June 08, 2014 21:49

Kramnik beats & overtakes Caruana in dramatic 5th round in Norway

Sunday was a dramatic day for Fabiano Caruana at the Norway Chess tournament, who defended well in a difficult ending, calculated the right move but played the wrong one (50...Ke8) and resigned a few moves later, perhaps prematurely. His opponent Vladimir Kramnik overtook him in the standings; the Russian grandmaster is on 3.5/5 and half a point ahead of Magnus Carlsen who defeated Levon Aronian. Anish Giri won his first, against Veselin Topalov, while Simen Agdestein continued to impress and drew with Alexander Grischuk after missing a win.

The fifth round of the Norway Chess tournament could be summarized by it ain't over till it's over - and not even then! Peter Svidler got a very nice position against Sergey Karjakin but let it slip away, Veselin Topalov got a winning position against Anish Giri but blew it in two moves, underdog Simen Agdestein missing a winning tactic and had to be satisfied with a draw against Alexander Grischuk, Magnus Carlsen got outplayed by Levon Aronian who failed to deliver the decisive positional blow and even lost, and last but not least tournament leader Fabiano Caruana blundered in a drawn ending against Vladimir Kramnik and then resigned in a position where many would have played on. And all that on one day!

The game that shook up the standings started as a Fianchetto King's Indian with ...c5 (or is it a Symmetrical English?) and in a tactical sequence the queens and one pair of rooks were traded. Kramnik got optimistic when he played 21.c5 and he ended up winning a pawn, but the endgame after move 36 was described by Anish Giri as “94% draw, 4% White winning and 1% Black winning.”

Caruana defended well and had already calculated a long line to a draw when Kramnik gave up his extra pawn to reach a rook ending. But when it came on the board, the Italian's hand put his king on the wrong square! Caruana had no explanation for why it had happened.

Also in Dortmund last year Caruana lost to Kramnik by a blunder deep in the endgame. “But in Dortmund I didn't see the final move - here I saw the draw!”

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And so Kramnik is the new leader, and Caruana is now in shared second place together with Carlsen. The Norwegian admitted that he got outplayed by Aronian: “I think I was pretty thoroughly outplayed in the middlegame. I was very lucky not to lose before the time control. And then suddenly I was a pawn up and I thought I was winning, but it was not so easy. It was a fighting game but I just need some rest now.”

Aronian's play was “genius” in the eyes of Giri, who especially liked 17...Na4 and 24...Ba4. On move 32 the white knight is out of play. Carlsen: “If Black gets his bishop on b5 and pawn on a6 I can pack and go home.”


But Aronian “forgot about” the move g3-g4 for White, and so he forgot to play ...h6-h5 to stop that. The Armenian, who was absolutely devastated after the game, said: “I was doing alright. I should have just played …h5 at some moment but I just went completely nuts. It's difficult to explain why someone wouldn't play it. It's a puzzle.”

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Another very disappointed player was Topalov, who got a promising position but failed to grab his chances. He surprised his opponent with the Classical Sicilian and somehow Giri couldn't find the right plan and played very passively. “Of course I had no clue about the position but it's not an excuse to play so badly anyway,” said the Dutch grandmaster.

In the position after 31.Re1 Topalov could have decided the game with the standard pawn break ...d6-d5, but he miscalculated, played two bad moves in a row and suddenly he was lost.

Topalov: “At some point I thought I would win but I missed several simple moves. It's not really a good trend. Very simple blunders.” Giri: “I played in the best spirit of Sergey Karjakin. I got myself into trouble and then I got very lucky. (...) At least it will not be written that I played a retarded game, it will be written that I won.”

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And the theme continues: with a wry smile, a disappointed Agdestein was watching his opponent Grischuk going through their game in the commentary box. The 47-year-old Norwegian still believed in the French variation that he played earlier against Karjakin and again he got away with it. In fact Grischuk overestimated his chances so much that he started sacrificing pawns, looking for things that didn't exist.

The Russian was lucky that his opponent failed to miss a winning tactic. Agdestein: “I was tired; I'm missing simple tactics. It's lack of experience - on this level.”

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It is known that Svidler is a big cricket fan, but he also likes tennis.

The grandmaster from St Petersburg was among the group of players who failed to make something out of a promising position, but in his case it wasn't clearly winning. In a Symmetrical English, neither player was aware of a certain correspondence game where the strong move 15...Nd5! was played - a move Svidler only spotted after he made his 15th. Karjakin missed it and was worse, but held it when Svidler started hesitating a bit.

