Frode Urkedal wins Nordic Championship

by Holger Blauhut
7/6/2019 – The Nordic Championship, a tournament in which players from Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Finland crown their champion, is played every two years. This year Norway hosted the event and Frode Urkedal, with a rating of 2566 currently number 4 in Norway, won the event and now has the right to start in the World Cup. Holger Blauhut reports about the tournament and muses about the mentality of the Norwegians. | Photos: Bjørn Berg Johansen

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Master of the North

Depending on the World Championship cycle the Nordic Championship is played every two years. Until 2016 it was played as a round-robin tournament to which the countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden all could send two players each. Nowadays, the Nordic Champion has the right to play in the FIDE World Cup.

The first Nordic Championship was played in 1897, in Stockholm, and won by Sven Otto Svensson. Later, prominent players such as Vidmar, Alekhine, Spielmann, Nimzowitsch, Ståhlberg won the Championship. The last winners from Norway were Simen Agdestein (1985, 1989, 1992) and Jon Ludvig Hammer (2011).

Two years ago the Nordic Championship took place in Växjö/Sweden and for the first time was played as an open, where 73 players started in the main tournament but women and seniors had the chance to play in separate events. Johann Hjartason from Iceland became Nordic Champion.

This year the Nordic Championship was more or less an open Norwegian Championship. Of the 66 players who started in the main tournament a handful were Swedish, one came from  Denmark and two from Iceland. The only player from Finland preferred to play in the seniors' tournament.

The number of participants was lower than expected which might be due to a number of reasons. One is certainly the date of the tournament, June 21st to 27th; traditionally, Scandinavians celebrate midsummer on June 23rd, and in Sweden and Finland in particular, this is an important date.

On his blog "Inte bara schack" Max Wahlund from Sweden mentioned another reason: Norway is expensive. Moreover, the tournament was announced rather late and important information was missing on the tournament homepage until shortly before the start. Neither did you hear or read anything about the congress which took place in parallel to the Championship.

Maybe the Norwegians just don't like communication. Odd Børretzen (a Norwegian) describes this in his book "How to Understand a Norwegian: A Users Manual and Trouble-shooters Guide". He that Norwegians had been lonely, remaining silent for 8,000 years. Børretzen then continues:

Of course, during this time he sometimes felt a certain need to talk. If this need became too strong he went out, looked for a smooth stone and carved a message into it. However, with the tools of that time it was rather difficult and time-consuming to carve letters — runes — into stone. Thus, the messages were relatively short: "I, Halgrim, carved this stone", or, "I, Halgrim", or just "I". Or something similar.

After 8,000 years the Norwegian saw other people (neighbours) for the first time but at a very great distance — on the next hill or on the other side of the fjord. He then started to express himself to others but because of the great distance again had to be very brief: "Beat it!"

The tournament itself, however, was perfect.

The playing hall

The playing conditions were very good and the team of arbiters worked excellently, though inconspicuously, and had everything under control, starting all rounds on time.

The two senior classes were combined to a tournament with 24 participants. Tournament winner and best S65 player was FM Jarl Ulrichsen (NOR), while Kristian Eriksson (SWE), who finished second in the tournament, won the S50 class. Because only five women had registered they played in the main tournament where WIM Sheila Barth Sahl (NOR) won the prize for the best women player.

The favourite in the main tournament was Jon Ludvig Hammer but after conceding three draws in the first eight rounds he lost against GM Benjamin Arvola Notkevich in the final round and finished third behind Notkevich.

Jon Ludvig Hammer

The second seed, Swedish IM Jonathan Westerberg, tried to make his third GM-norm but in the middle of the tournament he started to suffer from stomach troubles that torpedoed his form. However, it was good enough to finish fourth. In the first round, I myself had the chance to test Westerberg for five hours.

Blauhut vs Westerberg

The Norwegian Frode Urkedal played a very strong tournament and qualified for the FIDE World Cup. Before the last round he had scored 7½/8 and played a 2800+ performance. He secured tournament victory with a quick draw in the last round.

Frode Urkedal

The Nordic Championship (the main tournament) is a zonal tournament and these have special rules for awarding FM and CM titles. For the FM title you need 65% of the points, you have to play a minimum of 9 rounds, and you have to have a rating of at least 2100. For the CM title 50% of the points and a rating of 2000 are enough. Two young players who will soon be above 2300 anyway will now become FIDE Masters: Noam Aviv Vitenberg and Elham Abdrlauf.

40 of the 66 participants scored 4½ points or more and thus this tournament led to a couple of CM titles. The author also got one.

Games Open

 

Games Senior

 

Final standings

Pl. Name FIDE-Elo Club Points Med.Buchh Buchholz Performance
GM Frode Olav Olsen Urkedal SK 1911
8.0
43.0
54.5
 2746 (+21.10)
GM Benjamin Arvola Notkevich Tromsø SK
7.0
39.0
51.5
 2568 (+10.20)
GM Jon Ludvig Hammer OSS
6.5
42.5
55.0
 2564 (-6.20)
IM Jonathan Westerberg  
6.5
39.5
52.0
 2535 (+1.20)
GM Boris Chatalbashev Køge Skakklub
6.5
38.5
49.0
 2427 (-8.50)
IM Kristian Stuvik Holm Vålerenga SK
6.5
38.0
50.0
 2492 (+4.90)
GM Helgi Ass Gretarsson  
6.0
39.5
52.0
 2408 (+0.10)
FM Jens E Ingebretsen OSS
6.0
38.5
49.5
 2429 (+36.60)
FM Andreas G Tryggestad Nordstrand SK
6.0
38.5
49.5
 2416 (+24.40)
10 
Noam Aviv Vitenberg SK 1911
6.0
36.0
48.0
 2315 (+37.20)
11 
FM Anders Hobber Akademisk SK
6.0
34.5
45.0
 2313 (+12.00)
12 
Elham Abdrlauf OSS
6.0
34.0
43.0
 2333 (+63.20)
13 
IM Nicolai Getz OSS
5.5
37.5
48.5
 2355 (-0.90)
14 
FM Drazen Dragicevic  
5.5
37.5
48.5
 2309 (-7.40)
15 
FM Carl Cederstam Barsk Stockholms SS
5.5
36.0
46.0
 2262 (-9.00)
16 
IM Petter Haugli Moss SK
5.5
36.0
46.0
 2202 (+0.70)
17 
Isak Sjøberg Nordstrand SK
5.5
34.0
42.5
 2222 (+7.20)
18 
WIM Sheila Barth Sahl Black Knights
5.5
31.5
40.0
 2193 (+17.80)
19 
GM Thomas Ernst  
5.0
37.5
48.5
 2272 (-6.60)
20 
Holger Blauhut Fredriksstad SS
5.0
36.5
45.0
 2214 (+39.20)

66 players...

Translation from German: Johannes Fischer

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Author, publisher and office worker. Holger Blauhut lives in Fredrikstad in Norway.
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