Caruana Holds Early Lead in Norway, Faces Carlsen Thursday

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Fabiano Caruana at the 2020 Altibox Norway Chess
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American GM Fabiano Caruana studies in the third round of the 2020 Altibox Norway Chess. (credit Lennart Ootes / Norway Chess)

Fabiano Caruana leads the Altibox Norway Chess tournament after three rounds, currently tied for first with Armenian GM Levon Aronian. 

The top American is back behind physical boards and pieces through October 16, playing in Stavanger, Norway for the annual super-tournament Garry Kasparov once dubbed the “Wimbledon of Chess.” Though its 2020 version appears smaller than its traditional 10-player field – only six of the world’s elite take the stage this year – the event is certainly not lacking in talent. 

Also appearing in Stavanger is World Champion GM Magnus Carlsen, who Caruana will face on Thursday afternoon; Poland GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda, Norway GM Aryan Tari, and GM Alireza Firouzja, along with Aronian. 

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2020 Altibox Norway Chess standings after three rounds

 

Caruana stood alone in the standings after opening the tournament with two wins. The World No. 2 perhaps received a fortuitous order of opponents after drawing lots, matched up against the lowest-rated players in the event – Tari and Duda – in the first two rounds.  

[pgn][Event "8th Norway Chess 2020"] [Site "Stavanger NOR"] [Date "2020.10.06"] [Round "2.2"] [White "Caruana, Fabiano"] [Black "Duda, Jan-Krzysztof"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D10"] [WhiteElo "2828"] [BlackElo "2757"] [PlyCount "187"] [EventDate "2020.10.05"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. cxd5 cxd5 4. Bf4 Nc6 5. e3 Nf6 6. Bb5 Bd7 7. Nc3 a6 8. Bd3 Bg4 9. Nge2 e6 10. O-O Bxe2 11. Qxe2 Be7 12. a3 O-O 13. Na4 h6 14. Bg3 Nd7 15. h3 Qa5 16. Qd1 Rfc8 17. b4 Qd8 18. Rb1 Ra7 19. Nc5 Ncb8 20. Qe2 a5 21. Rfc1 axb4 22. axb4 Nf6 23. b5 b6 24. Na6 Rxc1+ 25. Rxc1 Nbd7 26. Rc6 Qf8 27. Qc2 Ra8 28. Rc7 Bd6 29. Bxd6 Qxd6 30. Qc6 Qf8 31. Rxd7 Nxd7 32. Qxd7 Rc8 33. g3 Rc3 34. Bf1 Qc8 35. Qxc8+ Rxc8 36. h4 g5 37. Nb4 Kf8 38. Nc6 Ra8 39. Be2 Ra2 40. Kf1 Ra1+ 41. Kg2 Ra2 42. Bd3 Rd2 43. Bf1 f6 44. hxg5 hxg5 45. g4 Ke8 46. Kg3 Rd1 47. Be2 Rg1+ 48. Kh2 Re1 49. Bd3 Rd1 50. Nb4 Kd7 51. Kg2 Ra1 52. f4 Ra3 53. fxg5 fxg5 54. Nc6 Kd6 55. Ne5 Ke7 56. Kf3 Ra2 57. e4 Ra1 58. Ke3 Re1+ 59. Be2 Rg1 60. Kf2 Ra1 61. Nf3 Kf6 62. Ke3 Ra8 63. Bd3 Rg8 64. Bb1 Ke7 65. Ne5 Ra8 66. Bd3 Rc8 67. Nc6+ Kd6 68. Ne5 Rf8 69. exd5 exd5 70. Bf5 Re8 71. Kd3 Re7 72. Bg6 Ra7 73. Ke3 Ke6 74. Bf5+ Kd6 75. Kd2 Ra2+ 76. Kc3 Ra3+ 77. Kb4 Ra7 78. Bc2 Ke6 79. Nc6 Ra2 80. Kb3 Ra1 81. Kc3 Rc1 82. Ne5 Rg1 83. Bf5+ Ke7 84. Nd7 Rc1+ 85. Kb3 Rc4 86. Nxb6 Rxd4 87. Kc3 Rd1 88. Nc8+ Kd8 89. b6 d4+ 90. Kc2 Re1 91. Nd6 Re3 92. Nf7+ Ke7 93. b7 d3+ 94. Kd1 1-0 [/pgn]

But where Tari and Duda have yet to record even a draw through three rounds, the remaining four players are knotted with each other in the standings, and the caliber of Caruana’s opponents is increasing. On Wednesday, Caruana drew his main classical game against Firouzja, then followed with this loss in the draw-busting Armageddon game.  

