A controversial new format at Norway’s annual Altibox tournament is unlikely to stop world champion Magnus Carlsen’s series of victories in 2019, which currently stands at five after Wijk aan Zee, Shamkir, Grenke, Abidjan and Lindores Abbey. The 28-year-old is also unbeaten in his last 65 classical games.

Three rounds before Friday’s finish, Carlsen led the 10-grandmaster field in Stavanger. He was well clear of China’s Yu Yangyi, despite having won only one classical game out of six. How has he done it? The answer is Armageddon.

Armageddon is a chess penalty shoot-out that gives White a time advantage but counts a draw on the board as a win for Black in the score. It is normally used only as a last resort after several other games have been tied.

The new format in Norway is that an Armageddon game follows immediately if the classical game is halved. Carlsen has won all his five Armageddons in the tournament.

The innovation has proved highly controversial, and arguments continue. Armageddon is exciting, but it can produce chaotic scrambles, and it may even increase the number of classical draws.

In Norway, at least, the new format seems set to stay. Carlsen likes it, as do the television programmes that cover all his games.


Can you find the winning move that world No 2 Fabiano Caruana missed here against Wesley So? Caruana actually chose 1 Qh3? when 1,,,Qd1! drew since 2 c4+ Rxc4 3 bxc4+ Kxc4 White cannot prevent perpetual check by Black’s queen.

Click here for solution

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