Norway Chess R6: Rapport Extends Lead; Carlsen Wins 1st Classical Game

GM Richard Rapport increased his lead at Norway Chess to a commanding three points after scoring his third classical win on Monday. The Hungarian GM defeated GM Aryan Tari for the second time.

GM Magnus Carlsen is back in third place after scoring his first classical win in the tournament, against GM Alireza Firouzja. GM Sergey Karjakin continued strongly after beating Carlsen the other day as he won the armageddon game vs. GM Ian Nepomniachtchi, who is still in second place with four rounds to go.

Rapport is one of those down-to-earth players who doesn’t get too emotional when big things are happening. Or maybe it was because there are still four rounds to go, and indeed, many things can still happen.

But still, the three-point lead with four rounds to go, the 13.4-point Elo gain, and him solidifying his new status as a top 10 player is all wonderful news, to which he reacted: “The standings are whatever. But usually, in this tournament when you win a classical game, you shouldn’t complain.”

As it turns out, Rapport is also quite an honest player, which seems to be another common feature of today’s top grandmasters. Whereas older generations would sometimes boast a bit too much about their play, these days they simply admit it if parts of the game weren’t played so well, as they know engines will drop that verdict anyway.

“The opening was a total disaster. He surprised me,” said Rapport, who hadn’t expected the
Von Hennig Schara Gambit (1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 c5 4. cxd5 cxd4!?) at all and then decided not to accept it (saying: “I was too unprincipled to take it.”).

This gambit, tried out by the Austrian player Anton Schara in 1918 in Vienna and 11 years later further tested by Heinz von Hennig in Duisburg, is a rare guest at top tournaments. Rapport’s modest treatment should indeed have been fine for Tari but as it went, he was slowly outplayed in an endgame.

That was not the only instructive bishop endgame of the day. Carlsen defeated Firouzja in quite a similar ending, showing great technique from what was a drawn and only just slightly worse position for Black at the start of the endgame. But, as always, he kept posing problems, the opponent got low on time, and at some point, Firouzja succumbed under the pressure.

Carlsen’s body language after his win suggested that he still wasn’t too satisfied with his play as he probably knew it could easily have ended in a draw as well. Still, whether it was objectively a draw or not, winning this endgame was a great piece of chess by Norwegian star.

Karjakin’s last two days were pretty good: first, he defeated the world champion, and then his challenger in this year’s title match. This time he got only one and a half points though as the win came in the armageddon (the classical game was drawn in no time).

In a Bishop’s Opening (2.Bc4), the players followed an earlier game for 19 moves but were picking up the game a bit later, as things became incredibly tactical with the main theme being double attack:

The seventh round is on Tuesday with the games Tari-Carlsen, Rapport-Karjakin, and Firouzja-Nepomniachtchi.

Norway Chess takes place September 7-18, 2021 in Stavanger, Norway. The format is a double round-robin among six players. The time control is 120 minutes for the whole game with a 10-second increment starting from move 41. In case of a draw, the players play an armageddon game with the same colors. White has 10 minutes and Black has seven minutes with a one-second increment starting from move 41. A victory in the main game gives three points; a loss in the main game, zero points; a draw in the main game followed by a victory in the armageddon, 1.5 points; and a loss in the armageddon, one point.

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