June 09, 2014 20:27

Norway R6: Three-Way Tie For First as Topalov Beats Kramnik

The Norway Chess tournament is still wide open with three rounds to go. In Monday's sixth round Veselin Topalov defeated arch rival Vladimir Kramnik while the other four games ended in draws. Kramnik is now tied for first place with Fabiano Caruana and Magnus Carlsen, who drew with Simen Agdestein and Sergey Karjakin respectively.

Eight years after Toiletgate (the cheating allegations during the 2006 World Championship in Elista), Veselin Topalov and Vladimir Kramnik are still not shaking hands. That's all there is to say about it, actually. As Topalov put it: “People are only talking about the handshake but if you exclude that, the games are completely normal. And it's not really the biggest problem of the chess world.”

Besides, on Monday we were also reminded of the fact that life is too short for such silliness. It was the day when British comedian and actor Rik Mayall, star of The Young Ones and Bottom, died, aged 56. Enjoy the video below, and enjoy life! Let's do-oo-oo it!

Back in March, at the Candidates’ Tournament in Khanty-Mansiysk, Topalov defeated Kramnik as White, but lost the second game as Black. On Monday the Bulgarian was on top again.

In a 4.Nf3 Nimzo-Indian Topalov decided to avoid his opponent's preparation and played a safe bishop swap on f6. After the game the Bulgarian said that he had noticed that Kramnik had problems when he needed to think already in the opening. 

And indeed, not only did the Russian spend 48 minutes on his next three moves, his choices were surprising: where the simple 10...exd5 would equalize (fine when leading the tournament!?) and 12...Qe7 would keep things solid, he decided to go for complications with an Exchange sacrifice.

Anish Giri had a theory: “Topalov plays very well when he's an Exchange down so probably [Kramnik] was hoping that he would play badly when he's an Exchange up.”

But that wasn't the case: Topalov played excellent moves which made clear that the sac was hardly correct, and forced resignation (between these two players a matter of “sign the score sheets and walk away” - Topalov) just after the time control.

PGN string



The sixth round was played in the Aarbakke factory in Bryne. (“We deliver advanced turnkey solutions and parts to the oil & gas industry, focusing on subsea and downhole. Aarbakke covers the whole process from engineering to manufacturing, assembly and testing.”) 

To the question whether he had won an important game, Topalov answered: “I looked at all the people working here and I thought: when it goes badly, maybe I should just apply for a job here!”

Topalov scores his first win, against Kramnik

Caruana moved back to (shared) first place by drawing his game (“I would have preferred doing that by winning”) with Agdestein from a horrible position out of the opening. What is that former professional football player doing to those top GMs??

An early queen sortie to b6 by Caruana was completely uncalled for, but the Italian only remembered Bc1-e3 after playing his queen. Objectively speaking it might have been better to put the queen back to d8 there, or the next move, but that would make one look pretty silly!

If only Agdestein had seen the maneuver Nd2-c4-a5 before playing c2-c4 (he saw it later), he might have won his very first game. Nigel Short described the position for Black as “stalemate”. In the game Caruana took the very practical decision to give an Exchange and his strong g7-bishop made the day. At the end Caruana was even a bit better, but Agdestein found good squares for his rooks.

PGN string

The third leader after six rounds is Carlsen, who drew extremely quickly with Karjakin. In a Berlin Ending with 9.h3 (where 9.Nc3 has been the main line for more than a decade) the World Champion switched back to 9...Bd7, his choice against Anand in the Chennai match. In April in Shamkir he had lost to Caruana with 9...h6.

The players followed a game Dominguez-Navara from last year and then at move 18 Carlsen played a novelty that steers the game right to a draw.

PGN string

Aronian and Giri got a standard IQP middlegame position that can be reached from many different move-orders - Chessbase calls theirs “Queen's Gambit Declined: Semi-Tarrasch with 5.cxd5”. As it turned out, Giri knew more about it than his opponent! “Anish tricked me in the opening by not playing what he so convincingly played against Magnus,” said Aronian, who had recovered from his loss against Carlsen by listening to some Bill Evans.

