Arctic Chess Challenge - Day nine in pictures and text
This is how we want you to remember Tromsø. Blue Ocean surrounded by high maintains. That we also got a blue, blue sky the first 6 days of the tournament was a lucky coincident. Or maybe it was Caissa that wanted to bless the tournament with her share to a perfect tournament? Anyway. It was cloudy the last day of Arctic Chess Challenge with temperatures between 16-18 degree's - and it was all set for fighting chess. Photo: ACC 2009.
It's round 9 action - The last game to end was IM Ray Robson (2610) defending as black versus GM Emanuel Berg (2610) from Sweden and it was quite crowded. Berg really wanted a win to win Arctic Chess Challenge 2009 and he fought hard for 74 moves to do so - did he make it?
Would IM Ray Robson (2491) score a GM-norm by drawing? Would he even such a strong open as 14-years old? It was a 4-way tie for first before the last round. Would the only female GM of the tournament - GM Monika Socko (2449) - put all the men to the test and win one of the strongest Open's ever won by a female player (I believe)? I guess you haven't heard of Marijan Petrov (2479) from Bulgaria before the tournament - could he shock everybody and take it home without even scoring a GM-norm? He has been playing extremely well all the tournament and kept on fighting for one of the Top Spots at the top boards. When several other IMs did the same he met them instead, thats the irony, and he ended up with only two GMs and even with a win today he wouldn't score the norm. And what about the other players not mentioned so far- did they score GM-norms, IM-norms and did some other good stuff happen?
Yeah, it did! The last day of Arctic Chess Challenge gave us all the excitement we could have dreamt of and the final standing is as taken out of a fairytale book. Read on and don't miss a thing!
The winner was...
Socko! Bartosz you mean - the top seed? No, I mean this lady - his wife Monika! She outshine a field of 13 Grandmasters, 13 IMs, 1 WGM among 120 players making her husband so proud that he was one big smile all week long, even though he did perform quite poor himself. Monika made the tournament of her life with 7/9 and a TPR of 2639. The victory is of course much more impressing than the TPR - and in fact she met a few IMs with ratings below 2500 that performed far above their expected level. I think the best thing that could happen was exactly getting a female winner!! But what was the odds for that?? Monika won Arctic Chess Challenge in a 4-way tiebreak with IM Ray Robson, IM Petrov and GM Berg. She did offer a tactical draw on move 10 as white versus IM Petrov knowing she had a great tiebreak before the last round. With that she gave herself one of the Top Spots for certain. Since a draw probably was the most likely result in the game Berg - Robson anyway it also gave her decent chances for first place even though both Berg and Robson would surpass her with a win. The strategy worked and Monika sent chock waves threw her male Grandmaster colleges!
14 years old Wonder Boy Ray Robson with his prize money together with the Acting Mayor of Tromsø.
We even got two GM-norms! so Ray did make it - and in style! The US Wonder Boy Robson defended well against Berg today and he took a well deserved GM-norm in a situation where he needed just a draw, but played the only Super GM in the top with black! By sober endgame play and fine clock management he did succeed and we are sooo happy to announce that IM Ray Robson made his first GM-norm in the Arctic. It will stand in the books forever that he did break this barrier under the Midnight Sun in the city of Tromsø and his dad told me he really felt that was a nice place to do it. He also got his points in style by playing crushing tactical chess where he creamed his opponents in the first two round. After an intermezzo with a draw he then outsmart a 16 years Norwegian talent finding an exchange sac and then blowing his opponent out of water. Then he outmaneuver GM Malakhatko in the next round when he started King side action and ended up with a won ending. with a stunning King march from f8 to e1 with a resulting mate attack! They only call him the new Fischer in Norwegian media now. I have never used that phrase before, and I will never use it again. My respect for Bobby is just so great that it seems a bit out of proportions I think. Anyway it's some clear parallels- Tactical talent, fighting spirit, work ethics and good nerves to mention something. But Ray don't need the pressure even though he no doubt are a huge prodigy - or he is huuuge, as Paris Hilton would phrase it. A rare diamond that still needs to be polished the right way to shine as a World Star. No doubt Ray has the potential to reach 2700+, and even top 10 if he does the right stuff and keeps interest. From there you take it step by step and almost everything can happen. Kramnik said in a recent interview that in today's top-chess more than 20 players had what it takes to become World Champion if things go their way. If Kramnik thinks this, who am I to question it? So go Ray - you can dream of it and use it as motivation and see how far it takes you! BTW - in a recent interview I did with Magnus I asked him which players he feared the most from today's chess stars. Aronian, Radjabov and Karjakin was mentioned so basically I meant if he saw any one else as a threat. His answer was that if he should threat anyone, it would rather be players 2-3 years younger than himself or more... Even though it's hard to see a talent like Magnus have in Ray - Magnus was already an utterly strong GM at age 14 and from there he just excelled and reach new heights faster than anyone else in the history of chess. I'm just writing these lines to get a little bit ice in the blood of all those using Fischer as a standard. He was quite unique. But from what I have seen Ray does have what it takes to reach the highest level - the Super Elite. He has a supporting family, good nerves and great concentration. I am also impressed by his opening preparation - his tactic's I knew was brilliant but he showed us so much more here this week! We also have to thank Susan Polgar for the brilliant idea of getting Ray over the Atlantic to the Arctic! It was a win-win situation where Ray got a great possibility to get a GM-norm on form - and it was a great opportunity for Arctic Chess Challenge to get extra press publicity! It all worked out in the best possible fashion and I know that both we and Ray's family are thankful!
