June 04, 2014 23:06

Aronian, Caruana & Grischuk Winners in Round 2 Norway Chess

Fabiano Caruana also won his second game to maintain his lead at the Norway Chess tournament in Stavanger. The Italian GM defeated Peter Svidler in a Taimanov Sicilian. Alexander Grischuk bounced back from his first-round loss and beat Veselin Topalov with Black in a Sicilian Najdorf. The third winner of the day was Levon Aronian, who won against Sergey Karjakin in a Queen's Indian.

Let's start with a tactic, for a change. What would you play, Black to move? Answer at the end of this report!

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He didn't do well in the blitz, but thanks to splendid preparation and calculation Fabiano Caruana won his second game in a row at the Norway Chess tournament. In a Taimanov Sicilian, Caruana was better prepared, or rather, he remembered his preparation better than his opponent Peter Svidler did!

Like in many English Attacks, White crashed through on the kingside while Black was eating away White's center. After 17 moves, Svidler would have preferred sitting on the other side of the board: “Playing this position at the board is not a bundle of laughs.”

Caruana's knight sac on e6 ensured a long-lasting initiative, and even though Svidler's decision to part with his queen was good in a practical sense, it wasn't enough to hold the position. However, even top GMs weren't sure what was going on! Ruslan Ponomariov, who was following the game live, tweeted:

With this win Caruana passed the 2800 mark in the live ratings

Alexander Grischuk avoided more timetrouble accidents and instead profited from a number of mistakes by his opponent Veselin Topalov. The Bulgarian lamented: “Somehow every time I was thinking for more than five minutes it was a blunder from my side.”

Well, it wasn't that bad. Topalov spent 14 minutes on 23.Nd5 (not wasting time removing his queen from the e-file) where he might have underestimated 26...Qf2. But his moves 26.h5 (12 minutes) and 29.Qf3 (9 minutes) were fine; only later it really went wrong.

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A 6.h3 Najdorf between Topalov and Grischuk

It was during the 2008 Sochi Grand Prix that Alexander Grischuk made his famous remark that he much preferred quickplay chess over classical chess. He hasn't changed his opinion: “Yesterday I was just absolutely sleeping even when my opponent had 30 seconds and I had 1 minute. Usually you’re supposed to be a bit excited but I was just zero… I felt much more motivated for the blitz here than the main tournament, and you don’t want to play against the best players when totally unmotivated. Even today I was completely sleeping - I wasn’t nervous about getting mated at all.”

Grischuk: “I was completely sleeping”

On paper the big game of the round was Vladimir Kramnik vs Magnus Carlsen. It started with a quiet line; a well-known hybrid of the Bogo-Indian and the Catalan. After the game Carlsen said to commentator Nigel Short: “This is the well known ‘chicken variation’, that you've played quite a bit yourself.” But he had a better reason to play it, as Kramnik himself pointed out: “I'm pretty sure why Magnus chose this line. I have 0/2 in this line with White!”

After 23 moves the position was rather dry, and ten moves later there were only two queens, two knights and four pawns each on the kingside, but still there was enough to play for. Carlsen got some initiative, and won a pawn, but with a strong temporary pawn sac Kramnik saved himself comfortably.

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Kramnik-Carlsen: a deceptively simple Q&N ending

Levon Aronian won a good game against Sergey Karjakin, who thus ended a long streak of draws - 17 games in a row (6 at the Russian Team Championship, 10 at the Gashimov Memorial and the first round in Norway). Karjakin said about this: “I wanted to finish it in another way – now I don’t want to start it again!”

The game was a Queen's Indian where White kept an edge with three pawns against two on the queenside. “Maybe there's nothing for me but from a practical point of view it’s very unpleasant for Black to play. I can do anything and there’s no risk for me whatsoever,” said Aronian. Only just before the time control Karjakin lost a pawn, and Aronian had no trouble winning the rook ending:

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A good win for Levon Aronian

The game between Simen Agdestein and Anish Giri was a rather quiet draw, but there was one moment where both players missed a nice tactic. You have seen that one at the top of the article - did you manage to solve it?

