Interview with Monika Socko, winner of the Arctic Challenge

8/20/2009 – Grandmaster Monika Socko is from Poland, married to Polish GM Bartoz Socko, who is two hundred points higher than her on the FIDE scale. Still, Monika finished first in the Arctic Chess Challenge in Tromsø, with 7.0/9 and a rating performance of 2639, while her husband came 13th, a full point behind her. Son Szymon also played. Misha Savinov spoke to the winner.

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Interview with Monika Socko, winner of the Arctic Chess Challenge 2009

By Misha Savinov

The Arctic Chess Challenge in Tromsø ended with four players sharing the top score of 7.0/9 points. GM Monika Socko of Poland won on tiebreak, ahead of IM Ray Robson, IM Marijan Petrov and GM Emanuel Berg.


The winner of the Arctic Chess Challenge 2009: GM Monika Socko of Poland, with 7.0/9 and a rating performance of 2639 in Tromsø

Monica was born on the March, 24th 1978 in Warsaw, Poland. She started to play chess at the age of five, and it took five more years to win a silver medal at the World Under-10 championship in Timisoara, Romania! She won the European Under-18 championship in 1996, and was second next year at the European Under-20 championship. She won three national women’s championships (1995, 2004 and 2008).


Husband GM Bartoz Socko, two hundred points higher on the FIDE rating list, but twelve places behind her in the Arctic Challenge, with 6.0/9 and a performance of 2504

In 2002 Monica won the individual Gold medal at the Chess Olympiad for her 10.5/13 on the third board. In 2005 she won the European Team Championship with Poland. Her biggest success in the individual tournament came in 2007, when she won a supertournament in Baku ahead of Stefanova, Cramling and Lahno. In 2008 she became an international grandmaster, having fulfilled all the requirements for the men's title.

Monica is married to GM Bartosz Socko (2656). They have three children, Weronika, Szymon (seen in the above picture) and Julia.

Misha Savinov: Monica, congratulations for winning this event! Do you consider this to be your biggest tournament achievement to date?

Monica Socko: Yes, I think so. We just discussed it with Bartosz. I won a very strong women’s tournament in Baku two years ago, had a number of good team performances, including winning the European team championship, won gold and silver medals in junior event, but there was nothing like topping a strong men’s open. I value this success very high!

Why did you decided to come to Norway, and how do you like the place?

My husband played here two years ago, and this year he was invited to come with me. We also took our soon Szymon. This is my first time in Norway, and I liked it very much. The weather was really great for the most part of the event, it was very warm, and we enjoyed everything the organizers offered: boat trip, fishing trip, mountain hiking, etc. The organizers really did a great job. More often than not when we come to a chess tournament, we just play and play, and rarely have an opportunity to look around. Here it was completely different, and I am very grateful for it.


The Socko family at the closing ceremony

How did the tournament go for you? What were the most critical moments?

I had a very difficult fourth round game against FM Joachim Thomassen. My position was bad, and I thought I may lose. Somehow I managed to win in complications. I think it was the most difficult game for me. Then I defeated two grandmasters, Turner and Sulskis, and it became clear that I could show a very good result.


Szymon Socko playing in the Arctic Chess Challenge

You managed to come from behind against Thomassen, but before that you missed a victory against GM Berg...

Yes, I had a material advantage for most part of the game and did not win a won endgame, which was quite disappointing.

Berg,Emanuel (2610) - Socko,Monika (2449)
Arctic Chess Challenge 2009 Scandic Hotel, Tromsø (3), 01.08.2009

Position after 62...Re4xPh4. Our tablebases tell us that it is mate in 35 moves – however in spite of pressing on for another 72 moves Monika Socko was unable to get the full point.

Also I think I had winning chances in the endgame against GM Radulski in the penultimate round. I haven’t analyzed that game yet, because I am very tired. I tried to put 100% in every game, fighting for a win in each round. After the eighth round I felt that I was running out of energy, and was quite worried about the last round game. This is why I offered a draw to my opponent early in the opening (on move ten), and was glad not to spoil the finish. Now I am very happy to have won the tournament!

