Tie for first by half the field in Oslo

by ChessBase
4/27/2009 – The Arnold Eikrem Memorial, part of the 125th anniversary celebrations of the Oslo Chess Club, saw an exciting finish in true Norwegian social democratic spirit: it ended with half the field sharing first place! The open, Knut Bockman Cup, was won by the new shining star on the Norwegian chess heaven, FM Frode Urkedal (15) with a stunning 8.0/9. Pictorial report by GM Leif E. Johannessen.

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Arnold Eikrem Memorial, Oslo 2009

Report by GM Leif E. Johannessen

Oslo Schakselskap is Norway’s oldest chess club – founded 4th of February 1884 – and also the one richest in traditions. Made possible by a private donation in 1918 from bankier Johs G. Heftye (chairman 1886-89), the club has since 1952 had its own venues perfectly located in central Oslo. With 250 square meters of chess history and soul, these walls have always caused admirable looks by visitors. The club is open every afternoon for chess enthusiasts of all sorts. I dare other chess clubs all over the world if they can compete with such premises!

The Oslo Chess Club – Oslo Schakselskap – one of the finest in the world

Just kidding, that was the Royal Castle where the Royal family lives for most of the year. This is the chess club.

Sorry, kidding again: that was Oslo’s pride, the brand new Opera House, located right
at the end of the fjord. This is the chess club (from the inside). Really

Historically, Oslo Schakselskap has also been the strongest chess club in Norway, but recently its status has been challenged. This year Moss Chess Club, with the hired hit men GMs Miezis and Kveinys on the top boards, managed to tip the scales in their favour and won the league just ahead of Oslo Schakselskap.

Anatolij Karpov and the chairman at the time, Knut Bockman, conversing during the
100th anniversary celebrations of Oslo Schakselskap in 1984 [photo: Oystein Brekke]

In 1984, to mark the 100th anniversary celebrations of the club, one managed to put together a grandiose field of famous GMs lead by the then World Champion, Karpov. Karpov won the tournament in great style, ahead of Miles, Hübner, Hort, Adorjan, De Firmian, Makarichev etc. A 17-year-old Simen Agdestein (then member of Oslo Schakselskap) scored a GM-norm here, thus making it a very successful event for the organizers. Looking back on history, the board wanted to do something similar in 2009 – to mark the 125th anniversary celebrations – although in a smaller scale. The result was a field of seven established GMs, admittedly not with quite the same name recognition as the ones above, and three thriving local players. After a contribution by his memorial fund, the tournament got the name Arnold Eikrem memorial, after the famous organizer of the Gausdal tournaments. To complete the festival there was also an open tournament – Knut Bockman Cup – after the late Knut Bockman, a well known political editor and commentator in Norway who was chairman of Oslo Schakselskap for a total of 19 years.

Is it Al Pacino? John Travolta? No, it’s a super-cool Swede
GM Emanuel Berg! [Photo: Torstein Bae/Sjakkhuset]

A relaxed FM Andreas Moen before the round [Photo: Torstein Bae/Sjakkhuset]

A very focused FM Kristian Trygstad

Realizing that the tournament was probably not going to be category XX, the organizers instead set their minds on finding friendly, outgoing participants albeit aggressive fighters on the chess board. I think we succeeded perfectly. The drawing percentage was a record low 42 %, quite unique at this level, and the number of short draws marginal.

GM Florian Handke and his girlfriend Tanya in the Vigeland sculpture park

Not all of the participants were too absorbed in their performance on the chessboard during the Easter week. Germany’s Florian Handke came to Oslo together with his girlfriend, Tanya. Originally from the legendary chess city Arkhangelsk in Russia, she frantically upheld that she didn’t know any chess! A highly questionable assertion in my opinion. Anyway, it was the couple’s first ever visit to Oslo, and they managed to see a lot of the city’s attractions during their stay, including the Vigeland sculpture park and the brand new Opera House.

The Vigeland sculpture park with the mighty Monolith in the background

The park consists of 214 sculptures made by Gustav Vigeland mainly in the 1920s and 30s, all symbolizing the circle of life from birth to death with the whole spectre of human emotions.

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Some general words on Oslo might be in place at this point. The city was founded approximately 1000 years ago, and has been the capital of Norway since 1314. It is located at the end of the Oslo Fjord. Incidentally, it was here German ships came sailing in early on the 9th of April 1940 and one eccentric colonel – Birger Eriksen – became a national hero by ordering the two cannon shots that sunk Blücher, thereby allowing the Royal family and the government members to flee to London to continue the resistance from there. The tale goes that the order was delivered by the words “Either they court-martial me or they make me a war hero. Fire!”

Located at the end of the fjord, the city constitutes a depression in the terrain – the Oslo “pot” – and it is surrounded by hills and lakes. This gives the city a very green appearance, and it’s not an uncommon site to encounter wild moose (!) in relatively urban areas. It has been said about Oslo – rather undeservedly in my opinion – that it has the metropolitan mentality without the population (which is only about half a million). I realize I’m probably biased here, but my experience is that the city and its people are warm, welcoming and friendly.

Back to chess, where mention must be made of two young fellows who proved during Easter that they will be bright shining stars on the Norwegian chess heaven for years to come. While GM Jon Ludvig Hammer (18) probably doesn’t need any further presentation by now, FM Frode Urkedal (15) should still be a dark horse to many. His talent has been undisputed already for a few years now, but only recently has it sprung to life. Of course he has a splendid coach (me! Actually, training partner would be a far more precise description…). This time he was effortlessly cruising through the tournament and stopped only on 8 points. It’s not a risky bet that this kiddo will soon start picking up IM-norms and win the hearts of many Norwegian fans.

