LEVON Aronian drew his game with Filipino grandmaster Wesley So to win Altibox Norway Chess 2017 at the Clarion Hotel Energy in Stavanger, Norway.
Both had no pieces left when Aronian settled for a draw with So in 59 moves of a Queen’s Gambit Declined.
This gave Aronian his first major title since the Grenke Classic.
Aronian ended with six points, followed in second by Hikaru Nakamura, Vladimir Kramnik and Fabiano Caruana with five points. Anish Giri and So took sixth and seventh places with 4.5 points.
The white-playing So tried to go after an isolated pawn at d5. But Aronian defended it well with a good bishop d7 move in the 23th push. The two exchanged pieces to simplify the game. Both were left with no piece when it was over.
Analysts said So had a disappointing showing in Stavanger. He finished with nine straight draws.
Despite his performance, So is going to make the Candidates for the World Championships.
Nakamura missed a chance to be co-champion when he fell to a 59 move setback to Caruana in their Sicilian Najdorf game.
So’s meteoric rise to the top has slowed down to a crawl. He appears to be unsure how to continue. He makes sure not to lose games. But it comes at the cost of not winning.
In the eighth round So had a winning opportunity in the 29th move. But Nakamura held him to a draw in 35 moves of a Queen’s Gambit Declined.
Playing black, So penetrated the backrank with a queen move to b2 in the 29th. He found an opening for an attack when Nakamura pushed his pawn to h4, instead of the better rook d4 move.
So made a series of checks later. So was on the way to victory but a repetition of moves by Nakamura forced a draw.