What was your best game at the Arctic Chess Challenge?

The game against Berg was very interesting. However, it wasn’t my best one for obvious reasons. I think the best game was played against Sulskis, although the one against Turner is also quite good.

After the seventh round there was a blitz tournament, won by Bartosz Socko. It was attended by only two players with reasonable chances of winning the main event – Emanuel Berg and you. Didn’t you want to spare some energy for the final two rounds instead of playing nine rounds of blitz in a strong event?

I am not very fond of such consideration. I love playing chess, and I play whenever I have such an opportunity.

Individual results

Birk Anders Rølvåg (1906)
0-1
Monika Socko
Monika Socko
1-0
Jeroen van den Bersselaar (2184)
Emanuel Berg (2610)
½-½
Monika Socko
Monika Socko
1-0
Joachim Thomassen (2300)
Matthew Turner (2517)
0-1
Monika Socko
Monika Socko
1-0
Sarunas Sulskis (2559)
Ray Robson (2491)
½-½
Monika Socko
Monika Socko
½-½
Julian Radulski (2539)
Monika Socko
½-½
Marijan Petrov (2479)

Top final standings

# Player Rtng
Pts.
TB1
Perf. / gain
GM Monika Socko 2449 7.0 43.5  2639 (+22.60)
IM Ray Robson 2491 7.0 43.0  2628 (+16.30)
IM Marijan Petrov 2479 7.0 40.5  2579 (+11.60)
GM Emanuel Berg 2610 7.0 38.0  2622 (+2.00)
GM Julian Radulski 2539 6.5 42.5  2541 (+2.90)
IM Luca Shytaj 2455 6.5 41.5  2613 (+20.10)
GM Jon Ludvig Hammer 2583 6.5 40.5  2556 (-0.80)
GM Allan Stig Rasmussen 2536 6.5 40.0  2585 (+7.40)
GM Yuri Drozdovskij 2620 6.5 39.0  2550 (-5.50)
10  GM Igor Khenkin 2634 6.5 38.5  2561 (-5.40)

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Previous ChessBase reports on Tromsø

Interview with Monika Socko, winner of the Arctic Challenge
20.08.2009 – Grandmaster Monika Socko is from Poland, married to Polish GM Bartoz Socko, who is two hundred points higher than her on the FIDE scale. Still, Monika finished first in the Arctic Chess Challenge in Tromsø, with 7.0/9 and a rating performance of 2639, while her husband came 13th, a full point behind her. Son Szymon also played. Misha Savinov spoke to the winner.

How young Ray made his first GM norm
13.08.2009 – The Arctic Chess Challenge in Tromsø ended last Sunday, with four players sharing the top score of 7.0/9 points. One of them, a 14-year-old lad, stood to make a GM norm. But to do so Ray Robson had to hold the Swedish Champion GM Emanuel Berg to a draw in the final round, with the black pieces. To compound matters Berg was desperate to win. Pictorial report by Misha Savinov.

Socko, Robson, Petrov and Berg win Arctic Challenge
11.08.2009 – This was the greatest performance of her career: Polish GM Monika Socko shared first place with 14-year-old IM Ray Robson of the US, Bulgarian IM Marijan Petrov and Sweden's top GM Emanuel Berg. But she took the title on tiebreak points and with a performance of 2639. We bring you a final report by IM Torstein Bae with a beautiful Robson game and pictures and videos from Tromsø.

Tromsø 2009 – Socko, Petrov and Robson lead
08.08.2009 – Make no mistake, it is GM Monika Socko, not her top-rated husband Bartosz, who is leading the Arctic Challenge with 6.0/7 and a 2703 performance. No less sensational is that 14-year-old IM Ray Robson is sharing first with a 2679 performance. The action is exciting ("hammer time") and the landscape lovely in the land of the midnight sun. Big illustrated report by Misha Savinov.

Tromsø 2009 – four lead in Arctic Chess Challenge
06.08.2009 – At the Arctic Chess Challenge in Tromsø 120 players are competing in the year’s most prestigious Norwegian event. After five of nine rounds there are four players in the lead. Three are GMs, one a female, but the fourth is of particular interest: 14-year-old US American IM Ray Robson, whom some people are calling the new Bobby Fischer. Pictorial report by IM Torstein Bae.

