Socko, Robson, Petrov and Berg win Arctic Challenge

by ChessBase
8/10/2009 – This was the greatest performance of her career: Polish GM Monika Socko shared first place with 14-year-old IM Ray Robson of the US, Bulgarian IM Marijan Petrov and Sweden's top GM Emanuel Berg. But she took the title on tiebreak points and with a performance of 2639. We bring you a final report by IM Torstein Bae with a beautiful Robson game and pictures and videos from Tromsø.

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Tromsø – Arctic Chess Challenge 2009

Final report by IM Torstein Bae

The Arctic Chess Challenge in Tromsø came to an end on Sunday. On top after nine rounds: GM Monika Socko of Poland, who won on tiebreak ahead of IM Ray Robson, IM Marijan Petrov and GM Emanuel Berg.

The winner of the Arctic Chess Challenge 2009: GM Monika
Socko of Poland, with a rating performance of 2639 in Tromsø

# Player Rtng
Perf. / gain
GM Monika Socko 2449 7.0 43.5  2639 (+22.60)
IM Ray Robson 2491 7.0 43.0  2628 (+16.30)
IM Marijan Petrov 2479 7.0 40.5  2579 (+11.60)
GM Emanuel Berg 2610 7.0 38.0  2622 (+2.00)
GM Julian Radulski 2539 6.5 42.5  2541 (+2.90)
IM Luca Shytaj 2455 6.5 41.5  2613 (+20.10)
GM Jon Ludvig Hammer 2583 6.5 40.5  2556 (-0.80)
GM Allan Stig Rasmussen 2536 6.5 40.0  2585 (+7.40)
GM Yuri Drozdovskij 2620 6.5 39.0  2550 (-5.50)
10  GM Igor Khenkin 2634 6.5 38.5  2561 (-5.40)
11  GM Vadim Malakhatko 2570 6.0 41.5  2471 (-9.70)
12  GM Sarunas Sulskis 2559 6.0 40.5  2537 (-0.90)
13  GM Bartosz Socko 2656 6.0 38.0  2504 (-14.20)
14  Nicolai Getz 2219 6.0 38.0  2496 (+42.60)
15  GM Matthew J Turner 2517 6.0 38.0  2414 (-8.60)
16  WGM Natalia Zdebskaja 2412 6.0 37.5  2395 (-0.60)
17  IM Torbjørn R. Hansen 2440 6.0 36.5  2404 (-2.00)
18  IM Bjørn Tiller 2371 6.0 34.5  2422 (+10.80)
19  FM Frode Olav Olsen Urkedal 2333 6.0 34.5  2382 (+9.90)
20  Pål Røyset 2239 6.0 34.5  2364 (+21.75)
21  IM Aleksandar H. Wohl 2387 6.0 34.5  2327 (-6.45)
22  IM Gerard Welling 2363 6.0 34.0  2434 (+14.55)
23  WFM Katrine Tjølsen 2160 6.0 32.5  2374 (+28.80)
24  Donaldo Paiva   6.0 31.0  2340 (+38.50)
25  FM Kjetil Stokke 2347 5.5 39.5  2452 (+19.20)
26  IM Luis Javier Bernal Moro 2446 5.5 38.5  2361 (-7.30)
27  FM Arkadiusz Leniart 2390 5.5 37.5  2465 (+12.45)
28  Peter S Poobalasingam 2224 5.5 36.5  2337 (+17.40)
29  FM Joachim Thomassen 2300 5.5 35.0  2221 (-10.50)
30  Jeroen Van Den Bersselaar 2184 5.5 33.5  2191 (+0.45)
31  IM Anna Zozulia 2341 5.5 33.0  2289 (-5.85)
32  GM Amon Simutowe 2481 5.5 31.0  2385 (-6.40)
33  Jon Kristian Haarr 2110 5.5 31.0  2298 (+29.70

GM Monika Socko dominated the event from start to end, and it made perfect sense that her Buchholz was the best of the four players on seven points. Socko made the best result in her career (according to herself), and her performance rating of 2639 was the highest in the tournament. A splendid performance – Socko certainly is a player to reckon with in the future.

Co-winner and GM norm: IM Ray Robson, USA

The young American Ray Robson was the center of attention throughout the tournament, and what a performance he delivered! As you can read in previous reports from the Arctic Chess Challenge (here and here) he played splendid chess, and his overall win was well deserved. In the final round Robson fought his way to a draw with the black pieces against Swedish super-GM Emanuel Berg (2610). The draw not only made Robson co-winner of the tournament, but also gave him his first GM norm.

The two others players on seven points also performed very well in Tromsø, of course. IM Marijan Petrov was close to a GM-norm, but he did not play the necessary three GM’s. GM Emanuel Berg recently won the Swedish Championship for the first time, and made a new strong result in Tromsø.