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Norway Chess | Schedule & Pairings

Round 1 03.06.14 15:30 CET   Round 2 04.06.14 15:30 CET
Aronian ½-½ Agdestein   Aronian 1-0 Karjakin
Karjakin ½-½ Topalov   Kramnik ½-½ Carlsen
Grischuk 0-1 Caruana   Caruana 1-0 Svidler
Carlsen ½-½ Giri   Topalov 0-1 Grischuk
Svidler ½-½ Kramnik   Agdestein ½-½ Giri
Round 3 05.06.14 15:30 CET   Round 4 07.06.14 15:30 CET
Karjakin - Agdestein   Aronian - Svidler
Grischuk - Aronian   Karjakin - Grischuk
Svidler - Topalov   Caruana - Giri
Carlsen - Caruana   Topalov - Carlsen
Giri - Kramnik   Agdestein - Kramnik
Round 5 08.06.14 15:30 CET   Round 6 09.06.14 15:30 CET
Grischuk - Agdestein   Aronian - Giri
Svidler - Karjakin   Karjakin - Carlsen
Carlsen - Aronian   Grischuk - Svidler
Giri - Topalov   Topalov - Kramnik
Kramnik   Caruana   Agdestein - Caruana
Round 7 10.06.14 15:30 CET   Round 8 12.06.14 15:30 CET
Svidler - Agdestein   Aronian - Caruana
Carlsen - Grischuk   Karjakin - Kramnik
Giri - Karjakin   Grischuk - Giri
Kramnik - Aronian   Svidler - Carlsen
Caruana - Topalov   Agdestein - Topalov
Round 9 13.06.14 14:30 CET        
Carlsen - Agdestein        
Giri - Svidler        
Kramnik - Grischuk        
Caruana - Karjakin        
Topalov - Aronian        

Norway Chess 2014 | Round 2 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts SB
1 Caruana,Fabiano 2791 3572 phpfCo1l0.png           1 1     2.0/2  
2 Aronian,Levon 2815 2890   phpfCo1l0.png ½             1 1.5/2  
3 Agdestein,Simen 2628 2783   ½ phpfCo1l0.png   ½           1.0/2 1.25
4 Carlsen,Magnus 2881 2768       phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½         1.0/2 1.00
5 Giri,Anish 2752 2754     ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png           1.0/2 1.00
6 Kramnik,Vladimir 2783 2817       ½   phpfCo1l0.png   ½     1.0/2 0.75
7 Grischuk,Alexander 2792 2782 0           phpfCo1l0.png   1   1.0/2 0.50
8 Svidler,Peter 2753 2597 0         ½   phpfCo1l0.png     0.5/2 0.50
9 Topalov,Veselin 2772 2591             0   phpfCo1l0.png ½ 0.5/2 0.25
10 Karjakin,Sergey 2771 2603   0             ½ phpfCo1l0.png 0.5/2 0.25

The Norway Chess tournament runs 2-13 June in the Stavanger region. All photos courtesy of the official website | Games via TWIC phpfCo1l0.png


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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers


ThomasRichter's picture

Caruana should win this and Carlson should get pushed to the last position (last position as in below Topalov).

Anonymous's picture


The mindless sitzkrieg artist Carlsen will finally be shown for the phony he is here at Norway Chess 2014, and this will give Anand the confidence he needs to win back the title in convincing style. Carlsen's days are numbered...

Anonymous's picture

Ridiculous. Go back to bed, S3.

RG13's picture

If Caruana keeps playing like this then Carlsen is not the only player that has to worry about him.

 Anon's picture

OMG you are soo funny and creative...

8 Ball's picture

But ahead of Carjakin?

S3's picture

When is the hometown hero Carlsen going to play well?

