Axel Smith leads Sigeman Chess Tournament

by ChessBase
5/18/2014 – He is the rookie, the only IM in a field of three international players and three rising stars. But after three rounds 27-year-old Axel Smith leads (together with Laurent Fressinet) at 2.5/3. The 22nd Sigeman Tournament is taking place in the Hipp Theater in central Malmo, Sweden. You can watch the two final rounds on live video feed and on Playchess. With entertaining commentary.

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The 22nd annual Sigeman Chess Tournament is taking place in the classical Hipp Theater in central Malmo, where visitors can follow the games together with the popular and entertaining commentator Stellan Brynell. The time control is: 100 minutes for 40 moves, followed by 50 minutes for 20 moves, then 15 minutes for the remaining moves with 30 seconds cumulative increment for each move starting from the first move.

This year's event is a round robin with six participants, who are an interesting mix of established players and rising stars, and of familiar faces and new ones. The visiting team consists of former world championship candidate Jan Timman, French grandmaster Laurient Fressinet and Norwegian grandmaster Jon Ludvig Hammer. The home team consists of Nils Grandelius, who has become Sweden's strongest and most active chess player, new grandmaster Erik Blomqvist and international master Axel Smith.

Fressinet and Hammer are, of course, the two Elo favorites, with Timman and Grandelius as outsiders. Behind these, Erik Blomqvist makes his first start in a really strong round-robin tournament and it will be interesting to see how he handles this. At the same time, Axel Smith will come well prepared and looking for a fight, so there are many different elements that contribute to the drama.

The participants

GM Laurent Fressinet, 2709

32-year-old GM, number three on the French rating list, has been a regular on the French national team for the last ten years. His best result is perhaps second place in the individual European championship in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, in 2012. In this year's European championship he finished in tenth place. He also won the French championship in 2010 and has had a number of good results playing rapid and lightning chess tournaments. He has finished in second place twice in the European lightning chess championships and won the French rapid chess championship in both 2009 and 2011.

Fressinet is the tournament's highest rated player and has to be considered the favorite in the race for first place.

GM Jon Ludvig Hammer, 2647

23-year-old Norwegian is one of the the Nordic countries' top three chess players. Despite this, he still has not received full media attention. The main reason for this is of course his fellow countryman and former participant in the Sigeman Chess Tournament, Magnus Carlsen.

Hammer has recently scored impressive wins in the London Chess Classic Open in December 2013 and in the Rilton Cup in Stockholm this year, both times with 7.5/9 points. In this year's individual European championship he was fighting for first place for a long time, but a loss to Fressinet in the second-last round put an end to his hopes. He is a very tough player, something he confirmed in a tournament in Gjøvik a couple of years ago, where he avoided perpetual check and instead won the tournament single-handedly, despite needing a draw to become a grandmaster. He makes his second start in the Sigeman Chess Tournament.

GM Jan Timman, 2626

He is one of the few chess players in the world who really does not need an introduction. In addition to a fantastic career as a player, he has worked as a chess writer and editor for many years, and he has also written a number of chess books.

Jan Timman has twice reached the final stage of the World Championship qualification tournament, but both times he was denied a World Championship match, losing to Anatoli Karpov in 1990, and to Nigel Short in 1993. He finally got his chance to play Karpov for the FIDE World Championship, starting in Dutch Zwolle and finishing in far-off Djakarta. Unfortunately, Timman once again lost.

In this year's Wijk an Zee tournament in Holland Timman scored 8.5/13 points in the challenger group, finishing second. He also participated in last year's Politiken Cup in Denmark, where he finished second with 8.0/11. Timman makes his eleventh start in the Sigeman Chess Tournament and is, of course, one of the favorites.

GM Nils Grandelius, 2497

The Swedish GM makes his sixth start in the Sigeman Chess Tournament. He became an international master in 2008, and in 2010 he became Sweden's 17th grandmaster. In 2011 he became European champion for players up to 18 years old, and 2012 he finished third in the world championship for players up to 20 years old. The latter result is one of the best result a Swedish junior player has ever achieved.

Last year, Nils shared first place in the Swedish Championship but lost the tie-break in a decisive lightning chess game. He then followed up by winning a tournament in Bulgaria, scoring 7.5/10 points. He also played Board 1 for Sweden in the latest European team championships, where he scored an excellent 5.5 points in 9 rounds. Grandelius shared first place with Nigel Short and Richard Rapport in last year's Sigeman tournament and is, of course, once again one of the favorites.

GM Erik Blomqvist, 2497

The 23-year-old is Sweden's most recent grandmaster, having secured his title by winning a tournament in Budapest in summer 2013. After a good result in that year's Swedish championship and a strong tournament in Pardubice in the Czech Republic, he and Nils Grandelius went to Chotowa in Poland and the World Junior Championship. After ten rounds, he was right behind the top players and had already secured his first grandmaster norm. He finished in a very impressive 16th place with 8.0/13 points against very tough opponents. He followed up by securing his second grandmaster norm in Politiken Cup 2011 and then came close to securing the title on a number of occasions, among those in the Rilton Cup in Stockholm 2013, before finally succeeding in Budapest.

Blomqvist makes his first start in the Sigeman Chess Tournament and it is also the first time he faces a field of this caliber. He will probably not win the tournament, but it will be interesting to see how he does against very strong opposition!

IM Axel Smith, 2473

The 27-year-old International Master Axel Smith is yet another of many strong chess players from Lund. However, Axel was not a chess prodigy. Instead, his breakthrough came in 2006, when he decided to really focus on improving his chess. That year he won the Swedish junior championship, which motivated him to follow an even more ambitious training program. His best result so far is third place in the Swedish Championship in 2011. Last year he also became Nordic champion in Köge in Demark, where he also secured his first grandmaster norm.

In addition to a busy life touring Europe playing chess, Smith has also found the time to be the chairman of his club Lunds ASK, head the organizing committee at the Swedish Championships in Lund 2010, work as a chess coach in a number of places, and be a frequent writer and blogger in the chess community. He has also recently written a book about how to train chess on your own, called "Pump Up Your Rating" (available on stained tree slices or digital). Axel makes his second start in the Sigeman Chess Tournament.

Standings after three rounds of play

You can watch the games on live video feeds from the tournament hall and the commentary area. Round four starts on Sunday at 14:00h CEST; the final round five is scheduled for Monday at noon.

Special guest: Ulf Andersson

Ulf Andersson was born on 27 June 1951 in Västerås, Sweden, became an IM in 1970 and a grandmaster in 1972. The picture on the left [courtesy Wikipedia] was taken in 1971.

At his peak Ulf was ranked number four in the world. Tournaments he has won or shared first include the 1969 Swedish Chess Championship, Göteborg 1971, Dortmund 1973, Camagüez 1974, Cienfuegos 1975, Belgrade 1977, Buenos Aires 1978, Hastings 1978–79, Phillips & Drew 1980, Johannesburg 1981, Phillips & Drew 1982, Turin 1982, Wijk aan Zee 1983, Reggio Emilia 1985, Rome 1985, and Rome 1986. Ulf drew a six-game match against former world champion Mikhail Tal in 1983, and played top board in the second USSR versus The Rest of The World Match in 1984. He led the Swedish Chess Olympiad Team during the 1970s and 1980s, and reached his best personal result in the 23rd Chess Olympiad in Buenos Aires 1978, where he finished in third place.

Ulf Andersson is a very solid positional player. He draws a high percentage of his games against fellow grandmasters. He is renowned as a great player of endgames, especially rook endgames, and is famous for winning seemingly "unwinnable" position, often in very long games.


The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

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