,” said Carlsen, who spent 15 minutes on the clock, only to play one of the few moves that didn't win. “I had seen Kf7 but I didn't see Rg3 for whatever reason. I even took fifteen minutes but I couldn't find something that simple.”

Carlsen misses a relatively easy win

Fabiano Caruana couldn't maintain his shared first place either - he drew his game with Levon Aronian, but he should have lost. Thanks to a strong novelty invented by his second Ashot Nadanian, Aronian got a promising position and on move 19 he won a pawn. However, the Armenian grandmaster didn't find the best moves and allowed his opponent, who was also in time trouble, to escape. Not a great performance from either player.

After seven excellent draws, the fun was over for Simen Agdestein. The oldest participant and former top 20 player lost to Veselin Topalov. “I was just so tired today. I slept fantastically, I slept and slept and slept, even just before the game. I just felt like sleeping. Playing chess when you're tired is not good, and losing when you're tired makes it even worse,” he said.

For Topalov it was quite a good game. The Bulgarian equalized quickly in another English opening (four out of five games saw this today!) and easily refuted his opponent's Exchange sac. “I'm the champion of the second half,” Topalov said.

Agdestein & Topalov chatting after the game | Photo ©

Alexander Grischuk had good chances against Anish Giri, but failed to win. He was clearly disappointed during the press conference as he realized that he didn't have a chance anymore to finish in first place. “I'd rather have a winning position in the last round, and if I win I win the tournament, and then to blunder. That is better than this.” “You're a maximalist!” said Nigel Short.

And so it's Karjakin who has the best chances for tournament victory. If he wins he's there, but if he draws, Carlsen and Caruana can still catch him. In that case a blitz playoff will decide matters.

“I'm just going to play chess. I think it's better to forget about the tournament situation,” said Karjakin, whose lucky win against Giri is suddenly very important. “After that game I was kind of inspired!”

“I don't think if you screw up like this you're entitled to think about first place,” said Carlsen. Tomorrow everything will be decided.

Norway Chess 2014 | Pairings & Results

Round 1 03.06.14 15:30 CET   Round 2 04.06.14 15:30 CET
Aronian ½-½ Agdestein   Aronian 1-0 Karjakin
Karjakin ½-½ Topalov   Kramnik ½-½ Carlsen
Grischuk 0-1 Caruana   Caruana 1-0 Svidler
Carlsen ½-½ Giri   Topalov 0-1 Grischuk
Svidler ½-½ Kramnik   Agdestein ½-½ Giri
Round 3 05.06.14 15:30 CET   Round 4 07.06.14 15:30 CET
Karjakin ½-½ Agdestein   Aronian ½-½ Svidler
Grischuk 1-0 Aronian   Karjakin 1-0 Grischuk
Svidler ½-½ Topalov   Caruana ½-½ Giri
Carlsen ½-½ Caruana   Topalov ½-½ Carlsen
Giri 0-1 Kramnik   Agdestein ½-½ Kramnik
Round 5 08.06.14 15:30 CET   Round 6 09.06.14 15:30 CET
Grischuk ½-½ Agdestein   Aronian ½-½ Giri
Svidler ½-½ Karjakin   Karjakin ½-½ Carlsen
Carlsen 1-0 Aronian   Grischuk ½-½ Svidler
Giri 1-0 Topalov   Topalov 1-0 Kramnik
Kramnik 1-0  Caruana   Agdestein ½-½ Caruana
Round 7 10.06.14 15:30 CET   Round 8 12.06.14 15:30 CET
Svidler ½-½ Agdestein   Aronian ½-½ Caruana
Carlsen ½-½ Grischuk   Karjakin 1-0 Kramnik
Giri 0-1 Karjakin   Grischuk ½-½ Giri
Kramnik ½-½ Aronian   Svidler ½-½ Carlsen
Caruana ½-½ Topalov   Agdestein 0-1 Topalov
Round 9 13.06.14 14:30 CET        
Carlsen - Agdestein        
Giri - Svidler        
Kramnik - Grischuk        
Caruana - Karjakin        
Topalov - Aronian        

Norway Chess 2014 | Round 8 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts SB
1 Karjakin,Sergey 2771 2860 phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ 1 1 0 ½ 1 ½ 5.0/8
2 Carlsen,Magnus 2881 2823 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 4.5/8 17.75
3 Caruana,Fabiano 2791 2815 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ 0 1 ½ 1 ½ ½ 4.5/8 17.00
4 Topalov,Veselin 2772 2769 ½ ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png 1 0 ½ 0 1 4.0/8 16.25
5 Kramnik,Vladimir 2783 2771 0 ½ 1 0 phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ 1 ½ 4.0/8 15.50
6 Grischuk,Alexander 2792 2771 0 ½ 0 1 phpfCo1l0.png 1 ½ ½ ½ 4.0/8 15.00
7 Aronian,Levon 2815 2726 1 0 ½ ½ 0 phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ ½ 3.5/8 14.50
8 Svidler,Peter 2753 2736 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ 3.5/8 14.25
9 Giri,Anish 2752 2736 0 ½ ½ 1 0 ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ 3.5/8 14.00
10 Agdestein,Simen 2628 2734 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png 3.5/8 14.00

The Norway Chess tournament runs 2-13 June in the Stavanger region. All photos courtesy of the official website | Games via TWIC phpfCo1l0.png

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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