Second Arctic Chess Challenge in Tromsø

by ChessBase
8/7/2007 – 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.

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The Arctic Chess Challenge is taking place in Tromsø from August 4th-12th, 2007. It is organised by the Tromsø Sjakklubb as a nine-round Swiss, with time controls of 2 hours for 40 moves + 1 hour for 20 + 30 minutes to finish the game – a total of seven hours. Games start at 4 p.m. local time (round nine at 11 a.m.). There are 98 players from 16 countries, with 11 GM's above 2580, including top seed Magnus Carlsen. The total prize fund is 11,050 Euros.

  The midnight sun in Tromsø, captured by Bjørnar Pedersen

Top participants

No. Title Name Rating Country
1 GM Magnus Carlsen 2710 Norway
2 GM Bartosz Socko 2660 Poland
3 GM Vugar Gashimov 2655 Azerbaijan
4 GM Aleksander Moiseenko 2641 Ukraine
5 GM Mikhail Gurevich 2633 Turkey
6 GM Victor Mikhalevski 2598 Israel
7 GM Bartlomiej Macieja 2596 Poland
8 GM Mikhail Brodsky 2595 Ukraine
9 GM Vladimir Epishin 2587 Russia
10 GM Simen Agdestein 2582 Norway
11 GM Vladimir Burmakin 2581 Russia
12 GM Nick de Firmian 2540 USA

The playing hall in Tromsø

In the first round top seed Magnus Carlsen, who was tired from finishing Biel and rushing to Tromsø, played a tough draw against his friend from the Top Athletes School, Brede Hagen, who is almost 700 points weaker on the Elo scale. That was painful and cost him four Elo rating points on the next list. And for the first time in years he was behind his father on the cross table. Savour the moment, Henrik, you are not going to have many of them in the future. Magnus could take comfort from the fact that another GM had fared even worse: Nick de Firmian, rated 2540, had lost to Even Thingstad, who is rated 1893, with the white pieces!

Top seed Magnus Carlsen (right) playing GM Nick de Firmian on board 25!

In the second round, after 12 hours of sleep, Magnus faced Nick de Firmian on table 25. In great fighting spirit the 16-year-old Norwegian ground down the US grandmaster, who lost on time in a hopeless position after his 35th move. In round three Magnus drew again, this time against FM Karsten Larsen of Denmark, rated 2325. In round four he dutifully beat Jon Kr. Røyset, rated 2223. Magnus is currently on place 10, with 3.0/4 points and a performance of 2475. There is still a lot of work to be done in Tromsø.

GM Bartosz Socko (right) facing Espen Forså, rated 2264 in round two (Socko won)

While we are giving this blow-by-blow account of the top seed's progress, two other players have gone through the field like a hot knife through butter: GM Bartlomiej Macieja of Poland, rated 2596, and GM Kjetil A. Lie of Norway, rated 2536, have won all four games so far, with performances of 2720 and 2606 respectively. Six other grandmasters and one WIM (Katarzyna Toma of Poland) have scored 3.5 points.

 Current standings (after four rounds)

Pl. Name Rtng Nat. Pts
1 GM Bartlomiej Macieja 2596 POL 4.0
GM Kjetil A. Lie 2536 NOR 4.0
GM Vugar Gashimov 2655 AZE 3.5
GM Mikhail Gurevich 2633 TUR 3.5
GM Michail Brodsky 2595 UKR 3.5
GM Vladimir Epishin 2587 RUS 3.5
GM Simen Agdestein 2582 NOR 3.5
GM Vladimir Burmakin 2581 RUS 3.5
WIM Katarzyna Toma 2275 POL 3.5
10  GM Magnus Carlsen 2710 NOR 3.0
11  GM Bartosz Socko 2660 POL 3.0
12  GM Alexander Moiseenko 2641 UKR 3.0
13  GM Victor Mikhalevski 2598 ISR 3.0
14  GM Antoaneta Stefanova 2481 BUL 3.0
15  IM Gediminas Sarakauskas 2450 LTU 3.0
16  FM Diego Suarez Pousa 2418 ESP 3.0
17  IM Jon Ludvig Hammer 2412 NOR 3.0
18  FM Espen Lie 2404 NOR 3.0
19  IM Venkatachalam Saravanan 2355 IND 3.0
20  Espen Forså 2264 NOR 3.0
21  Gunnar Berg Hanssen 2242 NOR 3.0
22  Tobias Pettersson 2122 SWE 3.0
23  Frode Bull Jæger 2096 NOR 3.0
24  Joachim Thomassen 2075 NOR 3.0
25  Simon Pind Jessen 2070 DEN 3.0

Tromsø, the town of the midnight sun

The Arctic Circle is one of the major circles of latitude, running 66.56° north of the Equator. It marks the southern extremity of the "polar day", which is when the sun is visible for 24 hours (usually referred to as the "midnight sun") at least once per year, and polar night, when the sun does not appear above the horizon for 24 hours. The midnight sun can be seen in summer for many days or weeks, depending on how far north of the arctic circle a place is located.

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

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.

Chess friends from Poland have scaled the mountain in Tromsdalen

Tromsø, where the sun doesn't set at this time of the year [more pictures here]


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