June 09, 2014 20:27

Norway R6: Three-Way Tie For First as Topalov Beats Kramnik

The Norway Chess tournament is still wide open with three rounds to go. In Monday's sixth round Veselin Topalov defeated arch rival Vladimir Kramnik while the other four games ended in draws. Kramnik is now tied for first place with Fabiano Caruana and Magnus Carlsen, who drew with Simen Agdestein and Sergey Karjakin respectively.

Eight years after Toiletgate (the cheating allegations during the 2006 World Championship in Elista), Veselin Topalov and Vladimir Kramnik are still not shaking hands. That's all there is to say about it, actually. As Topalov put it: “People are only talking about the handshake but if you exclude that, the games are completely normal. And it's not really the biggest problem of the chess world.”

Besides, on Monday we were also reminded of the fact that life is too short for such silliness. It was the day when British comedian and actor Rik Mayall, star of The Young Ones and Bottom, died, aged 56. Enjoy the video below, and enjoy life! Let's do-oo-oo it!

Back in March, at the Candidates’ Tournament in Khanty-Mansiysk, Topalov defeated Kramnik as White, but lost the second game as Black. On Monday the Bulgarian was on top again.

In a 4.Nf3 Nimzo-Indian Topalov decided to avoid his opponent's preparation and played a safe bishop swap on f6. After the game the Bulgarian said that he had noticed that Kramnik had problems when he needed to think already in the opening. 

And indeed, not only did the Russian spend 48 minutes on his next three moves, his choices were surprising: where the simple 10...exd5 would equalize (fine when leading the tournament!?) and 12...Qe7 would keep things solid, he decided to go for complications with an Exchange sacrifice.

Anish Giri had a theory: “Topalov plays very well when he's an Exchange down so probably [Kramnik] was hoping that he would play badly when he's an Exchange up.”

But that wasn't the case: Topalov played excellent moves which made clear that the sac was hardly correct, and forced resignation (between these two players a matter of “sign the score sheets and walk away” - Topalov) just after the time control.

PGN string



The sixth round was played in the Aarbakke factory in Bryne. (“We deliver advanced turnkey solutions and parts to the oil & gas industry, focusing on subsea and downhole. Aarbakke covers the whole process from engineering to manufacturing, assembly and testing.”) 

To the question whether he had won an important game, Topalov answered: “I looked at all the people working here and I thought: when it goes badly, maybe I should just apply for a job here!”

Topalov scores his first win, against Kramnik

Caruana moved back to (shared) first place by drawing his game (“I would have preferred doing that by winning”) with Agdestein from a horrible position out of the opening. What is that former professional football player doing to those top GMs??

An early queen sortie to b6 by Caruana was completely uncalled for, but the Italian only remembered Bc1-e3 after playing his queen. Objectively speaking it might have been better to put the queen back to d8 there, or the next move, but that would make one look pretty silly!

If only Agdestein had seen the maneuver Nd2-c4-a5 before playing c2-c4 (he saw it later), he might have won his very first game. Nigel Short described the position for Black as “stalemate”. In the game Caruana took the very practical decision to give an Exchange and his strong g7-bishop made the day. At the end Caruana was even a bit better, but Agdestein found good squares for his rooks.

PGN string

The third leader after six rounds is Carlsen, who drew extremely quickly with Karjakin. In a Berlin Ending with 9.h3 (where 9.Nc3 has been the main line for more than a decade) the World Champion switched back to 9...Bd7, his choice against Anand in the Chennai match. In April in Shamkir he had lost to Caruana with 9...h6.

The players followed a game Dominguez-Navara from last year and then at move 18 Carlsen played a novelty that steers the game right to a draw.

PGN string

Aronian and Giri got a standard IQP middlegame position that can be reached from many different move-orders - Chessbase calls theirs “Queen's Gambit Declined: Semi-Tarrasch with 5.cxd5”. As it turned out, Giri knew more about it than his opponent! “Anish tricked me in the opening by not playing what he so convincingly played against Magnus,” said Aronian, who had recovered from his loss against Carlsen by listening to some Bill Evans.