Anonymous's picture

Who says he hasn't already? If the game of chess is a draw (likely), then playing well does not necessarily equate to winning.

RG13's picture

"not necessarily" but if Carlsen finishes a tournament with all draws he will lose a bunch of rating points and not think that he played well by the standards of a player close to 2900. Of course if Agdestein finishes at 50% then HE would have played well by the standards of a player close to 2600.

Anonymous's picture

But I guess the question is would Carlsen be objectively justified in considering 50% an unacceptable result even if an analysis of his play showed no dip in quality. I'm guessing that, even over the full nine rounds, 50% would not rise to the level of statistical significance - much less the two rounds S3 has us worried about.

Asuka's picture

What it would suggest is that he might need to change his style. With the exception of his games with Nakamura and Mamedyarov who are both prone to "fluctuations" in their chess ability seemingly throughout a given event AND event to event Carlsen has looked rather feeble. Perhaps he is saving his nastiest stuff for the WCC but perhaps he is being "solved" by certain players. I say that is a good thing. He shouldn't always win or even place for that matter. It would be nice for a rival to rise up. Not just a talker like nakamura but a player who can actually manage to deal with him well consistently.

Anonymous's picture

Perhaps you are right, but it'll take a lot more evidence to convince me. It seems to me Carlsen's stylistic innovations are a game changer, and his opponents will have to beat him by adopting his methods - and that kind of transformation takes time.

Alcoholics anonymous's picture

"What it would suggest is that he might need to change his style. With the exception of his games with Nakamura and Mamedyarov who are both prone to "fluctuations" in their chess ability seemingly throughout a given event AND event to event Carlsen has looked rather feeble."

Have you even followed Carlsen's recent games? He took a number of risks in the Gashimov Memorial and the blitz games here, as well as his latest game against Giri (in which he sacrificed the exchange). Your other claim is just as stupid as claiming that "Kasparov looked rather feeble when playing Karpov".

Asuka's picture

Using blitz games as an example is your first failure. Invoking Karpov-Kasparov battles is your second. Insulting me is your third. I refuse to dignify your claptrap with a well-reasoned response. Good day to you!

Remco G's picture

It's only been two rounds, bit early to start talking about an all-draw tournament don't you think?

Thomas Richter's picture

Giri was spot on after his draw against Carlsen: "People forget with Magnus playing so well that in order for the game to end in a result there must be one guy playing badly as well." Well, he was _almost_ spot on, because a draw IS a result!? [Busy all day yesterday with other things, I haven't yet looked at and thus cannot comment on Kramnik-Carlsen]

Anonymous's picture

"in order for the game to end in a result there must be one guy playing badly"

The opponent usually doesn't have to play bad to lose to Carlsen, it's enough just not to play very well. Both Giri and Kramnik had some problems to solve but did it well. When Carlsen wins these games there are the usually calls about luck, undeserved, unfair result, etc. When the opponent defends well it is Carlsen that shows nothing, while for example Caruana impressed in his win against Grischuk (imagine Carlsen winning that game!)

s3's picture

A draw against Kramnik is a great result for Carlsen, especially since he even didn't have to cheat this time!

S3's picture

I am the real S3, and if you look at the video at 1:31:07 you will see that Carlsen moved so fast after Vladdy pressed his clock that it was just about cheating.
In the other thread I said "Vladdy squeezing brat badly :) 1-0 soon". Well I was half right cos Vladdy got a draw. But if Carlsen hadn't created the deliberate distraction of moving so fast after Vladdy pressed his clock, Vladdy would probably have won. So in effect Carlsen cheated his way to a draw.

Remco G's picture

You are allowed to move once the opponent has let go of his move, there is no need whatsoever to wait until he has pressed his clock.

Anonymous's picture

"But if Carlsen hadn't created the deliberate distraction of moving so fast after Vladdy pressed his clock, Vladdy would probably have won."

