News To Cover Carlsen-Nakamura Match
Nakamura vs Carlsen in chess960. | Portraits designed by To Cover Carlsen-Nakamura Match

| 78 | Chess Event Coverage

This coming Friday a Fischer Random (Chess960) match between Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura will start at Høvikodden outside Oslo, Norway. The (impressive) prize fund is just under $200,000. The English-language commentary, powered by, will be provided on site by GM Yasser Seirawan and IM Anna Rudolf.

The 16-game Chess960 match between Carlsen and Nakamura has a total prize fund of 1.5 million Norwegian kroner ($191,083/€155,868) with 60 percent going to the winner, and 40 percent to the loser of the match. Norwegian national broadcaster NRK will cover the event live on television.

On the first four days (Feb. 9-12) they will play two games at a time control of 45 minutes for the first 40 moves and then 15 minutes for the rest of the game, without increment. The score for these games will be two points for a win, one point for a draw and zero for a loss.

Carlsen vs Nakamura, Paris

Carlsen and Nakamura in a game at the Paris Grand Chess Tour event last year. | Photo: Lennart Ootes.

On Feb. 13, another eight games will be played at a faster time control: 10 minutes and five seconds increment for each move. The score will be one point for a win, half a point for a draw and zero for a loss.

In case of an equal score after 16 games, one more decisive Armageddon blitz game will be played. Even if a winner has been established earlier, all 16 games will be played.


Each second game will be played from a different starting position, chosen from the 959 possible positions (the regular starting position won't be used!). This means that each player gets to play eight different positions with both colors.

The match will be played in the Henie Onstad Art Center at Høvikodden outside Oslo in Norway, from Feb.9-13. On the museum website the event is placed in the category "performance," with the games being "part of the retrospective exhibition Dag Alveng - Still time."

For the entrance fee of 120 NOK ($15.29 / €12.47) the center is facilitating activities for the audience, tours, and workshops. The first three days are already sold out.

The Henie Onstad Art Center

The art center as seen from outside in the evening. | Photo: Henie Onstad Art Center.

The organizers, who speak of an "unofficial world championship," prefer the term Fischer Random over Chess960; it was the 11th world champion Bobby Fischer who invented and advocated the variant from the mid-1990s onwards.

Between 2001 and 2009 a strong Fischer Random tournament was held annually in Mainz, Germany. Especially Peter Svidler and Levon Aronian were successful in these events. Since 2008, a special Chess960 paragraph is included in the official Laws of Chess.

The main difference between Chess960 and regular chess is that there's hardly any opening theory, so from the very start, players have to rely on their calculation and creativity. Interestingly, Nakamura beat Carlsen 2.5-0.5 in the mini match over three Fischer Random games as part of their Speed Chess Championship final on Jan. 3.

Who do you think is the favorite? Share your thoughts in the comments, and follow the match on the official website, or!

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