The toughest challenge

The toughest challenge

GM gmjlh
Feb 5, 2013, 12:06 PM |

There's a standard moment in most feel-good movies: At some point everything works out, and all your dreams come true. I kinda had that moment recently, when I was told the organizers of the NorwayChess tournament wanted me in it.

In December, I formulated my goals for the new year:

  • A new rating best
  • Making it to round 3 in the upcoming World Cup
  • Testing myself against the world's elite

With the announcement of the field today, I can definitely cross that last one off the list. It is not just a strong tournament. It has 8 of the World's top 8! And a Chinese guy. And me.

Now I just gotta make sure I don't make a fool of myself.

PS: The chess news site Chessdom emailed me to ask some questions. Good ones. Therefore I'll post my answers, since I spent more than half an hour to write them anyway ;)


What are your expectations?

- My goal is to have fun, win at least one game, and not finish last. I think I can do it!

You closely followed the process of the creation of the tournament, were you surprised the Norway Chess 2013 organizers managed to collect such a field?

-Honestly? Yes. When they announced they wanted the top 10 from the rating list, I thought it was the ambitions of unexperienced organizers. Boy, did they prove me wrong. They set the bar at the top, and got all the players they wanted. I’m impressed.

You revealed some of your secret preparation in a tweet today, where you said "I've already started my preparation. First up: getting myself a decent suit for the opening ceremony." After getting elegant for the opening ceremony , what will be your next key step?

- I’ve been focusing mostly on school the past year. I have an exam in March, but after that, pretty much all my attention will be on chess and the NorwayChess tournament. Compared to these guys, my game has some flaws – but I’ll work on all of them. I’m highly motivated by this challenge.

Are you going to beat Magnus Carlsen , as you did it in NTG Quick Grand Prix?:)

-I actually have two concecutive wins against Magnus – and three is a lucky number, right? Magnus doesn’t like losing, so he’ll bring his A-game. It’ll be one hell of a battle!

It has been announced that Peter Heine Nielsen will join Carlsen's team for the Candidates. Nielsen himself said in an interview that he also coached JL Hammer. What is the experience of working with Peter Heine Nielsen?

-Peter was the second for the Norwegian team during the Novi Sad ETCC in 2009. I got the silver medal on the first board! Needless to say, Peter was a fantastic help in preparing me for the games. He’s one of the good guys.

Chess in Norway is growing in recent years. What would be the impact of this tournament for the development of chess in in the country? Do you expect more young people to join the sport or rather attract large corporate sponsorship on all levels?

- I certainly hope so. We need to have good initiatives. This is one of them. There’s also a programme for giving out chess sets and some basic instructions to schools. As long as there are good people with good initiatives, I think chess in Norway will get bigger and better.

What are your plans for this year besides Norway Chess Open? Do you plan to defend the trophy in Andorra Open?

- I’ve just recently started working on my summer plans. I will play Norsk Sjakkfestival in Fagernes during Easter, and I hope to get a wildcard to the World Cup in Tromsø in August. I’ll probably play two or three more tournaments during the summer, but I’m undecided so far.