The ...Nc6-e7-g6 maneuver is still standard, but the strong ...Bf6-e7! came unexpected for the world's number two. “I don't know if I would have found it but I knew it,” said Giri. And then, after a tactic on move 23, it became clear that Aronian needed to fight for a draw which wasn't so difficult because there was no way for Giri to avoid an opposite-colored bishop ending.

PGN string

The opening in Grischuk-Svidler, a Symmetrical English, was quite interesting when White came up with the energetic 11.b4!? - only played once in a correspondence game. Svidler's reaction looks decent, although White might have had an advantage somewhere.

PGN string


Norway Chess 2014 | Pairings & Results

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 ½-½ Agdestein   Aronian ½-½ Svidler
Grischuk 1-0 Aronian   Karjakin 1-0 Grischuk
Svidler ½-½ Topalov   Caruana ½-½ Giri
Carlsen ½-½ Caruana   Topalov ½-½ Carlsen
Giri 0-1 Kramnik   Agdestein ½-½ Kramnik
Round 5 08.06.14 15:30 CET   Round 6 09.06.14 15:30 CET
Grischuk ½-½ Agdestein   Aronian ½-½ Giri
Svidler ½-½ Karjakin   Karjakin ½-½ Carlsen
Carlsen 1-0 Aronian   Grischuk ½-½ Svidler
Giri 1-0 Topalov   Topalov 1-0 Kramnik
Kramnik 1-0  Caruana   Agdestein ½-½ 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 6 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts SB
1 Kramnik,Vladimir 2783 2821 phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1 ½   1   0   ½ 3.5/6 11.00
2 Carlsen,Magnus 2881 2840 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½   ½ ½   ½ 1   3.5/6 10.25
3 Caruana,Fabiano 2791 2823 0 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½   ½ 1     1 3.5/6 10.25
4 Agdestein,Simen 2628 2784 ½   ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ ½   ½   3.0/6 9.25
5 Karjakin,Sergey 2771 2773   ½   ½ phpfCo1l0.png   1 ½ 0 ½ 3.0/6 8.75
6 Giri,Anish 2752 2778 0 ½ ½ ½   phpfCo1l0.png   1 ½   3.0/6 8.75
7 Grischuk,Alexander 2792 2755     0 ½ 0   phpfCo1l0.png 1 1 ½ 3.0/6 7.75
8 Topalov,Veselin 2772 2731 1 ½     ½ 0 0 phpfCo1l0.png   ½ 2.5/6 8.00
9 Aronian,Levon 2815 2705   0   ½ 1 ½ 0   phpfCo1l0.png ½ 2.5/6 7.25
10 Svidler,Peter 2753 2729 ½   0   ½   ½ ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png 2.5/6 7.25

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


Dirk's picture

Kramnik must be slurping down a fifth of vodka right now. To weak to even show up at the contractually stipulated press conference. I hope the fine him for that.

Chris's picture

Congrats to Topalov for beating a leader.
As we can see VK is a loose cannon. :-) and played WC matches due to the not chess related factors.

Anonymous's picture

Quite so. In not any of the World Championship matches he played did Kramnik deserve to be there.

raze's picture

Who said KRAMNIK has more understanding about chess? or play real chess? You play real chess when you don't lose. :):) If you lose you don't understand much. hihi

RG13's picture

@ raze
"Who said KRAMNIK has more understanding about chess?" World Champion Magnus Carlsen said! He said that when he was young Kramnik's book made the strongest impression on him of any other grandmaster in history. And Carlsen has memorized tens of thousands of grandmaster games. Also World # 2 Levon Aronian has spoken very highly about Kramnik's understanding of chess.

Anonymous's picture

"when he was young"

Well, here's what he's saying now:

– Det er veldig imponerende hvordan Kramnik lirer av seg forskjellige varianter og så videre, og det er ikke så lett å gjennomskue hvis man ikke kan gamet ordentlig selv. Men hvis man ser litt dypere, er det ofte bare tull, sier Carlsen.

My translation: – It's very impressive how Kramnik rattles off different variations and so on, and it's not so easy to see through if you don't know the game properly yourself. But if you look a little deeper, it's often plain nonsense, says Carlsen.


– Den kanskje største forskjellen mellom meg og ham, er at han gjør veldig mye mer feil. Ofte er det sånn at han tror han har rett, mens jeg *har* rett, fortsetter bæringen.

