With five draws in the standard games, round five at the 2019 Altibox Norway Chess tournament provided lots of Armageddon spectacle for the spectators. Magnus Carlsen now has a 1.5-point lead over Yu Yangyi.
The Armageddon games are having a significant effect on this year’s tournament in Stavanger. After five days of play, there have been 18 out of a possible 25 Armageddon games, with a drawing percentage in the classical games of 72 percent. So far, the new system doesn’t lead to less draws, but more drama.
Carlsen is the only player who won all of his Armageddon games so far—four in total—and one classical win added to that gives him 8/10. His lead is now 1.5 points, while he would still be tied for first (with Aronian, Ding and So) in the classical standings, with 3/5.
On Sunday, the world champion had the black pieces against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, and drew both games comfortably. The first was a Sveshnikov, where he faced the extremely popular 7.Nd5 line again. He took a moment in the confession box to share his opinion on that:
Carlsen in the confessional: “I have to find something else to play as black. I am so sick of this Nd5 line. <laugh> Well, well, as long as I have good results, I have to stick to it. But every time, I expext them to do something else because they don’t dare.” #NorwayChess pic.twitter.com/DZPHFs0s8r
— Tarjei J. Svensen (@TarjeiJS) June 9, 2019
Carlsen himself deviated from a game he played last month in Ivory Coast while following an eight-year-old correspondence game, and then suddenly all pieces left the board except for opposite-colored bishops.
In the Armageddon, MVL chose 1.c4 instead, but also here he couldn’t pose problems to Carlsen, who played the Four Knights with 6…Bc5, like he had faced as White against Anish Giri in Shamkir this year. MVL’s 15.Be5 was creative and Carlsen had missed it, but he found some solid moves and avoided any serious trouble.
Carlsen on #2sjakk: “It was Bogoljubov who said once that “when I am white, I win because I am white, when I am black, I win because I am Bogoljubov.” Now it’s the opposite, I win because I am black. ” #NorwayChess
— Tarjei J. Svensen (@TarjeiJS) June 9, 2019
Yu climbed up the standings to a sole second place by beating Fabiano Caruana. The American grandmaster was fortunate to get a draw offer in quite a tricky position in the standard game, where he was down material:
Caruana had apparently used up all his luck, because he failed to grab several chances to save the draw in the Armageddon. In fact, he was much better at first as Yu’s offbeat treatment of the Sicilian had failed.
But somehow the Chinese player stayed in the game and took over, until the first moment where Black had an especially nice way to make a draw. Can you find it?
As Alexander Grischuk noted, the game was quite similar to his fight with Veselin Topalov from Shamkir this year (two bishops vs. knights, queens and the same pawn structure).
Here, it all led to a three-vs.-two pawn endgame on one wing, which was actually a draw as quickly spotted by Judit Polgar while giving commentary. Caruana didn’t see it, and lost:
Where Carlsen had miraculously escaped against Levon Aronian earlier in the tournament, this time it was the Armenian’s turn to take Houdini’s role in the Armageddon game with Ding Liren. Not proud of that achievement or how he spoiled his advantage in the standard game, Aronian used the word “embarrassing” three times when interviewed.
Ding had played in a strange way (“I have not seen this kind of chess ever in my life” —Aronian) in the classical but then found a great pawn sacrifice that solved all his problems. In the Armageddon the Chinese player again played a strange move in the opening and soon he was strategically lost.
Only needing a draw, Aronian got a dream position where both 26…bxc4 and 26…b4 should have led to a win.
Aronian however played too safely and allowed his opponent lots of counterplay in the endgame until White was completely winning. He got away with it as Ding blundered and allowed a fortress in a phase where Aronian had to make 13 moves in 14 seconds to reach the three-second increment phase.
Grischuk’s bad tournament was almost becoming truly disastrous when he blundered a pawn in the standard game against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov.
“I wasn’t too interested in my game; I am mostly a spectator now,” said Grischuk. “I gave up on my tournament,” said the Russian player, who was lucky to get excellent compensation and get away with a fairly easy draw.
The draw in the Armageddon was not a problem either, and so Grischuk won his first “mini-match” of the tournament. He’s still in last place, half a point behind MVL.
The last to finish were Wesley So and Vishy Anand. After a disappointing start, the Indian player has climbed up to a shared fifth place as he won three Armageddon games in a row. He is doing well when he needs a draw as Black, although he noted: “Every Armageddon I survive I am happy!”
2019 Altibox Norway Chess | Round 5 Standings
|1||Carlsen||2875||½ 1||½ 1||½ 1||½ 1||2||8.0/10|
|2||Yu Yangyi||2738||0||½ 1||½ 1||½ 1||2||6.5/10|
|3||Aronian||2752||½ 0||½ 1||2||½ 0||½ 1||6.0/10|
|4||So||2754||2||½ 0||½ 0||½ 1||½ 1||6.0/10|
|5||Ding Liren||2805||½ 0||½ 0||½ 1||½ 0||2||5.0/10|
|6||Anand||2767||½ 0||½ 1||½ 1||0||½ 1||5.0/10|
|7||Mamedyarov||2774||½ 0||0||2||½ 1||½ 0||4.5/10|
|8||Caruana||2819||½ 0||½ 0||0||½ 0||2||3.5/10|
|9||Vachier-Lagrave||2779||½ 0||½ 0||½ 1||½ 0||0||3.0/10|
|10||Grischuk||2775||0||0||½ 0||½ 0||½ 1||2.5/10|
The Altibox Norway Chess tournament takes place June 3-12 in the Clarion Hotel Energy and June 12-14 in the Stavanger Concert hall in Stavanger, Norway. New this year is that players who draw their game will play an Armageddon game right after (with the same colors).
Armageddon at Norway Chess
White gets 10 minutes on the clock; Black gets seven minutes but has draw odds. Only after move 60 the players get three seconds increment per move.
- Win, main game: 2 points
- Loss, main game: 0 points
- Draw, main game and loss, Armageddon: 0.5 point
- Draw, main game and win, Armageddon: 1.5 points
Also new is a shorter the time control in the classical games: two hours for the whole game, with an increment of 10 seconds after move 40.
The round five coverage by the Chessbrahs.