Topalov Wins Norway Chess After Quick Draw With Anand
“Sometimes you have to be practical,” said GM Veselin Topalov after his quick draw with GM Vishy Anand that clinched the $75,000 first prize at Norway Chess.
GM Hikaru Nakamura caught Anand in second place with a last-round win over GM Levon Aronian. GM Jon Ludvig Hammer scored a sensational win over his friend and compatriot GM Magnus Carlsen, who lost an unprecedented 22.7 rating points in one tournament.
It made a lot of sense for the players, but still the experts and the fans were hoping for a bit more. GM Veselin Topalov vs GM Vishy Anand, the jewel of the final round, ended in a draw in only half an hour.
Before the sandwiches had arrived in the press room, Norway Chess was decided.
The players basically followed the game Ivanchuk-Carlsen from Wijk aan Zee in January this year from start to finish. Back then, Carlsen was really annoyed that his opponent didn't want to play, because the game ended a winning streak of six games. Today, neither player was annoyed.
“I thought to play the way I also did against Levon,” said Topalov. “Then I remembered that it was very simple and drawish and I went for it.”
“[I'm] a bit relieved. I wasn't completely sure if Vishy wouldn't at least keep on playing. But then, it's also not easy to find a playable position in the classical openings that he plays, which he prepared for world championship matches, in order to equalize.
“With Black playing against 1.d4 there are not so many ways to just even to keep on playing without taking risk. Look at Magnus, I think he's done some complete rubbish.”
Topalov pointed out that Norway Chess was the first of three tournaments in the Grand Chess Tour. “It's not a tragedy to be second, not at all!”
Here's Chess.com's interview with the tournament winner:
Anand: “I couldn't think of an opening where he wouldn't have such an option. I thought if he wanted to do this, I didn't think that I should go crazy. I was ready for a fight but I didn't want to be silly about it.”
Looking back at his tournament, Anand said: “Plus three; I'm pretty satisfied with my play and my result. If you said before the tournament: plus three, three wins like this, I wouldn't have complained too much.
“In the beginning of the tournament I was worried that I was not playing my best because I felt I was missing some chances. I would say after that, the last four or five games, I felt in control all the time and obviously the three wins are very pleasing.”
Anand agreed that he didn't get into trouble throughout the tournament: “There was no single crisis moment. OK, the game with Grischuk was scary at some points and the game with Giri was also a bit topsy-turvy but I can't point to a single moment when it felt bad.”
Anand said he doesn't look too much at the mistakes he made during an event. “I am happy with the result regardless how it came. I've been in enough tournaments where I deserved to score more to know that that's a totally empty feeling. I don't want to deserve to score more, I just want to score more.”
A quick draw that decided the tournament.
And so, for the rest of the day the official commentary with Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam and GM Jan Gustafsson (who happened to celebrate his 36th birthday), and that of TV2 discussed the other four games, with the knowledge that most of the excitement was over.
At least they thought it was.
In this final round GM Jon Ludvig Hammer scored a sensational win over GM Magnus Carlsen, who took risks in the opening, got under pressure and couldn't save himself.
The opening moves were 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 a6!? (played by e.g. Morozevich, Short and Ponomariov) and then 4.Bg5 f6!? looked somewhat dubious, but Hammer felt it was “a perfectly normal move.”
Carlsen himself wasn't happy with 5...dxc4 and he was quickly worse. After missing one or two more chances in the endgame, the world champ suffered his first loss in 15 years against his friend and second.
Wow! Hammer beats Carlsen in a classical game for the first time since November 2000, when they faced each other in NOR Ch U10 #NorwayChess— Tarjei J. Svensen ( @TarjeiJS) June 25, 2015
“I'm trying my very best to stay calm,” was the first Hammer said after his win. “I feel like I could have made more. That's bittersweet. I doubled my score from 2013, I beat the world champion...I'm pretty happy.”
Carlsen had his worst score ever in his professional career, losing 22.7 rating points in one event. Here's what the live ratings look like after Norway Chess:
You may have noted that Caruana now has an American flag behind his name. Since today, FIDE lists him as “USA.” He told Chess.com that he has transferred the necessary 50,000 Euros earlier this week.
