Monica Socko shines in Tromsø

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
Monicka Socko wins Arctic Chess ChallengeGM Monicka Socko (yes, not her husband and top seed Bartosz) won the Arctic Chess Challenge yesterday in a 4-way tiebreak with IMs Ray Robson, Marijan Petrov and GM Emanuel Berg. It was a rare occasion of a female grandmaster winning a strong open, outshining 13 GMs, 13 IMs and 1 WGM among 120 players.

Monica Socko | Photo © Sven Wisløff Nilssen

The Arctic Chess Challenge took place in Tromsø, Norway from August 1st to 9th and had a prize fund of 11,000 Euros. The favourites for tournament victory were GMs Bartosz Socko, Igor Khenkin and Yuri Drodovskij, but they didn't manage to finish in the top 8. Monica Socko, Bartosz's wife, won the tournament and according to the tournament website she made her husband "so proud that he was one big smile all week long, even though he did perform quite poor himself." :-) Monika Socko scored her best career performance, finishing on 7/9 and a TPR of 2639.

One of the tournament's young stars was 14-year-old IM Ray Robson (USA), who beat GMs Van Wely, Bocharov and Akobian in February Moscow and recently won the US Junior Championship with a USCF performance rating of 2751. Robson played on top boards throughout the tournament and had several very interesting games - do replay them below!

Monicka Socko wins Arctic Chess Challenge

14-year-old super-talent IM Ray Robson (USA) | Photo © Sven Wisløff Nilssen

But in the end most attention went to the only female player finishing on 7/9: top seed Bartosz Socko's wife Monica. In the last round she drew quickly with Bulgarian IM Marijan Petrov knowing she'd probably have the best tiebreak in case of a tie. And as it turned out the game Berg-Robson also end in a draw which meant that Monica had won the tournament, while Robson had scored his first GM norm. So did Luca Shytaj from Italy; IM norms were scored by Arkadiusz Leniart (Poland), Nicolai Getz (Norway) and Kjetil Stokke (Norway) while a WIM norm went to Katrine Tjølsen (Norway).

For next year this tournament might be an excellent choice for playing an open in the summer at a non-standard location. The organizers provided many ways of extra entertainment in several side events, including a boat trip in the surroundings of Tromsø, an excursion to one of the many mountains, fishing in the sea, a soccer match, a barbeque party, a guided city tour and blitz tournaments in the chess pub in the centre of Tromsø.


The bridge from the island to the mainland | Photo © Sven Wisløff Nilssen

And then there's, of course, the famous midnight sun. This natural phenomenon occurs in summer months at latitudes north and nearby to the south of the Arctic Circle, and south and nearby to the north of the Antarctic Circle where the sun remains visible at the local midnight. Given fair weather, the sun is visible for a continuous 24 hours, mostly north of the Arctic Circle and south of the Antarctic Circle.

Arctic Chess Challenge | Final Standings (top 30)
Arctic Chess Challenge | Final Standings

Top games from the Arctic Chess Challenge 2009

Click on the pairings at the top of the board to reveal a drop down list of all the games. More info on our new game viewer can be found here.

Game viewer by ChessTempo


The beautiful island of Tromsø taken from Fløya mountain | Photo © Sven Wisløff Nilssen


The popular recreation area "Prestvannet" on top Tromsø Island | Photo © Sven Wisløff Nilssen


The playing hall | Photo © Sven Wisløff Nilssen


Ray Robson receiving his prize from Sara Holthe Jaklin, acting mayor of Tromsø | Photo © Sven Wisløff Nilssen


Sharing first prize: Socko, Robson, Petrov and Berg | Photo © Sven Wisløff Nilssen

Monicka Socko wins Arctic Chess Challenge

Monica Socko, winner of the 2009 Arctic Chess Challenge | Photo © Sven Wisløff Nilssen


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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