Topalov Beats Grischuk, Now 1.5 Points Ahead Of Pack

Topalov Beats Grischuk, Now 1.5 Points Ahead Of Pack

| 75 | Chess Event Coverage

With three rounds to go, GM Veselin Topalov is the big favorite to win the Norway Chess tournament. Adding another win to his score, vs GM Alexander Grischuk, the Bulgarian is now 1.5 points ahead of the pack.

GM Vishy Anand rather quickly beat GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in a Sicilian, using a bishop sacrifice that had been played before in almost the same position. The ex-world champion joined GM Hikaru Nakamura in second place; the American held GM Magnus Carlsen to a draw.

At the start of the sixth round, another little event started today in the hotel. Joachim Berg-Jensen and Magne Sagafos are trying to break the world record for playing blitz, which currently stands on 42 hours. The two Norwegians will be playing non-stop for the coming days, in between the TV2 studio and the chess commentary studio.

Each hour a five-minute break is allowed, and if they want the players can save up time for longer breaks. The two witnesses need to be replaced every four hours. Obviously it will be reported if these two lunatics Wink will manage to break the record!

Possibly the longest blitz match ever has just started!

Like yesterday, GM Anish Giri was involved in a quick draw that opened the score of the round. With GM Levon Aronian he played a very theoretical game in the Vienna.

“I was reasonably familiar with this line,” said Giri. “But it doesn't help very much! It's probably OK.” Aronian: “When he was blitzing out his moves I thought either he has a day of a bluff or I'm the one who forgot everything.”

Deviating from a recent Anand-Kramnik game that also ended in draw quickly, Giri went for an ending a pawn up, but with precise play Aronian equalized completely.

Aronian: “0.00 generally means that the computer doesn't understand what's going on. When he gives 0.09 then you can be confident it's a draw!”


Giri trying to remember the details of the Vienna.

The next game to finish was a rather quick one as well, but...not a draw! With a typical bishop sacrifice on h6, GM Vishy Anand got a winning attack against GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, basically right out of the opening.

The weird thing was that the exact same sacrifice in the exact same variation had occurred in a recent top game Navara-Grischuk. As it turned out, both players were aware of that.

“We both remembered Navara-Grischuk, but I couldn't remember the details,” said Anand. “I couldn't make it work at first. I was surprised that he allowed it. It was a safe sacrifice, because I always had at least a draw.”

There followed some amazing tactics, but in every single line White was winning. “This is positional chess in the Sicilian!” joked Anand.

“I completely missed 19.Bxh6,” said MVL. “I thought I was defending [against this threat] and suddenly I wasn't defending at all. I felt during the game I should be OK.”


A typical and known bishop sac that won anyway.

A Norwegian journalist remarked to Anand that he and his contemporary Topalov, the more experienced players, were leading the tournament. Anand: “Well, he seems to be going to 5.5/6 and he's less experienced than I am!”

Soon after GM Veselin Topalov indeed moved to 5.5/6 after winning his game with GM Alexander Grischuk, reminding the chess fans of San Luis 2005. Ten years ago Topalov won the FIDE world championship tournament with 10/14, scoring 6.5/7 in the first half.

In a Nimzo-Indian that quickly looked a bit like a Benoni, Grischuk basically blundered a piece as early as move 16. It's difficult to call it a blunder though, because the refutation by Black, ...g7-g5 in front of a castled king, looks so ugly that is very easy to miss!

“I am a bit surprised.” said Topalov. “I don't think I'm playing that good but it's good enough to see that mistake.”

The tournament leader remained modest about his score: “Sometimes it happens that you're getting all the luck in one tournament. I think that's happening here now.”


Topalov moves to an amazing 5.5/6.

GM Jon Ludvig Hammer recovered reasonably well from that horrific blunder the other day: he held GM Fabiano Caruana to a draw as Black. He still made mistakes, but so did his opponent.

“I feel like I was pretty lucky today,” said Hammer. “I didn't show my best play.”

The Norwegian was referring to 19...Nxc3, an erroneous trade that seriously helped White. In great shape Caruana would have found 21.d5!, which more or less decides the game.

Hammer: “The difference between them and me is that I mess up so many of my opportunities. And that's the reality. You're not even with them if you keep messing up. I'm gonna try to mess up less.”


Hammer: “I'm gonna try to mess up less.”

As so often, GM Magnus Carlsen was involved in the longest game of the round. It was the clash with GM Hikaru Nakamura, who has never yet managed to beat the Norwegian. In fact, Carlsen is 11-0 up in classical games!

The game, a Lasker Queen's Gambit Declined, started rather quietly — probably a bit too quiet for Carlsen's taste. After about an hour he entered the confession box and said: “I'm not sure what I'm doing. My head is not working today. If I want to create anything out of this I need magic. But I've done that before!”

From that point, Carlsen more or less reached the maximum possible chances, even winning a pawn, but the resulting rook ending was relatively easy to draw.

“I am happy with the result, but I played 50 more moves than I should have,” said Nakamura. “I thought it was a draw but somehow I ended up worse.” 

The American had to defend a four-vs-three rook ending, which he knew was theoretical a draw, but still a bit unpleasant.

Though he assured us he didn't mean the comment to be taken out of context, Nakamura said jokingly that “the only trick is of course to not to play a bunch of terrible moves like Garry,” as he showed a position from a Piket-Kasparov rapid game where the 13th world champion blundered and lost unnecessarily defending the same type of endgame.

Annotations by GM Dejan Bojkov

To get a better understanding of such rook endings, we highly recommend Dejan Bojkov's series of Typical Rook Endgames:

  1. Typical Rook Endgames: Winning with 4 v. 3
  2. Typical Rook Endgames
  3. Typical Rook Endgames 3 v. 2 on the Same Flank

Carlsen-Nakamura: A longer game than it should have been.


2015 Norway Chess | Round 6 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts SB
1 Topalov,V 2798 3189 phpfCo1l0.png ½     1   1 1 1 1 5.5/6  
2 Nakamura,H 2802 2909 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½   1   ½   1 4.0/6 11.50
3 Anand,V 2804 2913   ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1 ½   1 ½   4.0/6 10.50
4 Giri,A 2773 2852   ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½   ½ ½ 1   3.5/6  
5 Vachier Lagrave,M 2723 2715 0   0 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1     ½ 2.5/6 6.25
6 Caruana,F 2805 2719   0 ½   ½ phpfCo1l0.png 0 1   ½ 2.5/6 6.00
7 Aronian,L 2780 2702 0     ½ 0 1 phpfCo1l0.png   ½ ½ 2.5/6 6.00
8 Carlsen,M 2876 2674 0 ½ 0 ½   0   phpfCo1l0.png 1   2.0/6 5.75
9 Grischuk,A 2781 2665 0   ½ 0     ½ 0 phpfCo1l0.png 1 2.0/6 4.75
10 Hammer,J 2677 2591 0 0     ½ ½ ½   0 phpfCo1l0.png 1.5/6  


The Norway Chess tournament runs June 15-26 in the Stavanger region. | Games via TWIC  phpfCo1l0.png
No time to watch the games live? No problem! The Norway Chess tournament is covered on with a daily recap show that runs 1.5 hours. The games will be analyzed and there's video material by Peter Doggers, who is covering the tournament from Stavanger. The show starts each day at 11 p.m. Central European time, 5 p.m. New York, 2 p.m. Pacific.


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