What kind of patzer do you take Kramnik for? Oh my god he played so fast I got confused. Ridiculous.

s3's picture

Interesting observation

Mark Sicter's picture

@ S3

You say: "I said "Vladdy squeezing brat badly :) 1-0 soon"". But this comment was made under the handle "Anonymous".
Gotcha, S3. I said all along that you were one of the other Anonymouses. Case closed!

s3's picture

Nonsense! I would never post as "Anonymous".
You must be a fake Mark Sicter to say such a thing, the real one would never have said this.

I have now been banned from Chessbomb for repeatedly calling Carlsen a cheater, and was from Chessgames.com some time ago, so this is the only place I can come to now. So I may have to start posting here as "a_dark_horse".

Mark Sicter's picture

You are wrong. I am the real Mark Sicter - I have never posted as a fake Mark Sicter.
And I'm not s3 either.

a_dark_horse's picture

You're a liar, whoever you are.
I invented the original real Mark Sicter and he would never have said such a thing.

(bugger, I meant to post this as "s3", forgot I'm on Chessvibes now.)

RG13's picture

Nobody is perfect and I think that Carlsen has given up cheating. Why beat a dead horse?

a_dead_horse's picture

Well, how did Carlsen beat Svidler in the blitz then?

Anonymous's picture

Go Agdestein!
Get Karjakin while he is down!!

Merlinovich's picture

What happens if shared first in the Classic part of the tournament? It just turns out that it could lead to a coin toss to decide the winner!

If two players share first in the Classic, they play a mini-match of 2 blitz games, and if 1-1 an Armageddon game. No problems, a clear decision is guaranteed. If however three or more players share first then a whole different playoff begins, with a double round robin in blitz between these players.

The tiebreak of the preliminary blitz tournament will be used, which is 1. Most Blacks 2. Most Wins 3. Most Wins with Black 4. Coin toss

Most Blacks will already be meaningless in a Double Round Robin. Most Wins could easily be equal for two or more players, likewise Most Wins with Black. That leaves the Coin toss (for instance there is no application of Sonneborn Berger or Koya which would have been better solutions before a coin toss).

What happened in the US Ch. in both groups with a 3-way tie could in Stavanger lead to a decision by coin toss. In other words, if there is still shared first in the Double Round Robin, I suspect there is a 5-10% probability of decision by coin toss.

My take on this is that it is always preferable to have various alternate tiebreak criteria just to minimize the chance of a coin toss, for instance the tiebreak criteria for the Double Round Robin could have been 1. Sonneborn Berger 2. Koya 3. Most Wins 4. Most Wins with Black 5. Coin toss. That would have diminished the chance of coin toss considerably.

The use of the Armageddon games as in the US Ch. eliminates all chances of coin toss and at least let the players decide over the board who are eliminated. Wouldn't that have been preferable in Stavanger?

 Anon's picture

The tournament is single round robin so most blacks is important.

Pong's picture

Yes, he is well on his way to do just that!
Karjakin is in trouble against Simen!

Greco's picture

Hahahahhaa im laughing but actually im sad for the haters...because i know that in the end they will probably be crying..again!!

sid's picture

I just realized Caruana has crossed 2800 in the live ratings. Amazing. Also what is amazing is that when he played the knight sac, the computer said it is still equal and suggested Rb8 or something. Just tells you how different the computer plays to a human.

Thomas Richter's picture

I hope for Caruana (and from my point of view for chess in general) that he won't succumb to the 2800 blues again, as in Dortmund 2013: He crossed 2800 on the live rating list after round 1 and, to put it mildly, didn't play well for the rest of the event.

Asuka's picture

"...for chess in general"... Can you elaborate on this?

observer's picture

I guess he means that Carlsen is so dominant over everyone else, and Caruana is the only one who might contest this if he can maintain a 2800+ rating - so it would stop the whole thing becoming completely boring.