The ...Nc6-e7-g6 maneuver is still standard, but the strong ...Bf6-e7! came unexpected for the world's number two. “I don't know if I would have found it but I knew it,” said Giri. And then, after a tactic on move 23, it became clear that Aronian needed to fight for a draw which wasn't so difficult because there was no way for Giri to avoid an opposite-colored bishop ending.

PGN string

The opening in Grischuk-Svidler, a Symmetrical English, was quite interesting when White came up with the energetic 11.b4!? - only played once in a correspondence game. Svidler's reaction looks decent, although White might have had an advantage somewhere.

PGN string


Norway Chess 2014 | Pairings & Results

Round 1 03.06.14 15:30 CET   Round 2 04.06.14 15:30 CET
Aronian ½-½ Agdestein   Aronian 1-0 Karjakin
Karjakin ½-½ Topalov   Kramnik ½-½ Carlsen
Grischuk 0-1 Caruana   Caruana 1-0 Svidler
Carlsen ½-½ Giri   Topalov 0-1 Grischuk
Svidler ½-½ Kramnik   Agdestein ½-½ Giri
Round 3 05.06.14 15:30 CET   Round 4 07.06.14 15:30 CET
Karjakin ½-½ Agdestein   Aronian ½-½ Svidler
Grischuk 1-0 Aronian   Karjakin 1-0 Grischuk
Svidler ½-½ Topalov   Caruana ½-½ Giri
Carlsen ½-½ Caruana   Topalov ½-½ Carlsen
Giri 0-1 Kramnik   Agdestein ½-½ Kramnik
Round 5 08.06.14 15:30 CET   Round 6 09.06.14 15:30 CET
Grischuk ½-½ Agdestein   Aronian ½-½ Giri
Svidler ½-½ Karjakin   Karjakin ½-½ Carlsen
Carlsen 1-0 Aronian   Grischuk ½-½ Svidler
Giri 1-0 Topalov   Topalov 1-0 Kramnik
Kramnik 1-0  Caruana   Agdestein ½-½ Caruana
Round 7 10.06.14 15:30 CET   Round 8 12.06.14 15:30 CET
Svidler - Agdestein   Aronian - Caruana
Carlsen - Grischuk   Karjakin - Kramnik
Giri - Karjakin   Grischuk - Giri
Kramnik - Aronian   Svidler - Carlsen
Caruana - Topalov   Agdestein - Topalov
Round 9 13.06.14 14:30 CET        
Carlsen - Agdestein        
Giri - Svidler        
Kramnik - Grischuk        
Caruana - Karjakin        
Topalov - Aronian        

Norway Chess 2014 | Round 6 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts SB
1 Kramnik,Vladimir 2783 2821 phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1 ½   1   0   ½ 3.5/6 11.00
2 Carlsen,Magnus 2881 2840 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½   ½ ½   ½ 1   3.5/6 10.25
3 Caruana,Fabiano 2791 2823 0 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½   ½ 1     1 3.5/6 10.25
4 Agdestein,Simen 2628 2784 ½   ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ ½   ½   3.0/6 9.25
5 Karjakin,Sergey 2771 2773   ½   ½ phpfCo1l0.png   1 ½ 0 ½ 3.0/6 8.75
6 Giri,Anish 2752 2778 0 ½ ½ ½   phpfCo1l0.png   1 ½   3.0/6 8.75
7 Grischuk,Alexander 2792 2755     0 ½ 0   phpfCo1l0.png 1 1 ½ 3.0/6 7.75
8 Topalov,Veselin 2772 2731 1 ½     ½ 0 0 phpfCo1l0.png   ½ 2.5/6 8.00
9 Aronian,Levon 2815 2705   0   ½ 1 ½ 0   phpfCo1l0.png ½ 2.5/6 7.25
10 Svidler,Peter 2753 2729 ½   0   ½   ½ ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png 2.5/6 7.25

The Norway Chess tournament runs 2-13 June in the Stavanger region. All photos courtesy of the official website | Games via TWIC phpfCo1l0.png


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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers


Anonymous's picture

History is telling otherwise, i.e TC in K-M.
Topalov came though losing.

