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Carlsen's Cascade and Ding's Annihilator underline an inexorable day!

by Tanmay Srinath - 13/06/2019

Ding Liren's obliteration of the Grunfeld meant that Mamedyarov didn't get a second chance in the Armageddons. Fabiano Caruana played one of the best games of the tournament against Vishy Anand, but the American No.1's time trouble prevented him from claiming a well deserved win. The remaining classical games finished drawn, with Magnus Carlsen having to suffer a bit before splitting the point. In the Armageddons, Magnus extirpated So and won after the latter forced a threefold repetition, while Caruana blew open Anand's kingside in a Quiet Italian forcing resignation. Meanwhile, Aronian and MVL won their respective encounters in diverging styles to climb up the leaderboard. A comprehensive report from Norway Chess by Tanmay Srinath.

With 3 more rounds to go, some of the players played uncompromising chess in a bid to win their respective matches without Armageddons. Ding Liren's superb handling of opposite side castling positions means Shak Mamedyarov's Grunfeld didn't quite have the effect he'd have wanted. Caruana got a winning attack against Anand, but his typical time pressure meant that the Madras Tiger barely escaped. MVL-Grischuk was an interesting Rossolimo that didn't quite live up to the complexity of the position. So-Carlsen and Yu-Aronian were seemingly easy draws for the Black players. In the Armageddons, Caruana and MVL posted contrasting wins as White, while Yu's and So's failure to make something out of the White pieces meant that Aronian trails Carlsen by 2 points with 2 rounds to go. Into the games then:

Classical: Ding's Grunfeld bashing and Anand's rise from the abyss: 

We shall start by looking at Ding Liren's rather effortless dismantling of Shak's Grunfeld Defense:

Seconding Carlsen has turbocharged the Chinese No.1's game. | Photo: Norway Chess

Ding Liren-Mamedyarov

Mamedyarov goes for an inferior form of the Grunfeld. The reason this isn't the same as the main lines is because White maintains the integrity of his pawn chain.

Ding Liren sets the tone of the game with this move. White will attack on the kingside and Black will counterattack on the queenside.

Here Mamedyarov played Nf6!? and soon managed to equalise. I managed to find a far more ambitious option. Try this as a test-Black to play and reach dynamic equality!

Ding Liren has not made a single bad move till now, and even 19.Nf3 is completely sound. Yet, due to the fact that chess is by principle a draw with best play, Black has the chance to fully equalise. Mamedyarov didn't find it. Can you?

Mamedyarov played Rc5?! and though he managed to equalise, he had to defend and suffer for a bit. Instead, find a more energetic way for Black to maintain the balance and justify his pawn sacrifice.

Black has to preserve the pride of his position - 23...Bg7! continues to maintain equality. Instead, 23...Na4? was perhaps an overestimation as after 24.Nxe5! White takes over the game.

Mamedyarov's last chance to defend was Rxh1! Rxh1 Nc5, which keeps some hopes intact. Instead, Nxc3+? was too optimistic and soon punished by Ding, who went on to convert his winning advantage.

Fabiano Caruana played a fantastic game as White against Vishy Anand, but the American's time trouble meant he faltered near the finish line:


Anand opts for the Open Ruy Lopez, an old favourite of his.

After repeating the first 11 moves from Karjakin-Anand from last year, Fabi deviated with 12.Re1. Vishy played 12...Nxd2!?, but he had a better option to fully equalise the game. Can you find it? Black to play.

Anand's troubles began from this position. He played 16...bxc3?! and after Bxc3 White slowly took over. Instead, 16...Rab8! equalises without effort.

Fabiano had the chance to finish off the game with 20.e6! shattering Black's defenses. Instead, 20.Bc2?! allowed Anand to set roadblock after roadblock.

31...Rg5!? was Anand's last attempt to muddy waters. Fabiano played 32.Qf3? throwing away most of a winning advantage, though he was still easily winning. Find the best move to finish Black off here.

Caruana played Bd3? spoiling a certain win. Can you do better? White to play and win comfortably.

With Rc7! Caruana would have retained some chances. The game move Rc1?! is a virtual draw offer.

Vishy's immense experience came to the fore today. | Photo:Norway Chess

In other games, Wesley So had a chance to put some additional pressure on Carlsen:



So could have continued to play on this position with Qd2! and Bg4, and Carlsen has to suffer for a while longer. Instead, a4!? completely equalised the game.

Wesley's chess has not been near his best. | Photo:Norway Chess

Armageddon: Carlsen's Unbeaten Streak and Fabiano's Rejoinder!

King Magnus continued rolling towards a 2nd Norway Chess title by being on the better side of a draw against Wesley So:



Carlsen played Ke5! and So found nothing better than giving up the game with a perpetual Rh5+

Is this going to be Carlsen's 6th consecutive tournament win? | Photo:Norway Chess

Yu Yangyi failed to put enough pressure on Levon Aronian in a subtle endgame:


Yu Yangyi-Aronian

a5!? keeps the pressure on Levon, who then has to find some neat defensive moves to retain chances of a draw. The game move Ne6+!? was easily neutralised by Black.

Yu Yangyi could not break through Levon's 1.e4 e5 today. | Photo : Norway Chess 

Aronian takes over 2nd place with 2 round to go. Can he catch Magnus? | Photo: Norway Chess

Fabiano Caruana achieved retribution by beating Anand in a wonderful attacking game in the Quiet Italian:



Anand had to go Re8! and he has no problems whatsover. Instead, c6?! fatally weakens the d6 pawn and allows White to come up with massive threats after f4! Caruana played beautifully from here on, giving Vishy no chances.

Caruana makes good of his chances in the Armageddon. | Photo: Norway Chess

MVL won on time against the luckless Grischuk in a position that looked really good for White:



MVL played Nc6! and Grischuk's flag fell.

MVL has had a good second half. Can he finish off well? | Photo: Norway Chess
Standings after Round 7
1Magnus CarlsenNorway287511
2Levon AronianArmenia27529
3Yu YangyiChina2738
4Ding LirenChina2805
5Wesley SoUSA27547
6Fabiano CaruanaUSA2819
7Maxime Vachier-LagraveFrance27796
8Viswanathan AnandIndia27676
9Shakhriyar MamedyarovAzerbaijan27745
10Alexander GrischukRussia27753½

Magnus Carlsen has opened up a huge lead of 2 points over the rest of the field. Only Levon Aronian has a realistic chance of catching him. With 2 rounds to go, it is Carlsen's tournament to lose.

About the Author:

Tanmay Srinath is an 18-year-old chess player from Bangalore, Karnataka, currently pursuing both chess and engineering at BMSCE Bangalore. Tanmay is also a Taekwondo Black Belt, who has represented the country in an International Tournament in Thailand. He is a big fan of Mikhail Tal and Vishy Anand, and sincerely believes in doing his bit to Power Chess in India!

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