Rising Stars: Carlsen, Karjakin, ... who’s next?

8/17/2008 – On Wednesday the third NH Chess Tournament starts in Amsterdam. It pits five rising stars against five veteran grandmasters. For the highest scoring youngster there is a special prize: he will be invited to the 2009 Amber Blindfold and Rapid Tournament in Nice, in the luxury of the Côte d’Azur. Both Magnus Carlsen and Sergey Karjakin started that way. Tournament details.

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Carlsen, Karjakin, ... Who’s next?

The venue of the event is the legendary five-star NH Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky on Dam Square, smack in the centre of the Dutch capital, and a five-minute walk from Central Station.


The venue in the middle of Amsterdam, five minutes from the Central Station


The view of Dam Square from the Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky

The NH tournament is a confrontation between a team of five young ‘Rising Stars’ and a team of five ‘Experienced’ grandmasters who can look back on impressive and glorious careers. They play a ‘Scheveningen’ tournament, which means that each player in one team plays against each of the players in the other team. They do so twice, once with the white pieces and once with the black.

The undisputed star of the ‘Experience’ team is Viktor Kortchnoi, who at a venerable age remains active as ever. At 77 the former world championship challenger can safely be called experience personified.

The leader of the Rising Stars team is the great Chinese hope Wang Yue, who comes to Amsterdam almost straight (a slight detour via Beijing) from the FIDE Grand Prix in Sochi, where he was among the leaders all the time and ultimately shared third place. Wang Yue’s official rating is 2704, but in the meantime his ‘live rating’ has gone up to 2715, which would mean a 23rd place in the world rankings.

The complete line-ups of the teams are:

Experience    
Evgeny Bareev Russia 2655
Viktor Kortchnoi Switzerland 2602
Artur Jussupow Germany 2587
Simen Agdestein Norway 2583
Ljubomir Ljubojevic Serbia 2555
 
Rising Stars    
Wang Yue China 2704
Ivan Cheparinov Bulgaria 2687
Fabiano Caruana Italy 2630
Daniel Stellwagen The Netherlands 2616
Erwin l’Ami The Netherlands 2610

A look at the average ratings of the teams shows that the Rising Stars are the clear favourites and that ‘normally speaking’ they’ll add another victory to the wins of 2006 (28-22) and 2007 (26½-23½).

Experience

Rising stars


Evgeny Bareev, 41

Wang Yue, 20

Viktor Korchnoi, 77

Ivan Cheparinov, 21

Artur Yussupov, 48

Fabiano Caruana, 16

Simen Agdestein, 41

Daniel Stellwagen, 21


Ljubomir Ljubojevic, 57


Erwin l’Ami, 23

But overall victory is only one of the honours the youngsters are fighting for. Perhaps even more important is the special prize for the Rising Star that scores the highest number of points. He will be invited to the 2009 Amber Blindfold and Rapid Tournament in Nice, the annual spectacular where the absolute world top crosses swords in the luxury of the Cote d’Azur.


Young rivals: Sergey Karjakin, Ukraine, and Magnus Carlsen, Norway, in 2006

Two years ago, the first Rising Star that qualified for the Amber tournament was none other than Magnus Carlsen. At that point the Norwegian wonderboy was only fifteen years old, but anyone who saw him play in Amsterdam noted his fervent wish to win a ticket to Amber. His main rival was another prodigy, Sergey Karjakin, who even brought former FIDE world champion Ruslan Ponomariov as a second, but nevertheless the Ukrainian could not stop Carlsen from making his dream come true.

Karjakin had his revenge last year, when in the second NH tournament he kept a cool head and convincingly earned an invitation to the Amber tournament.


The winning team in 2007: Daniel Stellwagen, Parimarjan Negi, Sergey Karjakin,
Jan Smeets, Ivan Cheparinov and an unknown damsel from Holland or Greece

This year’s obvious favourites to win the coveted ticket are top-seed Wang Yue and Ivan Cheparinov, Veselin Topalov’s super-second. The Bulgarian will be eager to avenge his result of last year when he had to bow to Karjakin. Seeing the prominent role that he played in the Grand Prix tournament in Sochi we may expect a close fight.


Hot favourite to qualify for the Amber tournament next year: Ivan Cheparinov

But perhaps we shouldn’t count out the third seed (or the Dutch dark horses, for that matter). Fabiano Caruana’s progress in the past few years has been stupendous. If you take a look at the rating chart of the 16-year-old Italian you will see that he’s been advancing in the world rankings with an annual average of one hundred points!


Prepare for surprises – dark horse Fabiano Caruana

And those with a poetic ear and a penchant for alliteration may feel that he fits in best in list of Amber qualifiers: Carlsen, Karjakin, Caruana?? We’ll see.

The NH Chess tournament runs from August 20 through 30 with a rest day on August 25. The rounds start at 13.30 hrs local time and every day there is expert commentary. Admission is free. More information you can find at the tournament website. There you may also check a full list of the commentators and find out that during rounds 4 and 5 there’s a special guest to explain the games to the audience: Grandmaster Loek van Wely!


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