Carlsen leads the Midnight Sun Challenge

6/28/2006 – A fifteen-year-old super-grandmaster, blessed with an Elo of 2646, is leading the Midnight Sun Chess Challenge in Tromsø. Magnus Carlsen of Norway looks set to break a few new records with the form that he is showing these days. The event is being held well within the Arctic Circle, where at this time of year the nights are bright as day. Misha Savinov reports.

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GMs battles in the white nights of Tromsø

By Misha Savinov

The four main favorites of the Midnight Sun together dropped only half a point in the first three rounds – Rozentalis conceded a draw against Norwegian IM Gullaksen. The big battles started in the Round four, which featured two grandmaster pairings: Krasenkow-Shipov and Johanessen-Carlsen.


Joganessen-Carlsen, in which the young Norwegian star showed no mercy

Magnus Carlsen dealt with the challenge of his countrymen almost effortlessly. It looked like he hit Leif Erlend by surprise with his Volga Gambit. Black’s time advantage began to grow from the very first moves, and at some point Johanessen had six minutes left against Carlsen’s 1 hour and 10 minutes, with the position being typically complex and unclear. Time pressure combined with positional pressure and a feeling of playing against the favorite (presumably) was too much to bear for White...


About to begin: Krasenko vs Shipov in round four

Another big game, Krasenkow-Shipov, was much more hard-fought. An original position that arose from the Queen’s Gambit Accepted demanded immediate action from both sides. Krasenkow castled long, planning to utilize the x-raying powers of his d1-rook against Black’s d6-bishop and d8-queen. Shipov started an immediate pawn advance on the queenside, trying to prove that the White king's vulnerability is a more important factor. The game quickly became very sharp, and Krasenkow consumed all his time in search of a clear advantage, which, as the subsequent analysis proved, wasn’t there.


High tension in Krasenkow-Shipov, with 8 seconds left on the clock for Michal

As it often happens in such cases, the Pole missed a chance to transpose into a marginally better endgame (objectively drawn) and ended up in a very dangerous position. Despite the queens leaving the board, both kings were under mating threats, but the dangers for the White’s monarch were greater. However, Shipov, affected by Krasenkow’s intense time pressure (who had about 10 seconds for 10 moves, no increment), overlooked his best winning chance. Black transposed into an endgame with rook, bishop and three pawns against White’s two rooks and a pawn, which was impossible to win. A thrilling game that really excited the public.


Lithuanian GM Eduardas Rozentalis

While other GMs were fighting hard with each other, Rozentalis had a relatively easy walk against Thomas Nyland (2172). The Lithuanian got a better endgame and skillfully exploited all advantages of his position – a typical GM win against an amateur.


Jon Ludwig Hammer (born in 1990, no title) about to defeat IM Eirik Gullaksen

The Round five is underway at the moment. There are two key games, Carlsen-Krasenkow and Shipov-Rozentalis. In the top game Carlsen and Krasenkow are fighting at the cutting edge of theory (the Open Spanish), making two dozen of moves in about half an hour.


Magnus Carlsen, 2646, playing Michal Krasenkow, 2650, in round six

Shipov has already drawn with Rozentalis. This was by no means fixed result. Have a look at the game: Rozentalis’ creative bishop retreat brought a very original flavor to the game, which in other aspects developed in a rather typical Carlsbad way. Black managed to solve his main opening problem, i.e, developing his light-squared bishop, and the position quickly became very even. A nice example of a completely different (to Carlsen-Krasenkow) approach to the opening stage by Rozentalis!


Round five under way, with the top five boards in their own corner

The Tromsø the weather does not give the participants much of a chance to see the midnight sun yet. It is cloudy with occasional rain. However, we hope the weather condition improves by the end of the event, to permit organizing promised hiking and a fishing trips.


The church in the well-lit town, half an hour before midnight

The evenings are divided between watching the World Cup matches (viva Ukraine!) and playing blitz in the Thon Hotel. Of all titled players, only Sergey Shipov regularly attends these blitz gatherings. So far he won all three tournaments, dropping just half a point in process. Unfortunately, not to me.

Top standings after five rounds

Pl Name Elo Club/Nation
Results
Pts
Magnus Carlsen 2646 Ntg  +41 +16 +11 +05 =02 4,5
Michal Krasenkow 2650 Poland  +42 +18 +06 =03 =01 4,0
Sergei Shipov 2576 Russia  +45 +14 +15 =02 =04 4,0
Eduardas Rozentalis 2596 Lithuania  +39 +24 =12 +09 =03 4,0
Leif E. Johannessen 2559 Oss  +35 +17 +22 -01 +10 4,0
Kjetil A. Lie 2493 Porsgrunn  +54 +07 -02 +40 +16 4,0
Tobias Pettersson 2071 Sweden  +51 -06 +35 +20 +19 4,0
Ralf Akesson 2472 Sweden  =43 +48 =09 +17 +18 4,0
Thomas Nyland 2172 Fana  +44 +21 =08 -04 +27 3,5
10  Jon Ludvig Hammer 2287 Oss  =48 +30 +27 +12 -05 3,5
10  Joanna Dworakowska 2364 Poland  +32 +34 -01 +26 =14 3,5
10  Eirik Gullaksen 2380 Bergens  +37 +40 =04 -10 +15 3,5
13  Gunnar Johnsen 2215 Tromsø  +36 =27 =19 =34 +26 3,5
13  Torben Soraas 2115 Narvik  +52 -03 +39 +36 =11 3,5

Picture gallery


Tromsø is an island – the mountains across a fjord belong to the European mainland


A view of the surroundings taken from the Tromsø Botanical Garden


Nordic flora on display


A Troll’s dwelling in Tromsø University campus


The northern-most university in the world


The playing hall, with round four under way


A one-move drama: instead of playing Nxc2+! followed by Ng8...


... Black went for Nxd5, overlooking the mate in one!

Pål Røyset - Anders S. Nordli [C42]
Midnight Sun Chess Challenge Tromsø (4), 27.06.2006
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nc3 Bc5 4.Nxe5 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Bc4 Bg4 7.d3 Nc6 8.Bg5 h6 9.Bh4 g5 10.Bg3 Nd4 11.h4 Re8 12.hxg5 hxg5 13.Qd2 Bxf3 14.Qxg5+ Kf8 15.Nd5 Nxd5 16.Rh8# 1-0.


Downtown Tromsø


GM Eduardas Rozentalis admiring the architecture


The Arctic Circle, where the light stays bright at midnight


The seaside front of Tromsø


A denizen of the seas, unperturbed by the white nights

All pictures by Misha Savinov, from Tromsø

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