Norway Chess 2015 – Round 5

The rest day did the players a lot of good. Well, at least to some of them, the ones that won today!

One player that really rides his luck is Topalov. In a very complex and demanding game with a lot of mistakes from both sides, the following easily drawn position was reached. And then Hammer did an over-the-board (!!!) pre-move and this is what happened:

I think the reason for this is Hammer’s over-confidence – he did say that he felt confident after last year’s baptism of fire in the same event, so this year he was playing faster and was more self-assured. He was probably so convinced that the game would end within minutes, and he was right, but not with the result he expected. Even for the most obvious moves Fischer was taking 20-30 seconds (as described in the book Russians vs Fischer by Plisetski and Voronkov) but Hammer probably didn’t read this book.

The other wins were also decided by huge blunders. Aronian beat Caruana when the latter, after successfully defending an unpleasant position with an IQP, misjudged the knight endgame:

Carlsen scored his first win and he has to thank Grischuk’s time management for that. Grischuk had no problems for most of the game, but then as he was getting short of time small problems on the board also started to appear. Then he simply didn’t have the time to solve them efficiently. Carlsen won in his trademark style, getting nothing out of the opening and then creating problems for his opponent in a position where others would agree to make a draw.

The other two games were correctly drawn. Vachier and Giri went down the well-known drawing lines of the Semi-Slav, known for ages and made popular after the match Anand-Gelfand, while Nakamura played an innocuous line in the Nimzo against Anand, known from the game Carlsen-Kramnik, Moscow 2012. Nakamura has evolved into a very pragmatic and dry player, often playing lines that offer nothing (or sometimes even drawing lines) and then tries to imitate Carlsen and pose problems to his opponents. Sometimes it works for him, like in the game with Caruana from Round 3, but sometimes it doesn’t, like today. Thanks to this approach his results and consistency improved considerably, so now he’s comfortably above 2800 on the rating list. It will be curious to see how far this approach takes him, as I am convinced that he will also use it in next year’s Candidates.

And speaking of Nakamura, tomorrow he’s black against Carlsen. Just as a reminder, their lifetime record stands at 11-0 in Carlsen’s favour. Should be interesting.

Alex Colovic
A professional player, coach and blogger. Grandmaster since 2013.
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