Norway to hold first super tournament in 2013

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Next year a new super tournament will be organized in Stavanger, Norway. The country's top player Magnus Carlsen will both participate and assist in promoting the event, which will be by far the strongest chess tournament ever held on Norwegian soil. "I always try to win when I play tournaments, but it would be really special to win at home," said Carlsen.

A press conference on Tuesday night in Sandnes, Norway - 'ambassador' of the tournament, Magnus Carlsen, in the middle | Photo Geir Einarsen

Chess is big in Norway, and it's getting even bigger. The FIDE World Cup 2013 will be held in Tromsø, and a year later the Olympiad will be held there as well. But there is more.

On Tuesday night a press conference was held in a hotel in the city of Sandnes, which was attended by about 30 journalists of all the major Norwegian media. Present were Magnus Carlsen, his manager Espen Agdestein, Jeanette Nygård, representative for the Stavanger region, Siv Kristin Heriksytad, webmaster, Kjell Madland, managing director of Jadarhus and Jørn Holmen, marketing manager. At the press conference a brand new super tournament was announced.

The idea is to have a 10-player round robin, similar to the Tal Memorial, in Stavanger, in June 2013.

Stavanger, Norway on Google Maps

Magnus Carlsen is an obvious, first confirmed participant, and nine more world class GMs will be invited. In fact, Carlsen himself will play a role in the invitation process. We spoke to his manager Espen Agdestein, who explained:

Yes, he will be involved in picking the players. He will be there to advice, to help the organizers. You can say he will be some kind of ambassador, assisiting to promote the tournament.

Carlsen himself told Norwegian newspaper VG:

I am fortunate to have some power in the selection. I find it most inspiring to invite as many as possible of the best in the world. I know the players themselves, and hope to persuade them to come. Those I've talked to so far are very positive. Remember, most major tournaments are in the fall.

The initiator is Kjell Madland, managing director of Jadarhus and former general manager of football club Bryne. His interest in chess is easy to explain: Madland's son is a talented chess player.

Jadarhus is a real-estate company in Stavanger, and it will be one of the main sponsors. The other is HTH, a kitchen equipment company. Three municipalities in the Stavanger region have also shown interest in the event. There is even a website already, which will soon be available in English as well: NorwayChess.com.

A budget of 5 million Norwegian kroner (about €650,000 or US $870,000) is available. This comes from the two main sponsors, and part is funded by the Stavanger, Sandnes and Rogaland municipalities.

About half of the budget will be available for the players (prizes, starting fees, accomodation, transport), and half for organization costs. Joran Aulin-Jansson, President of the Norwegian Chess Federation, pointed out to us that the tournament will in fact be part of a bigger festival:

We intend to organize an open tournament alongside the main event. Furthermore, there will be a school tournament with hundreds of children.

Hundreds of amateurs will be able to play chess themselves, while watching ten elite players in Stavanger. It is the intention of the people involved to organize the festival every year. Aulin-Jansson:

If the first edition is successful and all parties are satisfied, organizers, sponsors, players... then we will continue. But at the moment the Norwegians are obviously very positive towards this initiative. We will try our outmost to make this a great tournament for everyone involved. It will be a great benefit for chess.

The tournament is supposed to take place in June, 2013. In recent years, Magnus Carlsen played in another big event in this month: the Kings' Tournament in Bazna, Romania. Aulin-Jansson:

We will certainly do our best to avoid clashes in the calendar. It is not our intention to ruin other tournaments!

At the press conference, Magnus Carlsen was wearing a suit jacket with his sponsor brands on it: Simonsen (one of Norway's leading corporate law firms) and Arctic Securities (an employee owned investment bank). His deal with G-Star ended on December 31st, 2011 but these two Norwegian sponsors prolonged for another two years. Espen Agdestein:

They are even incorporating more 'Magnus' in their company brand. They want to profit even more of the partnership by integrating his profile into their brand. Therefore, we recently had another photo shoot. Simonsen already made things like vouchers, with his photos.

Here's a behind the scenes video of the new photo shoot.

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