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Karjakin takes the lead in Norway after defeating Hammer

Norway ChessSergey Karjakin is now the sole leader of the Norway Chess tournament. He was responsible for the second loss in a row suffered by Jon Ludvig Hammer. Levon Aronian beat Hikaru Nakamura and grabbed sole second place. Wang Hao recovered from yesterday’s loss with a win over Peter Svidler.

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Russian young star Sergey Karjakin took his chance against the lowest rated player of the event, Jon Ludvig Hammer, and put down his second full point in the standings table. Karjakin continues his winning ways in Norway, as he also took clear first place at the blitz tournament.

The Russian used his pet Queen’s Indian Defense with black and went for a quiet line with lots of maneuvering. Hammer was up to the task in the opening and did not create many weaknesses in his camp. Eventually, Karjakin got the bishop pair and used it to exchange some pieces at the right moment and get a slightly superior endgame. The pawn structures were completely symmetrical, but Karjakin had a bishop against knight in an open position. The Russian converted his advantage masterfully and signed the score-sheet with a 0-1 result on move 54.

Sergey Karjakin Aeroflot

Sergey Karjakin

Levon Aronian comes from winning the Alekhine Memorial and is showing, once again, why he is ranked second in the world.  He beat Hikaru Nakamura with white in a long hard-fought struggle. This victory leaves the Armenian half a point behind the leader, as the other winner of the first round, Peter Svidler, lost his game today.

Aronian used the Exchange Variation of the Slav Defense, the same weapon Nakamura chose to look for a win in the last round of the Zug Grand Prix against Caruana. The Armenian kept the initiative throughout the opening and middlegame and converted it into a pawn advantage on move 40. The position seemed very hard to convert, given the presence of four rooks over the board. Aronian showed great technique and managed to score his first win after 70 moves.

Levon Aronian

Levon Aronian

Wang Hao also scored for the first time in this event with a victory over the player from Saint Petersburg, Peter Svidler. The game saw these two original players using their creativity to create imbalances in the position. The Chinese finished on top thanks to his courageous play in the middlegame.

A Gruenfeld with f3 was seen over the board. Wang Hao, playing white, quickly castled queenside, signaling his ambition to expand in the center and maybe look for a direct attack on the kingside. Svidler was forced to exchange his strong dark-squared bishop on move 19, when his position was already inferior. Wang Hao won a pawn but needed no less than 63 moves to finally claim the point.

Wang Hao

Wang Hao

The highly expected battle between Magnus Carlsen and Viswanathan Anand finished in a 59-moves draw.  The Norwegian played the Moscow Variation of the Sicilian, but could not create real dangers for the well-prepared World Champion. These two gladiators will meet again in the Tal Memorial to be played in June.

Veselin Topalov and Teimour Radjabov also split the point in a Sicilian. They chose the Rossolimo Variation and signed the peace treaty on move 40.

Sergey Karjakin will have the white pieces against Wang Hao tomorrow. Another exciting match-up is the clash between Viswanathan Anand and Veselin Topalov.

Standings after 2 rounds:

1 Karjakin, Sergey RUS 2767 2
2 Aronian, Levon ARM 2813
3 Anand, Viswanathan IND 2783 1
4 Carlsen, Magnus NOR 2868 1
5 Nakamura, Hikaru USA 2775 1
6 Wang, Hao CHN 2743 1
7 Topalov, Veselin BUL 2793 1
8 Svidler, Peter RUS 2769 1
9 Radjabov, Teimour AZE 2745 ½
10 Hammer, Jon Ludvig NOR 2608 0


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