Hammer Qualifies For Norway Chess, Brings Chess Drama To TV

Hammer Qualifies For Norway Chess, Brings Chess Drama To TV

| 16 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Jon Ludvig Hammer has qualified for the 2015 Norway Chess tournament by winning the EnterCard Chess Qualifier in Oslo on Friday night. A four-move draw in the final round was a small letdown in an otherwise very successful event.

Photo Tarjei J. Svensen.

Let's pick up the tournament where we left it: after three rounds top seeds GM Jon Ludvig Hammer and GM Laurent Fressinet were sharing the lead with 2.5/3. That should be 5/3 in fact, because for the classical games the points were counted double.

Both continued to do well on Wednesday. Fressinet faced GM Simen Agdestein, who played the Dutch like GM Simon Williams likes to play it. But maybe it takes a Ginger GM to get that attack on the kingside going, because here Fressinet was dealing the cards from A to Z.

Also playing with the white pieces, Hammer got a slight advantage against GM Nils Grandelius in a Fianchetto Grünfeld. The pawn structure was symmetrical but Hammer's pieces were much more active, and then it's easy to fall into a tactic like in the game.

Danish GM Curt Hansen, who lost his first three games, drew with IM Aryan Tari and then won his first game in round five on Thursday. Agdestein actually missed a win right in the opening and then, well, simply didn't play a very good game.

Both Hammer and Fressinet drew their game and so the standings after five games of classical chess were as follows:

2015 EnterCard | Round 5 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 Pts SB
1 Hammer,Jon Ludvig 2665 2860 phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1 ½ 1 1 8.0/5 8.00
2 Fressinet,Laurent 2712 2850 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1 1 1 8.0/5 7.75
3 Grandelius,Nils 2623 2627 0 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1 ½ 5.0/5
4 Tari,Aryan 2520 2577 ½ 0 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ 4.0/5
5 Hansen,Curt 2621 2481 0 0 0 ½ phpfCo1l0.png 1 3.0/5
6 Agdestein,Simen 2620 2388 0 0 ½ ½ 0 phpfCo1l0.png 2.0/5

On Friday the “second half” of the tournament was held, with five rounds of rapid chess. Here, the points were counted normally, which meant that the fight was really only between Hammer and Fressinet.

Hammer gave himself some more confidence before judgement day.

The Norwegian GM comfortably beat Hansen as Black, but Fressinet dropped half a point right away. Tari played well, except for on moment, but the French GM didn't grab his chance.

The seventh round saw the big clash, Fressinet vs Hammer, and the game provided the kind of drama well suited for a TV audience! After a complicated middlegame it was Fressinet who got the advantage, and after a big mistake from Hammer he was completely winning.

The crucial and highly dramatic battle Fressinet-Hammer. Photo Tarjei J. Svensen.

With both players in terrible timetrouble (without increment!) it was all about nerves. Missing several decisive blows, Fressinet eventually blundered a piece and was then even checkmated. What a turnaround!

Right after the game Hammer went to the “confession box,” a room next to the playing hall where the players were encouraged to give some thoughts about their ongoing game. Co-organizer and webmaster Tarjei J. Svensen explained:

They could do this whenever they wanted and it was a completely voluntary thing, but all the players had used the opportunity to do it, sometimes even more than once per game. The idea was suggested by Team Carlsen for TV2. It has been rather well received by the players and the viewers.”

“It ain't over till it's over,” said Hammer in what some described as the TV moment of the year. | Photo Linnea Syversen.

This meant that Fressinet need to make up 1.5 points in the last three rounds to catch Hammer. He beat Hansen and Agdestein (who turned 48 that day) in the next two rounds, but Hammer scored 1.5/2 against Agdestein and Grandelius.

The local hero only needed a draw in the final round to become the 10th name on the starting list of Norway Chess.

So much spectacle, all broadcast live on TV2's sports channel and online, was a great advertisement for chess. However, the Norwegian audience also learnt about one of the more problematic aspects of our game: the quick draw.

In an otherwise splendid event the organizers had made one mistake: including some kind of anti-quick-draw rule. Here's how Hammer secured his first place:

Hammer was not to blame obviously, the rules were. But it's something to think about for next year.

2015 EnterCard | Final Standings

# Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 Pts
1 Hammer,Jon Ludvig 2665 2860 phpfCo1l0.png ½1 ½½ 11 11 12.0/15
2 Fressinet,Laurent 2712 2756 ½0 phpfCo1l0.png ½½ 11 11 11.0/15
3 Tari,Aryan 2520 2683 ½½ phpfCo1l0.png ½½ ½1 ½1 7.5/15
4 Grandelius,Nils 2623 2558 ½½ ½½ phpfCo1l0.png 110 ½0 6.5/15
5 Hansen,Curt 2621 2481 00 00 ½0 01 phpfCo1l0.png 4.5/15
6 Agdestein,Simen 2620 2438 00 00 ½0 ½1 phpfCo1l0.png 3.5/15

The tournament was held in a TV2 Studio in the center of Oslo, Norway. Right in front, a glass cube was built where commentary was provided by TV2's Kaja Marie Snare together with GM Magnus Carlsen.

Magnus Carlsen acting as commentator this time. | Photo Tarjei J. Svensen.

Hammer won the 50,000 Norwegian kroner (€6,000/$6,800) first prize and will earn at least 110,000 kroner for his participation in Norway Chess. There, besides Carlsen, he will meet Vishy Anand, Levon Aronian, Veselin Topalov, Hikaru Nakamura, Fabiano Caruana, Alexander Grischuk, Anish Giri and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.

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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