My translation: – Perhaps the biggest difference between him and me is that he makes a lot more mistakes. Often times, he thinks he is right, while I *am* right, continues the man from Bærum.

Source: nrk.no/sport/carlsen-fyrer-mot-erkerivalen-1.11611042

Dirk's picture

That is extremely harsh. Carlsen had better watch out or Kramnik my send T.O. after him.

observer's picture

Poor Magnus. He hasn't got a chance then.

Anonymous's picture

Viva topalov

raze's picture

Who said Kramnik is the real Champion? He couldn't even win the candidates and losing to Topalov again. :) :) Get your fact straight.

raze's picture

Who said that Kramnik is the best in tactics? tactic in losing to Topalov?

Anonymous's picture

Only Carlsen and Simen are undefeated.

Witkacy's picture

Yeah! Isn't that wonderful?

observer's picture

Thomas will have some conspiracy theory explaining that.

Anonymous's picture

It seems that, Topalov will not be at the bottom of the table.

Chris's picture

he is splitting place with Aronian

Witkacy's picture

Apart from having too much sex with his girlfriend, Carlsen also should stop drinking coffee! Jesus!
As the late but great Bobby Fischer said when tasting his first coffee, he said, it feels so good there must a downsize to it. And stopped drinking coffee.
Really, beats me what is wrong with Carlsen.
Either he's off form or... Oh, what the hell do I care anyway.

observer's picture

According to Evans, Bobby was 'initiated' into sex at the 1960 Buenos Aires tournament. This resulted in a disastrous tournament performance. After this, Bobby said it had to be chess or girls, it couldn't be both. So he gave up girls...

Frits Fritschy's picture

According to the late Dutch GM Donner, the other participants paid for a prostitute to initiate Bobby. I don't know that was in the Evans story; Donner was able to invent history as it should have been.

observer's picture

Smart move by the other participants. They gave themselves a chance to win the tournament.

RG13's picture

Yes but after he retired from chess he got involved with females again. At minimum he lived with one in the Philippines and married one in Japan. So he showed great self-control to wait until he was done with chess to deal with women.

observer's picture

Wow, 12 years, until you're 30. That's one hell of a sacrifice to make. No wonder he gave up chess after winning the title.

Anonymous's picture

"Bobby said it had to be chess or girls, it couldn't be both. So he gave up girls"

Giving up girls to play with one's bishop. That's just sad.

Christoffel's picture

Sorry Your Majesty, Columbus told the Crown, but I can't go to discover the New World, since abstinence from the flesh during the journey is no option!

Anonymous's picture

When Magnus was 12, some of us were saying that he needed urgent castration to prevent stuff like this in the future. Alas, nothing was done about it AFAIK.

Anonymous's picture


celso's picture

The Great Kramnik (actually, not so great) still has 3 friends ahead. One that helped him in london and 2 Russians. Anything can happen ...

Alcoholics anonymous's picture

"The Great Kramnik (actually, not so great) still has 3 friends ahead. One that helped him in london and 2 Russians. Anything can happen ..."

Still cherishing long-refuted conspiracy theories? We saw just a few weeks ago (during one tournament in Khanty-Mansiysk) how "real" that collusion and how fragile your "proof" are. What sort of evidence do you accept?

raze's picture

I am just asking Who said that Kramnik is the best? The best in losing to Topalov?

Sunny's picture

These two are always producing results..no boring draws !!

Frits Fritschy's picture

As a fan of both Topalov and Kramnik (that is possible), I got the feeling today that the current level of their rivalry has a bad effect on the quality of their games.

Zeblakop's picture

Yes, there is always something special about grudges matches. I was a referee of many of them.

Frits Fritschy's picture

Which? Count Dracula-Von Helsing?

RG13's picture

Yes but it may have a positive effect on Topalov's play; now if he can just learn to hate the other players in the tournament as much! ;-)

Chris's picture

Topalov is nice guy.

jmason's picture

Definitely , i can't believe how bad Vlad played .

Greco's picture

Dont you cry tonight!!!

AAR's picture

Just 1 point separates the leaders from the bottom laggards - shows how tough the event is.
Though I miss Anand, this is one of the best events in recent times.

