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Norway Chess 2014 (1)

Caruana leads Norway Chess after first round blunder by Grischuk

Anish Giri happy after round 1 draw against Carlsen. Photo ©

Anish Giri happy after round 1 draw against Carlsen. Photo © |

Fabiano Caruana beat Alexander Grischuk to lead the Norway Chess tournament after the first round where the remaining games were drawn all after fighting play. Anish Giri held World Champion Magnus Carlsen with black, Simen Agdestein did the same against Levon Aronian.

Garry Kasparov was in commentary for some part of the day and including speaking for about 10 minutes on why he thought he should be FIDE President.

Round 1 Standings: Caruana 1pt, Carlsen, Aronian, Kramnik, Topalov, Karjakin, Svidler, Giri and Agdestein 0.5pts, Grischuk 0pts

Round 2 Pairings June 4th 2:30 BST: Aronian – Karjakin, Kramnik – Carlsen, Caruana – Svidler, Topalov – Grischuk and Agdestein – Giri.

More details below

Fabiano Caruana outplayed Alexander Grischuk on the black side of a Benoni to obtain at least equality. After 18.Bg5 Caruana chose to pin himself with 18...Nf6 rather than the passive 18...Qf8.

Fabiano Caruana


Alexander Grischuk

Position after 18.Bg5

This was probably the correct decision but he was somewhat surprised by 19.Qd3 and 20.Qe3. After 23...Rxb3 (24...Rxb4) black eventually had to give up the exchange but the position remained more or less balanced after move 30 when the players were into their last minutes. Grischuk said playing without increment took some adapting to but it was always the players fault when they get into this serious a time trouble. Grischuk's main problem in time trouble was finding a good spot for his queen, 33.Qh3 was probably best but you could understand his reluctance.

Fabiano Caruana


Alexander Grischuk

Position after 38.Qa2

38.Qa2?? (38.Qa1 draws) and Caruana almost overlooked the winning idea but then 38...Rxd3! wins on the spot.

"I could not imagine I could lose this position." Grischuk

Anish Giri

Anish Giri. Photo ©

The main game of the day early on was that between Magnus Carlsen and Anish Giri. Giri has a plus score against Carlsen which he maintained with a draw today. Giri said that they had played so little the score wasn't particularly significant but he did point that they had only played after Carlsen was number one so the results do at least mean something.

Giri played 6...Qc7 a high unusual variation of the English and Carlsen obtained only a smallish advantage.

Anish Giri


Magnus Carlsen

Position after 16.Ng5

However after 16.Ng5 Giri went into a very long think for 45 minutes which surprised many commentators including the watching Garry Kasparov. Giri explained that he did worry he might be busted in which case rather than the obvious 16...e6. Giri explained that he considered 16...Ne5 which might be best if he were busted. He established he had a playable position and even after missing 26.Nc3 he was just in time to prevent e5 after which white would have been winning and Carlsen had to force a draw by repetition.

Aronian vs Agdestein

Aronian vs Agdestein. Photo ©

Levon Aronian was obviously disappointed to only draw with Simen Agdestein in their first rounds game. Agdestein's problem is not so much his age or rating but that he doesn't normally play in such exalted company. Added to which he has been sick for almost the entire month's preparation and he had to see a doctor the day before play started.

Agdestein kept telling himself "You don't have to feel well to play well."

Simen Agdestein


Levon Aronian

Position after 30...Rb4

Aronian obtained what looked like a nice position but didn't find the right way, most probably 29.Kf2 wasn't quite right although things are still not clear. 30...Rb4! was excellent.

Aronian admitted he missed Rb4 and that "Taking on b4 was completely ridiculous."

After this Agdestein had the advantage but was in quite bad time trouble. Most probably Qf6 at some point led to an advantage. After 35...Nc3 Aronian cut his losses, sacrificed back the exchange and the game was drawn.

Peter Svidler was somewhat surprised when Vladimir Kramnik repeated a variation of the English he tried against Magnus Carlsen. Svidler admitted he had prepared this line for black for the Candidates and concluded it equal. Kramnik improved on the Carlsen game with 18...Nf7 and after 20..Rb8 started to worry about being worse 23.Nd2 more or less forced a liquidation into a drawn position.

Sergey Karjakin against Veselin Topalov saw typically combative play with black from the Bulgarian. Karjakin couldn't resist playing 22.d5 once he saw it worked but the position remained balanced. Karjakin had the advantage but lost some of it with 27.Rf4 (27.Rdd1!?)which was a panicked reaction to almost playing 27.Rd6? which loses to 27...Qxd6. Topalov was level in the ending but got a little too anxious with 31...b5 but ultimately the game was drawn anyway.

Garry Kasparov was in the commentary box. The election will be settled by the FIDE delegates but he did talk about the election for around 10 minutes in between discussing the games.

2nd Norway Chess 2014 Stavanger NOR (NOR), 3-14 vi 2014 cat. XXI (2774)
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0
1. Caruana, Fabiano g ITA 2791 * . . . . . . . . 1 1
2. Carlsen, Magnus g NOR 2881 . * . . . . . ½ . . ½ 2752
3. Aronian, Levon g ARM 2815 . . * . . . . . ½ . ½ 2628
4. Kramnik, Vladimir g RUS 2783 . . . * . . ½ . . . ½ 2753
5. Topalov, Veselin g BUL 2772 . . . . * ½ . . . . ½ 2771
6. Karjakin, Sergey g RUS 2771 . . . . ½ * . . . . ½ 2772
7. Svidler, Peter g RUS 2753 . . . ½ . . * . . . ½ 2783
8. Giri, Anish g NED 2752 . ½ . . . . . * . . ½ 2881
9. Agdestein, Simen g NOR 2628 . . ½ . . . . . * . ½ 2815
10. Grischuk, Alexander g RUS 2792 0 . . . . . . . . * 0
Round 1 (June 3, 2014)
Carlsen, Magnus - Giri, Anish ½-½ 32 A34 English Symmetrical
Aronian, Levon - Agdestein, Simen ½-½ 41 E15 Queens Indian
Karjakin, Sergey - Topalov, Veselin ½-½ 48 E10 Blumenfeld Counter Gambit
Svidler, Peter - Kramnik, Vladimir ½-½ 40 A29 English Four Knights
Grischuk, Alexander - Caruana, Fabiano 0-1 39 A62 Benoni

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