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Return of the Madras Tiger – Vintage Anand Leads

As events unfold this week at Norway Chess 2022 in Stavanger, the 52-year-old is certainly starting to make it seem like it.

The former world champion continued to demonstrate that he was still a force to be reckoned with by defeating GM Wang Hao in the Armageddon match to retain his tournament lead. classic game of the event.

That leaves Anand in first place with 7.5 points, ahead of GM Wesley So with 6.0 and Carlsen with 5.5.

“Vishy retigered” was a Tweet from GM Anish Giri during the Superbet Rapid & Blitz itself in Warsaw just over a week ago when Anand surprised almost everyone, most of the time. perfect warm-up for this event as his bloodlust is back and his fangs are sharp enough to take advantage of any opportunities that have presented themselves along the way.

Anand-Wang Hao

With wins in the first two games, the Indian veteran had gotten off to a perfect start, and as a White in the third game, it was natural to expect even more, especially since Wang Hao had officially retired at the end of the Candidates. tournament last year. Of course, the Chinese grandmaster would not accept an invitation to an event such as Norway Chess and then show up unprepared. But you are allowed to hope for more wins for Anand.

Wang Hao, on the other hand, had struggled a bit, having lost both of his Armageddon matches and showing some luck against Carlsen to even make it out of the classic game alive.

In a Sicilian Sveshnikov, Anand opted for the relatively rare 13.a3, but despite this choice the players still followed earlier practice until move 20. While it seemed that White was under some pressure, Black did not never seemed to be far from equality. When the players entered a tower ending with an extra pawn for Anand, they soon after agreed to split the point, well aware that established endgame theory had established the particular endgame as a match. single zero.

In the Armageddon game, Anand decided to avoid a repeat of the Sveshnikov and instead played the Rossolimo Variation, 3.Bb5. Wang Hao decided to go for the sharp and somewhat risky 5…e5 which forces White to sacrifice a pawn if he wants to achieve anything in the opening.

Anand sacrificed a pawn and could have actually decided the game in the opening after black’s huge blunder on move 10. Anand missed it but kept the initiative. Black had several chances to equalize, even a draw at move 29, but couldn’t find any and despite several mistakes by both players, Anand found a way to win the game.

Carlsen Radjabov

Part of the background story of this game is that Carlsen was a bit critical of GM Teimour Radjabov’s decision not to play in the previous Candidates Tournament, which earned him a spot in this year’s Candidates (starting shortly after the end of this event).

Another part is Carlsen’s challenger in last year’s world championship game, GM Ian Nepomniachtchi, played a particular line against Carlsen’s Catalan and got a good game, and it’s that particular line which Radjabov has now played against Carlsen.

The critical line, which was tested in the two So-Nepomniachtchi in Bucharest a few weeks ago, involves a pawn sacrifice by Black. In exchange for the sacrificed pawn, Black gets an active game, while White has to free himself enough from Black’s pressure. gradually, and that’s easier said than done.

Carlsen threw a novelty on move 13, which certainly hadn’t been part of Radjabov’s pre-match preparation as he immediately went into the tank and spent over 30 minutes on the next two moves. which made Carlsen very happy.

However, being happy is rarely enough to win a game; for that you need good moves, and Carlsen always found them, including some really ugly ones, like 19.Qb1 and 22.Kf1, which helped White ease Black’s Positional Compensation pressure.

As he put his pieces into play and black shortened time, white’s advantage steadily increased and shortly before the time check, Radjabov threw in the towel on the ring.

In the post-match interview, a relieved Carlsen said: “I’m very, very happy. It’s very rare that you follow a plan from the first move and it works perfectly. I took a pawn and I defended it in a very ugly way and that passed pawn won me the game, so I’m very happy about that!”

… It is very rare that you follow a shot 1 plan and it works perfectly.

-World Champion Magnus Carlsen

Magnus Carlsen poses with a group of young fans before round 3. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Norway Chess.

