So Beats Carlsen, Shakes Up Norway Chess Standings
So discussing his win with Carlsen afterward. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

So Beats Carlsen, Shakes Up Norway Chess Standings

| 108 | Chess Event Coverage

On Sunday, Wesley So won his first-ever classical game against Magnus Carlsen and shook up the standings at the Altibox Norway Chess tournament.

Together with Levon Aronian he is now half a point behind the world champion, but, unlike his main rivals, So will play not two but three more games.

"I finally managed to catch him on his off-day," Wesley So said in his interview in the studio with Simen Agdestein and Anna Rudolf. But he was too modest there: Magnus Carlsen hadn't played well, but So definitely had.

That was also Carlsen's opinion, who said in the TV2 studio (translated by Tarjei Svensen): "This was not fun. Well played by So. Credit goes to him, because he played a great game."

Carlsen TV2

Carlsen in the TV2 studio, with a slight delay on the TV next to him. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

So himself pointed out that it was his first classical win against Carlsen. It was also the first loss for Carlsen in 2018, who saw a streak of 37 games without a loss coming to an end.

Few predicted a decisive result after So played the Exchange Slav (1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.cxd5), a move he spent eight minutes on. He said he was surprised by the Slav, and had looked at the Exchange with a grandmaster: "I studied it recently and what's the point of studying if I'm not gonna play it?"

So vs Carlsen, Norway 2018

So spent eight minutes on his third move. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

So felt that he kept a slight edge out of the opening after Carlsen answered with a sideline. "It's fine of course, but it's a little provoking," was how Nakamura described 6...a6, 7...Bf5 and 8...Rc8. 

Although his main priority was not to lose, So wasn't playing for a draw either, especially when his opponent started playing some suspicious moves.

Vachier-Lagrave praised So for finding 22.Bg3 and 23.Nb3 to avoid counterplay, and then Carlsen made an odd looking 23rd move based on a miscalculation. So won a pawn, and from that point it was just suffering for the Norwegian GM.

By move 35, MVL and Nakamura estimated that White would win 9 out of 10 times and after a short analysis felt they were too generous for Carlsen there! Indeed, it was soon over.


So Carlsen Norway

The players spent quite some time talking about variations before leaving the stage. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Carlsen loses to So Norway

Carlsen, clearly disappointed, on his way to the TV2 studio. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

So, Lotis Key

So being congratulated by his adoptive family, Lotis and Abbey Key. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Afterward So reminded everyone that he had shown good form last week as well. "I won the blitz, but then Ding Liren took away one of my Whites! No, I hope he has a speedy recovery."

Ding, by the way, is still recovering, mostly in bed. He is planning to fly back to China on Tuesday, and has cancelled his next events.'s interview with Wesley So.

The most interesting of the three draws was the clash between Hikaru Nakamura and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, and especially the opening phase. Nakamura decided to try out kind of a new system, played by Carlsen last month against Wojtaszek in Shamkir: 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Qxd4 Nc6 5.Qd2.

White's idea is to fianchetto his queen's bishop and castle queenside, which worked out perfectly for Carlsen.

Nakamura vs MVL Norway

Nakamura playing 1.e4, but not with the intention to face the Najdorf. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Unlike Wojtaszek, MVL fianchettoed his king's bishop, followed by the typical Najdorf move e7-e5, blocking that bishop! Anand said he was "shocked and impressed" about that concept, but according to the Frenchman it was mostly to avoid White from going Ne2-f4.

Nakamura probably missed a chance or two for a slight edge in the endgame, and by move 18 Black was absolutely fine. Anand joked that he forgot where White's king's bishop was, as it had "blended into the pawn structure," so bad was it!

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave Norway Chess 2018

Vachier-Lagrave was well prepared for Nakamura's sideline. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

The first game to finish was Levon Aronian vs Fabiano Caruana. The latter played the Vienna variation of the Queen's Gambit Declined, which he had done in the Berlin Candidates' as well. He was fully prepared for Aronian's interesting way of playing, and even knew where White could have played more accurately to keep some slight pressure.

Aronian vs Caruana Norway Chess

Aronian-Caruana fizzled out before it started. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Vishy Anand wasn't too happy with his play against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, who went for 3...g6 in the Ruy Lopez. The reason was an early mistake: throwing in the check 11.Re1+ looked natural, but allowed Black the setup Be6/Qd7.

Mamedyarov felt he was slightly better there, and Anand's subsequent play, where he basically went straight for the draw, suggested he felt the same.

Carlsen watching Anand vs Mamedyarov

Carlsen, who has played 3...g6 himself, is obviously interested. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Altibox Norway Chess 2018 | Round 6 Standings*

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0
1 Carlsen,Magnus 2843 2838 0 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 3.5/6
2 So,Wesley 2778 2854 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 3.0/5 8.75
3 Aronian,Levon 2764 2800 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 3.0/6 7.5
4 Anand,Viswanathan 2760 2792 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 2.5/5 7.25
5 Nakamura,Hikaru 2769 2795 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 2.5/5 6.75
6 Karjakin,Sergey 2782 2808 ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 2.5/5 6.5
7 Caruana,Fabiano 2822 2798 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ 2.5/5 6.25
8 Mamedyarov,Shakhriyar 2808 2723 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 2.5/6 6
9 Vachier-Lagrave,Maxime 2789 2719 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ 2.0/5
10 Ding,Liren 2791 0.0/0

*Ding won't continue the tournament and his results are not counting.

Round seven pairings (Tuesday): Mamedyarov-So, MVL-Anand, Caruana-Nakamura, Karjakin-Aronian.

Games via TWIC.

Previous reports:

More from PeterDoggers
Honorary Grandmaster Title Posthumously Awarded To Sultan Khan

Honorary Grandmaster Title Posthumously Awarded To Sultan Khan

Wei Yi Wins 2024 Tata Steel Chess Masters In Thrilling Tiebreak

Wei Yi Wins 2024 Tata Steel Chess Masters In Thrilling Tiebreak