Midnight Sun Chess Challenge in Tromsø

6/26/2006 – 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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Tromsø, the town of the midnight sun

The midnight sun can be seen at latitudes north of the Arctic Circle (and south of the Antarctic Circle). At certain periods of the year the sun is continuously visible for 24 hours in these places.


The Arctic Circle [Graphic by Swinburne University]

The countries where people can see the midnight sun are Alaska, northern Canada, Greenland, Iceland, northern Norway, Sweden, Finland, and some extremities of Russia. At Finland's northernmost point, the sun does not set for 73 days during summer.


The city of Tromsø lies in the northern-most region of Norway, 69° 40' 33" N, 18° 55' 10" E,
almost 400 km inside the Arctic Circle (which runs 66° 33' 39" north of the Equator).


Tromsø as seen in Google Earth. Wikipedia has a panomramic view of Tromsø

In Tromsø there are remains of settlement that go back to the end of the ice age. The first church was built in 1252, and in the 19th century it became a major centre for Arctic hunting. During World War II it served briefly as the seat of Norwegian government, and the German battleship Tirpitz was sunk off the Tromsøy Island in 1944. Today the there are over 100 nationalities in the town's population.

The Midnight Sun Chess Festival

By Misha Savinov

The city of Tromsø is for the first time hosting a major international open tournament. Earlier the Tromsø Chess Club was actively involved in cooperation with Murmansk chess school, which resulted in organizing many small-scale events with heavy Russian participation, and now, in 2006, they decided it is time to move on towards something more significant.

The Midnight Sun Chess Festival includes an open tournament and a chess camp led by IM Jesper Hall, and it is a perfect answer to growing ambition of the local enthusiasts.


GM Michal Krasenkow

The starting list is led by Polish GM Michal Krasenkow. His 2650 turned just enough to surpass Magnus Carlsen’s 2642. Carlsen’s participation is a blessing for the organizers, as it guarantees media attention. The Norwegian is regarded as strong favorite, since he plays splendidly this year, showing above-2700 performances in every single competition.


Magnus Carlsen chatting with Jon Ludwig Hammer

However, Magnus is very likely to face some swift resistance, at hands of both ambitious local players and guest professionals. Apart from Krasenkow and Carlsen, there are five more grandmasters playing in the tournament: Eduardas Rozentalis (Latvia), Sergey Shipov (Russia), Ralf Akesson (Sweden), Kjetil Lie and Leif Erlend Johanessen from Norway. Johanna Dworakowska from Poland enjoys a position of the only female GM in the tournament.


WGM and IM Joanna Dworakowska, 2364, Poland

Top participants

No.

Title

Name

Rating

Country

1

GM

Michael Krasenkow

2650

Poland

2

GM

Magnus Carlsen

2646

Norway

3

GM

Mark Paragua

2617

Philippines

4

GM

Eduardas Rozentalis

2582

Lituania

5

GM

Sergei Shipov

2576

Russia

6

GM

Leif Erlend Johannessen

2558

Norway

7

GM

Kjetil A. Lie

2493

Norway

8

GM

Ralf Åkesson

2472

Sweden

9

IM

Eirik T. Gullaksen

2380

Norway

10

IM

Joanna Dworakowska

2364

Poland

There are also a few local players who might take part in the prize contest. First we should mention another Norwegian prodigy Jon Ludwig Hammer, who is on his way to an IM title, and already shines on various internet playing zones.


Pål Røyset, rated 2267

A champion of Northern Norway, Pål Røyset, can also provide some challenge for guest grandmasters, being very strong in his favorite setups. Not trying to exhaust the list of potential sensation-makers, I’ll mention Lars Andreassen’s name.


Lars Andreassen, Elo 2108

A representative of Sami people, Mr Andreassen possesses a narrow but deeply studied and much-tested opening repertoire and a keen eye for tactics. His highest sporting achievement was qualifying for the playoff stage in one of Dos Hermanas Internet tournaments, surpassing dozen of grandmasters and centaurs (i.e., cheaters). Lars was knocked out by GM Zurab Azmaiparashvili after spoiling a totally won position in game 1... Right now, while I am writing these lines, Andreassen is playing White against Carlsen, and has a very safe position that by all means should end in a draw – but we’ll see. [Carlsen won with black].


Lars Andreassen, Elo 2108, vs Magnus Carlsen, 2646

There were rather few really competitive games in the Round 1, which was played yesterday, but there is already one upset: Swedish GM Ralf Akesson drew with his compatriot Daniel Adolfsson, rated 1735. Yes, many Scandinavian players seem heavily underrated, and this is another feature of the Midnight Sun Chess.

 Current standings

Pl.

Name

Rating

Club

Points

Michal Krasenkow

2650

Poland

2.0/2.0

Magnus Carlsen

2646

Ntg

2.0/2.0

Eduardas Rozentalis

2582

Lithuania

2.0/2.0

Sergei Shipov

2558

Russia

2.0/2.0

Leif Erlend Johannessen

2545

Oss

2.0/2.0

Kjetil A. Lie

2563

Porsgrunn

2.0/2.0

Eirik T Gullaksen

2400

Bergens

2.0/2.0

Joanna Dworakowska

2364

Poland

2.0/2.0

Arnt Esbensen

2153

Vadsø

2.0/2.0

10 

Thomas Nyland

2080

Fana

2.0/2.0

11 

Johannes Kvisla

1988

Sk 1911

2.0/2.0

Pictures from Tromsø


The town of Tromsø, on the northern tip of Norway


Tromsø, around 2 am. The midnight sun is there!


A view of the seascape around Tromsø


Breivika high school, the venue of the competition


A construction site decorated with garden chess figures


A giant chess set in the school entrance hallway


Coverage of the top six boards on a giant plasma screen


Michal Krasenkow and Eduardas Rozentalis in the canteen


Magnus at the start of game one, which he won in 26 moves


Anastasia Edakina, 1146, Russia, drew with a 1550-player in the first round

All pictures by Misha Savinov, from Tromsø

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