Co-winner Emanuel Berg, Sweden’s strongest player

Co-winner Marijan Petrov of Bulgaria, performance rating 2579

Five title norms were scored in Tromsø. We have already mentioned Ray Robson’s GM norm. The second norm for the highest title was scored by Italian IM Luca Shytaj, who beat GM Drozdovskij (2620) and Malakhatko (2570).

6.5 points and a GM norm: IM Luca Shytaj, Italy

IM norms were scored by three young Norwegians. The 17-year-old Nicolai Getz beat GM Westerinen and drew GMs Khenkin and Malakhatko. The 26-year-old Kjetil Stokke played strong draws against IM Ray Robson and GMs Emanuel Berg and Bartosz Socko on his way.

Nicolai Getz, 6.0 points and his first IM norm

FM Kjetil Stokke, 5.5 points and his second IM norm

The final norm (a WIM-norm) was scored by 16-year-old Katrine Tjølsen. Because of the new norm rules, she had to make a draw in the last round even though she had won against IM Harald Groetz and GM Heikki Westerinen in round seven and eight. Drawing was not an easy task as she was black against GM Matthew Turner, but Katrine managed to draw after almost six hours play in the last round. A great performance from a young player who Norway expects much from in the future.

WFM Katrine Tjølsen scored her second WIM-norm

On Saturday evening chief organizer Jan Sigmund Berglund held a barbecue at his ranch. The chess players must have liked the food: 50 kilos of salmon, meat, salads and lots more was consumed in the course of the evening!

Barbecue host Jan Sigmund Berglund preparing the fish

The fish is getting ever closer to the stomachs of hungry chess players

Quite a few enjoyed their food and drink in Jan Sigmund’s greenhouse...

…while some others found a nice and warm fireplace

Photos by Torstein Bae and Bjørn Berg Johansen

The game of the tournament was played by US American 14-year-old wonderboy Ray Robson. In his round six game against Danish GM Allan Stig Rasmussen, the kid from Florida sacrificed a piece to achieve complete domination.

GM Allan Stig Rasmussen (2536) - IM Ray Robson (2491)
Arctic Chess Challenge 2009 Scandic Hotel, Tromsø (6), 06.08.2009
1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.g3 dxc4 5.Bg2 Bb4+ 6.Bd2 c5 7.Bxb4 cxb4 8.Ne5 0–0 9.Nxc4 Nc6 10.e3 e5 11.d5 b5 12.dxc6 Qxd1+ 13.Kxd1 bxc4 14.a3 Bg4+ 15.Kc1 b3 16.Nc3 Rac8 17.h3 Be6 18.Rd1 Rfd8 19.f4 e4 20.g4 Nd5! 21.Bxe4 Nxe3 22.Rxd8+ Rxd8 23.c7

23…Rd4! No doubt Robson discovered this move and the idea behind it several moves ago. White wins a piece, but his pieces are completely tied down by the black rook, knight and queenside pawns. 24.Bb7 h6! Robson is in no hurry, and simply improves the positioning of his pieces. 25.f5 Bd7 26.c8Q+ Bxc8 27.Bxc8 Kf8 28.Ba6 Rd6 29.Bb7 a5 30.Bf3 Ke7 31.a4 Rd4

White is a piece up, but black is the only one with a plan: advance the king and deliver mate! A brilliant conception by the young American. 32.Be2 Kf6 33.h4 Ke5 34.Rb1 Kf4 35.Nb5 Rd7 36.Nc3 Kg3 37.g5 hxg5 38.hxg5 Kf2 39.Bh5 Ke1 40.f6 gxf6 41.gxf6 Rd2 42.Ra1 Rc2+ 43.Kb1 Nf1!

White resigned. He can defend against the threat of Nf1-d2 mate, but then another threat pops up: 44.Ne4 Nd2+ 45.Nxd2 Kxd2 and Rc2-c1 mate is inevitable. 0-1.

The Arctic Chess Challenge (ACC) was part of Tromsø’s bid to organize the 2014 Chess Olympiad. You can read a lot more about the ACC 2009 on Sven Wisloff Nilsen’s excellent blog and at the tournament website.

Video impressions by Torstein Bae (index of reports at the end)

Video report by Europe Echecs


A selection of games is being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server If you are not a member you can download the free PGN reader ChessBase Light, which gives you immediate access. You can also use the program to read, replay and analyse PGN games. New and enhanced: CB Light 2009!