Tromsø 2009 – the Arctic Chess Challenge
02.08.2009 The Arctic Chess Challenge in Tromsø is this year’s most prestigious event in Norway. More than 35 titled players are taking part, including 13 GMs. Top seed is Polish GM Bartosz Socko, rated 2656, with three more super-GMs just below him. The tournament is truly an international open: the 118 participants hail from 26 countries, and from all parts of the world. Pictorial report.

Tromsø 2009 – the Arctic Chess Challenge
22.07.2009 – The city of Tromsø, located within the Arctic Circle in Norway, has become a hot-bed of chess. Not only is Tromsø bidding for the Chess Olympiad 2014 – every year they stage a very attractive chess tournament in this beautiful location. This year the Arctic Challenge will be staged from August 1st to 9th, with 132 entries and lots of title holders – an ideal opportunity to make norms.

Tromsø – a Chess Olympiad in the midnight sun?
18.11.2008 – It lies well within the Arctic Circle and has a history of chess activity. Now the city of Tromsø is bidding to host the 2014 Chess Olympiad in one of the most attractive regions of Europe. A full presentation is being made at the Olympiad in Dresden. We visited the city this summer and support their bid with some WYSIWYG evidence of why it is ideally suited for an Olympiad. Photo report.

Chess in the Arctic Circle – GM Igor Kurnosov triumphs
18.08.2008 – For the third time the Tromsø Chess Club staged an International Open in the Arctic Circle. It ran from August 2nd to 10th 2008, with sky high prizes, by Norwegian standards (total prize fund 11,000 Euros). The venue is spectacular, the atmosphere warm and generous. And the place is full of Carlsens: Magnus, Henrik, Sigrun, Ellen, Ingrid and Signe. Part one of our big pictorial report.

Moiseenko wins the Arctic Chess Challenge
12.08.2007 – In the end it was a super-GM who took the unshared first place in the Tromsø Midnight Sun tournament: Alexander Moiseenko of the Ukraine scored 7.5/9 to overtake the long-time leader, "Mr Sunshine" Kjetil Lie, who had beaten him in round four. Top seed Magnus Carlsen recovered from a poor start to share 2-4. Like his parents we expect Magnus to scale the Store Blåmannen.

Carlsen vs Carlsen – Magnus beats his dad
10.08.2007 – That is hardly a surprise, since the 16-year-old is over six hundred points stronger than his first teacher. But then again Henrik Carlsen has grounding powers... After seven rounds of the Arctic Chess Challenge in Tromsø it is Norwegian GM Kjetil A. Lie who is in the lead, with 5.5 points, followed by four players with 5.0 points each. Report with pictures and videos.

Second Arctic Chess Challenge in Tromsø
07.08.2007 – The Norwegian island town of Tromsø lies well within the Arctic Circle, which means that this time of the year the sun never sets. Tromsø is playing host to a strong GM tournament from August 4th-12th, 2007. Top seed is Magnus Carlsen, who rushed in from his victory in Biel and did not have a great start here (3.0/4, place ten). Two other GMs, Macieja and Lie, lead with 4.0/4. Round four report.

Shipov wins Midnight Sun, Carlsen second
03.07.2006 – The Midnight Sun Chess Challenge in Tromsø, Norway, was won by Russian GM Sergei Shipov, who scored 7.5 points in nine rounds. Second was fifteen-year-old Magnus Carlsen with 7.0, who beat Leif Erland Johannessen on tiebreak points. We bring you a final report with pictures from Whale's Island.

Carlsen leads the Midnight Sun Challenge
28.06.2006 – 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.

Midnight Sun Chess Challenge in Tromsø
26.06.2006 – There are parts in the world where, during a certain period of the year, the sun never sets. The northern Norwegian town of Tromsø, which lies well within the Arctic Circle, is one such place. From June 24th to July 2nd, in the middle of the midnight sun period, it is holding chess festival with GMs like Krasenkow and Magnus Carlsen. Big illustrated report.

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