Luca Shytaj and Acting Mayor Sara Holthe Jaklin of Tromsø at the closing ceremony.
IM Luca Shytaj (2455) from Italy also got the half point he needed to make a GM-norm. He faced Top Seed Bartosz Socko that really wanted to win to at least get some price money himself too. That meant that both Ray and Luca had to fight for their norms - nothing was given them by a short draw without a fight. That's how GM-norms should be taken and it must be extremely satisfying to think back at! The 23 years old Italian showed his muscles from an early stage of the tournament and he was dead serious dropping lot's of the social stuff to get more time for preparation. It paid of and with 6.5/9 and a TPR of 2613 he impressed us all. Especially his hard fought win over GM Yuri Drozdovskij (2620) and his outstripping of GM Vadim Malakhatko was shocking stuff - gotta look it up! Great run for IM Shytaj and the trip from Italy was well worth the money!
17 years old Nicolai Getz from Oslo got an IM-norm with style!
3rd grader at Agdestein's college NTG, where they are thought chess while taking a normal education, Nicolai Getz secured his first IM-norm with a draw against GM Khenkin already in the penultimate round. In the 9th round he drew another strong Grandmaster, GM Malakhatko, with white and he got his norm with style scoring half a point more than needed. Getz has been promising for many years now but he wasn't the first one you would expect to take an IM-norm among many talented young Norwegians. But Arctic Chess Challenge was a fairytale story with several twists and Getz really, really deserved his norm by strong play!
FM Arkadiusz Leinart (2390) also took an IM-norm before the last round it turned out. He was surpassed by the strong German GM Igor Khenkin in the 9th round but as I just wrote he got the norm anyway. The funny thing is that this guy had 6 norms already so he really didn't need it. He also did something that looks like a GM-norm result a month ago, and he has passed the 2400 barrier and he will soon get the title. The teenage IM-elect from Poland has taken an IM-norm at Gausdal before so I guess his vibes for Norway are good.
The third player with an IM-norm was FM Kjetil Stokke (2347) from Bergen, Norway. He needed a draw, and secured it with a draw offer out of the opening in his game with Peter Poobalasingam (2224). Stokke got 5.5 with a TPR of 2452 and ended at 25th place - two places ahead of FM Leinart from Poland. 26 years old Stokke is known to be a great capacity for coaching and being a second for young Norwegian chess players and in Tromsø he made his 2nd IM-norm.
WFM Katrine Tjølsen (2160) took care of the prize money for the students from NTG. Here with Acting Mayor of Tromsø at the closing ceremony.
