Daniel Semcesen is the new Swedish Champion

by Ari Ziegler
7/22/2014 – He was just the eighth seed in this interesting and exciting championships, held in the small industrial town of Borlänge in the middle of Sweden. But GM Daniel Semcesen emerged sole winner with 6.0/9 points, adding 18 to his 2471 FIDE rating. We have a big illustrated report by IM Ari Ziegler, with anecdotes, ponderings and lots of annotated games.

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The Swedish Championship 2014 – a wonderful chess event

By IM Ari Ziegler

734 participants were playing in all kind of classes: veterans, juniors, weekend tournaments, blitz and more in Borlänge, a small "down-to-earth" town with 50000 inhabitants in the middle of Sweden hardly known for anything! (Well, my 18 year old daughter enlightened me that there is a music festival held there some years ago before they went bankrupt.)

Originally Borlänge was the name of a tiny village, and the first historical information about it is from 1390. In 1875 a railway station built in Borlänge became highly important in servicing the ironworks, and in 1898, the village became a town of its own (Swedish: köping) with about 1,300 inhabitants. During all of the 20th century Borlänge has been a typical heavy industry community with relatively good economic growth; today the service industry is also thriving and in considerable expansion.

It's held at the congress center "Galaxen" (for the third time in history!). Galaxen is perfectly suited for this event. It is hard to find anything to complain about. Nice playing area and plenty of space for analyzing and blitzing. After a turbulent prestart and a nervous beginning, the Swedish Championship displayed magnificent chess chering all Swedish chess fans.

A turbulent prestart
Two weeks before the start of the tournament GM Slavko Cicak told the organiser that he can not play due to Illness. He was quickly replaced by GM Pontus Carlson, then just a few days before the start the reigning champion GM Hans Tikkanen also took ill! Last years surprise IM Wiedenkeller jumped in.

A nervous start
The first two rounds showed some up and downs but in the third round the players showed their real capacity. Lot of fascinating chess, and the most thrilling games of them all was GM Semcesen-GM Hector which ended up in one mind boggling position after the other which no human can handle.

Is it wise to lure young people into a chess career?
On Thursday some hours before round six the organiser invited all players to fight for the title of Swedish Blitz Champion. Sometimes players from the A-group would participate. This year it was GM Daniel Semcesen. GM Pontus Carlsson opinied that it was clearly unprofessional. When media asked Daniel why he played in the event in spite of the fact that he was leading the Swedish Championship, he calmly explained that he needed money for food. In one of the previous days he only had breakfast. This was partly misunderstood in the Swedish Chess Federation's home page: Daniel said that it was meant to be understood as a joke. But this highlights a question: is it a good life to be a GM? All countries want to have chess stars, but perhaps we should shift our focus?

Every chess game should be an event
In this tournament we have witnessed the toughest Swedish Championship in history. All games were extremely hard fought. In round five I can easily say that all games had so many tense moments, full of difficult decisions, that I would lose all games with either colour! The game GM Blomqvist vs GM Hillarp was topic, sharp and entertaining. The only flaw was the surprising ending. Hillarp: lost on time in an equal position.

Final standings

A new champion

Daniel Semcesen is the new champion. Who is this guy? He learnt the rules by the age of six, started in a club by the age of eight, became IM four years ago and GM in March 2014 (a pretty normal development for gifted players in the precomputer era). He is calm and thoughtful. He has a practical approach and he handles the clock well. GM Pontus Carlsson (3rd this year) said that he plays like Greece in football: some long balls and hopefully a corner and a goal. Daniel himself says that he wants to keep the position alive – sometimes it is hard to understand when you cross the border. He was the only player not to blunder any pieces. His best game was played against Emanuel Berg in round eight. He could have won and was not happy with the draw. In the final round he steered the game out of theory in move three, got an objectively worse position, but was not in any real danger and got his draw. We salute Daniel and wish him a prosperous future!

Second: GM Erik Blomqvist, 2496, with 5.5/9 points

Third: Pontus Carlsson, 2485, with 5.0/9 [photo The Chess Drum]

Pontus was born in Cali, Colombia, in 1982. When he was one year old his family died, and he was adopted by a Swedish couple. His stepfather, Ingvar Carlsson (former president of Swedish chess federation), taught him chess to him when he was four. He played in the chess league of Spain where he studied Spanish. Now he is fluent in that language as well as Swedish (naturally), English, German and French. Carlsson also plans to learn Russian, since there is good chess literature that is only published in that language. He is a dual citizen of Sweden and Colombia, and is a hip-hop fan.

Fourth: GM Emanuel Berg, 2557, with 5.0/9

Fifth: GM Pia Cramling, 2491, with 4.5/9 points

Since the early 1980s Pia Cramling has been one of the strongest female players in the world. In 1992, she was awarded the title of grandmaster and won the women's European Individual Chess Championship in 2003 and 2010. She regularly plays on the Swedish open team in the Chess Olympiads. Pia is married to the Spanish grandmaster Juan Manuel Bellón López, and lived in Spain for a number of years.

Sixth: GM Jonny Hector, 2483, with 4.5/9 points

Seventh: GM Tiger Hillarp Persson, 2564, with 4.5/9 points

Ninth: top seed GM Nils Grandelius, 2588, with 4.0/9 points

Ninth: IM Michael Wiedenkeller, 2479, with 3.5/9 points [photo Wiki]

Michael Wiedenkeller is a Swedish-Luxembourgian International Master who in 1990 won the Swedish Chess Championship and in 2008 became Luxembourgian rapid chess champion. His best single performance was at Eksjö 1983, where he scored 4.5 of 5 possible points (90%) against 2488-rated opposition, for a performance rating of 2626.

Last: FM Tommy Andersson, 2336, with 2.5/9 but gaining one rating point

Replay all games

Select games from the dropdown menu above the board. A number have commentary by Ari Ziegler.

About the author

Born in 1966, Ari Ziegler is a Swedish International Master. In his homeland Ziegler has an excellent reputation as a theoretician. In 2004, together with Jacob Aagaard and John Shaw, he founded the publishing house Quality Chess, which rapidly earned an excellent reputation on the chess scene. In 2007 Ziegler left the firm in order to become president of the Swedish Chess Federation. He has recorded a number of Fritztrainer DVDs for ChessBase, like the French Defence. Since 2010 he is giving chess lectures and selling chess books.

Ari Ziegler's Fritztrainer DVDs


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Ari Ziegler is an International Master and former President of the Swedish Chess Federation.


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