Pia Cramling wins Västgöta Open in Skara

by Holger Blauhut
3/5/2019 – The Swedish town of Skara enjoys a good reputation among chess players. The European Team Championship 1980 took place in Skara, and in this tournament English Grandmaster Tony Miles defeated World Champion Anatoly Karpov with 1...a6. Skara's chess tratition is still alive, though on a smaller scale. | Photo: Lars OA Hedlund

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First and second place for Bellon-Cramling

The first Västgöta Open, organised by the chess federation of Västergötland, was played in 1984, back then in Alingsås. Since 1986 the Champion of Västergötland has been crowned in this open tournament and since 1988 the open has been regularly played in Skara.

In 2013 Skara had a population of about 18,500 but it has been the seat of a bishop for almost 1,000 years.


The cathedral in Skara | Photo: Holger Blauhut

In the times of the reformation the city lost its cultural and economic influence, and in the 19th century its own municipal administration helped its decline by refusing to let the railway line Stockholm – Göteborg go through Skara.

But the local chess club, founded in 1912 as Skara Schack Sällskap made the small city famous among chess players. In 1980 the European Team Championship took place in Skara. Players like Karpov, Tal, Petrosian, and Kasparov won gold for the Soviet Union. The English Grandmaster Tony Miles played his most famous game in this tournament — after 1.d4 a6! he won with Black against Karpov.


Chess-wise things have calmed down a bit again in Skara again, although 164 players took part in the Västgöta Open 2000. This year 93 players came to the "Stadshotell" to play in the open tournament, a Swiss tournament with a time limit of 45 minutes for the game and 10 seconds increment per move.

The Stadshotellet, the playing venue | Photo: Holger Blauhut

Last year, GM Juan Bellon won the tournament, and this year he had almost repeated his victory but then his wife GM Pia Cramling got the better of him.

Juan Bellon, Pia Cramling | Photo: Lars OA Hedlund

Thomas Ernst was the third grandmaster who played in the open. But in the very first round he only drew and had to concede half a point, and in the end he finished fifth, behind Torbjörn Glimbrant and Daniel Ronneland. Ronneland was the best player from Västgöta and for the second time after 2013 he became regional champion.

GM Thomas Ernst (left, with White) vs Per Øistein Nordtug | Foto: Holger Blauhut

The playing venue | Photo: Holger Blauhut

As usual in Sweden, there were a lot of rating prizes to win. The system to divide the rating groups works about as follows: one ignores the nominally strongest players on the starting list, and then takes the next ten players on the starting list to define a rating group. The best three of each group of ten win rating-prizes. I finished 17th but still won money.

Final standings

Rg. Name Pts  TB
1 Cramling Pia 6,5 29,0
2 Bellon Lopez Juan 6,0 27,5
3 Glimbrant Torbjörn 5,5 26,0
4 Ronneland Daniel 5,5 25,5
5 Ernst Thomas 5,5 25,0
6 Andersson Fredrik 5,0 31,5
7 Silseth Simon 5,0 31,5
8 Eklund Lars-Göran 5,0 30,0
9 Håkanson Josef 5,0 27,0
10 Kenani Dariush 5,0 26,0
11 Ask Josef 5,0 24,5
12 Kjellqvist Fredrik 5,0 23,5
13 Troedsson Anton 5,0 23,5
14 Olsson Simon 4,5 29,0
15 Madebrink Lars 4,5 27,5
16 Johnson Daniel 4,5 27,0
17 Blauhut Holger 4,5 26,0
18 Danielsson Fredrik 4,5 25,5
19 Wiman Kenneth 4,5 23,5

...93 players

Eva Johansson vs Anna Blauhut | Photo: Holger Blauhut



Video: Rickard Dahlström

Translation from German: Johannes Fischer



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


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