Grand Chess Tour Kicks Off Monday With Norway Chess

Grand Chess Tour Kicks Off Monday With Norway Chess

| 36 | Chess Event Coverage

Norway Chess, the first tournament in the first Grand Chess Tour series, kicks off on Monday with a blitz tournament on the Flor & Fjære island. Here's a preview!

The third edition of the Norway Chess tournament runs June 15-26 in the Stavanger region of Norway. The participants are GMs Magnus Carlsen, Fabiano Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura, Viswanathan Anand, Veselin Topalov, Alexander Grischuk, Anish Giri, Levon Aronian, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Jon Ludvig Hammer.

The tournament will start on Monday with a press conference with the players at 1:30 p.m. (local time) at the Hotel Scandic Stavanger Forus. It is the players' hotel where eight of the nine rounds will be held. The fourth round will take place in the Utstein Monastery in Rennesøy.

The Utstein Abbey. | Image Wikipedia.

“We really want to be a bit different compared to other tournaments,” project manager Benedicte Westre Skog told “We really want to show them, and the world, our beautiful region. That's why we take the players out of the hotel to some unique places.”

The Utstein Abbey happens to be Norway's best-preserved medieval monastery, according to Wikipedia. It is located on the island of Mosterøy in the Rennesøy municipality in Rogaland county. “There is a lot of history,” says Westre Skog. “We thought it would be amazing to do a round there.”

On Monday evening the players will get behind the boards to play the now traditional blitz tournament to determine the pairing numbers. This will be a private event held at the beautiful Flor & Fjære island and starts at 5:30 pm local time (2:30 p.m. New York, 11:30 a.m. Pacific).

Flor & Fjære.

Representing the Grand Chess Tour (more on that below), Garry Kasparov will be a special guest of the tournament during the first few days. He will also join the group to Flor & Fjære, but he won't play. “It's an official part of the tournament,” technical organizer Frode Sømme argued.

Chess fans dying to see Kasparov playing the top guys (after crushing Nigel Short in a recent blitz match) might argue that it's easy to remove Kasparov from the final standings to end up with the pairing numbers. Maybe it's not too late to convince the organizers? Or will it be even harder to persuade The Boss?

Norway Chess 2015 | Schedule

Day Date Time Event Venue
Monday 15.06.2015 17.30 Blitz Flor & Fjære – private event
Tuesday 16.06.2015 16.00 1at round Hotel Scandic Stavanger Forus
Wednesday 17.06.2015 16.00 2nd round Hotel Scandic Stavanger Forus
Thursday 18.06.2015 16.00 3rd round Hotel Scandic Stavanger Forus
Friday 19.06.2015 16.00 4th round Utstein Kloster, Rennesøy
Saturday 20.06.2015 13.00 Day Off & School Tournament Vitenfabrikken, Sandnes
Sunday 21.06.2015 16.00 5th round Hotel Scandic Stavanger Forus
Monday 22.06.2015 16.00 6th round Hotel Scandic Stavanger Forus
Tuesday 23.06.2015 16.00 7th round Hotel Scandic Stavanger Forus
Wednesday 24.06.2015 16.00 8th round Hotel Scandic Stavanger Forus
Thursday 25.06.2015 16.00 9th round Hotel Scandic Stavanger Forus
Thursday 25.06.2015 Ca. 10pm Tentative blitz in case of split 1st place, 2 players Hotel Scandic Stavanger Forus
Friday 25.06.2015 Ca. 12pm Tentative blitz in case of split 1st place, more than 2 players Hotel Scandic Stavanger Forus
Friday 25.06.2015 5pm Simulchess with celebrities and sponsors Hotel Scandic Stavanger Forus
Friday 25.06.2015 8.30 pm Award show and Gala dinner Hotel Scandic Stavanger Forus

Norway Chess 2015 | Map

The tournament is the first in the Grand Chess Tour, a new series of events that was announced at the end of April in St. Louis. In this cooperation between Norway Chess, the Sinquefield Cup and the London Chess Classic, all three tournaments will see nine of the same players, and one wild card.

The total prize fund of the tour will be more than a million dollars: $300,000 from each event plus another $150,000 for the tour overall. Each player earns “Grand Chess Tour points” and at the end of the cycle the top three players of the whole tour will receive extra prize money: $75,000, $50,000 and $25,000.

For Norway Chess the wild card (or rather: qualifier) is GM Jon Ludvig Hammer. The Norwegian number two won the EnterCard Chess Qualifier on May 16, where he finished ahead of Laurent Fressinet, Aryan Tari, Nils Grandelius, Curt Hansen and Simen Agdestein.

