Hammer Xtra good at Xtracon Open

by Gerd Densing
8/3/2018 – Norway's Jon Ludwig Hammer (pictured middle) won the tournament victory at the Xtracon Open in Helsingör, followed by Russian GM Dmitry Andreikin (left) while the German "prince" Rasmus Svane (right) finished third and Vincent Keymer was the eleventh but also enjoys his second GM norm. | Photo: Jacob Carstensen

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German "princes" perform well

The Copenhagen Chess Open was held for the 34th time, and like in recent years the tournament, formerly known as the Politiken Cup, took the nake of its new main sponsor, the IT consulting firm Xtracon, which provided on-site technical support.

For me, it was the second time participating in the tournament's Open section and again a nice "holiday" of course with the "work" of playing ten tournament games. As in previous years, the popular tournament with just under 400 participants from 24 nations and 91 champions at the top was well staffed. Compared to last year, the Elo average increased from 1922 to 1977. In addition to 157 players from Denmark and 74 from Norway, my home country Germany was the third largest player contingent at 46.

For several years, the venue for the event has been the cultural and congress centre "Konventum", located about three kilometres outside of Helsingör (also known as Elsinore), a port city in eastern Denmark which was the setting for Shakespeare's Hamlet. In a beautiful large park area and also within walking distance to the sea (five minutes walk and 90 steps down) there are many opportunities to switch off the chess a little or to recover between rounds.

The "Konventum"

With its approximately 200 hotel rooms, the Konventum offered many of the foreign chess players who travelled further an ideal accommodation with an excellent, rich breakfast buffet and a delicious evening buffet.

The tournament organization went smoothly again; I have never noticed a dispute. In addition, we were again treated to a nice supporting program. In addition to a simultaneous with GM Johann Hjartarson from Iceland, a children's tournament, a blitz tournament, tandem-blitz and tactics challenge, the lecture with GM Jacob Aagaard was the highlight.

Jacob Aagaard

The popular and likeable trainer and author introduced his latest work ("thinking inside the box") and reported on his successful training work with American GM Samuel Shankland and the Indian women's national team. From his training camps with very strong players, he brought a few entertaining short stories.

In addition to the good Internet presentation and reporting, it was commendable that all games of the tournament were available within a very short time after the end of each round on the tournament website. Especially highlighted are the specially designed large chess shop with countless books, DVDs and more.

All in all, it should be noted that the organizers have developed a great routine in the organization and execution of the event on the one hand  combined with an ample helping of heart and soul on the other hand which combines for a particularly attractive tournament experience for the participants.

Chess politics

On the last two days of the tournament, the leaders of the Northern European chess federations met in the congress centre. The presidential candidates Georgios Makropoulos and Nigel Short were also present. Likewise, the President of the European Chess Union, Zurab Azmaiparashvili was there. Nigel Short reported a two-hour talk with his Greek counterpart at the live commentary on the spot. The two presidential candidates presented their program or vision for FIDE and now the Nordic chess federations have to decide who to vote for at the next FIDE congress in October (in Batumi, Georgia in the Chess Olympiad ).

Round by round

Here's a brief overview of how the chess in the Open progressed.

Round 1

There were no major surprises on the top boards. Only the young Norwegian Youth World Champion GM Aryan Tari already gave up a draw on board 9 against a player with Elo of just 1953, and several IM along with two FMs played to a draw against significantly weaker opponents. IM Vincent Keymer had to endure some critical moments in his first round match, but in the end, he was able to win in times of adversity.

Round 2

The biggest surprise of the round, however, was the victory of Lars Hinrichs against chess legend GM Jan Timman on board 14. Already in this round, several more GMs drew — minor upsets.

Round 3

The top seed, GM Nikita Vitiugov made his first draw on board 1 against IM Jakob Aabling-Thomsen early in the tournament, as did GM Nils Grandelius on board 4. Markus Lammers made a draw on board 11 against GM Rasmus Svane.

Round 4

Once again the players on the top board played "only" to a draw: Second seed GM Dmitry Andreikin played against GM Johan Salomon. GM Alexei Shirov age up a half point against IM Mikkel Antonsen. The biggest surprise of the round on the top boards, however, was the defeat of GM Baadur Jobava against IM Kristian Stuvik Holm on board 4. FM Frank Sawatzki beat IM Bjorn Moller Ochsner. Ruben Gideon Koellner scored a second draw against Jonny Hector against a GM and FM Bernd Laubsch drew against GM Jacob Aagaard. Amateur Peter Birk Petersen (ELO 2128) made his second defeat to out-of-form GM Jan Timman.

