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Anand closes on the leader as both Karjakin and Carlsen lose

Norway ChessThe penultimate round of the Norway Chess super-tournament saw a surprising set of results in the main boards. Magnus Carlsen lost with white against Wang Hao while Sergey Karjakin fell with black in his game against Peter Svidler. World champion Viswanathan Anand took advantage of these results by getting a full point, and is now half a point behind Karjakin, sharing second place with the Norwegian prodigy.

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A highly rare event was seen today in Stavanger, Magnus Carlsen lost in a technical drawn endgame. Wang Hao was the responsible in this occasion. The unpredictable Chinese was the only one to lose against Hammer, but he also obtained victories over Svidler and now Carlsen. He stands at -1 in the mid-low part of the standings table.

The game saw the players entering a closed central pawn structure in the opening. All the action that followed took place on the queenside, but there were not any big imbalances to give either player a realistic chance to go for the win. Anyway, on move 35, Wang gained a pawn that did not seem to be enough to claim a winning advantage. As the Chinese himself said in the press conference, the endgame probably was drawn all the time, but Carlsen was not up to the task and signed his resignation on move 79.

Wang Hao

Wang Hao

Peter Svidler proved his ability in dynamic positions once again. He defeated Sergey Karjakin following the same opening that he used to beat Carlsen in the Candidates – the Ruy Lopez with d3. This result gives the chasing pack the chance to catch the Russian and the spectators a chance to follow a very exciting final round tomorrow.

A very complicated middlegame position presented itself over the board. Karjakin got a strong passed pawn on the a-file, but had to deal with Svidler’s pair of bishops that were directed against his king. After some exchanges, the computer even gave Karjakin an edge, however, the leader overestimated his chances and ended up falling against his opponent’s initiative. Resignation came on move 57.

Peter Svidler London R13

Peter Svidler

Viswanathan Anand used these two defeats and closed on the leader with a clear victory over Jon Ludvig Hammer. The Norwegian bravely used the Gruenfeld and had to face Anand’s huge opening preparation. The Indian played actively in a very sharp line but the computer did not show any advantage for him in the opening.

The turning point came on move 20 when Hammer blundered and allowed the world champion to sacrifice his knight for the attack. The Norwegian looked for perpetual checks with desperate sacrifices but this only led to a completely winning endgame for white. Anand is now only half a point behind the leader and has the black pieces against Wang Hao in tomorrow’s final round.

Viswanathan Anand

Viswanathan Anand

Another very sharp battle was seen in the game between Hikaru Nakamura and Teimour Radjabov. The American castled kingside in a Sicilian but went for a direct attack against the black king regardless. This strategy worked as he got a victory after 40 moves of what the computer assesses as a blunder-fest.

Veselin Topalov and Levon Aronian signed the peace treaty after 41 moves of a Nimzo-Indian Defense.

The exciting last round starts tomorrow three hours earlier at 12:00 CEST. The attention will be focused on Aronian – Carlsen, Karjakin – Topalov and Wang Hao – Anand.

Standings after 8 rounds:

1 Karjakin, Sergey RUS 2767
2 Carlsen, Magnus NOR 2868 5
3 Anand, Viswanathan IND 2783 5
4 Svidler, Peter RUS 2769
5 Nakamura, Hikaru USA 2775
6 Aronian, Levon ARM 2813
7 Wang, Hao CHN 2743
8 Topalov, Veselin BUL 2793
9 Radjabov, Teimour AZE 2745
10 Hammer, Jon Ludvig NOR 2608


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