Reports Oct 10, 2020 | 12:07 PMby Tarjei Svensen

Aronian wins cake competition as Carlsen apologises for blindfold simul performance

We have become used to rest days during Altibox Norway Chess being something completely different. This year the six stars were invited to design their own chocolate cake. In addition, Magnus Carlsen played a 5-board blindfold simul that had to be restarted as the World Champion lost track.

Magnus inspecting his chocolate cake, approved by master chef Trond Moi | photo: Lennart Ootes/Altibox Norway Chess

There is a long tradition in Stavanger of inviting the world's top chess players do things they haven't mastered. In previous years, they have done archery, milking cows and cooking. This year, the organisers once again took the players to the kitchen, at the invitation of tournament sponsors, HTH Kjøkken.

Task: Design a chocolate cake and have one of Norway's top masters chefs, Trond Moi, give his verdict

It was a pretty packed showroom that included sponsors and press, with limited social distancing and no face masks, but Norway's 4th largest city has had just a handful of positive Covid-19 cases in the last week and the trend is decreasing, according to numbers from Norwegian newspaper VG.

In a sequence that lasted around half an hour, Levon Aronian deservedly won the informal competition. The Armenian, and much more experienced chef compared to his younger competitors, was the only one who seemed to know what he was doing.

I wanted to have some decoration on the side, but I didn't do that. And I wanted to have some symmetry with the line, but it didn't work.

Levon Aronian said he tried to create a certain symmetry, but didn't quite succeed. In any case, it was good enough to win the competition! | photo: Lennart Ootes/Altibox Norway Chess

The master chef seemed impressed by Aronian's skills and gave him a thumbs up.

This is a three-layer cake, and normally it's a very good idea to put some of the chocolate cream between the layers. There is one guy who managed to do that. Levon is the winner!

Magnus Carlsen, who Friday ended his 19-game drawing streak against Fabiano Caruana and extended his undefeated record to 125 games, seems to be in good shape. The 29-year-old was praised by the chef, who called his creation “a classic Norwegian birthday cake”, leading to the response:

Yes, for 5-year-olds!

The competition was filmed by chess24 reporter Fiona Steil-Antoni on Facebook.

Afterwards Magnus Carlsen once again demonstrated his blindfold skills in a 5-board simul. However, the sequence had to be restarted when the World Champion lost track.

I am completely out of it, so if it's possible, can we start over again? I need a little break and some fresh air.

When the blindfold simul restarted, Carlsen once again lost track, which could partly be explained by noise in the hall. The remaining players were left with no obligations after the cake competition.

The blindfold simul resumed, but was once again halted when the tricky dialect in the Stavanger region caused confusion for Carlsen. He then loudly replayed each move in order to reach the current position, which caused the audience to burst into laughter.

Carlsen won all five games anyway, but apologised for his own performance and thanked the audience for their patience.

Magnus Carlsen has become an experienced blindfold simul player, but this time he lost track and had to start over again | photo: Lennart Ootes/Altibox Norway Chess

In the competition that actually matters, Carlsen seems to be doing pretty well before facing a win-less Jan-Krszysztof Duda two days in a row.

The Polish 22-year-old didn't rate his chances very highly when he spoke to Fiona after his 4th round Armageddon loss to Tari:

In my current form every opponent is difficult, so obviously playing Magnus doesn’t help. I will do my best, but I’m not convinced in my skills anymore!

We'll also see two more exciting match-ups, with two of the players knowing each other very well.

With Judit Polgar busy with her own Global Chess Festival, she has been replaced by none other than Peter Svidler, who will accompany Vladimir Kramnik. 

You can follow the games live on chess24 today from 16:50 CEST!

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