Anonymous's picture

Where the heck is that Kramnik spammer? Seems to have disappeared... Can't understand it...

Grandma's picture

To talk about something else than Kramnik/Topalov for a moment:

The most surprising and impressing to me in this tournament is Simen's six drawn games, (and he was almost winning two of them.)

He's not quite healthy, he's 47 years old, he's an amateur, his ranking is significant lower than the other participants. and in spite of this he's playing like a top professional and is able to draw the very best chess players in the world!

Who could predict this before the tournament?

I certainly didn't, but I'm happy to realize that I was wrong.

It would not surprise me if Simen plays second board for Norway in Tromsø. :-)

Norwegianguy's picture

I am not that surprised. His talent is at the same level as his opponents, and his motivation for having an "Indian Summer" is very high. He has hired a second and worked hard before and during the tournament. His playing style is very demanding, and without this level of inspiration his play is mediocre (2550-2600). His current 2628 rating is actually a sign of rising ambitions. Now he is getting increasingly tired, and to keep the 50% score to the end would be an amazing achievement.

RG13's picture

Does this not also put to rest the idea that 2750+ players somehow 'understand' chess better than a 2600 grandmaster? I think they get better results in practice than lower rated grandmasters just like Nadal may get better results at the French Open than other top players. But that doesn't mean that he understands tennis better than say Djokovic. He is just more consistent.

Frits Fritschy's picture

Really an excellent performance by Agdestein, but you have to keep in mind that a 2700+ performance is not out of the question for a 2630 GM. He just will not be able to do so on a regular basis, like real 2700 players. He also has the advantage that no one (including himself) expects him to win a game. That makes he has to endure less pressure than the others. It has happened before: Naidtisch won Dortmund 2005 with a comparable rating. Smeets and L'Ami (in my memory) have had good scores in Corus/Tata tournaments. But of course, doing it at 47 makes it stand out.

Dirk8231983's picture

Maybe Agdestein is a late bloomer and will be the one to dethrone Magnus in a few years. Well, maybe. Congrats to him for this fantastic performance anyways, refuting those that objected to having him there at all.

villain's picture

Cool game by Topa who had Kramnik's patience for a change ,also Kramnik lost a la Topalov me thinks.

Septimus's picture

Kramnik's exchange sac looked weak. Why did he go for such a dubious line?

observer's picture

In the press conference, Topa said in effect that Kramnik didn't know how to play when out of prep.

I guess he was out of prep when he got mated in 1, too.

Al's picture

what a crazy tournament, none of the top players are playing their best.

Carlsen at 5 draws (just) and Aronian tied for last!! what is going on something in the air...

RS's picture

The three way tie for first is mainly due to the archaic scoring system of 1, 0.5 and 0 for win, draw and loss. This worked in old days when there were fewer draws. Now we need to replace this with the football scoring system of 3, 1, 0. The table would look very different with this system as below

Kramnik,Vladimir 9
Caruana,Fabiano 9
Grischuk,Alexander 8
Carlsen,Magnus 7
Karjakin,Sergey 7
Giri,Anish 7
Aronian,Levon 6
Agdestein,Simen 5
Svidler,Peter 4
Topalov,Veselin 3

As you can see its only a two way tie for 1st between Kramnik and Caruana. Grishchuk is 2nd and Carlsen drops to joint 4th along with Karjakin and Giri.

This system favours those with more wins. I have stated this for Tata steel tmt as well. I am sure the organisers and FIDE know this very well but for some unknown reason it is rarely implemented in top level chess.

BG's picture

RS, your table is wrong. If the scores are 3,1,0 - Topalov will have 6 points, not 3 as you note!

Polynymous's picture

There are so many errors in your calculations! In your table, Carlsen should have 8 points, Agdestein 6, Topalov 6 and Svidler 5.
Maybe you could use your post as evidence when you sue your old school for not having taught you elementary arithmetics?