This young lady got a dilemma today. It is 16 years old Katrine Tjølsen from Bergen and she will start her new life as a student at NTG in Oslo this August with GM Simen Agdestein as coach and teacher. He had ordered tickets for all his pupils at 17 O'clock today. Since the last round was scheduled to start at 12 - and it could last for 6 hours in worst case scenario - this wasn't too smart. Well, Simen was for some reason thinking he ordered them at 19 O'clock - and when he found out it was 17 - it was to late to change them without a financial loss. He then tried to get the last round to start early - and since several of our Grandmaster guests also had quite early flights - the 9th round was set to start 11 O'clock. Katrine needed a draw as black against Grandmaster Matthew Turner in a game that turned out to be a marathon and her flight was in Jeopardy! It was an easy choise to play on and try for a norm instead of reaching her flight of course. 16 years old Tjølsen had played some great chess for a long period of time in this game as black in an English opening versus English Grandmaster Turner. She got a nice positional edge and kept it for many moves. She was furious after the game that she played it away. But she did, and she got into an ending where things went downhill. Perhaps she still was thinking about the flight, and it might have had an impact on her play. In a rook and pawn ending Turner was pressing, and he even got a clear edge. Actually it looked like he missed quite some opportunities and especially 54.Ra7+ Ke8 55.Ra5 looks nasty for Katrine. After 55...Rg4+ 56.Ke5 Rg3 57.Kf6! Rxd3 58.Rxc5 it is a table base win and what else to do? This is a fairytale story so this did not in fact happen. GM Turner played 54.Rh6 instead, and even though he still had more opportunities Katrine held a hard fought, and well deserved draw, in 64 moves.
By now you understand that clock was close to 17 when she ended her game, and in fact she missed the flight. I tried to help her out by doing a Phantom drive to the airport where Katrine broke threw the security control in half a minute by leaving her luggage behind and screaming to yours truly that some of her friends could take it with them later in the evening... She reached the gate at 16.53 after spending a maximum of 7 minutes from the playing Venue to the Gate... But the Gate had just closed 3-4 minutes ago and it was no hope to open it again. But we tried Katrine!
Fairy-tales tends to end well and the sinner, GM Agdestein, had already bought her a new ticket at the next flight 4 hours later so when Katrine went to buy her own one they told her. She picked it up and went back to the hotel where she got her well deserved price at the closing ceremon and an applause. I even got a few nice pictures of her, so maybe it was meant to be this way... Katrine did not only get a WIM-norm, she also got a money prize for being 3rd in her rating group. She ended up with 6/9 and a TPR of 2374. Next year I bet she will go for the IM-norm for men - this young lady is quite talented and with proper education she will improve.
The start of Emanuel Berg vs. Ray Robson
Emanuel Berg got quite close to a win - being a pawn up in a rook ending. Emanuel told me he thought he just was one tempo short of victory, and he really tried hard to win for sure. He was pleased with his stay here in Tromsø where he also catched a cod during the fishing trip. Anyway, Robson was never lost in this game and he got a well deserved GM-norm after some amazing chess in Tromsø!
Ray Robson, Gary Robson and Yee-chen at the closing ceremony.
IM Ray Robson came to Tromsø with his family and they participated in most of the social activities and had a great time here! I got the chance to talk with them, and especially with Ray's father Gary, today since the closing ceremony got delayed quite some time actually... The only small detail that I didn't quite like. But we passed the time with both laughter and serious talk and I really enjoyed it. Isn't it good when you can talk about something else than chess after a week as a chess geek? OK, we had to talk alittle about Magnus too, chess is our passion so you can't help it. Ray will leave Tromsø already 06.00 Monday morning, and his journey home takes more than 10 hours. Well home Ray - and grats on your well deserved success!
IM Nikolaj Mikkelsen, GM Allan Stig Rasmussen and GM Emanuel Berg are all Scandinavians
I even managed to get a laugh out of them on this picture, but I really can't tell you the joke since it wouldn't be a joke that way!? IM Mikkelsen got a hard time against young Norwegian players and when he even lost to Pål Røyset from Northern Norway in the last round the tournament became a nightmare for him. GM Allan Stig Rasmussen surprised me by his strong play. I didn't quite like what I saw when I played threw his games from this years Politiken Cup - but in Tromsø he looked like a new player and did get 6.5/9 with a TPR of 2585. That gave Denmarks latest GM an 8th place and 400 Euros. What to say about GM Emanuel Berg? He reads Swedish and promised me to watch the Norwegian part of the Phantom blog to see if he liked it too - the blog was new to him before the tournament and perhabs I get a few new readers from Scandinavia now.
