Fabiano Caruana has won the elite Altibox tournament ahead of world champion Magnus Carlsen. This result might appear to give a promising boost to Caruana’s prospects for his world title challenge to Carlsen, which is due to take place in London in November. Alas, that is not the case. It is true that Caruana triumphed by a narrow margin over the champion in the main event, but in their individual clash it was the Norwegian who once again gained the laurels.
This outcome further extends Carlsen’s already impressive lead over Caruana in their individual tussles. Carlsen therefore remains firm favourite to retain his title at the chess summit.
Carlsen-Caruana: Norway Chess, Stavanger 2018 (see diagram 1)
Carlsen has sacrificed a pawn to gain control over the central dark squares. He has full compensation and chances are balanced. 25 … Rc7 Caruana unwisely decides to return the pawn in the hope of gaining activity. This proves to be a misjudgement and he should have preferred a waiting game. 26 Rxc7 Qxc7 27 Qxb4 Qc1+ 28 Bd1 Ba6 29 Qd4 Be2 30 Kh2 Bxd1 31 Nxd1 Carlsen has retained the central clamp but now also has two strong passed pawns on the queenside. 31 … Qc7+ 32 Kg1 Qc1 33 b4 e3 A desperate attempt to gain counterplay. 34 fxe3 Ne4 35 Qxd5 Nd2 36 Qf5+ Kh8 37 Qg4 f5 38 Qe2 Ne4 39 Qe1 Qa1 40 a5 Nd6 41 Qd2 Carlsen is now two clear pawns ahead and eventually won on move 77.
Anand-Caruana: Norway Chess, Stavanger 2018 (see diagram 2)
Here Anand had been relying on the move 36 g3 which would maintain equality by keeping the black queen out of f4. 36 Ra8 Anand suddenly realised that Caruana had prepared a cunning trap. After 36 g3, the reply 36 … Qf5! wins as 37 Qxf5 R8e2 is mate and otherwise the black queen invades. 36 … Qf4 37 Rxe8+ Rxe8 38 Qd1 Qxh2 39 Qd2 Qh4+ 40 Kf1 Qh1+ Now that the black major pieces are harassing the white king he will struggle to survive. 41 Kf2 Qh4+ 42 Kf1 Ra8 43 Ke2 Ra1 44 Kd3 b5 45 c4 bxc4+ 46 Kxc4 Qf4 47 Qe2 In the long run allowing the queens to remain on the board is hopeless as the white king is so exposed. Anand’s only hope was to take his chances in the endgame after 47 Qxf4 gxf4 48 Be6, planning Bh3. 47 … Qc1+ 48 Kb5 Qc8 The white king is doomed. 49 Kb6 Qb8+ 50 Kc6 Rc1+ White resigns