[pgn][Event "8th Norway Armageddon"] [Site "Stavanger NOR"] [Date "2020.10.07"] [Round "3.3"] [White "Firouzja, Alireza"] [Black "Caruana, Fabiano"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D04"] [WhiteElo "2728"] [BlackElo "2828"] [PlyCount "145"] [EventDate "2020.10.05"] 1. Nf3 d5 2. d4 Nf6 3. e3 c5 4. dxc5 e6 5. b4 a5 6. c3 axb4 7. cxb4 b6 8. Bb5+ Bd7 9. Bxd7+ Qxd7 10. a4 bxc5 11. b5 Bd6 12. Bb2 O-O 13. Nbd2 c4 14. Qc2 Qc7 15. O-O Nbd7 16. Bc3 Nc5 17. a5 Nfe4 18. b6 Qb7 19. Bd4 Nxd2 20. Nxd2 Nd3 21. Rfb1 Ra6 22. Rb5 Rc8 23. Rab1 h6 24. g3 Be7 25. e4 e5 26. Bc3 Bc5 27. Rxc5 Nxc5 28. exd5 Qxd5 29. Qf5 Rd8 30. Rb5 f6 31. b7 Qd6 32. Qc8 Nxb7 33. Qxb7 Qc6 34. Qxc6 Rxc6 35. Rb6 Rc7 36. a6 Ra8 37. Ne4 Rca7 38. Nc5 Rc8 39. Rb5 h5 40. h4 Kh7 41. Kg2 Kg6 42. Kf3 Kf5 43. Ke3 Rc6 44. Bb4 c3 45. Bxc3 Kg6 46. Bb4 Raxa6 47. Nxa6 Rxa6 48. Rb7 Ra8 49. Ke4 Rd8 50. Bc5 Ra8 51. Kd5 Ra5 52. Ra7 Rb5 53. Kc6 Rb2 54. Kd5 Rb5 55. Kc4 Rb8 56. Rc7 Ra8 57. Kd5 Ra2 58. Ke6 Ra6+ 59. Ke7 Kf5 60. Kf7 g5 61. Be3 gxh4 62. gxh4 Kg4 63. Rc4+ Kf3 64. Kg6 e4 65. Kxh5 f5 66. Kg5 Ra5 67. Bf4 Kxf2 68. Rc2+ Kf3 69. Rc3+ Ke2 70. h5 Ra1 71. h6 Rh1 72. Kxf5 Kf2 73. Kxe4 1-0 [/pgn]

Per the tournament’s rules, a win in each round’s main classical match, which has a two-hour time control and a 10-second increment added after 40 moves, will earn the victor three points in the standings. A draw in the main match earns both players one point toward the standings and brings a follow-up Armageddon match, where white has 10 minutes and black has 7 minutes with draw odds. Winning the Armageddon match earns the victor an additional half-point in the standings. 

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GM Alireza Firouzja makes his move against GM Fabiano Caruana in the third round of the 2020 Altibox Norway Chess tournament.
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GM Alireza Firouzja makes his move against GM Fabiano Caruana in the third round of the 2020 Altibox Norway Chess tournament. (credit Lennart Ootes / Norway Chess)

After facing Carlsen on Thursday afternoon, Caruana will enjoy a rest day Friday and return Saturday to play Aronian. Players will then begin their second cycle through the double-round robin format, with colors reversed. Players maintain their colors in the event of an Armageddon draw-breaker.

Live broadcast of the 2020 Norway Chess tournament may be viewed here.

 

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