Norway Chess 2015 preview

by Alejandro Ramirez
6/15/2015 – The first leg of the 2015 Grand Chess Tour starts tomorrow in Stavanger, Norway! The super tournament features nine of the top players in the World: Carlsen, Anand, Caruana, Grischuk, Nakamura, Aronian, Giri, MVL, Topalov plus the qualifier from EnterCard, Hammer. The festivities commence with a blitz tournament to determine the pairings, but that is not the only unusual detail of the event!

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The 2015 Norway Chess Tournament is upon us! This is the first leg of the much anticipated Grand Chess Tour - a series of three Super Tournaments that include Norway Chess 2015, the Sinquefield Cup and the London Chess Classic.

Norway Chess has in only a matter of a few years grown to be one of the world’s biggest chess tournaments. Norway Chess has proven from the start to be a world-class event. Magnus Carlsen is the proud ambassador of Norway Chess and we have had top ranked players as well as prominent guests such as chess-legend, Garry Kasparov who will return again this year.

The third edition of the Norway Chess tournament runs from June 15th to June 26th, and will mostly be played in Stavanger, Norway. These are the participants:

These are the nine Grand Chess Tour players plus Jon Ludvig Hammer, who won the qualifier tournament last month. In the Grand Chess Tour, every hosting city gets to determine their own wildcard, and they can choose it in any method they prefer. Norway decided to go for an invitational qualifier tournament that was won by Hammer.

Notable absentees are Vladimir Kramnik and Wesley So, both declined to participate in Norway (and the Grand Chess Tour) due to a previous commitment with Dortmund, which starts on the 27th (though Caruana is participating in both, Kramnik and So simply felt they were too close to each other).

Another notable absentee is the two time winner of Norway, Sergey Karjakin. He will be unable to defend his title he was not invited to play the Grand Chess Tour (which only invited the top-10 players of the World in the January 2015 list). He was asked to play in the qualifier event but he declined, noting that he felt he had the right to play without having to earn a qualification.

Norway will be the first part of the Grand Chess Tour. The prizes for the tournament, and in the tour, are quite high. Each event will have the following prizes:

Prize per Event
Place Points Place Points
1st $75,000 5th $25,000
2nd $50,000 7th $15,000
3rd $40,000 8th $15,000
4th $30,000 9th $15,000
5th $25,000 10th $15,000

On top of the winnings per tournament, the winners of the tour will receive:

Place Prize
1st $75,000
2nd $50,000
3rd $25,000

The way that this is determined is by accumulating tour points, as follows:

Tour Points
Place Points Place Points
1st 13/12* 5th 5
2nd 10 7th 4
3rd 8 8th 3
4th 7 9th 2
5th 6 10th 1

*the winner outright of an event receives 13 points, if it is determined by a playoff then the player earns 12.

The organizers have decided on different methods for determining the pairing numbers in their tournaments. Norway, however, is sticking to their guns and using a blitz tournament for it. The pairings for the blitz tournament are already up!

(having the opponent's pairing number on the right hand side means that player is White. For example in round one Nakamurua is white vs. Topalov).

Most of the events will be held at the Hotel Scandic Stavanger Forus, but a couple of rounds will not be played there, including the inaugural Blitz event.

Day Date Time Event Location
Monday 15.06.2015 5.30pm Blitz Flor & Fjære – Private event
Tuesday 16.06.2015 4pm Round 1 Hotel Scandic Stavanger Forus
Wednesday 17.06.2015 4pm Round 2 Hotel Scandic Stavanger Forus
Thursday 18.06.2015 4pm Round 3 Hotel Scandic Stavanger Forus
Friday 19.06.2015 4pm Round 4 Utstein Kloster, Rennesøy
Saturday 20.06.2015 1pm Day off and School Tournament Vitenfabrikken, Sandnes
Sunday 21.06.2015 4pm Round 5 Hotel Scandic Stavanger Forus
Monday 22.06.2015 4pm Round 6 Hotel Scandic Stavanger Forus
Tuesday 23.06.2015 4pm Round 7 Hotel Scandic Stavanger Forus
Wednesday 24.06.2015 4pm Round 8 Hotel Scandic Stavanger Forus
Thursday 25.06.2015 4pm Round 9  Hotel Scandic Stavanger Forus
Thursday 25.06.2015 10pm Tentative blitz in case of split 1st place, 2 players Hotel Scandic Stavanger Forus
Friday 26.06.2015 12pm Tentative blitz in case of split 1st place, more than 2 players Hotel Scandic Stavanger Forus
Friday 26.06.2015 5pm Simulchess with celebrities and sponsors Hotel Scandic Stavanger Forus
Friday 26.06.2015 8:30pm Awardshow and Galadinner Hotel Scandic Stavanger Forus

Finally there are two very interesting things about this tournament. The first is that the Norway 2015 Chess Tournament will have two official commentary teams. Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam and GM Jan Gustafsson will be providing commentary on the official website, while the main commentary team will be doing it from... Saint Louis, Missouri! The beloved trio of Jennifer Shahade, Yasser Seirawan and Maurice Ashley will be doing their commentary from the studio at the Saint Louis Chess Club.

