World champion Magnus Carlsen has taken first prize in the Norway tournament at Stavanger which finished last month. Carlsen had dominated proceedings but was briefly derailed by a loss to the triple Olympiad gold medallist Levon Aronian of Armenia, who eventually emerged as the runner-up. As so often, Carlsen pulled a rabbit out of the hat in the last round, overcoming Eljanov to secure first prize. Scores (out of 9) were: Carlsen 6; Aronian 5½; Vachier-Lagrave, Topalov and Kramnik 5; Li and Harikrishna 4½; Giri 4; Eljanov 3 and Grandelius 2½.
Aronian-Carlsen; Norway Chess, Stavanger 2016 (see diagram 1)
Carlsen’s only vague hope here is 26 … Bh3, speculating on the weak light squares around the white king. His actual choice swiftly lost even more material thanks to the back rank pin. 26 … Qxe5 27 Rd8+ Kf7 28 Qf3+ Bf5 29 Rxb8 Qxb8 30 g4 Qb4 31 Nd3 Black resigns
Carlsen-Eljanov; Norway Chess, Stavanger 2016 (see diagram 2)
White is on the verge of invading the black position and the only way to maintain the balance was with the counterattack 27 … Qa7. This plans to meet 28 Bxd6 with 28 … Qa2 when the impending breakthrough on f2 guarantees Black a draw. 27 … Ndf6 After this passive choice the black weaknesses swiftly prove decisive. 28 Bxd6 Qxd6 29 Qc8+ Kh7 30 Ne5 Qe7 31 Qc6 Ng4 32 Nxg4 fxg4 33 Bd3 g6 34 Bxe4 dxe4 35 Qxb6 Black resigns
Aronian-Eljanov; Norway Chess, Stavanger 2016 (see diagram 3)
Black’s queenside pawns are about to land but White has a mating attack on the other wing. 42 Rh1 Qa7 42 … cxb2 43 Rxh6+ gxh6 44 Qxf6+ mates. 43 d6 Now White plans d7 to cut the black queen off from the kingside. 43 … Qb7 44 d7 Qxe4+ 45 f3 Black resigns After 45 … Qe2+ 46 Kg3 Qd2 47 Rxh6+ Qxh6 48 Nxh6 gxh6 49 Qxf6+ mate follows.
A fascinating pop-up blitz event was a brief return to competitive chess by Garry Kasparov, as an adjunct to this year’s US Championship. Kasparov combined superlative quality chess with the odd blunder. Scores out of 18: Nakamura 11, So 10, Kasparov 9½, Caruana 5½. The puzzle shows a Kasparov setback.
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