Round 5

IM Vincent Keymer drew on board 3 against young strong Danish grandmaster Mads Andersen, and on board 5 FM Frank Sawatzki drew GM Frode Olav Olsen Urkedal.

At half-time, three players led with 5 out of 5: GM Jon Ludvig Hammer, GM Simen Agdestein and GM Ivan Saric. Rasmus Svane and Vincent Keymer were still within reach of the top with 4½ points on the 8th and 10th.

Round 6

While the two Norwegian GMs won on the first two boards, GM Nikita Vitiugov made another draw on board 3 and GM Dmitry Andreikin on board 8. Vincent Keymer and Rasmus Svane scored on boards 4 and 5, staying close to the top of the table. After the round, two Norwegians with 6 points each ahead of two Germans with 5½ points each, led the group with 5 points.

Round 7

The two matches of the compatriots at the tables 1 and 2 (Agdestein against Hammer and Keymer against Svane) ended in a draw. GM Nikita Vitiugov was able to catch up with a win on board 3 just off the pace, alongside three other players.

Round 8

While GM Hammer and GM Vitiugov drew on board 1, GM Rasmus Svane won a very nice game on board 2 against GM Simen Agdestein ("rook dominates knight"). 

Chess Endgames 12 - Rook vs Knight

What is the best way to use your pieces to their full potential in the endgame? GM Karsten Mueller demonstrates "knight geometry", and teaches you how to employ the "knight check shadow" in your own games!

Agdestein shakes hands with Svane

Vincent Keymer secured the G-norm ahead of schedule with a win on board 4 against GM Allan Stig Rasmussen, as it was clear he would receive a (strong) GM in the 9th round as an opponent and even in case of a loss he would still have a performance of over 2600.

After the round, four players led the table with 7 points: GM Jon Ludvig Hammer, IM Vincent Keymer, GM Rasmus Svane and IM Benjamin Arvola Notkevich.

Round 9

At the top board, GM Rasmus Svane drew against GM Jon Ludvig Hammer. Likewise ended the further Norway-Germany duel between Simen Agdestein and IM Vincent Keymer on board 3. World Youth Champion GM Aryan Tari, who had struggled forward, won a thrilling duel on board 2 against IM Benjamin Arvola Notkevich. One of the tournament favourites GM Dmitry Andreikin joined the players with 7½ points in the final round after a win. After the round, a Norwegian continued in front of two German players and one Russian player.

Round 10

On board 1 GM Dmitry Andreikin won after a nice combination against GM Aryan Tari, who by the way had not played against a single GM in the previous 9 rounds. While GM Rasmus Svane was able to draw a mean-looking (rook) endgame on board 3 against GM Ivan Saric, IM Vincent Keymer lost on board 2 an unfortunate rook ending of his own against GM Jon Ludvig Hammer.

Keymer and Hammer

Keymer, Hammer

With that victory over Keymer, Hammer won this year's Xtracon Chess Open with 8½ points ahead of GM Dmitry Andreykin on a better tiebreak score. The outstanding third place finish went to the young German GM Rasmus Svane. Vincent Keymer finished in a very good 10th place ahead of some strong players (Alexei Shirov and Nikita Vitiugov, among others).

Chess Endgames 8 - Practical Rook Endgames

Rook endings are amongst the most frequently encountered endgames there are, and so your training effort will be quickly repaid in the form of half and full points. Knowing even a few rules of thumb and key methods makes life a great deal easier and provides a guiding light even in complex positions. This DVD focuses on the important themes which are to be found in common rook endings.

GM norms


Again this year, several norms have been achieved. In addition to the aforementioned GM-norm by Keymer there were two IM standards and a WIM standard.

The conclusion is that it was another great tournament week in Helsingor. A superbly organized event with a varied, entertaining program in a very nice environment and with nice people on site.

Further information and impressions — as well as photos and all games of all rounds — can be found on the tournament homepage.

At the award ceremony it was reported that the contract with the main sponsor Xtracon was extended, so that the tournament will again be held in the same form in Helsingör in 2019 and again in 2020. Exact dates have not yet been announced, but most likely the tournament will take place again in summer.

Final standings (top 20)


All games


Translation from German: Macauley Peterson


Gerd is an avid club player who enjoys competing in tournaments. He has recorded his impressions in many reports on the ChessBase news page.


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