Robbert Lubbers's picture

It is nice to read how much nonsense is being written, only after someone loses a game. If you win. You are great, if you lose, you don't understand anything. What a world-view.

raze's picture


It is what it is. :) hihi

Anonymous's picture

Big Vlad in pole position with three rounds to go, will secure first by beating client Aronian today.

Anonymous's picture

big? ego but not player.
he is losing without dignity

Anonymous's picture

It's funny that Vlad always is very eloquent after winning while his losing opponents sit there patiently, then when he loses he throws hissy fit and sulks in his room and refuses to attend press conference. This happened numerous times in Russian Champs as here, just remember that loss against Nepo when he was very rude to his opponent after the game and then just refused the obligatory press conference all other losers attended after every round :)

jmason's picture

yeah, it seems he does not take defeats easily , also i think the losing side presence to the press conference should be optional, many times is just to painful , Aronian vs Carlsen for example... kudos for Levon for showing up but ...that must have been awful for him , i 'm not entertained at all watching a player that lost such a game being forced to sit there and "analyze" the game, i'm sure he would prefer to be anywhere else in that moment .

observer's picture

Topalov should beat Kramnik more often!
Kramnik does not turn up to the press conference, and his No.1 fan, Thomas, does not turn up to the relevant thread.

RB's picture

Even beating Kramnik 1000 more times doesn't change the fact that Topa was defeated in Elista by Vlad and will never become World Champ. To be honest I don't understand why Vlad is still affected by Elista events so much when he came out as a World Champ match winner and in my eyes achieved way more in chess than Topa.

Anonymous's picture

The difference is that Topalov qualified for his title matches while Kramnik was given free spots to them and never qualified.

Chris's picture

may be Kramniks feels guilty for the Elista scandal.

adriano's picture

So Carlsen is considering Topalov as former World Champion but you not. Very interesting and funny.

jmason's picture

maybe he's in mourning :)

Leo's picture

R.I.P. Rik Mayall.

Anonymous's picture

I think that Kramnik and Topalov should resove their differences like Eddie and Richie did in the attached video of Bottom. It would help to clear the air I think.

Anonymous's picture

No celebrations for the Kramnik haters today, Vlad's got him! :)

Anonymous's picture


Leo's picture

D'oh, you jinxed it =)

Grandma's picture

You have watched another game than other people, I guess.

Zeveraar's picture

Dear Anonymous... are you sure?

Anonymous's picture

How can people really route for Topalov against Kramnik after what Topalov did in the WCC match?? It is Topalov who is a cry babying moron who accused Kramnik for cheating just because he was loosing the match and now people cheers for Topalov?? Stupid twisted humanity, no morale at all in this world anymore just idiots

Mr Anonymous's picture

Yes, but remember that highly suspicious cables were found in Kramnik's bathroom. What were those cables, and how Kramnik was using them was never fully explained. In any case, mystery surrounds the match.

observer's picture

But how do you explain that Kramnik offered to swap bathrooms? (an offer the Topalov camp refused).

Thomas Richter's picture

As far as I remember, there was no such thing as "Kramnik's bathroom" - there was a white player's bathroom and a black player's bathroom, in other words Kramnik's bathroom was Topalov's bathroom the next day. Potentially, _either_ player could have brought in 'highly suspicious cables' - either to cheat or to accuse the opponent of cheating. More likely: the cable was there before the start of the event, and hadn't been removed because the organizers didn't expect that it might become sort of relevant - could they possibly anticipate Toiletgate??

observer's picture

You could be right. I got this from the Chesscafe review by Derek Grimmell of 'Topalov-Kramnik 2006 World Championship - On the edge in Elista' by Veselin Topalov & Zhivko Ginchev.
Either way there would have had to have been cables in both toilets.

Also, there is also the issue of the very high ceilings and how Kramnik could have reached them.

observer's picture

Because it was karmic justice to Kramnik for the crap he pulled while he was World Champion.

And I don't think Kramnik's behaviour leading up to, and during the first 4 games of, this match was entirely innocent either.


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