Svidler leads after first two days in Gjovik

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
Russian GM Peter Svidler started the Aker Chess Challenge, a rapid event that's part of the International Chess Festival in Gjovik (Norway), with two wins and two draws. Carlsen and Nakamura follow on 2.5/4 while Lie lost his first four games.

The Aker Chess Challenge runs this weekend; it's a rapid event with a similar set-up as the annual Mainz Chess Classic. (The website's header even uses a big photo from Mainz!). It's part of the Gjovik International Chess Festival which takes place 29th December-7th January 2009 and is held on occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Gjovik chess club. It includes a 9-round Swiss, with reigning European champion Tiviakov, Savchenko, Malakhatko, Bartel, Kualots, Gopal, DeFirmian and Kveinys currenly on 4/6.

In the Aker Chess Challenge Magnus Carlsen, Peter Svidler, Hikaru Nakamura and Kjetil Lie play a rapid tournament (25 minutes per game with 5 seconds increment) from January 2nd to 5th. Like in Mainz, they start with a double round-robin tournament followed by final and bronze final games. It's the first time in over a year that Carlsen plays on home-ground.

The players at the opening press conference: Nakamura, Carlsen, Svidler and Lie

The field of players raised some questions beforehand. Should Carlsen be considered favorite, or perhaps Nakamura, after his big success in Cap d'Agde only two and a half months ago? And what about Svidler, who finished third at the recent World Blitz in Almaty and has been quite successfull in Mainz? And how will Lie survive in such a strong field?

Here are today's results and games:


Games rounds 1-4

It took Nakamura one game to get the engine running. In his first game against Svidler it went wrong quickly (16...Nb4?! and 17...Nc2? were refuted nicely though 20.Rd6! would have been the real killer). Carlsen-Lie was especially interesting for Accelarated Dragon fans, since the two followed one of the ultimate main lines. The new 20.Kh1 is an interesting waiting move where the immediate 20.Nd5 and 20.b4 have been tried, but also 20.Ne2!? (Bareev's choice against Pavlovic, three years ago). 20...Be5 is probably not the best answer as White kept on pushing Black's pieces away for a while and soon afterwards Black blundered an exchange.

In the second round Svidler tried 1.c4 against Carlsen, and his 19.Nh4! was nicely calculated but apparently the Russian didn't think his bishop versus knight was enough to play on. Lie was probably doing fine against Nakamura but as soon as the American started attacking, it was over quite soon. Perhap 27...h5 was better to prevent it all, but later 32...Bxa1?? should have been 32...Ng5.

In the third round there was a small upset, well, at least for the home fans and for everyone else who didn't know about Nakamura's exceptional qualities in quickplay. With Black he defeated Carlsen, who took some risks (19.Qe3 would have been safer) but was probably still OK in the ending, until 43.Nxd5?, a move that forced White to create two black connected passed pawns in the rook ending. Against Svidler, poor Lie was more than fine again, in fact completely winning, but in rapidplay it's all a bit different. There was nothing wrong with 30.Qxh6 (30...Re5 31.Qxf6 Rh5+ 32.Kg2 and where's the mate?), then he missed 31.Qxe5 and then 37.Nxf7 would have been a draw...

Next round, against Carlsen it was difficult almost from the start for Lie; the star move was 17...c4! and White is already defending. Svidler had the better chances with Black but Nakamura could escape with a perpetual.


Borrowing good ideas from Mainz: a dark stage with top players in the spotlights, and big screens showing the positions on the boards as wel as the sponsor logos

(Inter)national star Magnus Carlsen, finally playing in Norway again

The Norwegian duel between Lie and Carlsen (0-1)

Quickplay specialist Hikaru Nakamura (USA) in his game against...

...Russian GM Peter Svidler, the leader after four rounds


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