Articles Player Profiles: SultanOfKings

| 24 | Chess Players

The subject of our player profile this time is none other than Norway´s chessplayer No. 2 after the not-so unknown Magnus Carlsen: You guessed it, it´s Jon Ludvig Hammer, better known as SultanOfKings here on  Hammer is a ambassador, and when he is not a living breathing chess fanatic he is a student, taking a degree in journalism. He is Norway´s 10th Grandmaster, a title he has held since 2009 when he was 19 years old.


Name: Jon Ludvig Hammer                                           
Title: GM
Date of birth: June 2nd, 1990
Fide rating: 2626                                                   
Country: Norway

What kind of food and drink do you prefer?

Lamb and water.

What is your favorite book?

I really rarely read. I guess Undercover Economist and Freakonomics is one of very few books I actually managed to get through this decade.

What music are you currently grooving to?

I don’t groove to any music. But when I listen to stuff it can be just about anything – mostly pop, but some rock, rap, classical. My username was made during my Dire Straits-period!

Tell me a chess secret?

Things are secret for a reason.

Ok.... and what reason is that?

If I told you, it wouldn’t be a secret anymore!

What is your best chess memory?

When I was called on stage to receive my silver medal on board 1 for the 2009 ETCC. Ljubojevic was awarding the prize, and whispered to me, as I stood there still somewhat shell-shocked, “Magnus would be proud.” I smiled. Two years previously, Magnus had gotten the exact same medal!

Which do you think is worse, failing or never trying?

I think the important thing is whether you’re happy with yourself. Being afraid of failing is certainly legitimate – even common!

So what is it that makes you try again, even if you are afraid of failing?

If you’re trying again, you’ve already broken the barrier, right?

What do you do to get better at chess? How do you train?

I look at games from top players, and analyze my openings. For others, I can heartily recommend playing a lot – for instance here on Practice makes perfect.

How old were you when you began to play chess?

I don’t remember exactly, but I think I was 7.


HAMMERTIME! Jon Ludvig takes a moment to sign an autograph to a young admirerer during the Cap d’Agde rapid chess tournament in 2010.

Is the Internet a big part of your life?

I tweet, I blog, I read newspapers, I watch chess, I play chess – It’s nice to have all these opportunities at your fingertips.

What is your most treasured possession?

My computer.

Almost everybody answers that on this question in this column - may I ask what it is that makes your computer so treasured?

See the previous answer about the Internet!

What was your childhood like?

I’ve gotten taller, so I have a better perspective on my surroundings.

What is chess to you – a game of combat or of art?

It’s a game.

How much time do you devote to chess?

Now, during school, I spend less than an hour a day on chess. This summer, on average, I guess I spent 6 hours a day (including play).

What is your greatest fear?

I once had a nightmare of Magnus beating me. That was pretty horrific.

Do you prefer blitz, otb tournaments or correspondence style chess?

I definitely prefer normal, over-the-board tournaments – it’s what I’m good at.

Is there any chess book that has had a deep and lasting influence on you?

Not really, no.

Do you have any favorite hobbies?

I really like playing soccer - because running alone, seemingly without meaning, is boring.

What, if push comes to shove, is your all-time favorite movie?       

At the moment it’s Easy A. But my favorite movie changes a couple of times during a year! In the Andorra Open this summer, I named my soccer team Penderghast  in Emma Stone’s honor. 


Team Penderghast (in honor of Emma Stone) left to right: David Berczes, John Castro, Romain Lambert, Nicolai Getz and Jon Ludvig Hammer.

Are you a superstitious person?

I will definitely not change a pen I won a good game with last round! But I count that as common sense more than superstition.

What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in chess?

Losses are tough, but necessary. You’re allowed to (maybe even should) get upset, but it’s important to get it out of your system before you go to sleep.

Who is your most difficult opponent?

Magnus is a really tough opponent. I haven’t played him that often, but I’m usually in big trouble when I do – much like the rest of the world I suppose.

What does your future hold as a chess player?

At the moment I’m very busy at school with my journalism degree. Norway and Tromsø will hold the 2014 Chess Olympiad, so short term that’s my goal.

What is the best thing that can happen for Norway as a result of having the Chess Olympiad?

Best case for me is getting a sponsor, which would enable me to spend more time on chess. Best case for Norway would be to double its membership numbers. Even with Magnus, our membership numbers are still going down. We need to change that, and we need to get people who are interested in chess to join a club. I’m sure there are tons of Norwegians here on who aren’t members of the federation [ed note: correct!]. I’d like that to change. If you need some tips about a good chess club near you, message me!

What is the one thing you’d most like to change about the chess world?

It is my belief that Kirsan (President of FIDE, World Chess Federation) is not a good thing for the chess world. I’m not sure Kasparov or Karpov can do a better job, but they certainly deserve a chance to try.

Why does it seem like especially top level professional chess players are unhappy with Kirsan Ilyumzhinov as the president of FIDE ? What does he do that is bad for chess?

I think the problem is more what he doesn’t do. Also, seeing as how he is a controversial figure, his image could benefit from more transparency. That he is reluctant to do so makes people wonder if he has something to hide.

If you could give a beginner in chess only one piece of advice, what would it be?

Your pieces have more options when they are placed in the center. So control the center!

If you had to move to a state or country besides the one you currently live in, where would you move and why?

I would move to the US. Many of my friends are American, and I’ve already lived in Berkeley for a year when I was nine.

Do you have any thoughts on how can get even better? 

As a ambassador, I am fortunate enough to be able to convey my concerns and suggestions directly to staff – who value my input. So yes, could be better – and more importantly: it will get better, because of good feedback and the willingness to always keep improving.


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