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On Chess: Super-GM event has surprising result

Grandmaster Hikiaru Nakamura at the Super GM event in Norway in June. Nakamura got second place in the event.
Grandmaster Hikiaru Nakamura at the Super GM event in Norway in June. Nakamura got second place in the event.

The annual Super-GM event in Norway began in 2013 and continues to get stronger each year. This year’s edition held June 6 -16, had 10 players, including the “Big 3” American players: St. Louis resident Fabiano Caruana; 2017 PRO Chess League Champion with the Saint Louis Arch Bishops and reigning U.S. Champion Wesley So; and several time U.S. Champion Hikaru Nakamura.

 

The event was played in a round-robin format, where each player plays all other participants. With 10 participants, each player plays nine rounds, hoping to score the most points to win the tournament.

 

This year, Armenian Grandmaster Levon Aronian won the tournament with an undefeated six points out of nine games (three wins and six draws). The tournament was very disappointing for World Champion MagnusCarlsen, who clearly hoped to win the event on his home turf, but instead started with two losses (toAronianand former World Champion VladimirKramnik) and five draws in his first seven games. His only victory was in round 8 against SergeyKarjakin, who himself came in last place with zero wins. 

Levon Aronian and Hikaru Nakamu face off at the Super-GM event in Norway in June, 2016.
Credit Lennart Ootes | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis
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Levon Aronian and Hikaru Nakamu face off at the Super-GM event in Norway in June, 2016.

The tournament was very difficult for all the players, because every player was in the World’s top 10 when invited, so there were no easy games.  World number 2, Wesley So, had an unusual event, drawing all nine of his games. Fabiano Caruana was having a so-so event, losing one game and drawing seven until the last round.  But, the 2016 U.S. Champion had a huge impact on the event by beating fellow American Hikaru Nakamura in the last round which was Nakamura’s only defeat in the event and Caruana’s only win.This made Aronian the clear winner.Normally, at the very top level, the players are happy to draw with the black pieces. But Nakamura went all out for the win with the complexNajdorfSicilian, knowing he needed a victory to tieAronianfor first place and force a playoff. Caruanawas very well prepared, played an excellent game and was in control all the way. As a result,Nakamurascored five points along withKramnik, with Nakamura gettingsecondplace ontie break.

 

To show the enormous strength of this event, the players who competed for the 2016 World Championship in New York City last November, Carlsen and Karjakin, came in ninth and 10th (out of 10 players) and won only one game total.  

First place winner Levon Aronian at the Super-GM event in Norway, June, 2017
Credit Lennart Ootes | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis
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First place winner Levon Aronian at the Super-GM event in Norway, June, 2017

The next Super-GM event played at a classical time control will be theSinquefieldCup held at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis in August. Caruanawill try to repeat his performance from the 2014SinquefieldCup where he started with seven out of seven. Most grandmasters feel this was the greatest performance in chess history.Grandmaster Ben Finegold learned the rules of chess at age 5 and received his first USCF rating at age 6. Finegold has secured several GM norms across the U.S. and is a familiar face around the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis and a popular name within the Club’s Resident Grand Master rotation. Finegold has offered outstanding commentary for several of the Club’s elite events

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