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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 - Giri
Svidler ½-½ Karjakin   Karjakin - Carlsen
Carlsen 1-0 Aronian   Grischuk - Svidler
Giri 1-0 Topalov   Topalov - Kramnik
Kramnik 1-0  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 5 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts SB
1 Kramnik,V 2783 2908 phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1 ½ 1       ½   3.5/5  
2 Carlsen,M 2881 2854 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½   ½     1   ½ 3.0/5 7.25
3 Caruana,F 2791 2862 0 ½ phpfCo1l0.png   ½   1   1   3.0/5 7.25
4 Agdestein,S 2628 2782 ½     phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ ½ ½     2.5/5 6.50
5 Giri,A 2752 2771 0 ½ ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png         1 2.5/5 5.75
6 Karjakin,S 2771 2752       ½   phpfCo1l0.png 1 0 ½ ½ 2.5/5 5.50
7 Grischuk,A 2792 2756     0 ½   0 phpfCo1l0.png 1   1 2.5/5 4.75
8 Aronian,L 2815 2695   0   ½   1 0 phpfCo1l0.png ½   2.0/5 4.75
9 Svidler,P 2753 2716 ½   0     ½   ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ 2.0/5 4.75
10 Topalov,V 2772 2643   ½     0 ½ 0   ½ phpfCo1l0.png 1.5/5  

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


Holger Kießling's picture

Since Carlsen was unfairly awarded the London candidates he can't seriously be considered champion. That's why for many Vladimir Kramnik is the de facto World Chess Champion, no flashy rating can't deny this evident truth.

Anonymous's picture

That's why many are delusional nutjobs.

celso's picture

Yes, only the Great Kramnik won a WC in the restroom. Yes, The Great Kramnik lost a WC to a decadent Anand shamefully. In the candidates tournament in London, even getting clearly help from some friends, lost!!

AngeloPardi's picture

Anand played the best chess of his life from 2007 to 2010. He beat Kramnik in 2008 and was first-ranked in early 2010.
The restroom affair was an invention by Topalov and his manager to try to unsettle Kramnik.

Anonymous's picture

you forgot that the Great Kramnik is leader in the table...

celso's picture

Yes, with a huge help from Caruana

CentrKentr's picture

Carlsen's ability to consistently turn objectively lost positions into draws and objectively drawn positions into wins is what differentiates him from the other top players. The others seem to lack this type of fighting spirit. Today's example is Caruana: he's a great player, but would Carlsen have resigned when Caruana did? No; he would have fought on, making good moves and hoping Kramnik would go wrong. (Remember Carlsen's win against Nakamura in this regard?) Even the best players blunder, especially after hours at the board. Carlsen never gives up when there is any play left in the position; he is like Fischer in this way.

blade's picture


I truly agree with your post, "Carlsen's ability to consistently turn objectively lost positions into draws and objectively drawn positions into wins is what differentiates him from the other top players."
This is how a true chess champion acts and thinks. Not many chess players have this ability than carlsen.

Common Fan's picture

I'm a longtime Magnus Carlsen supporter but I can see the point in Kramnik's fans. I think the only rational way to solve this is a match Kramnik-Carlsen. Anything else is bogus.

Anonymous's picture

Aronian, Nakamura, Caruana, Gelfand, Navara, etc most of the players play better chess than Magnus, and the whole world knows this, Magnus is just the "rating guy", you can't find any artistic merit in his play, why is hard to accept it?

PP (NL)'s picture

You forgot van Wely... :-)

Hernán Ruiz's picture

I cannot understand why so many people hates Carlsen.Frustated players perhaps.Why is to hard to accept he is a great player? Yes, I know, plenty of silly and envious people out there, but still, too much hate.If you love chess, you have to admire M.C.

raze's picture

How can you say they are better to MC which they almost always lost when playing with Carlsen. hihi.

Billy 's picture

As a Carlsen fan I am deeply disappointed for his lack of creativity. I mean the only way he wins is with the help of the others who mostly outplay him. I think many will agree that Kramnik is the better player and it's difficult for me to say this but he should be the real champion. Magnus can wait and improve his chess.

Anonymous's picture

S3: Now also concern trolling. Pathetic

jimknopf's picture

I find it quite entertaining to see some of the smart guys, claiming to know 'the truth' about 'real chess', with all these funny comments about their heros and villains in full action. :-)

Especially the well known one who is constantly wiping the floor behind Kramnik, gliding on his knees and repeating his Hare Kramna,
Priceless! :-))

Both Kramnik and Carlsen had undeserved wins today, in the sense that they profited from heavy failures of their opponents. Sorry for Caruana (who seemed extremely frustrated at the press conference) and Aronian, who always impresses me with his sense of self-irony.

Carlsen too never tries to talk away weaknesses and is stone dry and objective in his analysis, even immetiately after difficult and energy-draining games.

While I understand that Carlsen plays below his own expectations, I have to say I still like what I see in his recent games. As I said on several occasions, I have the impression that he is readjusting his playing style towards greater flexibility, including more dynamic, unbalanced positions. The only thing he still seems to be missing on this way IMHO is fine tuning between safety and risk.

Today he didn't want to exchange queens and force an attack with queens on board instead. But in fact Qf2 with queen exchange would have been the perhaps only solid way to continue.

Anyway, he should go straight forward into this direction from my view. It is the best way to develop, and the best way to beat Anand in the next championship. Carlsen certainly has no lack of chess understanding, he is just trying to force matters a bit too much at times. In calm positions this often leaves a broader draw margin after suboptimal move efforts, but in sharp dynamic positions like today (or in his Caruana game) it can backfire fast. He should just go on and fine-tune - instead of regretting the IMO fine direction he is developing into.