This means that the organizers of the Sparkassen Chess Meeting in Dortmund, which starts in two days, need to arrange not one (for Wesley So) but two American flags!
The third winner of the day was GM Hikaru Nakamura, who defeated GM Levon Aronian with the black pieces to catch Anand in second place — another excellent result in what is a great year so far for the American number one.
In an English he played a line GM Paco Vallejo likes to play, with ...Bc5 and ...h5. It was all complicated but fairly equal until Aronian made a horrible mistake on move 19.
Annotations by GM Dejan Bojkov
“I think I should improve my calmness,” said Aronian. “In these two games, yesterday and today, in time trouble I've played terribly, I played really bad ideas. You kind of start blundering.”
Nakamura: “I'm pretty happy with how I've played this year so far. Keep on going.”
In 2015, so far he lost only two (!) of his 66 classical games in Gibraltar, Zurich, the U.S. Championship in St. Louis, the Italian Team Championship, the Khanty-Mansiysk GP and Norway Chess.
Besides Anand and Nakamura one more player managed to stay undefeated in Stavanger: GM Anish Giri. In the last round he was the one who had winning chances, as Black, against GM Fabiano Caruana.
“I mixed up the move order. You have to play Nf6 first and take on e4. Now I'm in trouble,” joked Giri about playing the Open Spanish (and not the Berlin) — following his great Dutch predecessor Max Euwe.
It was a good choice, because Caruana is someone who doesn't shy away from main lines even when he doesn't remember the variations perfectly.
Out of the opening, Black had an edge, but Giri failed to maintain that edge.
“At this point [after 23...Nd8] I was so happy with my position that [I] started to play a bit intuitively and a bit careless,” said Giri.
Giri missed or at least underestimated 29...Be4. “Somehow I didn't evaluate the position correctly. I thought I had nothing special.”
The game between GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and GM Alexander Grischuk was drawn as well. MVL followed his own game against Aronian with 11.h3.
“It was my novelty, 11.h3; I wanted to play it myself,” said Grischuk. “I was quite unlucky because Maxime played Levon in round one, and I played him in round two.”
The players quickly reached an endgame where White was a bit better, but it was nothing serious.
MVL said that after his great start, at some point the many tournaments he played recently took their toll: “Now the marathon is over, it's time to rest. I have to come back fresh as ever.”
Vachier-Lagrave's next tournament will be the Biel Chess Festival.
As said, Caruana will be playing in Dortmund later this week. You can find the list of participants for both these strong tournaments in July here.
For Anand, Aronian, Carlsen, Nakamura and Topalov the next tournament will be the second leg of the Grand Chess Tour: the Sinquefield Cup starting in August.
Giri will be getting married next month and will play the Dutch Championship; Hammer plays the Politiken Cup next.
2015 Norway Chess | Final Standings
Now that the first leg of the Grand Chess Tour is over, we can have a look at the standings. They are logically almost the same as above. The only difference is that in Stanvanger Carlsen scored more wins than Grischuk (the first tiebreak), so he gets 4 points and Grischuk 3. More info: tiebreaks | rules/regulations.
Prizes & Grand Chess Tour Standings
The Norway Chess tournament took place June 15-26 in the Stavanger region. | Games via TWIC
- Round 8: Norway Chess Not Yet Decided As Anand Wins, Topalov Loses | Update: VIDEO
- Round 7: 5 Draws At Norway Chess; Topalov Maintains 1.5-Point Lead
- Round 6: Topalov Beats Grischuk, Now 1.5 Points Ahead Of Pack
- Round 5: "Lucky Topalov" Increases Lead; Carlsen Finally Wins | Update: VIDEO
- Round 4: Drama Continues For Carlsen; Topalov In Sole Lead
- Round 3: Nakamura, Topalov Win And Lead After Norway Chess Round 3
- Round 2: Carlsen Also Loses To Caruana At Norway Chess | Update: VIDEO
- Round 1: Magnus Carlsen Doesn't Know Time Control, Loses On Time
- Blitz: Vachier-Lagrave Wins Opening Blitz As Norway Chess Takes Off | Update: VIDEO
- Preview: Grand Chess Tour Kicks Off Monday With Norway Chess