Previous ChessBase reports on Tromsø

Socko, Robson, Petrov and Berg win Arctic Challenge
11.08.2009 – This was the greatest performance of her career: Polish GM Monika Socko shared first place with 14-year-old IM Ray Robson of the US, Bulgarian IM Marijan Petrov and Sweden's top GM Emanuel Berg. But she took the title on tiebreak points and with a performance of 2639. We bring you a final report by IM Torstein Bae with a beautiful Robson game and pictures and videos from Tromsø.

Tromsø 2009 – Socko, Petrov and Robson lead
08.08.2009 – Make no mistake, it is GM Monika Socko, not her top-rated husband Bartosz, who is leading the Arctic Challenge with 6.0/7 and a 2703 performance. No less sensational is that 14-year-old IM Ray Robson is sharing first with a 2679 performance. The action is exciting ("hammer time") and the landscape lovely in the land of the midnight sun. Big illustrated report by Misha Savinov.

Tromsø 2009 – four lead in Arctic Chess Challenge
06.08.2009 – At the Arctic Chess Challenge in Tromsø 120 players are competing in the year’s most prestigious Norwegian event. After five of nine rounds there are four players in the lead. Three are GMs, one a female, but the fourth is of particular interest: 14-year-old US American IM Ray Robson, whom some people are calling the new Bobby Fischer. Pictorial report by IM Torstein Bae.

Tromsø 2009 – the Arctic Chess Challenge
02.08.2009 The Arctic Chess Challenge in Tromsø is this year’s most prestigious event in Norway. More than 35 titled players are taking part, including 13 GMs. Top seed is Polish GM Bartosz Socko, rated 2656, with three more super-GMs just below him. The tournament is truly an international open: the 118 participants hail from 26 countries, and from all parts of the world. Pictorial report.

Tromsø 2009 – the Arctic Chess Challenge
22.07.2009 – The city of Tromsø, located within the Arctic Circle in Norway, has become a hot-bed of chess. Not only is Tromsø bidding for the Chess Olympiad 2014 – every year they stage a very attractive chess tournament in this beautiful location. This year the Arctic Challenge will be staged from August 1st to 9th, with 132 entries and lots of title holders – an ideal opportunity to make norms.

Tromsø – a Chess Olympiad in the midnight sun?
18.11.2008 – It lies well within the Arctic Circle and has a history of chess activity. Now the city of Tromsø is bidding to host the 2014 Chess Olympiad in one of the most attractive regions of Europe. A full presentation is being made at the Olympiad in Dresden. We visited the city this summer and support their bid with some WYSIWYG evidence of why it is ideally suited for an Olympiad. Photo report.

Chess in the Arctic Circle – GM Igor Kurnosov triumphs
18.08.2008 – For the third time the Tromsø Chess Club staged an International Open in the Arctic Circle. It ran from August 2nd to 10th 2008, with sky high prizes, by Norwegian standards (total prize fund 11,000 Euros). The venue is spectacular, the atmosphere warm and generous. And the place is full of Carlsens: Magnus, Henrik, Sigrun, Ellen, Ingrid and Signe. Part one of our big pictorial report.

Moiseenko wins the Arctic Chess Challenge
12.08.2007 – In the end it was a super-GM who took the unshared first place in the Tromsø Midnight Sun tournament: Alexander Moiseenko of the Ukraine scored 7.5/9 to overtake the long-time leader, "Mr Sunshine" Kjetil Lie, who had beaten him in round four. Top seed Magnus Carlsen recovered from a poor start to share 2-4. Like his parents we expect Magnus to scale the Store Blåmannen.

Carlsen vs Carlsen – Magnus beats his dad
10.08.2007 – That is hardly a surprise, since the 16-year-old is over six hundred points stronger than his first teacher. But then again Henrik Carlsen has grounding powers... After seven rounds of the Arctic Chess Challenge in Tromsø it is Norwegian GM Kjetil A. Lie who is in the lead, with 5.5 points, followed by four players with 5.0 points each. Report with pictures and videos.

Second Arctic Chess Challenge in Tromsø
07.08.2007 – 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.

Shipov wins Midnight Sun, Carlsen second
03.07.2006 – The Midnight Sun Chess Challenge in Tromsø, Norway, was won by Russian GM Sergei Shipov, who scored 7.5 points in nine rounds. Second was fifteen-year-old Magnus Carlsen with 7.0, who beat Leif Erland Johannessen on tiebreak points. We bring you a final report with pictures from Whale's Island.

Carlsen leads the Midnight Sun Challenge
28.06.2006 – A fifteen-year-old super-grandmaster, blessed with an Elo of 2646, is leading the Midnight Sun Chess Challenge in Tromsø. Magnus Carlsen of Norway looks set to break a few new records with the form that he is showing these days. The event is being held well within the Arctic Circle, where at this time of year the nights are bright as day. Misha Savinov reports.

Midnight Sun Chess Challenge in Tromsø
26.06.2006 – 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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