Thomas Richter's picture

I am not saying that "Caruana is the only one", but for the rest it's a bit along the lines of what observer wrote - though this event and other supertournaments before indicate that, despite Carlsen's Elo edge, world-top chess isn't boring. Some people consider Carlsen's Elo dominance and the hype about him the best thing that can happen to chess, I disagree. The result isn't more interest for chess in general, but less interest for events without Carlsen - hence some organizers feel obliged to always invite Carlsen, even if meeting his financial demands isn't easy and might imply reducing the number of (total/other) participants.

Anonymous's picture

"some organizers feel obliged to always invite Carlsen, even if meeting his financial demands isn't easy and might imply reducing the number of (total/other) participants."

Where the heck did that happen, pray tell? This years Zurich tournament had more participants than either 2012 (Aronian-Kramnik Match) or 2013 (4). Last year he played Wijk (14 participants); Tal (10); the Candidates and Norway Chess (10, a tournament which would not exist without Carlsen btw). Of course you can always claim that the Sinquefield-Cup or Shamkir hypothetically would/could have had more participants without Carlsen. But then again, the same applies for Aronian or Nakamura. They probably didn´t play for free either and maybe you could have had Meier/Finegold/Robson together for either one of them. But I guess Rex Sinquefield fell victim to the Carlsen Hype and just HAD TO invite Magnus?!

"but less interest for events without Carlsen"

Yeah, because nobody cared for this years Candidates or Wijk aan Zee (less participants this year than in the last 10 years when Carlsen played). And if Poikovsky or whatever generates less interest then a tournament without Carlsen, that is maybe because they usually don´t have Nakamura/Karjakin/Caruana/Aronian/Anand/Grischuk either. It´s just a weaker tournament than the ones where Magnus plays, so less interest is a normal thing.

s3's picture

Carlsen wanted to enter so they kicked out Dominguez (who incidentally wasn't invited for Norway chess tho being higher rated than Giri and a supposedly invitation policy based on following the rating list).
it's no secret either that Biel needed a special sponsor to pay Carlsen.

so there's the answer to your question. Strikingly ignorant q btw.

Thomas Richter's picture

It's obviously speculative - the best example might be London Classics becoming London Rapid (and leaving one spot open until shortly before the event) in the hope that Carlsen would participate shortly after the WCh match. And yes, Biel got away with un-inviting or somehow getting rid of a confirmed participant to make room for Carlsen - sold as "great news for the chess world" by the organizers, with several major chess sites just copying their press release.

"because nobody cared for this years Candidates or Wijk aan Zee" - I wrote 'less interest', I didn't write 'no interest'. I cannot compare with earlier editions, but this year there were relatively few foreign journalists in Wijk aan Zee - actually I didn't mind as it meant better working conditions for those showing up, myself included. Even my colleague at chess-international.de Michael Wiemer wrote something like "I don't really care about events without Carlsen, though Thomas Richter's reports are worthwhile reading". As to the Candidates, the emphasis was on "the winner will challenge Carlsen" - and when the 'wrong' player was winning, "he won't have a chance against Magnus". Dortmund might well benefit from Caruana having 2800+ at the start of the event.

Anonymous's picture

"As to the Candidates, the emphasis was on "the winner will challenge Carlsen" --- Well, obviously. The whole point of the Candidates was, that the winner will challenge the World Champion. Seems pretty normal to me. The same with the other point about the "wrong player". To me it seems legitimate to root for the player who appears to be the most serious challenger, because than you can look forward to an exciting WC match. I think that would be the case irrespective of the current Champion?!

"but this year there were relatively few foreign journalists in Wijk aan Zee" --- It wasn´t only Carlsen who was missing in Wijk this year. No Anand, no Kramnik, only 12 players instead of 14. If there was indeed less interest than in earlier years it probably was because the tournament was weaker, not (just) because Magnus was missing.