FM Frode Urkedal analysing one of his games [photo: Ole Valaker/Nettavisen]

The trainer of Vebjorn Rodal, the Norwegian gold medalist on 800 metres in the Atlanta Summer Olympiad of 1996, once told his prodigy that in order to improve, he desperately needed a haircut. Is it true also for Frode?!

Speaking of Jon Ludvig Hammer, he started 2009 by winning the very strong Gjovik anniversary tournament during New Year’s, only to follow up soon after with a stunning 2700 performance in Cappelle. He has recently overthrown Simen Agdestein as the new no. two in Norway and is rapidly approaching 2600 (watch out, Magnus!). At the moment there seems to be no stopping him from rocketing further up the rating lists. Naturally, three years in the top athlete’s gymnasium with Simen as mentor and Magnus as classmate have borne some fruit.

GM Jon Ludvig Hammer analysing his last round win outdoors [photo: Ole Valaker/Nettavisen]

Final standings of the 2009 Arnold Eikrem Memorial

Player Nationality
GM Bartlomiej Macieja Polend
GM Aloyzas Kveinys Lithuania
GM Emanuel Berg Sweden
GM Leif E. Johannessen Norway
GM Jon Ludvig Hammer Norway
GM Florian Handke Germany
IM Frode Elsness Norway
GM Leif Øgaard Norway
FM Kristian Trygstad Norway
FM Andreas Moen Norway

Round-by-round results

1st Round:
Handke - Øgaard ½-½
Hammer - Berg ½-½
Kveinys - Moen 1-0
Johannessen - Elsness 0-1
Macieja - Trygstad 1-0
2nd Round:
Handke - Hammer 0-1
Elsness - Macieja 0-1
Moen - Johannessen 0-1
Berg - Kveinys ½-½
Øgaard - Trygstad ½-½
3rd Round:
Hammer - Øgaard 1-0
Kveinys - Handke ½-½
Johannessen - Berg 1-0
Macieja - Moen 1-0
Trygstad - Elsness 0-1
4th Round:
Handke - Johannessen ½-½
Hammer - Kveinys 0-1
Moen - Trygstad ½-½
Berg - Macieja 1-0
Øgaard - Elsness ½-½
5th Round:
Kveinys - Øgaard 1-0
Johannessen - Hammer ½-½
Macieja - Handke ½-½
Trygstad - Berg ½-½
Elsness - Moen 1-0
6th Round:
Handke - Trygstad 1-0
Hammer - Macieja ½-½
Kveinys - Johannessen ½-½
Berg - Elsness 1-0
Øgaard - Moen 1-0
7th Round:
Johannessen - Øgaard 1-0
Macieja - Kveinys 1-0
Trygstad - Hammer ½-½
Elsness - Handke 0-1
Moen - Berg 0-1
8th Round:
Handke - Moen ½-½
Hammer - Elsness 1-0
Kveinys - Trygstad 1-0
Johannessen - Macieja ½-½
Øgaard - Berg ½-½
9th Round:
Macieja - Øgaard ½-½
Trygstad - Johannessen 0-1
Elsness - Kveinys ½-½
Moen - Hammer 0-1
Berg - Handke 1-0

The next tournament to be held in Oslo Schakselskap’s venues is Svein Johannessen memorial from 19th to 23rd of June, after the brilliantly talented IM – the only Norwegian to have faced Bobby Fischer over the board (they played twice during the Havana Olympiad in 1966). It is an international nine round Swiss limited to 64 (of course!) players, already including GMs Hebden, Hoi and Westerinen with Hammer and Kveinys “on hold”. For more information, contact organizer IM Bjarke Sahl (bjarke at sahl.no) or check out the tournament website (Norwegian).

GM Leif E. Johannessen
vice chairman Oslo Schakselskap

Picture gallery

Action time in the Arnold Eikrem memorial [photo: Oystein Brekke]

GM Florian Handke and GM Jon Ludvig Hammer battling it out

On Easter Eve, the guys made an Easter dinner for the girls. Or was it the other way around? From left: Julia Almer, Bartek Macieja, Emanuel Berg and Ellisiv Reppen.

Girls in a chess book shop: Magnus’ older sister Ellen Oen Carlsen (left) and Julia Almer [Photo: Oystein Brekke]

GM Leif Ogaard was among top 50 in the World some 30 years ago. These days he simply enjoys playing chess and doesn’t care too much about the results. He still had a very decent tournament.

A happy organizer after everything is over: vice-chairman of Oslo Schakselskap GM Leif E. Johannessen

A statue of Henrik Ibsen outside the National Theatre, where his
plays have entertained and provoked patrons for more than a century

Moen, Kveinys and Macieja just won’t stop analysing… [photo: Oystein Brekke]

Some of the board members relaxing on the veranda after a well organized event. From left: John Kristian Johnsen, chairman Ole Christian Moen and webmaster Tarjei Joten Svensen.

Hooray, my opponent blundered! Apparently the recruitment in Oslo Schakselskap is going well.

The players in Knut Bockman Cup [photo: Ole Valaker/Nettavisen]

The five winners of Arnold Eikrem memorial. Sitting (from left): GMs Bartek Macieja, Emanuel Berg and Aloyzas Kveinys. Standing behind are GMs Jon Ludvig Hammer and Leif E. Johannessen [photo: Oystein Brekke].

The winners of Knut Bockman Cup posing under a portrait of Knut Bockman. From left: Nikolai Getz, Inge Skrondal, Frode


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