Raymond Blanc


Text settings

The powerful tournament in Stavanger, Norway, draws to a close at the end of this week. World champion Magnus Carlsen dominated the blitz event which preceded the main competition. Sadly for the home crowd, Carlsen got off to a very bad start in the classical time limits competition that followed, with the energetic American grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura seizing the leading role. Here are some key extracts from play.

Aronian–Carlsen: Norway Chess, Stavanger 2017

(see diagram 1)

In this tense situation, where White has a mass of pawns in exchange for a bishop, Carlsen conceives of a plausible defensive plan to resurrect his dormant bishop and ferry it round to the defence of his king. Paradoxically, this logical try turns out to be defective. 31 ... e5 Black can put up more resistance with 31 ... Rf8 trying to target White’s pawn on f2 and leaving his bishop on c8 as a blockader. The text leads to a swift debacle. 32 Rd3 exd4 33 Qe7 Bf5 34 Rg3 Bg6 35 Qh4+ Black resigns

Giri–Anand: Norway Chess, Stavanger 2017

(see diagram 2)

Former world champion Viswanathan Anand lost two games out of his first five without winning any, and found himself in the unusual situation of being the tournament troglodyte. In the extract that follows, Dutch grandmaster Anish Giri — widely renowned as a devotee of the anodyne draw — has been conducting an attack with unaccustomed élan. At the critical juncture Anand overlooks the most tenacious defence. 31 ... Nc5 Better is 31 ... Qxh4 32 dxe6 Qxg5+ 33 Kh1 Qh6+ 34 Kg2 Qxe6 with chances to resist. 32 g6 Qd7 33 Bb4 Black resigns

Nakamura–Vachier-Lagrave; Norway Chess, Stavanger 2017

(see diagram 3)

The final extract this week shows a win by Hikaru Nakamura, who cashes in on his queenside advantage while Black thrashes wildly around in search of salvation on the opposite wing. 22 c5 Ne5 23 c6 Nh5 24 Bxh5 gxh5 25 Kh1 Qh4 26 Qd4 Ng4 27 h3 f4 28 Kg1 e3 29 hxg4 hxg4 30 cxb7 exf2+ 31 Rxf2 g3 32 Rxf4 Qh2+ 33 Kf1 Black resigns