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
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