Carlsen vs. Norway (With Some Help): Draw

Carlsen vs. Norway (With Some Help): Draw

| 28 | Chess Event Coverage

On Thursday a chess game between Magnus Carlsen and “Norway”, played in a shopping center in Oslo, ended in a draw. The World Champion each time had only one minute to move, while his opponent(s) - online chess fans, helped by three grandmasters - had five, and could even consult a computer.

Images courtesy of VG

The special game between Carlsen and “Norway” was held at the Oslo City kjøpesenter (shopping center), where VG (Verdens Gang, Norway's biggest newspaper and co-sponsor of Carlsen) had set up a special studio. 

Elsewhere in the mall there was a small studio with commentators, including Hans Olav Lahlum, the famous Norwegian historian, crime author, chess player/organizer and politician.

Before the game, Lahlum was lucky enough to face Linni Meister | Photo © Tarjei J. Svensen
Commentary during the game | Photo © Tarjei J. Svensen

Right next to the commentators was a team of three experts: grandmasters Simen Agdestein, Leif Erlend Johannessen and Jon Ludvig Hammer. Based on their recommendations, the online chess fans could suggest a move, and the most suggestion move was played.

In fact everyone was allowed to suggest moves online, not just Norwegians, but the event was only advertised in Norway.

Norway's moves were executed by a mysterious man in a red morph suit. After the game his identity was revealed: cross-country skiing legend Oddvar Brå.

Carlsen only had one minute to make his moves while his opponents had five. There was a special rule: his opponents had to possibility to consult the Houdini chess engine three times during the game.

Here's the game:

In the end the experts only consulted Houdini once The grandmasters were allowed to use Houdini three times each, so nine times in total. This affected the game especually on move 23, when Carlsen had a very promising position and threatened to win an Exchange. “We had lost otherwise,” admitted Hammer. 

The computer simply sacrificed that Exchange, and the resulting position wasn't clear at all. Carlsen then decided to pull the emergency brake.

Carlsen's manager Espen Agdestein described it as follows: “It's like meeting a quiz master who can use Google. And with additional help from the audience.”

“One minute thinking time for me was fine, as long as they did not use the computer,” said Carlsen. “But when ‘Norway’ came up with an unexpected, computer-inspired move, it became worse. Then I would have liked to have more time to think. So next time maybe I should have a kind of ‘wild-card’ with the time that I could use when I needed it.”

It was mostly a fun game, but some extra training at the same time. I eventually took this as a serious tournament game. So this was a useful day for me,” said Carlsen, who also said he wants to have the white pieces if such a game is organized another time!

Info based on this VG article which has a number of nice videos.

After the game there were some sponsor activities.

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