On the other hand, Radjabov cannot be particularly satisfied with his game. He finished in the shared last place in the blitz event, and after three rounds in the classic event, he is in sole possession of the last place. the Candidates Tournament.


If there was ever a match that I felt more sure would end in a draw, it was the one between Giri and So. Both players are solid, extremely well prepared and very difficult to beat. The classic game saw Black play a Nimzo-Indian. The players hammered a bunch of moves and quickly headed for the inevitable draw after following the previous games until Black’s 19th move. Then the players went for a streak that swapped almost all of the remaining pieces. Once the players passed the 30 move, they agreed on a draw.

For the Armageddon game, Giri decided to move to 1.e4, to which So responded 1…e5 and opted for a Berlin defense against Giri’s Ruy Lopez.

Unlike the classic game, players quickly deviated from established theory. So chose an approach that first equalized and then allowed him to put the Whites under some pressure. After a blunder by White at move 27, Black got a decisive advantage which would have won him the game if he hadn’t settled for a draw, Giri had no choice but to accept.


A few weeks ago in Bucharest, nothing was going well for GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and he finished dead last. Here, on the other hand, he got off to a good start. GM Veselin Topalov played well but is still a bit rusty, something that mainly manifests in taking too long to complete the moves, causing timing issues. When playing in an event like this, the issues with Times never end, because when you hit the 40 hit, you only receive increments, no bonus time, so you will never leave the time problems phase. Against Anand in the second round, it cost Topalov the match when he lost in time.

In the classic game, the player debated in a topical line of Slavic defense. Black equalized and quickly got a comfortable game where White’s bishops never got the power White was hoping for. But despite achieving his goal, black never really got any kind of rating. The valuation always seemed to be slightly better for white or black. Before the time control, it wasn’t until move 34 that White had a chance to have a clear advantage with proper winning chances.

After the time check, players played something incredibly complicated and nearly impossible to master, even the engines disagreed with themselves regarding move evaluation. ended in a draw is a bit of a miracle. given the distribution of pawns and pieces with pawn runs on opposite wings, but it’s also a testament to the ingenuity of both players.

Rather than trying to make sense of it here, I’ll recommend you take a look at the game for yourself.

In the Armageddon game, the players instead tested themselves in a Catalan opening where white won the bishop pair and a small but clear opening advantage. White’s best chance was missed after Black played the weakening 26…f6? where Mamedyarov could have played 27.Bg4!.

After that, black was fine, and when Mamedyarov blundered at move 33, black got an almost winning endgame, but already in serious time trouble, Topalov counter-impeded soon after, leaving the roughly equal odds. he was down to less than 20 seconds on the clock and Mamedyarov did his best to make Topalov’s life miserable. In particular, 51.g4! Black to defend with precision when the position on the board is secondary to that on the clock.

In the end, White secured a winning position on the board and that’s when Topalov’s clock also dropped.

Tari Vachier Lagrave

In the second round, we heard about Vachier-Lagrave’s wishes to play a Sicilian Najdorf. In the third round he had the black pieces in a Sicilian, but like against Anand he faced another 3.Bb5+, the so-called Moscow attack. GM Aryan Tari chose the somewhat unusual 4.c4 , a move he has already tried several times.

Vachier-Lagrave faced another anti-Sicilian against Tari Photo: Lennart Ootes/Norway Chess.

Black managed to equalize nonetheless, and after some errors from Tari, white’s position started to crumble, allowing black to win in style.

In the confessional booth during play, Vachier-Lagrave expressed that this would hopefully prevent players from playing more 3.Bb5+s against him. I suspect that’s a pretty optimistic hope.

Ranking of the 3rd round

All games Round 3

Norway Chess 2022 runs from May 31 to June 10, 2022. The event consists of a 10-player round robin in a classic time control of 120 minutes for play with a 10 second increment after move 40. The scoring system is three points for a win instead of the usual. If the game draws, the contestants play a game of armageddon with the winner scoring 1.5 points and the loser 1 point. The price is 2.5 million Norwegian kroner (NOK).

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