Norway R6: Three-Way Tie For First as Topalov Beats Kramnik

Norway R6: Three-Way Tie For First as Topalov Beats Kramnik

| 34 | Chess Event Coverage

The Norway Chess tournament is still wide open with three rounds to go. In Monday's sixth round Veselin Topalov defeated arch rival Vladimir Kramnik while the other four games ended in draws. Kramnik is now tied for first place with Fabiano Caruana and Magnus Carlsen, who drew with Simen Agdestein and Sergey Karjakin respectively.

Eight years after Toiletgate (the cheating allegations during the 2006 World Championship in Elista), Veselin Topalov and Vladimir Kramnik are still not shaking hands. That's all there is to say about it, actually. As Topalov put it: “People are only talking about the handshake but if you exclude that, the games are completely normal. And it's not really the biggest problem of the chess world.”

Besides, on Monday we were also reminded of the fact that life is too short for such silliness. It was the day when British comedian and actor Rik Mayall, star of The Young Ones and Bottom, died, aged 56. Enjoy the video below, and enjoy life! Let's do-oo-oo it!

Back in March, at the Candidates’ Tournament in Khanty-Mansiysk, Topalov defeated Kramnik as White, but lost the second game as Black. On Monday the Bulgarian was on top again.

In a 4.Nf3 Nimzo-Indian Topalov decided to avoid his opponent's preparation and played a safe bishop swap on f6. After the game the Bulgarian said that he had noticed that Kramnik had problems when he needed to think already in the opening. 

And indeed, not only did the Russian spend 48 minutes on his next three moves, his choices were surprising: where the simple 10...exd5 would equalize (fine when leading the tournament!?) and 12...Qe7 would keep things solid, he decided to go for complications with an Exchange sacrifice.

Anish Giri had a theory: “Topalov plays very well when he's an Exchange down so probably [Kramnik] was hoping that he would play badly when he's an Exchange up.”

But that wasn't the case: Topalov played excellent moves which made clear that the sac was hardly correct, and forced resignation (between these two players a matter of “sign the score sheets and walk away” - Topalov) just after the time control.

The sixth round was played in the Aarbakke factory in Bryne. (“We deliver advanced turnkey solutions and parts to the oil & gas industry, focusing on subsea and downhole. Aarbakke covers the whole process from engineering to manufacturing, assembly and testing.”) 

To the question whether he had won an important game, Topalov answered: “I looked at all the people working here and I thought: when it goes badly, maybe I should just apply for a job here!”

Topalov scores his first win, against Kramnik

Caruana moved back to (shared) first place by drawing his game (“I would have preferred doing that by winning”) with Agdestein from a horrible position out of the opening. What is that former professional football player doing to those top GMs??

An early queen sortie to b6 by Caruana was completely uncalled for, but the Italian only remembered Bc1-e3 after playing his queen. Objectively speaking it might have been better to put the queen back to d8 there, or the next move, but that would make one look pretty silly!

If only Agdestein had seen the maneuver Nd2-c4-a5 before playing c2-c4 (he saw it later), he might have won his very first game. Nigel Short described the position for Black as “stalemate”. In the game Caruana took the very practical decision to give an Exchange and his strong g7-bishop made the day. At the end Caruana was even a bit better, but Agdestein found good squares for his rooks.

The third leader after six rounds is Carlsen, who drew extremely quickly with Karjakin. In a Berlin Ending with 9.h3 (where 9.Nc3 has been the main line for more than a decade) the World Champion switched back to 9...Bd7, his choice against Anand in the Chennai match. In April in Shamkir he had lost to Caruana with 9...h6.

The players followed a game Dominguez-Navara from last year and then at move 18 Carlsen played a novelty that steers the game right to a draw.

Aronian and Giri got a standard IQP middlegame position that can be reached from many different move-orders - Chessbase calls theirs “Queen's Gambit Declined: Semi-Tarrasch with 5.cxd5”. As it turned out, Giri knew more about it than his opponent! “Anish tricked me in the opening by not playing what he so convincingly played against Magnus,” said Aronian, who had recovered from his loss against Carlsen by listening to some Bill Evans.

The ...Nc6-e7-g6 maneuver is still standard, but the strong ...Bf6-e7! came unexpected for the world's number two. “I don't know if I would have found it but I knew it,” said Giri. And then, after a tactic on move 23, it became clear that Aronian needed to fight for a draw which wasn't so difficult because there was no way for Giri to avoid an opposite-colored bishop ending.

The opening in Grischuk-Svidler, a Symmetrical English, was quite interesting when White came up with the energetic 11.b4!? - only played once in a correspondence game. Svidler's reaction looks decent, although White might have had an advantage somewhere.

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 - 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 6 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts SB
1 Kramnik,Vladimir 2783 2821 phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1 ½ 1 0 ½ 3.5/6 11.00
2 Carlsen,Magnus 2881 2840 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 3.5/6 10.25
3 Caruana,Fabiano 2791 2823 0 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ 1 1 3.5/6 10.25
4 Agdestein,Simen 2628 2784 ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ ½ ½ 3.0/6 9.25
5 Karjakin,Sergey 2771 2773 ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png 1 ½ 0 ½ 3.0/6 8.75
6 Giri,Anish 2752 2778 0 ½ ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png 1 ½ 3.0/6 8.75
7 Grischuk,Alexander 2792 2755 0 ½ 0 phpfCo1l0.png 1 1 ½ 3.0/6 7.75
8 Topalov,Veselin 2772 2731 1 ½ ½ 0 0 phpfCo1l0.png ½ 2.5/6 8.00
9 Aronian,Levon 2815 2705 0 ½ 1 ½ 0 phpfCo1l0.png ½ 2.5/6 7.25
10 Svidler,Peter 2753 2729 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png 2.5/6 7.25

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.”

In October, Peter's first book The Chess Revolution will be published!

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