Reports | January 05, 2009 6:18

Carlsen and Svidler qualify for final

After six rounds Carlsen, Nakamura and Svidler had all collected four points (Lie lost all six games) and so a playoff was needed to determine the finalists of the Aker Chess Challenge. Not in top form in the blitz session, Nakamura lost both to Carlsen and Svidler, who thus qualified for tomorrow's final.

The Aker Chess Challenge runs 2nd-5th January and is part of the International Chess Festival in Gj??vik (Norway). Magnus Carlsen, Peter Svidler, Hikaru Nakamura and Kjetil Lie play a rapid (25 minutes per game with 5 seconds increment) double round-robin followed by final and bronze final games.

In our first report we saw that Svidler started well (3.0/4) but was closely followed by Nakamura and Carlsen (2.5/4). Only two could reach the final of course, so there was enough excitement this Sunday - even more than the spectators had hoped for!

Round 5
In an Anti-Marshall, Svidler placed his knight on the wrong square in the early middlegame (20...Nd4 was probably better) and suddenly lost his e6 pawn. Avoiding the ending, Carlsen then nicely profited from the weakend light squares around Black's king. The other round 5 game was Lie-Nakamura and it contained the same scenario for the luckless Norwegian as we've seen before: with White he got a fine position, even won a pawn, but then he started making mistakes (27.f4?, 33.Nxf4?) that were immediately punished.

Round 6

Nakamura and Carlsen were then leading with 3.5/5 (followed by Svidler on 3.0) and so they drew in 12 meaningless moves to secure a shared first place. Svidler had to beat Lie to join them and he did (after coming up with the obvious improvement 13.Bf1, instead of 13.Ne1 from the recent game Aronian-Ivanchuk, Nanjing 2008), and so a blitz playoff was needed to determine the finalists and bronze finalists.


Games rounds 5-6

[TABLE=558]


[TABLE=559]



Playoff

Svidler started with a win against Nakamura, who sacrificed a pawn in a quiet Najdorf middlegame and then followed up with a typical exchange sac, creating enormous complications. However, it was probably not correct, and Svidler made no mistakes (though 33.Rxb7 would have decided the game quicker). Carlsen then defeated Svidler again, slowly outplaying his opponent in another Ruy Lopez.

The last game Nakamura-Carlsen was dramatic for the players and top entertainment for the audience in the Gj??vik cinema. In a rare line from the Slav, the Norwegian got a good position but the game became incredibly complicated when both players had less than half a minute left on the clock. The American got dangerous counter-chances but failed to exploit them (he missed a chance on move 34 where Qd3 and Rf6 look stronger) after which Carlsen could liquidate to a winning ending.


Games blitz playoff


And so the bronze final will see Nakamura vs Lie, and the big final will be Carlsen-Svidler. Note that Macauley Peterson is in Gj??vik, reporting for the Chess.FM blog.

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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of ChessVibes.com, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.

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