Norway Chess R5: Kramnik Beats & Overtakes Caruana

Norway Chess R5: Kramnik Beats & Overtakes Caruana

| 28 | Chess Event Coverage

Sunday was a dramatic day for Fabiano Caruana at the Norway Chess tournament, who defended well in a difficult ending, calculated the right move but played the wrong one (50...Ke8) and resigned a few moves later, perhaps prematurely. His opponent Vladimir Kramnik overtook him in the standings; the Russian grandmaster is on 3.5/5 and half a point ahead of Magnus Carlsen who defeated Levon Aronian. Anish Giri won his first, against Veselin Topalov, while Simen Agdestein continued to impress and drew with Alexander Grischuk after missing a win.

The fifth round of the Norway Chess tournament could be summarized by it ain't over till it's over - and not even then! Peter Svidler got a very nice position against Sergey Karjakin but let it slip away, Veselin Topalov got a winning position against Anish Giri but blew it in two moves, underdog Simen Agdestein missing a winning tactic and had to be satisfied with a draw against Alexander Grischuk, Magnus Carlsen got outplayed by Levon Aronian who failed to deliver the decisive positional blow and even lost, and last but not least tournament leader Fabiano Caruana blundered in a drawn ending against Vladimir Kramnik and then resigned in a position where many would have played on. And all that on one day!

The game that shook up the standings started as a Fianchetto King's Indian with ...c5 (or is it a Symmetrical English?) and in a tactical sequence the queens and one pair of rooks were traded. Kramnik got optimistic when he played 21.c5 and he ended up winning a pawn, but the endgame after move 36 was described by Anish Giri as “94% draw, 4% White winning and 1% Black winning.”

Caruana defended well and had already calculated a long line to a draw when Kramnik gave up his extra pawn to reach a rook ending. But when it came on the board, the Italian's hand put his king on the wrong square! Caruana had no explanation for why it had happened.

Also in Dortmund last year Caruana lost to Kramnik by a blunder deep in the endgame. “But in Dortmund I didn't see the final move - here I saw the draw!”

And so Kramnik is the new leader, and Caruana is now in shared second place together with Carlsen. The Norwegian admitted that he got outplayed by Aronian: “I think I was pretty thoroughly outplayed in the middlegame. I was very lucky not to lose before the time control. And then suddenly I was a pawn up and I thought I was winning, but it was not so easy. It was a fighting game but I just need some rest now.”

Aronian's play was “genius” in the eyes of Giri, who especially liked 17...Na4 and 24...Ba4. On move 32 the white knight is out of play. Carlsen: “If Black gets his bishop on b5 and pawn on a6 I can pack and go home.”

But Aronian “forgot about” the move g3-g4 for White, and so he forgot to play ...h6-h5 to stop that. The Armenian, who was absolutely devastated after the game, said: “I was doing alright. I should have just played …h5 at some moment but I just went completely nuts. It's difficult to explain why someone wouldn't play it. It's a puzzle.”

Another very disappointed player was Topalov, who got a promising position but failed to grab his chances. He surprised his opponent with the Classical Sicilian and somehow Giri couldn't find the right plan and played very passively. “Of course I had no clue about the position but it's not an excuse to play so badly anyway,” said the Dutch grandmaster.

In the position after 31.Re1 Topalov could have decided the game with the standard pawn break ...d6-d5, but he miscalculated, played two bad moves in a row and suddenly he was lost.

Topalov: “At some point I thought I would win but I missed several simple moves. It's not really a good trend. Very simple blunders.” Giri: “I played in the best spirit of Sergey Karjakin. I got myself into trouble and then I got very lucky. (...) At least it will not be written that I played a retarded game, it will be written that I won.”

And the theme continues: with a wry smile, a disappointed Agdestein was watching his opponent Grischuk going through their game in the commentary box. The 47-year-old Norwegian still believed in the French variation that he played earlier against Karjakin and again he got away with it. In fact Grischuk overestimated his chances so much that he started sacrificing pawns, looking for things that didn't exist.

The Russian was lucky that his opponent failed to miss a winning tactic. Agdestein: “I was tired; I'm missing simple tactics. It's lack of experience - on this level.”

It is known that Svidler is a big cricket fan, but he also likes tennis.

The grandmaster from St Petersburg was among the group of players who failed to make something out of a promising position, but in his case it wasn't clearly winning. In a Symmetrical English, neither player was aware of a certain correspondence game where the strong move 15...Nd5! was played - a move Svidler only spotted after he made his 15th. Karjakin missed it and was worse, but held it when Svidler started hesitating a bit.

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 - Giri
Svidler ½-½ Karjakin   Karjakin - Carlsen
Carlsen 1-0 Aronian   Grischuk - Svidler
Giri 1-0 Topalov   Topalov - Kramnik
Kramnik 1-0  Caruana   Agdestein - Caruana
Round 7 10.06.14 15:30 CET   Round 8 12.06.14 15:30 CET
Svidler - Agdestein   Aronian - Caruana
Carlsen - Grischuk   Karjakin - Kramnik
Giri - Karjakin   Grischuk - Giri
Kramnik - Aronian   Svidler - Carlsen
Caruana - Topalov   Agdestein - Topalov
Round 9 13.06.14 14:30 CET        
Carlsen - Agdestein        
Giri - Svidler        
Kramnik - Grischuk        
Caruana - Karjakin        
Topalov - Aronian        

Norway Chess 2014 | Round 5 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts SB
1 Kramnik,V 2783 2908 phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ 3.5/5
2 Carlsen,M 2881 2854 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ 1 ½ 3.0/5 7.25
3 Caruana,F 2791 2862 0 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1 1 3.0/5 7.25
4 Agdestein,S 2628 2782 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ ½ ½ 2.5/5 6.50
5 Giri,A 2752 2771 0 ½ ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png 1 2.5/5 5.75
6 Karjakin,S 2771 2752 ½ phpfCo1l0.png 1 0 ½ ½ 2.5/5 5.50
7 Grischuk,A 2792 2756 0 ½ 0 phpfCo1l0.png 1 1 2.5/5 4.75
8 Aronian,L 2815 2695 0 ½ 1 0 phpfCo1l0.png ½ 2.0/5 4.75
9 Svidler,P 2753 2716 ½ 0 ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ 2.0/5 4.75
10 Topalov,V 2772 2643 ½ 0 ½ 0 ½ phpfCo1l0.png 1.5/5

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.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

Between 2007 and 2013 Peter was running ChessVibes, a major source for chess news and videos acquired by in October 2013.

As our Director News & Events, Peter writes many of our news reports. In the summer of 2022, The Guardian’s Leonard Barden described him as “widely regarded as the world’s best chess journalist.”

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