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Top guns fall in Norway

Caruana beat his greatest rival on Tuesday. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Fabiano Caruana beat former world champion Magnus Carlsen and led the march of the lesser lights in the opening round of the 2023 Norway Chess championships in Stavenger, Norway.

The 17-year-old D. Gukesh of India demolished world No. 2 Alireza Firouzja to create a stir even as Wesley So, Anish Giri of Netherlands and Shakriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan had to win by extra Armaggedon knockout games.

Caruana punished Carlsen’s inactivity as the Norwegian, who relinquished his classical chess world title by not defending it, surrendered on the 35th move of a French defense.

So, the full-blooded Filipino now playing for the US federation, defeated his nemesis and speed chess specialist Hikaru Nakamura after their Berlin Ruy Lopez game ended in a 55-move draw.

Playing white, So emerged victorious in the extra Armageddon game, a novel rule applied in this tournament using faster time controls where black only needs to draw to score a whole point to break draws.

The American Nakamura, who was born in Japan, blundered away a pawn on the 61st move with So threatening mate in six or promote a pawn on the kingside.

Giri, found a temporary rook sacrifice against World Rapid champion Nodirbek Abdusattorov of Uzbekistan, and won on the 34th move of another Armageddon, threatening a knight fork that would net him a whole piece.

Abdusattorov, who like Firouzja and Gukesh are barely in their teens, previously won top seed honors by placing first in the preliminary blitz games to determine pole positions where Giri placed second to last ahead of Gukesh.

Mamedyarov, the oldest in the 10-man field at 38, had an unstoppable passed pawn on the 47th to defeat local bet Aryan Tari after their initial classical game also ended in a draw.

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