Norway Chess Announces 6 Participants, Qualifying Tournament

Norway Chess Announces 6 Participants, Qualifying Tournament

In only three years of existence, Altibox Norway Chess has become one of the premier super-tournaments in chess. The hearty support of the world champion, Magnus Carlsen, has aided the tournament in bringing in a strong cast of competitors each year.

In anticipation of its fourth year, Altibox Norway Chess has recently announced six of an intended 10 participants who will by playing in Stavanger, April 18-30

A full six of the top eight players in the world are now committed.

Name Rating World # Country
Magnus Carlsen 2850 1 NOR
Vladimir Kramnik 2801 2 RUS
Anish Giri 2793 4 NED
Levon Aronian 2792 5 ARM
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave 2787 7 FRA
Veselin Topalov 2780 8 BUL

There is much to anticipate in the initial player lists as the players are generally known for their fighting spirit.

All eyes are sure to be on Carlsen. As dominant as Carlsen has been in recent years, Altibox Norway Chess has been a consistent low for him.

He has yet to win the event, and last year he suffered multiple painful defeats.

Carlsen is extremely popular in Norway, and his fans would surely like to see him celebrate a victory in his home country.

The tournament will provide another opportunity for a showdown between Carlsen and Anish Giri.

Giri had the best score in last year's Grand Chess Tour, the collaboration between Norway Chess, the Sinquefield Cup, and the London Chess Classic, which Altibox Norway Chess is leaving this year.

Carlsen has not yet beaten Giri, and he has suffered one loss. The tournament could provide Carlsen a chance to earn his first victory over Giri.

While three of the four additional intended participants remain mysteries, we now know the selection process for the fourth.

Altibox Norway Chess extends to the Norwegian Chess Federation the right to invite a player of their choice.

In 2013 and 2015, that player was GM Jon Ludvig Hammer, whose best individual game performance was defeating Carlsen in the final round of the 2015 tournament.

In 2013, the invitation was extended to GM Simen Agdestein, Carlsen's coach in his youth, who impressed greatly with many thrilling battles.

This year, the Norwegian Chess Federation has announced a four-player round robin tournament to determine the invitational spot.

The qualifier will take place in Fagernes, Norway on March 23-26 and will coincide with the Fagernes Chess International — a closed GM and IM tournament.

The format will be a double round robin in which the first half will be played at classical time controls with soccer scoring — three points for a win and one point for a draw. The second half will be played at rapid time controls — a win will be worth two points and a draw one point.

The invitees are as follows.

Name Rating Country
Jon Ludvig Hammer 2705 NOR
Hou Yifan 2673 CHN
Nils Grandelius 2637 SWE
Aryan Tari 2537 NOR

As noted, Hammer has previously been a participant in Norway Chess, and although he has sometimes struggled, the experiences have clearly aided him as he finally broke through and passed 2700 this past year.

In the midst of celebrating his Qatar Masters victory, Carlsen found time to congratulate his long-time second.

Of course, Hou Yifan is far and away the top female player in the world. She impressed many this past month with strong play in the Tata Steel tournament where she consistently applied pressure with both White and Black against higher-rated opponents.

GM Nils Grandelius and GM Aryan Tari are each young, promising Scandinavian players who must be eager to get their first crack at a super-tournament.

Grandelius sporting his signature dreadlocks.

Tari is still only 16 years old, and he is expected to receive his grandmaster title, upon review, at the next FIDE congress.

For each of these players, a chance to compete with the best of the best in Altibox Norway Chess would be a tremendous opportunity. The spectators also surely benefit whenever new players get their chance at the elite.

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