The first super-tournament to ever take place in Norway has begun. Hikaru Nakamura, Peter Svidler and Sergey Karjakin won their games with the white pieces and are now the early leaders at this prestigious event. Both Magnus Carlsen and Viswanathan Anand also played with white, but only were able to get half points.
Hikaru Nakamura is currently skipping the US Chess Championship to participate in Norway; his rival Wang Hao missed the Chinese National Championship for the same reason. They faced each other in the first round and battled in a Petroff Defense proposed by the Chinese.
Nakamura used the known plan of going for a direct attack on the kingside and did not regret this decision. He never stopped pushing to get a clear initiative. The Chinese defended stubbornly for a long time, but Nakamura’s positional edge eventually turned into an ending where he had two pieces for a rook. The American had no problems in converting this technical endgame and took the full point on move 42.
Sergey Karjakin wisely chose to play white in the first round after winning the blitz tournament yesterday. He was paired against Teimour Radjabov. They played recently in the Zug Grand Prix, where the Azerbaijani had the white pieces and the game finished in a draw.
This time, the Russian was white and a not-very-popular line of the Sicilian was seen on the board. Karjakin got the initiative in the queenside and gained a pawn in the middlegame. The struggle to convert this advantage into a full point was not a walk in the park, as black had some counterplay with his own passed pawn. However, Karjakin showed good technique and won the game in 41 moves.
Peter Svidler came from a rather disappointing performance at the Alekhine Memorial, but was fortunate enough to be paired against the lowest rated player with white in the first round. The multiple Russian champion beat Jon Ludvig Hammer in the longest game of the round.
The Norwegian used the Gruenfeld against the biggest expert of this line, but this was not the decisive factor in the game. They went early into a queen-less middlegame, however, the presence of four rooks made the position quite complicated. White had an advantage in development and control of the center, and converted it into a pawn advantage by move 35. Hammer tried to get counterplay in the rook endgame, but it was not enough to save the game.
Magnus Carlsen started with a draw against Veselin Topalov. They played 51 moves after a Symmetrical English was presented on the board. The number 1 in the world has white against Anand tomorrow, while Topalov will also make the first move against Radjabov.
Viswanathan Anand faced Levon Aronian once again, after their draw in the Alekhine Memorial. They split the point again, this time in a Closed Variation of the Ruy Lopez.
Pairings of the second round:
|CARLSEN Magnus||ANAND Viswanathan|
|TOPALOV Veselin||RADJABOV Teimour|
|ARONIAN Levon||NAKAMURA Hikaru|
|WANG Hao||SVIDLER Peter|
|HAMMER Jon Ludvig||KARJAKIN Sergey|
Photos by Anastasiya Karlovich