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    Entries in Norway Chess 2016 (5)

    Saturday
    Apr302016

    Carlsen Wins Norway Chess; Aronian Finishes Half a Point Behind

    It took him four tries, but Magnus Carlsen has finally won Norway Chess, the super-tournament created by his countrymen to showcase their top player, the world chess champion and world #1. In 2013 and 2014 Sergey Karjakin won the tournament, and last year it was Veselin Topalov who finished first.

    This time around Carlsen was in control most of the way, and after defeating Vladimir Kramnik in an impressive game in round 7 (of 9) it looked like smooth sailing. He was playing well and riding a 42-game undefeated streak; what could possibly go wrong? The answer came in the very next round, as Levon Aronian in turn beat him rather badly to catch up with him and share the lead. Had they finished the last round tied there would have been a playoff, but Carlsen rebounded to defeat Pavel Eljanov with white while Aronian was unable to get anywhere with Black against Pentala Harikrishna. Carlsen finished with 6/9; Aronian with 5.5.

    Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Topalov, and Kramnik finished a further half a point behind, while Li Chao and Harikrishna concluded their tournaments with creditable 50% scores. Anish Giri had a poor event by his standards, only scoring 4/9; Eljanov lost his last three games to wind up with just 3 points, and Nils Grandelius brought up the rear with 2.5 points.

    Here are Carlsen's last three games, with brief comments.

    Sunday
    Apr242016

    Norway Chess: Carlsen Leads After Five Rounds

    The Norway Chess tournament has thus far been surprisingly bloodless, though not for want of effort. After a first round that saw three players win, the next three rounds saw only two wins in total. There were two victories in round 5, so the total thus far is seven wins in 25 games. (The decisive games can be replayed here.)

    The tournament leader thus far is Magnus Carlsen, who looks set to avenge his failures in the first three editions of the tournament. He defeated Pentala Harikrishna in round 1 and Nils Grandelius in round 3 to propel himself to a score of 3.5/5; this puts him half a point ahead of Vladimir Kramnik (who also defeated Grandelius), Veselin Topalov (who also also defeated Grandelius), and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (who has not yet played Grandelius, but managed to defeat Anish Giri in a wild game).

    Here are the pairings for round 6, with players' scores given in parentheses:

    • Anish Giri (2.5) - Pentala Harikrishna (2.5)
    • Pavel Eljanov (2) - Nils Grandelius (1)
    • Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (3) - Magnus Carlsen (3.5)
    • Li Chao (2) - Veselin Topalov (3)
    • Vladimir Kramnik (3) - Levon Aronian (2.5)

    Tuesday
    Apr192016

    Carlsen Wins Norway Blitz, Round 1 of the Classical Tournament Starts Today (Tuesday)

    The current trend of starting super-tournaments with blitz events used to determine the pairings is a very good one, and I hope it sticks around. It makes merit rather than luck the basis of color distribution, and it's also a treat for the spectators. (It probably helps the players warm up a bit too.)

    On Monday, the Norway Chess super-tournament had their blitz event, and Magnus Carlsen was a runaway train up until the final round. He started with 7.5/8, only giving up a draw to bottom seed and (co-) tailender Nils Grandelius, of all people. He defeated Vladimir Kramnik, Levon Aronian, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and all the other stars before suffering a defeat to his personal kryptonite, Anish Giri. Giri lost to Vachier-Lagrave along the way, but was otherwise undefeated and took clear second with 6.5/9. Vachier-Lagrave and Kramnik tied for third-fourth. The former lost to Carlsen and to Veselin Topalov, while Kramnik's only loss was to Carlsen (and he beat Topalov). Finally, Aronian's 50% score was good enough for fifth, making him the last player to be guaranteed an extra game with the white pieces. (Below him, Pentala Harikrishna finished with 4 points, Topalov with 3, Grandelius, Li Chao, and Pavel Eljanov with 2.5.)

    Here, then, are the pairings for round 1:

    • Kramnik - Grandelius
    • Carlsen - Harikrishna
    • Vachier-Lagrave - Li Chao
    • Giri - Eljanov
    • Aronian - Topalov

    Wednesday
    Apr062016

    Karjakin Drops Out of Norway Chess Due to Exhaustion and Carlsen Prep

    Sergey Karjakin has dropped out of the Norway Chess supertournament, which starts in about a week and a half (on April 18). The reasons are exhaustion (not just from the Candidates, but from the whirlwind of press activity he has had in its wake) and because he is (already!) preparing for his World Championship match with Magnus Carlsen in November. (This is a very good sign: Karjakin is taking this as seriously as he ought to, and the result should be a great match. Carlsen will rightly be a favorite, but I don't think he's so much of a favorite that he can beat peak Karjakin without playing something near his absolute best.)

    Withdrawing at this late date puts the organizers in a bit of a bind, and it is also unpleasant for whoever takes his place - probably but not yet definitely Jon Ludwig Hammer. Of course it's a great opportunity for him, but having less than two weeks rather than two months to prepare isn't very helpful for the (by far) weakest player in the field, excepting Nils Grandelius who won a spot in a qualifier a few weeks ago.

    Tuesday
    Mar292016

    Grandelius Wins Norway Chess Qualifier

    It isn't part of the Grand Chess Tour this year, but the Norway Chess Tournament (coming up in April) is still very much an elite event. Nine top players have been invited, and a qualifying event for the tenth spot just finished. Norwegian Jon Ludwig Hammer was the favorite and as a 2700 player (literally: 2700 on the dot) going into the tournament would have been a reasonable "a priori" invitee. Unfortunately for him, there was a qualifier and he didn't win it; instead, Swedish GM Nils Grandelius earned a spot in the main event. (HT: Marcus Uneson.)

    The brutal field he'll be joining comprises Magnus Carlsen, Vladimir Kramnik, Anish Giri, Levon Aronian, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Veselin Topalov, Pavel Eljanov, Sergey Karjakin, and Pentala Harikrishna.