Maurice, Jenn and Yasser and the whole studio in
Saint Louis will bring the highest quality commentary. Photo from

Another unusual detail of this event is the "confession box" that will be used. In Norway the players will be able to speak in front of the camera... during the game! This was something that the organizers tried out in the EnterCard Qualifier (the qualifier to Norway chess).

None of the other players will be able to hear him while this happens, and the players that are in the confession box do not have interaction with other people. According to the main organizer, Joran "JJ" Aulin-Jansson, this is completely legal according to the rules of chess. The use of the confession box, is, of course, completely voluntary.

The festivities start tomorrow with the blitz event! Make sure to tune in in one of the official websites given below, or on!


The games will be broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 13 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

Grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez has been playing tournament chess since 1998. His accomplishments include qualifying for the 2004 and 2013 World Cups as well as playing for Costa Rica in the 2002, 2004 and 2008 Olympiads. He currently has a rating of 2583 and is author of a number of popular and critically acclaimed ChessBase-DVDs.
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gubarrak gubarrak 6/16/2015 03:07
According to live rating list, all top 5 star participating. Wonderful!
İnterestingly top5 and top6-10 are separated by big elo blocks.
top5 2798+,
#6to#10 2775-2783
#11 is 2756
Vam Vam 6/16/2015 03:40
Logos, No.

Funny because we need more Kramnik and Topalov feuds.
Maturner Maturner 6/16/2015 12:30
They probably should have accommodated karjakin somehow.
Logos Logos 6/16/2015 12:15
@ Vam

To be clear, funnier each time because it is one of the biggest lies in the history of the game, coming from someone who attached himself to one of the most unscrupulous characters in the history of the game, Silvio Danailov. Right?
Karbuncle Karbuncle 6/15/2015 10:07
MVL wins the blitz event with Nakamura in 2nd place (Nakamura agreeing to an early draw with Anand to secure an extra white game in the main event).

MVL had to travel overnight to make the blitz event and won it without any sleep. That's impressive!
mike warner mike warner 6/15/2015 10:03
HAHAHA Vam, that'd be hilarious.
Vam Vam 6/15/2015 09:48
Confession Box?

Man.... i really hope Topalov goes in there and makes fun of Kramnik every round.
ff2017 ff2017 6/15/2015 04:36
@plancton92260 not true, MVL was in last year's Sinquefield Cup, surely an elite tournament.

Also, it's interesting that the prize pool for the Sinquefield Cup will be cut on a per person average to stay in conformity with the other 2 venues (whose sponsors aren't quite as strong financially as Rex Sinquefield).
plancton92260 plancton92260 6/15/2015 12:11
MVL was invited because he was number 12 in january.
He was never invited before
daftarche daftarche 6/15/2015 11:33
i don't know why mvl is invited to every top tournament. what is so special about him? let's invite other top players too.
Karbuncle Karbuncle 6/15/2015 09:51
Rinzou, that's the blitz pairing breakdown. Nakamura likely doesn't have a problem with that at all.
Rinzou Wilkerson Rinzou Wilkerson 6/15/2015 07:43
Poor Nakamura. He has to finish the tournament in the last four rounds against Caruana, Carlsen, Aronian, and Anand.
Pentium Infinite Pentium Infinite 6/15/2015 07:06
Two things to note:

1. Ramirez is doing the comentaries, so let's expect a lot of "boring day", "not exciting chess", "this was a dull game" and other novelties from him

2. Norway did not bring any chinese. I am sure any of them ( Liren, Yi, Chao, Yanguy) could be in place 1-4.
Logos Logos 6/15/2015 06:27
A wonderful tournament and series to be sure, though I wish Karjakin was playing. As a consistently world-class player and two-times winner, the organizers could have done more for him than an invitation to play in the qualifier. Some players have rating fluctuations, and using a single month's rating list (as per the article) was not the best idea. MVL is the case in point - he is now number 27 on the rating list.

Still, a fantastic tournament. Let the games begin! :-)