15-year-old Follows In Footsteps Of Carlsen, Agdestein To Win Norwegian Title
Aksel Bu Kvaloy is the new Norwegian Champion. Photo: Anniken Vestby.

15-year-old Follows In Footsteps Of Carlsen, Agdestein To Win Norwegian Title

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IM Aksel Bu Kvaloy is Norway's new national champion, copying the feat of GMs Simen Agdestein and Magnus Carlsen by winning the title at age 15.

The Norwegian Championship took place from June 28 to July 5 in the mountain resort of Gol, drawing 514 players across 17 sections. The Elite group had 18 players, of whom six were GMs, eight IMs, and four FMs.

In the spotlight was the 15-year-old seventh seed Kvaloy, who maintained his lead from the start, finishing on an undefeated 6.5/9. He drew his final four games, eventually edging out GM Frode Urkedal on tiebreak points. IM Tor Fredrik Kaasen took third place with 5.5 points.

2024 Norwegian Championship Final Standings

Pl Name Rating Score Performance
IM Aksel Bu Kvaløy 2466 6.5  2623 (+18.90)
GM Frode Olav Olsen Urkedal 2560 6.5  2626 (+7.90)
IM Tor Fredrik Kaasen 2465 5.5  2549 (+10.50)
IM Frode Elsness 2426 5  2467 (+5.20)
GM Lars Oskar Hauge 2480 5  2511 (+3.60)
IM Jens E Ingebretsen 2407 5  2510 (+12.20)
IM Semen Mitusov 2475 5  2479 (+0.50)
GM Jon Ludvig Hammer 2611 5  2468 (-15.30)
IM Mads Vestby-Ellingsen 2343 5  2479 (+15.80)
10  GM Elham Amar 2548 4.5  2453 (-11.00)

In 1982, Agdestein became the youngest-ever Norwegian Champion at 15 years and seven months, a record that still stands 42 years later. Carlsen was two months older when he took his first and only title in 2006 and hasn't played since. Kvaloy, who turns 16 next month, has now joined the greats to become the third player in history to achieve the title at 15.

"It hasn't quite sunk in yet. To be in the same category as them is really nice," he told Aftenposten. When asked about his motivation for the future, he said: "I just want to have fun and perform in something I enjoy." 

I just want to have fun and perform in something I enjoy.

 —Aksel Bu Kvaloy

Admittedly, this year's Norwegian Championship wasn't the strongest, with the country's top-three ranked players all missing. Norway's new number-two GM Johan-Sebastian Christiansen and two-time champion GM Aryan Tari both prioritized events abroad. In addition, fifth-ranked Agdestein, who won his ninth title last year, was unable to defend his title as he has been competing in 'Mesternes Mester,' an immensely popular Norwegian reality show for former sports stars.

Kvaloy against Mitusov in round 7 ended in a draw. Photo: Anniken Vestby
Kvaloy against Mitusov in round seven ended in a draw. Photo: Anniken Vestby.

Kvaloy's four wins, all in the first five rounds, secured him a one-point lead. His win in round two was particularly crushing, as he gradually built up a strong attack on the kingside until White was defenseless against the threats.

Kvaloy needed only a draw with White against GM Lars Oskar Hauge in the final round to secure his second GM norm and at least shared first place, but he played aggressively from the opening and achieved an excellent position before offering a draw anyway.

Urkedal, thanks to a win against IM Semen Mitusov, caught up with Kvaloy and also finished on 6.5 points. The first and second tiebreak criteria were equal, but Kvaloy edged ahead on the third tiebreak criterion, the Buchholz score, thanks to a win by 14-year-old FM Havard Haug over GM Torbjorn Hansen.

Kvaloy hails from Norway's West coast city Stavanger and doesn't come from a chess family. His father is Ola Kvaloy, a well-known Norwegian professor in economics, and a vocalist in the local rock band Lano Places. He learned the rules at the age of four thanks to a chess set he found at his grandfather's place, and by watching YouTube videos of NRK's regular chess commentator IM Torstein Bae on his iPad. 

He made headlines as a seven-year-old when he became the youngest-ever Under 11 champion in 2016. The following year he became the youngest Norwegian to defeat a titled player.

He completed his IM title before his 15th birthday last year and, with two GM norms and just 15 points shy of the 2500 rating requirement, is a hot candidate to become Norway's 19th grandmaster. Norway's other hot prospect is 19-year-old GM Elham Amar, who completed his title last year.

In an interview with local newspaper Stavanger Aftenblad, Kvaloy said he plans to focus on his chess career for the next few years: "I want to put some effort in to see how strong I can become. A decision on a profession and future career is currently a plan B."

I want to put some effort in to see how strong I can become. A decision on a profession and future career, is currently a plan B.

Kvaloy will get a chance to secure his final norm at the Paleochora Open in Greece, starting July 20.

Tarjei J. Svensen

Tarjei Svensen is a Norwegian chess journalist who worked for some of the country's biggest media outlets and appeared on several national TV broadcasts. Between 2015 and 2019, he ran his chess website, covering chess news in Norwegian and partly in English.

In 2020, he was hired by Chess24 to cover chess news, eventually moving to as a full-time chess journalist in 2023. He is also known for his extensive coverage of chess news on his X/Twitter account.

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