Two 40-plus gentlemen occupied the top three spots after 7 out of 9 rounds were completed on June 23, 2015 at the Norway Chess tournament. Bulgaria’s 40-year old former world no.1 Veselin Topalov holds the first place with 6 points while India’s Vishy Anand, who is the oldest player in the game at 45 years; is at the joint second spot with Hikaru Nakamura with 4.5 points. With world champion Magnus Carlsen way behind at 8th place with 2.5 points, Anand has a chance to catch up with Topalov with two rounds remaining. The third edition of the Norway Chess tournament is one of the strongest tournaments in the world and it is also part of the 2015 Grand Chess Tour, which includes the Sinquefield Cup and the London Chess Classic later in 2015. While Topalov has been able to ride on his luck in a couple of games, Anand has shown that he is as sharp as ever. In his sixth game against Frenchman Maxime Vachier-Lagrave on Monday, Anand used a Sicilian with a bishop sacrifice in a difficult Najdorf and annihilated his opponent. In the seventh game on Tuesday, Anand drew against Levon Aronian. But the remaining four matches of round 7 were also drawn making it as the most peaceful round of the tournament so far.
World champion Magnus Carlsen couldn’t have had a worse tournament in his entire chess career spanning a decade. In the first round against Topalov, Carlsen had the game in his pocket after a 6-hour grind but he lost on ignoring the time limit after move 60. Last year’s tournament had 15 minutes extra after the 60th move and erroneously Carlsen assumed that he would get extra time and lost the game on technical grounds. Carlsen suffered two more defeats later, when he was beaten by Fabiano Caruna in the second round and lost to India’s Vishy Anand in the fourth.
In round 7 on June 23, 2015, all five games were drawn. Hikaru Nakamura played white against Grischuk Alexander beginning with a symmetrical English opening. They fought for the d5 square and though the American prevailed, too many pieces went off the board on either side culminating it into a drawn endgame.
Levon Aronian began his game against Anand with an unusual English opening. For a while it looked like a turning into a fighting game but Aronian couldn’t bring extra pressure and the two players signed peace after 20 moves.
Norwegian Hammer Jon Ludvig played against Netherlands’ Anish Giri, the Dutchman tried an unusual set up but Hammer attempted to punish Giri by breaking in the center. Giri didn’t yield and the two players traded queens in the 13th move. Hammer could have forced his opponent but he chose to play safe for a drawn finish.
The game between Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Carlsen was fiery from the semi-slav start. The two players headed to a sharp line with white sacrificing two pawns for development and initiative. It was an unclear position, after which the players kept repeating moves. MVL looked uncertain but Carlsen couldn’t force any decision. It was a drawn encounter as well.
The fifth game of the day between Topalov and Caruana saw a very symmetrical pawn structure and it was difficult to imagine which player had a superior position. Topalov had his rooks doubled in the c-file, but couldn’t build the momentum. After all of the rooks were traded off, Caruana forced Topalov in an awkward position with the queen. For a while, it looked somewhat scary for the Bulgarian but Topalov kept his cool and managed to draw.