This is Tshepo Sitale from Botswana (left) on stage at the closing ceremony. He and Ray's mother Yee-chen got the idea of giving Mr. Arctic Chess himself - Jan S.Berglund - some chocolate and a handwritten document with kind words and praise for this special tournament. They got the idea at the Barbecue last night I think, and the gift is to all the Arctic Chess Challenge team - but especially to Mr. Berglund who is Chief Organizer and Primus Motor of Arctic Chess Challenge.
Fide Arbiter and Deputy Arbiter Karl Johan Rist to the left got this year help of International Arbiter Panagiotis "Takis" Nikolopoulos who was Chief Arbiter under Arctic Chess Challenge in an excellent way. They made both a great job, and so did Deputy Arbiter Trond Romsdal who was the first person that thought of such an excellent tournament in the city of Tromsø in the first place some 4 years ago. The atmosphere was relaxed and I did not register any arguments of any importance. Panagiotis Nikolopoulos was a Chief Arbiter of both the Kramnik - Leko match in 2004 and the Kramnik - Anand match in 2008 and he added an extra spice to our tournament by just being here. When he also did a great job everybody was pleased!
WGM Natalia Zdebskaja (2412) from Ukraine got the prize money for being best female player. She turns 23 next week and came to Tromsø with her husband GM Drozdovskij (2620). Yuri became 9th and got 400 Euros, 100 less than his wife. You already figured out that Monika Socko couldn't win two prizes...
Everybody should be as WIM Silje Bjerke. No joke needed to make her smile and when she also knows how to play chess she got a well deserved money prize among the women.
In the middle you see GM Jon Ludvig Hammer (2583) - the best Norwegian under Arctic Chess Challenge. Hammer got 6.5/9 with a TPR of 2556 which gave him 400 Euros. This autumn 19 years old Hammer will start to study Social Science at the University of Oslo. He is flanked my FM Stokke that got his IM-norm and WFM Katrine Tjølsen that got a WIM norm. FM Stokke and WFM Tjølsen is a product of the strong chess area of Bergen in South West of Norway. Hammer is actually also born in Bergen - but he moved to Oslo 1 years old.
So what about the players from Northern Norway? Here you see 13 years old Peter Flermoen that we followed so closely and Pål Røyset from Tromsø in the 6th round. Røyset (2239) beat IM Nikolaj Mikkelsen in the last round - and with 6/9 and a TPR of 2364 he was the best North Norwegian. Pål's draw percent was 0% - can you understand why they call him solid? Peter Flermoen rocked the floor the first part of the tournament with a TPR of 2400+ after 4 round. He ended up with 50% score and a TPR of 2229 - that's not bad at all when you have 2027 your self! But Peter is ambitious and wants to become an before he turns 15 so he didn't look too pleased. I think he played some great chess though, and you should take a look at the nice tactics he found in the game versus Mikael Rølvåg in 8th round which he won. You can congratulate Peter at his own blog - and see what he writes about ACC there (Norwegian only).
The winners: From left GM Monika Socko (2449), IM Ray Robson (2491), IM Marijan Petrov (2479) and GM Emanuel Berg (2610). The Super GM Berg was 4th on tie-break as you see from the picture. That means we had 3 players below 2500 taking all the Medals - have that ever happened before in such a strong tournament? Enlighten me please.
Here you see 14 of the best players at Arctic Chess Challenge 2009.
Official standings after 9 rounds, Arctic Chess Challenge 2009:
1.GM Monika Socko, 2.IM Ray Robson, 3.IM Marijan Petrov 4.GM Emanuel Berg all 7/9.
5.GM Julian Radulski, 6.IM Luca Shytaj, 7.GM Jon Ludvig Hammer, 8.GM Allan Stig Rasmussen, 9.GM Yuri Drozdovskij, 10. GM Igor Khenkin 11.GM Vadim Malakhatko, 12.GM Sarunas Sulskis, 13.GM Bartosz Socko, 14.Nicolai Getz, 15.GM Matthew Turner.
That concludes my impressions from the last day of ACC 2009! I will add some more pictures, present some more stories and tell you a little bit of what happened in some of the games at the end of this tournament. I will even take a closer look at some of those players we followed together that I missed out in this last round blog. Everybody can't quite manage to get into the first page - so stay tuned for a second page....
The official homepage of Arctic Chess Challenge with results, table and games.
The entire text and all photos that not are credited others by Sven Wisløff-Nilssen (C) 2009