Chess: Magnus Carlsen returns to form with bright start in Stavanger

first_imgChess Share on Twitter Magnus Carlsen has got off to a flying start at Stavanger this week, as the world champion won in rounds one and three of the Altibox elite tournament while the other 13 games were all halved. Following Thursday’s rest day, Carlsen already led the field by a full point going into the three weekend rounds. He consolidated his lead with a routine two-hour, 33-move draw against Hikaru Nakamura of the US in round four. Games can be viewed free and live with grandmaster and computer commentaries at and on the official site, starting at 3.30pm.China’s world No 4, Ding Liren, broke a hip on the rest day when the 25-year-old fell off his bike making a turn at high speed. Ding had surgery on Friday morning and his fourth-round game was postponed. A decision will be taken at the end of the day on whether he will withdraw and his three played games are cancelled. Share on Messenger Share on Pinterest … we have a small favour to ask. 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We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism that’s open and independent. Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Support The Guardian Chess: St Louis may bid for Fabiano Caruana versus Magnus Carlsen match Reuse this content Leonard Barden on chess Share on WhatsApp Since you’re here… Read more Magnus Carlsen Carlsen’s opening surge has raised his Fide world rating to 2851, his highest for 18 months. His lead over his nearest rival a year ago was just 6.4 points – or one game – away from losing top spot. Now it is up to 40. Vintage Magnus is back.The Norwegian naturally likes to score on home soil, but although he won Altibox 2016 he was down the field in two of the past three years. So Carlsen looked ready for the fight, starting with the opening blitz event which decides which five players will receive an extra white in the tournament proper. Last year he used up too much energy there, so this time he coasted along with several draws. All went well until his pawn endgame with Levon Aronian in the penultimate blitz round.A white pawn pair at f3 and h3 faced a black trio at g5, h5 and g7, with both kings distant. Aronian tried g5-g4 and was rewarded by the horrific blunder h3xg4? h5-h4 and queens. Carlsen still qualified for the extra white and a first round pairing in the tournament proper against his title challenger, Fabiano Caruana. This went smoothly for the champion, whose pawn sacrifice created an enduring initiative and too many defensive problems for the American GM.Carlsen apart, the early draw epidemic at Stavanger repeats some other recent elite events. Agreed draws are forbidden, but the rule is easily bypassed via move repetition or wholesale exchanges if both sides want it. Part of the problem may be that the players are all friendly acquaintances so that there are few offboard tensions. In round two, all five games were drawn in two and a half hours, which one observer noted is less time than it takes for a Saturday afternoon county match.Long ago at another classic event, Avro 1938 in the Netherlands, it was different. Alexander Alekhine and José Raúl Capablanca were not on speaking terms, and Alekhine walked out of his Cuban rival’s 50th birthday party. The Americans Reuben Fine and Samuel Reshevsky loathed each other. The younger GMs Mikhail Botvinnik, Paul Keres, Fine and Reshevsky all thought that they were better than the three world champions Alekhine, Capablanca and Max Euwe.This mix of strong personalities led to a memorable tournament with Fine’s 5.5/6 start, an all-time classic game Botvinnik v Capablanca, and Keres finally winning on tie-break from Fine. His prize at the end from the sponsoring Avro radio company was backing for a world title challenge, but Alekhine kept him waiting for nearly an hour and then secretly met his preferred opponent Botvinnik in his room. Avro is still widely remembered where many current elite tournaments are not.In round three, Carlsen avoided the main line of the Berlin 3…Nf6 with its early queen exchange. He has played the system in the game before, and his novelty was 14 Nd2 in place of 14 Nc3 used in a postal game.Aronian immediately went wrong with 14…Bg5? (better c6 to eliminate the d5 pawn) which Carlsen later called “terrible”. White got a dominating position with the rook lift 20 Re3! and Aronian then lost the thread by 21…Ne8? (better Rc8), shuffling his knight between e8 and g7, and missing the last chance 27…Qf6 after which the attack was clean and simple, leaving Black two pawns down with a helpless king. Share on Facebook Read more Share via Email Share on LinkedIn news Chess: Fabiano Caruana keeps pressure on Magnus Carlsen with elite wins Magnus Carlsen v Levon Aronian1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 Nf6 4 O-O Nxe4 5 Re1 Nd6 6 Nxe5 Be7 7 Bf1 Nxe5 8 Rxe5 O-O 9 d4 Bf6 10 Re1 Nf5 11 d5 Re8 12 Rxe8+ Qxe8 13 Qd3 d6 14 Nd2 Bg5? 15 Nf3 Bxc1 16 Rxc1 Bd7 17 Re1 Qd8 18 Qc4 g6 19 h3 Ng7 20 Re3! a5 21 a4 Ne8? 22 Qd4 Ng7 23 g4 c6 24 c4 Ne8 25 Qf4 Kg7 26 Rb3 Rb8 27 Ng5 Nf6? 28 Rf3 h6 29 Ne4 Nxe4 30 Qxf7+! Kh8 31 Qxg6 1-03569 1 Bf8 c6 (Bxc5+ 2 Bxc5 mate) 2 Re8! Bxc5+ 3 Re3 mate. Topicslast_img

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