Norway Chess 2015 – Round 8

After the peaceful Round 7 today we got back to the usual level of decisive games. Three wins for white setting up the perfect showdown for the last round when the leader Topalov plays second-placed Anand in the game to decide the winner!

Out-of-form Carlsen beat out-of-form Aronian. If Carlsen beats Hammer tomorrow then he can at least say that he finished on a high note, but Aronian is a different story. His play is pretty horrible and he doesn’t seem to know how to resolve this problem. Take a look at the uncharacteristic mistakes he committed in today’s game:

Giri showed magnificent technique to beat Topalov. Topalov has life-long problems when facing the Catalan with black – first he suffered against Kramnik in 2006 then against Anand in 2010 (losing both matches). Giri is a pragmatic guy so he chose the Catalan and obtained exactly the right type of position against Topalov – small edge in a symmetrical position. The way he exploited this advantage is exemplary:

Anand beat Hammer in yet another English Opening in this tournament. It is curious that when playing Hammer with white everybody chose to play 1 c4 or 1 Nf3 (Caruana). And the score Hammer has against 1 c4 is three losses (Nakamura, Grischuk, Anand) and 1 draw (against Aronian). It is apparent that they thought it is in the English that they can hope to outplay him – probably a compliment on his preparation against 1 d4 and 1 e4 – after all he is Carlsen’s second. Anand won because he is the better player, the game showed distinct difference in class.

Grischuk and Caruana drew in the fianchetto Grunfeld, Grischuk choosing the popular line with 6 Qb3 and getting nothing out of it. Both preferred to play solid and the draw was a natural outcome.

Nakamura should be kicking himself for failing to beat the Frenchman (Vachier). He played very well until he was a clear pawn up in a technically winning position. Then he started to play way too fast, spending maximum 2 minutes on some moves and mere seconds on the others. Understandably, he let the win slip. This is uncharacteristic for the new pragmatic Nakamura, who enjoys squeezing out wins out of nothing – this should have been easy for him, perhaps he also thought so and played without the required attention.

The last round tomorrow sees the oldest participants playing for 1st place. In the last game of their match in 2010 Topalov was also white, but then he didn’t want a draw and lost. The big difference is that tomorrow he won’t mind drawing, and I have the feeling that Anand won’t mind either.

Alex Colovic
A professional player, coach and blogger. Grandmaster since 2013.
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  • Jun 25,2015 at 8:50 pm

    Well, I thought it was pretty certain… Anand didn't want to ruin a good tournament and Topalov didn't mind. 🙂

  • Jun 25,2015 at 6:50 pm

    …and,they didn't mind drawing,you were right 🙂

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