Altibox Norway Chess Takes Off On Sunday
Caruana and Carlsen will meet again in Norway; this was last year. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Altibox Norway Chess Takes Off On Sunday

| 31 | Chess Event Coverage

On Sunday, the sixth edition of the Altibox Norway Chess tournament begins in Stavanger, Norway. The field, topped by Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana, has eight out of the world's top 10 players.

The participants list has eight of the first 10 players on the May 2018 rating list and the other two names are so big that some will be surprised to hear that they are not currently in the top 10: Levon Aronian and Vishy Anand.

2018 Altibox Norway Chess | Participants

# Fed Name Rating World Born
1 Carlsen, Magnus 2843 1 1990
2 Caruana, Fabiano 2822 2 1992
3 Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar 2808 3 1985
4 Ding, Liren 2791 5 1992
5 Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime 2789 6 1990
6 Karjakin, Sergey 2782 7 1990
7 So, Wesley 2778 8 1993
8 Nakamura, Hikaru 2769 10 1987
9 Aronian, Levon 2764 12 1982
10 Anand, Viswanathan 2760 13 1969

Vladimir Kramnik and Anish Giri are the players who are missing from the top 10. Nonetheless, it's going to be the strongest chess tournament of 2018, especially for a closed round robin. The Isle of Man tournament (October 20-28) is an open, and probably will be the second strongest event of this year.

The average rating in Stavanger is 2791 (rounded), which is eight points lower than last year. Only two tournaments in chess history had an average Elo above 2800: the Zurich Chess Challenge (2801) and the Sinquefield Cup (2802), both in 2014.

Please note that the Chessbrahs will be providing daily video commentary with GMs Aman Hambleton, Eric Hansen and Yasser Seirawan on and

Who is the favorite? Carlsen, as always, or maybe Caruana, who won both the Candidates' and Grenke? Or maybe this will be the moment when Mamedyarov has fully matured? And what about Ding, who is now the world's number-four in the live ratings after winning three games in the Chinese League?

Here's his win today:

A reader and blogger on, Han Schut, sent us the following table, which shows the performance ratings of the players over the past six months (classical games only).

Performance ratings Dec-May

# Fed Name Fide Rating PR-6 months Difference # Games
1 Carlsen, Magnus 2843 2847 4 40
2 Caruana, Fabiano 2822 2824 2 56
3 Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar 2808 2811 3 50
5 Ding, Liren 2791 2798 7 41
6 Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime 2789 2770 -19 43
7 Karjakin, Sergey 2782 2795 13 45
8 So, Wesley 2778 2774 -4 47
10 Nakamura, Hikaru 2769 2755 -14 39
12 Aronian, Levon 2764 2743 -21 58
13 Anand, Viswanathan 2760 2727 -33 35

Table by Han Schut.

Carlsen beats Caruana on performance rating, mostly because of the latter's bad performance in Wijk aan Zee this year. Karjakin had a good performance as well, while MVL, Nakamura, Aronian and Anand lost ground.

Schut notes:

"It is risky for top 10 players to play in the Bundesliga, Chinese and Polish team championships. MVL, Aronian and Anand play for OSG Baden Baden and lost rating points due to draws against 2600+ players. Compare this with for example Karjakin, who only played in top tournaments and the FIDE World Championship cycle. He scored 24 out of 45 (+3) against an average opposition of 2772."

Some players will come to Norway being "warmed up" a little. As said, Ding was active earlier today in the Chinese league and at the time of writing, three are in fact playing a game!

Caruana, MVL and Anand are traveling to Norway via Germany as they are on the top three boards of Baden-Baden in the playoff against Solingen that will decide the Bundesliga today. Expect a report on that event tomorrow.

And what about the world champion? Well, he's coming from a trip to the United States, including Boston, Houston and New York, where he was involved in several (sponsor) activities but also attended some basketball events. 

Carlsen attended game one of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals, Boston Celtics-Cleveland Cavaliers, on May 13 and could be found in disguise at a press event in Houston:

Besides going for a trip to visit his parents in Crimea with only one of his sons, Karjakin also built on his fame in Russia even further by cooperating with a children's program on TV. He promises more details will be revealed soon.

Before his travel to Baden-Baden, Caruana was in New York where he attended a charity event for the Mount Sinai Hospital Ovarian Cancer Translational Research Laboratory. First estimates say that the donations doubled last year's, and got up to $40,000.

If you check on Anand's timeline on Twitter you'll notice it's dominated by tweets about poker these days. Not that he's playing much himself; since December 2017 Anand has been an ambassador for the Poker Sports League in India.

He also made a recent trip to Jerusalem, where he participated in a simul together with Anatoly Karpov (who turned 67 yesterday) as part of the Jewish state's 70th anniversary celebrations. 

Aronian might arrive to Norway revived—certainly his fans will hope so. An Instragram post from his wife suggests some physical training was done in Yerevan:

The tournament starts Sunday evening with the traditional blitz tournament to determine the pairing numbers. The top-five players will be playing five whites and four with black in the main event.

Then nine rounds will be played between May 28 and June 7, with rest days on May 31 and June 4. You can find the full schedule here. Like last year, the first six rounds will be played in the Clarion Hotel Energy in Stavanger. Then the tournament moves to the Stavanger Concert Hall for the last three rounds.

You can follow the games in Live Chess each day starting at 4:30 p.m. local time (7:30 a.m. Pacific, 10:30 a.m. Eastern) on our Live Server. Sunday's blitz tournament starts 3 p.m. local time (6 a.m. Pacific, 9 a.m. Eastern).


The Chessbrahs will be providing daily video commentary with GMs Aman Hambleton, Eric Hansen and Yasser Seirawan on and

Expect daily, on-site coverage on and on our Twitter, Facebook and YouTube channels.

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