Raymond Keene

Fortune’s wheel

Fortune’s wheel
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The elite tournament at Stavanger in Norway has resulted in yet another victory for the world champion Magnus Carlsen. The format was unorthodox in that draws were replayed as so-called Armageddon blitz games. In such cases White has more time but any draws count as Black wins. Classical wins count as 2-0, whereas Armageddon wins count as 1½-½. The random factor is therefore very high and I doubt that the format will catch on. Final scores (out of a possible 18) from Stavanger were: 1. Carlsen 13½; 2= Lev Aronian and Yu Yangyi 10½; 4= Fabiano Caruana and Wesley So 10; 6 Ding Liren 8½; 7= Viswanathan Anand and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave 8; 9= Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Alexander Grischuk 5½.

Carlsen-Ding: Altibox (Armageddon game), Stavanger 2019 (see diagram 1)

This is a good example of the random nature of Armageddon games. Here Carlsen, playing White, needs to win the game but after 50 ... Be3 this is unlikely to happen. Instead Black blundered. 50 ... Bd2?? 51 Rg6+ Kf4 52 Rg4+ Black resigns The king has to advance to the sixth rank when 53 Rxg3+ will skewer the black rook.

Yu-Caruana: Altibox (Armageddon game), Stavanger 2019 (see diagram 2)

Yu aims for a king and pawn endgame but he has miscalculated. 57 Qb2 Kc6 58 Qxb5+ 58 Be4+ is still good for White. 58 ... Qxb5 59 Bxb5+ Kxb5 60 Bxe3 fxe3 This endgame would appear to be a simple win for White. 61 Kf1 Kc4 62 Ke2 Kd4 63 g3 Kd5?? Caruana misses 63 ... g4! which forces a draw, e.g. 64 fxg4 hxg4 65 h4 Ke4 66 h5 Kf5 67 Kxe3 Kg5 68 Ke4 Kxh5 69 Kf4 Kh6 70 Kxg4 Kg6, when Black has the opposition. 64 Kxe3 Ke5 65 f4+ Kf5 66 Kf3 Black resigns

Aronian-Caruana: Altibox, Stavanger 2019 (see diagram 3)

Caruana quickly developed a strong kingside attack when Aronian hesitated. 31 ... f5 32 Bc2 e4 33 fxe4 Ne5 34 Bd1 fxe4 35 Be2 35 Ng4 Nf3+ 36 Bxf3 Rxf3 37 Qxb6 is unclear. Now White gets swamped. 35 ... Nf3+ 36 Bxf3 Rxf3 37 Qxb6 Qf6 38 Rd1 e3 39 Ng4 Qe6 40 Qb8+ Kh7 41 Ne5 Qh3 White resigns