Shirov, Nielsen win Drammen

1/5/2005 – Alexei Shirov outplayed Bartlomiej Macieja in a Classical Sicilian to clinch first place on tiebreak in the Smartfish Chess Masters in Drammen, Norway. Peter Heine Nielsen, who had been leading most of the way, conceded a quick draw to share points and prize with Shirov. Here's an extraordinary illustrated report.

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Drammen International
Chess Festival

27.12.2004 – 05.01.2005

Official web site

The final round of the Smartfish Chess Masters in Drammen saw Alexei Shirov outplay Bartlomiej Macieja in a B45 Sicilian Four Knights, starting with a novelty on move 11. Shirov really took over after move 24 and Macieja was ground down with ruthless efficiency.


Nielsen cunningly playing two moves simultaneously against Johannessen

Peter Heine Nielsen, the very talented Danish GM who had led the tournament all the way, played a novelty with black on move nine of a Slav. The game ended after 16 moves in a draw, which allowed Peter to share first with Shirov on points, but lose out on the tiebreak.


Tall, dark and not Hansen: top Danish GM Nielsen kibitzes after finishing his game


As usual all eyes were on the youngest player in the tournament.


With ex world champion Alexander Khalifman pushing, 14-year-old Magnus held the draw.


Taking a stroll during the game

Lie tried very hard to win his final game with black against McShane but after 45 moves the young Norwegian had to concede a draw. We are told that Lie has made his final GM norm, though that would not be what our cross table suggests.

[After publishing this story we received confirmation from the Chief Arbiter Hans Olav Lahlum that Lie had indeed made a full norm. Hans Olav writes: "As the chief arbiter, I can definitely confirm that Kjetil A Lie made his third GM-norm in the Smartfish tournament! He has made 4,5/9 against nine GMs representing eight federations and having an Elo-average of 2614, obviously giving him an Elo performance of 2614. This is a 100% GM norm, even according to the FIDE webpage. The old category system you probably might refer to is not at all accepted any more. I am aware that there has earlier on been much confusion about title norm rules due to lack of updated information from FIDE." – The error appears to have arisen from including Kjetil Lie himself in the average of the opponents. So Kjetil did indeed fulfil a third norm. But he still lacks two Elo points to reach 2500 and become Norway's eighth GM ever.]

The day before


The games are transmitted on plasma screens – for the audience and for the players


A bird's eye view of the Gentleman GM vs The Kid


Why are they ALWAYS pointing cameras as me?


I remember when I was his age – we play sitting down!

And here's the tragedy of round eight


Kjetil Lie dreaming of a win and the GM title at the start of his game against Korchnoi

Lie,K (2474) - Korchnoi,V (2601) [A14]
Smartfish Masters Drammen NOR (8), 04.01.2005
1.c4 Nf6 2.g3 e6 3.Bg2 d5 4.Nf3 Be7 5.0-0 0-0 6.Qc2 d4 7.d3 Nc6 8.a3 a5 9.e3 e5 10.exd4 exd4 11.Bg5 Bg4 12.Re1 Qd7 13.Nbd2 Rfe8 14.Re2 Bf8 15.Rxe8 Nxe8 16.Bf4 h6 17.h4 f6 18.Ne4 a4 19.Re1 Na5 20.c5 Kh8 21.Bd2 Bxf3 22.Bxf3 f5 23.Ng5 hxg5 24.Bxa5 Rxa5 25.c6

Korchnoi is doing fine with Black, and probably looking for a win. The obvious continuation is 25...bxc6 26.Bxc6 Qd6, but he makes a "fingerfehler" – he plays the second move of the variation first! 25...Qd6?? and Viktor the Terrible resigned because after 26.cxb7 Qd8 27.Qd2 bad things happen to Black. 1-0.


Kjetil celebrating his victory and GM title in the VIP room.

Previous reports by ChessBase

The photographer

During the past week we have received numerous letters praising our "superb coverage" and "spectacular pictures" of the SmartFish event. Well, it is not us but people in the background who make it possible. Like the amateur photographer who faithfully provided us, every evening, with the material we used to make our reports.

Rune Elven is 31 years old and has been playing chess at a club level since he was twelve. He says his lack of progress is a combination of moderate talent and too little studying. "I have no ambitions as a player but winning. Of course I want to learn more and be a stronger player, but so far I haven’t had the time."

Professionally Rune is a teacher. Photography is just another hobby. "I’m more or less stunned by the response to my pictures. With a little less than two years of experience I don’t consider myself good at this. Like chess, I think you can get to a certain level with a professional approach, lots and lots of training, studying and the will to work hard. I have ambitions and I’m determined to do what it takes to make good pictures. By time around this will have do."

But what, we wanted to know, did he do right, to get such interesting shots in the tournament? "Chess photography is a little explored area," says Rune. "The good photos I have seen were generally made by professional photographers, and they are to be found in books, magazines and on the high-class Internet sites. However, most chess pictures on the web are taken the same way you would capture your children – point and press. My idea was not to use a flashlight. The natural light is far more exciting. Another important point is that an image of a top-level battle in chess should be more than two people thinking, with some pieces between them. You should capture the tension of the moment. In Drammen the players signed a contract saying anyone can take pictures during the first ten minutes of a game. That gave me ten minutes a day, in which I made between 100 and 200 pictures. Usually I could use between five and ten of these. Unfortunately not all top level chess players like cameras."

What was his role at the Drammen International Chess festival? "It was to distribute information. This means everything from making the signs in the tournament hall to communicating with the press and the chess community. Now I see a lot of things I could have done better – which I will do better the next time around. Right after the festival finish I will start working on the website and plan for the next tournament. This was a huge event in little Norway, and it was basically run by amateurs like me. We have to be humble and try to learn whatever we can if this is to be a regular event. We would certainly want it to be that. It has been a great challenge and a project of great personal value. I am truly grateful for the attention we received from ChessBase, one of the world's leading chess sites."

And we, Rune, are grateful for the pictures and the superb coverage you made possible.


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