Capturing The Lead Late, Abdusattorov Wins Norway Blitz Opener

Capturing The Lead Late, Abdusattorov Wins Norway Blitz Opener


Just days after winning the ChessKid Cup, GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov finished in clear first at the Norway Chess Blitz 2023 on Monday. After a rocky start in half of the event with losses to GMs Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura, Abdusattorov scored 4.5 in the last five games to take over the lead by surprise.

GMs Alireza Firouzja and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov fought for the top spots for most of the tournament and finished in second and third respectively. GMs Wesley So and Fabiano Caruana finished out of the top five.

The Norway Chess main event begins on Tuesday, May 30, starting at 8 a.m. PT/17:00 CEST

Despite having a minus score after the first four rounds, Abdusattorov steadily climbed up the standings in the second half. He scored back-to-back victories vs. GM Aryan Tari and So in rounds five and six to join the tie for third.

Abdusattorov’s victory with the black pieces vs. GM Anish Giri in the penultimate round placed him in contention to win the event. Giri spotted a tactical possibility and smashed his bishop into Black’s kingside with 18.Bxg7 to clear the way for a skewer along the d-file, but Abdusattorov recognized a counter to retain the extra material. Can you find it?

In the last round, Abdusattorov clinched the event with a good old-fashioned king hunt vs. GM Gukesh D.

Gukesh turned 17 on Monday and celebrated his birthday with the dream of every chess player, a victory over Carlsen. 

In his journey to claim first from behind, Abdusattorov had help from Nakamura, who defeated the previous tournament leader, Mamedyarov, in the final round by squeezing a victory out of an equal ending. 

According to Giri, this isn’t the only way Nakamura wreaked havoc on the event.

Mamedyarov himself scored two early wins in a row vs. Caruana and then Carlsen, ultimately finishing third.

Firouzja was in the lead for much of the second half, leapfrogging over Mamedyarov when the latter blundered in their head-to-head. 

In the penultimate round, the 19-year-old grandmaster, down an exchange vs. Caruana, fought off an onslaught by the American grandmaster’s queen and rook. Though Firouzja came close to escaping in the wild time scramble, Caruana ultimately prevailed, spoiling much of the youngest 2800’s chances at first.

Fighting for the lead for much of the second half, Firouzja finished in a close second. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Our Game of the Day is a magic comeback victory by Carlsen vs. Nakamura. Facing his longtime blitz rival, the 16th world champion arrived late and still adjusted all of his pieces before making his first move, effectively giving his opponent 25-second odds, despite such a short time control.

In the ending, Nakamura had Carlsen on the back foot, trapping his knight in a dubious position on the edge of the board. Yet, Carlsen responded with sheer confidence, using his knight’s unfortunate position as a strength by sacrificing it at the opportune moment to penetrate with his king. Fascinatingly, though up a bishop, it was Nakamura struggling to hold the position together as Carlsen wove his pieces into position with hypnotic precision until all the enemy defenses were down. 

Here is the full encounter between these titans of the game as analyzed by GM Rafael Leitao.

Despite having a rough event, Carlsen’s knight sacrifice finish vs. Nakamura was astonishing to watch. Photo: Maria Emelianova/


All Games – Blitz

The 2023 Norway Chess is an elite over-the-board tournament in Stavanger, Norway. The event starts on May 29 at 10 a.m. PT/19:00 CEST with a blitz tournament, followed by a classical event beginning May 30 at 8 a.m. PT/17:00 CEST. 

The winner of the blitz tournament picks their pairing number for the classical portion of the event. The remaining players pick their pairing number, one by one, according to their final standings in the blitz tournament.


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