Norway Chess 2015 | Participants

# Name Country Rating Born World #
1 Magnus Carlsen NOR 2876 November 30, 1990 1
2 Fabiano Caruana ITA 2805 July 30, 1992 2
3 Viswanathan Anand IND 2804 December 11, 1969 3
4 Hikaru Nakamura USA 2802 December 9, 1987 4
5 Veselin Topalov BUL 2798 March 15, 1975 5
6 Alexander Grischuk RUS 2781 October 31, 1983 7
7 Levon Aronian ARM 2780 October 6, 1982 8
8 Anish Giri NED 2773 June 28, 1994 10
9 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave FRA 2723 October 21, 1990 28
10 Jon Ludvig Hammer NOR 2677 June 2, 1990 61

The winner of the first two editions of Norway Chess, GM Sergey Karjakin, is notably absent. This is related to the Grand Chess Tour, for which the top 10 of the January 2015 FIDE rating list was invited.

When GMs Vladimir Kramnik and Wesley So declined, the organizers invited GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in April, when the French player was one spot ahead of Karjakin in the world rankings. Meanwhile, he has dropped to spot #28 while Karjakin is #12.

Speaking of Vachier-Lagrave — the French GM will be active this weekend, together with GMs Wei Yi, Ruslan Ponomariov and David Anton, in the annual chess festival in Léon, Spain. There should be enough time to reach Stavanger, but it's a tight schedule!

The four players in Léon on Thursday | Photo Léon Masters Tournament.

GM Magnus Carlsen, who by the way recently bought a house for 2.2 million Euros, tops the field with a 71-points Elo difference with number-two GM Fabiano Caruana. The Italian (and soon to be U.S.) grandmaster recently won the 2014-2015 FIDE Grand Prix.

Third seed this year is GM Viswanathan Anand, who is also the oldest participant. The Indian, who sadly lost his mother recently, played quite well in his last tournament. In Shamkir, in April, he finished second behind Carlsen with an undefeated 6.0/9.

GM Hikaru Nakamura, rated 2800+ for the first time in his career, qualified for the 2016 FIDE Candidates’ together with Caruana. This means he won't have to worry too much about his rating this year, which will allow him to take more risks.

Caruana and Nakamura on stage at the FIDE Grand Prix
together with Dmitry Jakovenko. | Photo: Kirill Merkurev.

GM Veselin Topalov, however, might be more careful as it's important to maintain his relatively high rating. At the moment he qualifies on rating for the Candidates’ together with GM Alexander Grischuk, as can be seen in Martin Bennedik's Google Doc.

GM Levon Aronian was still rated 2830 in March 2014, but meanwhile he has dropped to number eight in the world. However, his last two events were extremely solid: at the World Teams in Armenia and the Russian league he won five and drew eight games.

Both GM Anish Giri and GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave played in the French league last week. The Dutch GM did well with a 2828 TPR while MVL did OK too with four wins and three draws. However, the opponents in Norway Chess will be quite different.

GM Jon Ludvig Hammer will have a tough time in Stavanger. The Norwegian also participated in the first edition when he drew with Topalov, beat Wang Hao and lost the other seven. Also given his play at the qualifier he could easily do better this time around.

The promo for Norway Chess 2015.

Confession box
Probably for the first time ever in an official, classical super-tournament, the players will be able to speak in front of the camera during the game. The 2015 Norway Chess will have the “confession box” that was introduced at the EnterCard Chess Qualifier.

Like in Oslo, the confession box will be completely voluntary. When a player shares his thoughts, nobody else can hear him. According to main organizer Jøran Aulin-Jansson the laws of chess allow this remarkable feature. It's not that different from speaking out loud to yourself during a cigarette break, so maybe's right!

Hammer in the confession box during the EnterCard Qualifier. | Photo Linnea Syversen.

The commentary on the official website will be provided by New in Chess editor Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam and GM Jan Gustafsson. Norwegian TV channel TV2 will provide live coverage as well, and then there will be commentary provided by the St. Louis team as well!
No time to watch the games live? No problem! The Norway Chess tournament will be covered on with a daily recap show that runs 1.5 hours. We'll discuss the games and show video footage by Peter Doggers who will be covering the tournament from Stavanger. The show will start each day at 11 p.m. Central European time, 5 p.m. New York, 2 p.m. Pacific.

Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

Between 2007 and 2013 Peter was running ChessVibes, a major source for chess news and videos acquired by in October 2013.

As our Director News & Events, Peter writes many of our news reports. In the summer of 2022, The Guardian’s Leonard Barden described him as “widely regarded as the world’s best chess journalist.”

In October, Peter's first book The Chess Revolution will be published!

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Phone: 1 (800) 318-2827
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