Chess (#1198)

The Norway Altibox Super GM was intriguingly poised at the time of writing. Magnus Carlsen (5) was sole leader till the eighth and penultimate round when he lost to Levon Aronian (5) after making several blunders. Aronian joined Carlsen in the lead. Prior to this loss, Carlsen had played powerful chess in racking up three wins (Vs P Harikrishna, Vladimir Kramnik and Nils Grandelius) and seemed to be cruising to victory.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Kramnik and Veselin Topalov ( all 4.5) could catch or surpass the leaders, so the last round will be tense. The last round match-ups are Topalov (4.5) Vs Kramnik (4.5), Carlsen (5) Vs Pavel Eljanov (3), Grandelius (2) Vs Vachier-Lagrave (4.5) and Aronian (5) Vs Harikrishna (4). The only inconsequential game is Anish Giri (3.5) Vs Li Chao (4).

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Fabiano Caruana is the US Champion. The top seed scored 8.5 from 11 to take the 12-man round robin. Second-third was shared by Wesley So and Hikaru Nakamura (both 7.5). Ray Robson (7) did well to take fourth spot. The women's championship was won by Nazi Paikidze (a common Georgian name and spelling) who scored 8.5/ 11 , edging out Tatev Abrahamyan (8) and Anna Zatonskih (7.5).

However, both events were decided in the last round. Caruana won his last game against Akshat Chandra while So and Nakamura drew their respective games. Abrahamyan led going into the last round where she lost to Ashritha Eswaran. Paikidze beat Irina Krush to pull ahead.

The main event is followed by a monster 18-round blitz event where So, Caruana, Nakamura and former world champion, Garry Kasparov, play out three double-round-robins. Remarkably, the four players are all tied at 3.5 after seven rounds. Kasparov (born 1963, retired 2005) is holding his own versus three members of the current Top Ten!

The Women's Grand Prix in Batumi was into its eighth round. Nana Dzagnidze, Anna Muzychuk, Valentina Gunina (all 5) shared the lead in the 12-woman round robin. Incidentally Fide, or rather, Agon, intends to radically reformat the Grand Prix circuit. The GP pool will be expanded to 24 players (all rated above 2700) playing four nine-round Swiss events with 18 players in each event. The prize fund for the four events (scheduled between October 2016- July 2017) will be €520,000. This would replace the previous GP system of a 16-player pool with four 12-player round robins.

At the diagram, BLACK TO PLAY (Aronian Vs Carlsen, Norway 2016) , white's better. But black just collapsed with 26.-- Qxe5?? 27. Rd8+ Kf7 [The alternative 27.--Kg7 28. Ne6+! Kh6 29. Qf8+ Kh5 30. Rd5! ] 28. Qf3+ Bf5 [ Or 28.-- Qf6 29. Rf8+] 29 Rxb8 Qxb8 30. g4 Qb4 31. Nd3 (1-0). />

Devangshu Datta is an internationally rated chess and correspondence chess player

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