Altibox Norway Chess Blitz Round
The 9-round Blitz Tournament opening Altibox Norway Chess is about bragging rights, getting started and winning the advantage of playing 5 games with the white pieces in the following 9 games of classical chess.
The event is casual, relaxed and friendly and the players are mixing with spectators, media and each other between the rounds. It will also serve as the slightest of indications on how the newcomers on the super-tournament level – and new to Altibox Norway Chess – would fare.
The upper half
Some players, like former blitz world champion Magnus Carlsen, are deservedly of higher blitz-repute than others, who don‘t put too much of an emphasis on this aspect of the game.
After a win with the black pieces against the outstanding blitz-player Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in the first round, Carlsen didn‘t look back and took a formidable 7,5 points in the first 8 rounds. Only Anish Giri managed to prove his mortality with a last round win, securing him some more bragging rights and a second place in the tournament with 6½ of 9.
Vladimir Kramnik challenged Magnus Carlsen in the overall standing, but suffered defeat to Magnus and had a few draws too many to keep up the pace. 6 points earned him a 4th place, close behind Maxime Vachier-Legrave, who following his first round defeat re-discovered his blitz-skills with 6 points in the last 8 rounds.
Levon Aronian seemed determined to challenge Anish Giri and his reputation as the friendliest player around, by drawing no less than 7 games, which is quite the feat in a 9 round blitz. 4,5 points earned him the 5th place and he can look forward to 5 games with white pieces in the upcoming weeks.
The lower half
Pentala Harikrishna had the best day of the debutants with a decent 4 points, earning him a 6th place.
Veselin Topalov didn‘t seem too concerned with his 3 points in 7th place. And why should he, as he last year won the tournament with 5 rounds of black pieces?
Nils Grandelius, Chao Li and Pavel Eljanov all suffered in this, their first Altibox Norway Chess event, but as no points in the real tournament has been rewarded, nothing is lost.