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Caruana tallies second victory, takes solo lead

Fabiano Caruana of the United States defeated Anish Giri of the Netherlands and scored his second straight win to take the solo lead in the 2023 Norway Chess championship in Stavenger, Norway.

Caruana drew with Giri in the classical game and needed only to force a draw in the sudden-death Armaggedon tiebreaker with the black pieces to score the whole point.

Caruana gained a huge positional advantage against the Dutch, who resigned on the 34th move of an English game even as eight players shared second to ninth places with one point each.

Former world champion Magnus Carlsen bounced back from an opening round loss to Caruana and beat Wesley So of the US in another Armaggedon knockout match after their classical game ended in a 31-move draw of a Ruy Lopez.

In the return match with Carlsen keeping the white pieces, both players played the same opening lines but So deviated early in their Berlin variation and opted to castle queenside.

Carlsen attacked heavy with his queen and rook and netted resignation on the 33rd.

So remained tied with Carlsen and Giri with one point as opening day losers likewise bounced back with wins to create a logjam.

Iranian Alireza Firouzja of France, the second highest ranked player, blasted Shakriyar Mamedyarov on the 40th move of a Queen’s Gambit Accepted game. D. Gukesh of India, who outlasted Firouzja in the opener, drew the ire of Hikaru Nakamura’s menacing pair of bishops and resigned on the 71st move of a Queen’s Pawn game.

World Rapid champion Nodirbek Abdusattorov of Uzbekistan also bounced back with a vengeful win with the black pieces of a Sicilian Rossolimo and dealt local bet Aryan Tari his second straight loss on the 46th move.

The 2023 Norway Chess event has adopted a novel format of breaking drawn classical games with the Armaggedon knockout matches by giving 10 minutes to the player handling the white side while the black player gets only seven minutes but needs only to secure a draw to score a whole point.

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