Norway Chess: Naka new world number 2, Pragg and Carlsen score (2024)

Naka leapfrogs Caruana in the ratings list

Defending champion Hikaru Nakamura remains as the sole leader at the Norway Chess elite tournament after beating Ding Liren with the black pieces in their classical encounter. Magnus Carlsen climbed to second place in the standings thanks to a win with white over Alireza Firouzja, while R Praggnanandhaa inflicted a second consecutive loss on Fabiano Caruana to go into round 6 (out of 10) in sole third place.

Nakamura’s second classical win in a row gained him 4.6 rating points, which allowed him to leapfrog Caruana in the live ratings list. Nakamura is now the second-highest rated player in the world with 2802.8 Elo points to his name. The 5-time US champion had kept a 2800+ official rating from June 2015 to October 2015 (with a peak rating of 2816), and he did not surpass the 2800-rating barrier since then.

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The sole leader defeated a clearly out-of-form Ding, who collected a third consecutive loss in Stavanger. The reigning world champion has so far lost 13.6 rating points in the event, which leaves him in 13th place in the live ratings list. Nakamura reflected on his colleague’s visible struggle amid the game (players can share their thoughts in a confessional booth in this televised elite event):

It’s very awkward, actually. I’ve played Ding many times over the years, but he definitely doesn’t seem like the same person. [...] At some moment he started bouncing up and down — he was shaking, literally shaking — and it’s very hard in a way because when it seems as though something’s wrong [with your opponent] it’s very hard to not feel bad for them.

We are only halfway through the demanding event, so we hope that Ding recovers his usual form in the coming days.

In round 6, the Chinese GM has the tough task of facing Carlsen with black, while leader Nakamura will play Caruana with the white pieces — in their previous encounter with this colour configuration, in round 8 of the Candidates Tournament, Nakamura convincingly defeated his countryman in what was his fifth consecutive classic victory with white in their head-to-head record.

Norway Chess: Naka new world number 2, Pragg and Carlsen score (2)

Reigning world champion Ding Liren | Photo: Stev Bonhage

Expert analysis by Robert Ris

Endgame mishaps

The victories obtained by Carlsen and Pragg on Saturday came after their opponents suddenly faltered in the endgame. Firouzja erred on move 77 playing black against Carlsen.

Trading rooks with 77...Rxd6 leads to a losing king and pawn endgame — playing 77...Rb1 or 77...Rb2 was the way to keep the balance, since after 78.Rxh6 Kg7 the inferior side can defend against the f and h-pawns.

There followed 78.Kxd6 Kf7 79.Ke5 Ke7 80.f6+ Kf8 81.Kf4, gaining the distant opposition.

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Resignation came after 81...Ke8 82.Ke4. Brutal.

Norway Chess: Naka new world number 2, Pragg and Carlsen score (4)

Magnus Carlsen | Photo: Stev Bonhage

Firouzja played the aforementioned losing move when he had around 20 seconds on his clock, while Caruana faltered when he had almost 8 minutes to Pragg’s 40 seconds.

66...Kf6 here loses to 67.Nf5, and Black cannot deal with all of White’s threats, e.g.:

  • 67...Kg6 fails to 68.Ke5 Nf6 (68...Kf7 69.Kd6 and the white king infiltrates decisively) 68.Nxh6
  • 67...Ke6, as seen in the game, fails to 68.Kd4 Kf6 69.Nxh6 (diagram)

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Two pawns to the good, Pragg needed eight more moves to force his opponent’s resignation. This was Caruana’s second consecutive classical loss in the event.

(In the first diagrammed position, Black can continue defending with 66...Kf7, when 67.Nf5 would be replied by 67...Nf6+ and White needs to go back with 68.Kf3.)

Norway Chess: Naka new world number 2, Pragg and Carlsen score (6)

Praggnanandhaa stands at a 1½-point distance from the leader | Photo: Stev Bonhage

Standings after round 5

RkNameFEDRtgPts
1Hikaru NakamuraUSA279410
2Magnus CarlsenNOR28309
3R PraggnanandhaaIND27478.5
4Alireza FirouzjaFRA27376.5
5Fabiano CaruanaUSA28055
6Ding LirenCHN27622.5

All games - Classical

All games - Armageddon

Navigating the Ruy Lopez Vol.1-3

The Ruy Lopez is one of the oldest openings which continues to enjoy high popularity from club level to the absolute world top. In this video series, American super GM Fabiano Caruana, talking to IM Oliver Reeh, presents a complete repertoire for White.

Links

  • Official site
  • Nakamura beats Caruana to win Norway Chess (2023)
  • Magnus Carlsen wins Norway Chess for a fourth straight time (2022)
  • Carlsen wins Norway Chess, Firouzja shines (2021)
Norway Chess: Naka new world number 2, Pragg and Carlsen score (2024)
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