#Biel: Do we know for a fact, that Carlsen or his team pressured the organizers into kicking out Dominguez against his will? Maybe Dominguez got sick? Or maybe they just asked him and he agreed to step down? I´m honestly curious.

Anonymous's picture

As I heard it posted here many times, Carlsen forced Dominguez to withdraw.

Anonymous's picture

Yes I know, but is there an actual source or interview that confirms (or at least hints at) Team Carlsens alleged "bullying" or is it purely speculation?

Anonymous's picture

Ok, I found this: "The only somewhat helpful or pertinent answer was a comment by Stefan Löffler at the German blog, I slightly paraphrase: "It's true that Carlsen was looking for a tournament after the cancellation of Bazna. His management talked to the Biel organizers. They could compensate Dominguez with an invitation for Biel 2013."
I was hoping for a response from the Biel organizers, not yet ... . While it's all rather unclear (not my fault!), it looks like Dominguez didn't voluntarily cancel his participation but was encouraged to do so, if not simply un-invited." from what I assume was Thomas Oliver on The Chess Mind.

So after all this talk about Carlsen "forcing" Dominguez to step down, all we have in the way of confirmation is some german blogger (Löffler)?? And even if this information IS correct, who is to say that Dominguez didn´t agree? Or was compensated with e.g. a small amount of money? Hell, maybe he could keep his appearance fee? Maybe he wanted to do the organizers a favour?

It seems highly unclear (If that is indeed all the information available) and "it looks like Dominguez didn't voluntarily cancel his participation but was encouraged to do so, if not simply un-invite" VERY speculative.

Thomas Richter's picture

Candidates: I would want the best player to win, and "best player" is whoever is best in this given event. In that respect, the candidates event doesn't differ from other supertournaments, only difference from my point of view: the candidates should have a clear winner, in other events I can live with shared first place (but prefer if it's officially shared rather than using whichever tiebreaker). It's obviously OK to mention the current world champion, but for example Chessbase started their candidates preview with six photos of Carlsen, then one each of the actual participants.

Wijk aan Zee: If five top10 players (Aronian, Nakamura, Caruana, Gelfand, Karjakin) isn't enough, I can't help it. 12 players (plus the B group) is still more than for any other supertournament.

Biel: I don't think, and never said that "Carlsen or his team pressured the organizers into kicking out Dominguez against his will" - but even if he agreed, he had to be kicked (by the organizers, not by team Carlsen) to agree. To me it's already dubious that Carlsen expressed interest in playing, knowing that the field was complete and finalized. If Dominguez had gotten sick, it could/would have been mentioned!!? Like you, I am curious - the organizers didn't satisfy my curiosity, and Chessvibes as well as other webpages didn't even ask questions

Anonymous's picture

"Candidates: I would want the best player to win, and "best player" is whoever is best in this given event. In that respect, the candidates event doesn't differ from other supertournaments" Then we have to agree to disagree. Usually I root for the underdog (I would love it, if Agdestein would win Norway for example), but in the Candidates I rather see the player with the best chances at tackling the World Champion win. A matter of taste I guess, each to his own.

"but for example Chessbase started their candidates preview with six photos of Carlsen,"

That´s chessbase for you. They are the yellow press of chess journalism :-)

Biel: I actually assumed all the time, that we knew for a fact, that Dominguez was kicked. Doesn´t seem to be the case, so maybe Carlsen should be presumed innocent? I agree, if Dominguez got sick it probably would have been mentioned, but still. Who knows what happened? For the record, if there was pressure from Team Carlsen, that would be more than dubious. But I think "testing the water" and just asking if something can be arranged (with Dominguez´ consent!) is not that bad.

Asuka's picture

I don't necessarily agree with the other tournaments theory but well said...

Remco G's picture

Did he really cross it? According to 2700chess, 2800.5 is his highest live rating ever, so he had between 2800.0 and 2800.4 then?

Dondrine's picture

2800.5 is bis highest Rating Evernote AND Hus actual rating


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