Roberto's picture

Nice comment jimknopf.

I personally like Kramnik, i enjoy his contribution to chess, which is a amazing one, the time that he spent in preparations, always something interesting in oppenings.

I am glad he won the game against Caruana, now with Carlsens win this tournament is "on fire"!

Carlsen was lucky also to win against one of his main rivals. I mean, he got lucky to escape from the bad position and good enough to win after that.

What a said two posts later about that Carlsen is struggling was true after all. He said himself that he is not happy with his play and now he says that he is having trouble to sleep. If it is true its nice that he is holding this hard time.

Im more or less upset about Simen. He could won two games... imagine him +2! It would be absurd!!! But he wasnt able, i hope he grab some win still.

jimknopf's picture

I think Kramnik's contribution to chess is essentially undisputed. Of course anyone in the top ten (including their fans) has reasons to think he could/should be even more, especially the former world champions. That keeps the competition alive and is fine. But all have to live with the actual ranking and championship circle results.

Simen is fun to watch. I like the French with black as well, and after I heard Nigel's refeference to super GM comments on this 'unsolid' opening choice, I enjoyed it all the more, that even after repeating the same 'unsoild' line, a super GM like Grischuk could do literally nothing to shatter the line. A bit of a Berlin effect: looks dubious, but works perfectly fine. :-)

Septimus's picture

What happened to Topalov, I thought he was clearly winning??

Roberto's picture

Yes, he was, and also was more or less wining Aronian; they both made "blunders" and got crashed.

Bucetinha Peludinha Meladinha 's picture
Anonymous's picture

Lol at the fury of fanboys, what will they say after Big Vlad wins also today? That Carlsen is saving prep and actually is the better player of the two? FFS!

Anonymous's picture

Carlsen is simply better player than Kramnik since he won more tournaments than him. I am not a Carlsen fanboy, still I like the way he is dominating chess

Kittyhawk's picture

Carlsen had definitely not won more tournaments than Kramnik. He probably will end up winning more tournaments.

Anonymous's picture

Ratings mean nothing, Kramnik has underlined that Carlsen's first place on the rating list only is due to non chess related reasons. In pure chess skills he can not compete with Vladdy.

Anonymous's picture

If ratings mean nothing, then any patzer is the best player in the world. I bet you are.

Leo's picture

"Kramnik has underlined ..." LOL

Anonymous's picture

Chatterbox Vlad and his "connoisseur" fans go together really well - priceless ;-) Our artist and empaler Kramnik currently leads by half a point (only after Caruana gave him the victory by his decisive blunder). Even in bad shape and trailing by half a point Carlsen still is the overwhelming favorite to win this tournament. Like always when playing an event with together with Carlsen, Kramnik's place at the very best is #2. Vlad knows the fact very well and even his "connoisseur" fans will sooner or later accept reality.

Webbimio's picture

I don't understand where's the point of the question "is Kramnik better than Carlsen?".
Being a physicist, this is my approach:
1) The Elo difference is statistically significant, (nobody can say on an experimental basis that Carlsen is not better until their difference drops to less than, say, 20 points).
2) All the "understanding" stuff...well, if one understands better, doesn't he play the better moves?
3) "Carlsen has the greatest chess intuition of all times" is more or less the opinion of Garry Kasparov. Since the claim is both authoritative and consistent witth empirical results, I take it at least as my working hypothesis.

Kittyhawk's picture

Is "Carlsen has the greatest chess intuition of all times" a quote from Kasparov or not? If it is, it can't be more or less the opinion of Kasparov. If it isn't you shouldn't be using quotation marks.

Zeveraar's picture

And... here's the next world champion reasoning, picking on words rather than content...

Kittyhawk's picture

Words contain content dummy. I simply would like to know if Kasparov said that.

Grandma's picture

I'm always happy when Magnus wins.

But I can't help it, I'm a woman with emotions too, and yesterday my heart was bleeding for Levon Aronian.

I consider him as a very nice person, and it was kind of painful to see how devastated he was.

Still he gave an interview both to the Norwegian VGTV and to TV2 Sportskanalen after the international press conference.

I admire him for doing this when he was so disappointed and exhausted.

Magnus was also totally exhausted after the game.

I hope that he has slept tonight. It is extremely demanding to play a dramatic game and fight for more than six hours when you have been awake all night and didn't fall in sleep before ten in the morning.

Anonymous's picture

Didn't Dreev and Sveshnikov claim that Karjakin simply is better chess player than Carlsen? Today may prove them right, Karjakin ftw!

Anonymous's picture

Carlsen scuttles for draw in the opening against Karjakin, lol

Zeveraar's picture

Topalov can deal a massive blow! 27 Bd5! +-

Ben Robertson's picture

Oh dear, Kramnik lost to Topalov.
I wonder what the resident spamming troll is going to say now.

Richelle's picture

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has pretty much the same layout and design. Superb choice
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