Special kudos to Simen - played good games though he couldn't convert couple of +1 engine scores into wins.

RG13's picture

The engines can't always convert +1 engine scores into wins when allowed to play themselves.

Dirk's picture

I am not impressed with the quality of play at all. Closeness of field does not make a great event or say anything about the quality of the contest. NASCAR races are often bunched up with lots of "beatin' n' bangin' " but the racing is nothing compared to formula 1.

Anonymous's picture

Well almost the whole world elite is there, absent just Naka and Anand (who played terribly until recently). If the quality of play is so low, what do you think should be done then? Dig up Capa?

Dirk's picture

If the Queen of England farts it still stinks. The games themselves have not been compelling and have been fraught with blunders and missed chances. The highlight game of this event was Topalov thrashing Kramnik and him storming off like a baby. Where is the killer instinct? Magnus has been a disappointment and has shown a terrible attitude in his home country. When the story is an aging GM making a series of draws then it is clear the event itself is struggling to find storylines. . Just not to my taste. Zurich was exciting, Tata Steel was exciting Gashimov was exciting. Capablanca Memorial was exciting. The damned US championship was exciting. This is dreck. The player need to do better as do the commentators. Get those two dried up drunks out of the commentary chair and bring in Sachdev and Trent.

Anonymous's picture

"terrible attitude" - what do you mean? I have followed all the games and interviews and I can't imagine why, if you had done the same, you would say his attitude has been terrible.

"struggling to find storylines" - storylines are what the media use to attract interest. I personally would rather that the organisers of the tournament focused on inviting strong and interesting GMs (which they have) rather than being preoccupied with trying to artificially manufacture storylines. I follow the tournament for the chess, not the soap opera.

"dried up drunks" - totally slanderous garbage.

"not compelling [...or exciting] ...dreck" - I don't know if I totally follow the logic; what makes a game compelling/exciting? You mention "blunders and missed chances" - what is this, if not the excitement you are after? Generally chess games can be classified as either 'correctly played' draws ("boring", "draw death", etc.), or games "fraught with blunders and missed chances" ("not compelling, not exciting, dreck") - what is it that you want? Why do you follow chess? For the "storylines"? To complain on forums? I feel like it's just pointless negativity and that your energies could be better focused on something more productive or meaningful. Nobody is making you watch.

jimknopf's picture

That was rude load of nonsense from Dirk, burying his few points remotely debatable.

wibble_wobble's picture

Horses for courses, I personally love the commentators, Nigel Short of course is a legend, and Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam is pretty knowledgeable in general, they complement each other nicely IMO.

jimknopf's picture

Sorry for Kramnik, losing the lead with such a game aginst the person he dislikes most among the players!

In the press conference Topalov shared his impression that Kramnik regularly gets into trouble, if he gets out of book too early and doesn't play in well known territory.

And he wondered why Kramnik did'nt just play it safe with black by taking back with the pawn on d5 with very good drawing chances.

Perhaps Kramnik unconsciously still wants to 'punish' Topalaov in each game, even with black, which of course is bound to backfire more often than work.

Not appearing at the press conference is another weak move which can only backfire - not in view of possible fines, but in view of punishing yourself by demonstrating missing standing. People who take their losses without hiding, like Aronian or Svidler, receive more respect for a reason.

Chris's picture

why sorry, yesterday he got a gift from Cauana.
He is lucky man.

AngeloPardi's picture

Maybe you're right, but I think it's rather cruel to have the loser of a game coming to the press conference.
I think only the winner should be bound to come. In fact I think no player should have to attend a press conference (they could still come if they want to).

Has anyone ever play a chess tournament ?
You have just played a hard game with high stakes, you have fought for hours in a difficult position, and now you must go to a press conference and look at the guy who just beat you while he explains your poor moves ?

Frits Fritschy's picture

If you get money for it, if it's part of the deal when you entered the tournament, yes, you can expect that of a player - that's called professionalism. But I guess there is a separate deal with Kramnik and Topalov when an organizer wants them both in his tournament.

Chris's picture

at TC Topalov has came to the conference after lose to Kramnik. Kramnik is lacking culture.


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