Founded in 2012, Norway Chess bills itself as the strongest chess tournament in the world, or as Garry Kasparov once said: “the Wimbledon of chess.” This year’s edition of the tournament ran for ten days in September as a ten-round double round robin with a unique format.
Each round started with a classical game (120 minutes plus a ten second increment after move 40.) If this game was decisive, the winner was awarded three points. If the game was drawn, an armageddon game with the same colours followed (10 minutes for White, 7 for Black, with Black winning if the game is drawn.) The winner of the armageddon game was awarded 1.5 points, and the loser one point.
This innovative format ensured that each round was decisive, but awarded more points for winning the more difficult classical game.
This year’s field comprised six of the top players in the world: Magnus Carlsen and fellow Norwegian Aryan Tari were joined by Alireza Firouzja, Richard Rapport, Sergey Karjakin and world championship challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi.
Hungarian Richard Rapport was solidly in the lead right from the beginning, and held the lead through round eight. Remarkably, after round five Carlsen was in fifth place, with only six points. But in the back half of the tournament, Carlsen got down to work and ground out four classical wins in a row, finally beating Nepo in the armageddon game in round ten. Carlsen ended up winning with a final score of 19.5, winning his fourth Norway Chess championship.
Carlsen’s stellar performance in the back half of the tournament was overshadowed only by the extraordinary showing of Alireza Firouzja. Firouzja is widely considered to be a future contender for the world championship. Still only 18 years old, Alireza won five of his last six classical games, losing only to Magnus in round six. His defeat of Ian Nepomniachtchi in round seven was possibly the best game of the entire event. Firouzja claimed second place with 18 points.
The final results were:
- Magnus Carlsen: 19.5
- Alireza Firouzja: 18
- Richard Rapport: 16.5
- Ian Nepomniachtchi: 12
- Sergei Karjakin: 10
- Aryan Tari: 7
Here is the fantastic round seven game between Firouzja and Nepo.