Tromsø 2009 – four lead in Arctic Chess Challenge

by ChessBase
8/6/2009 – 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.

ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024 ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024

It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it. Start your personal success story with ChessBase and enjoy the game even more.


Tromsø – Arctic Chess Challenge 2009

Report after round five by IM Torstein Bae

The Arctic Chess Challenge in Tromsø is the most important event in Norway this year. In spectacular surroundings, 118 participants from all parts of the world are battling it out on the chess board. After five out of nine rounds, GM Sarunas Sulskis, GM Monika Socko, GM Allan Stig Rasmussen and the American wonderboy IM Ray Robson are in the lead with 4.5 points.

Intermediate standings after Round 5 (3.5 points and higher)

Pl Name i-Rtg Score Med.Buchh i-Performance
# Player Rtng
Perf. / gain
GM Sarunas Sulskis 2559
 2746 (+9.60)
GM Monika Socko 2449
 2708 (+13.90)
IM Ray Robson 2491
 2687 (+9.90)
GM Allan Stig Rasmussen 2536
 2683 (+6.80)
IM Marijan Petrov 2479
 2508 (+2.80)
IM Fabio Bruno 2455
 2495 (+3.40)
GM Julian Radulski 2539
 2542 (+1.10)
IM Kalle Kiik 2475
 2483 (+1.10)
GM Igor Khenkin 2634
 2618 (+0.10)
10  GM Yuri Drozdovskij 2620
 2569 (-1.90)
11  Nicolai Getz 2219
 2502 (+22.50)
12  IM Luis Javier Bernal Moro 2446
 2391 (-2.30)
13  GM Jon Ludvig Hammer 2583
 2547 (-1.00)
14  WGM Natalia Zdebskaja 2412
 2492 (+5.50)
15  IM Luca Shytaj 2455
 2537 (+6.60)
16  GM Emanuel Berg 2610
 2501 (-5.40)
17  GM Vadim Malakhatko 2570
 2496 (-3.60)
18  FM Kjetil Stokke 2347
 2490 (+15.30)
19  Sondre Waage Tofte 2119
 2470 (+26.70)
20  FM Arkadiusz Leniart 2390
 2484 (+7.80)
21  FM Frode Olav Olsen 2333
 2277 (-2.85)
22  IM Harald Groetz 2350
 2208 (-10.50)
23  GM Bartosz Socko 2656
 2506 (-7.20)
24  Kaj Engstrom 2274
 2199 (-3.90)

The top seeded player in the tournament, GM Bartosz Socko of Poland, had a tough start in Tromsø. In the first round he drew local player Frode Bull Jager. In the second round, he was paired against GM Amon Simutowe of Zambia! The result was a hard fought GM draw in round two. After five rounds Bartosz Socko is on 3.5 points, whereas Amon Simutowe’s score is 3 points.

Ray Robson, the new American star

The 14-year-old US American IM Ray Robson is a very interesting player; the new Bobby Fischer, some people say. Perhaps – at least his round five win against Belgian super-GM Vadim Malakhatko (2620) promises great things in the future.

Robson,Ray (2491) - Malakhatko,Vadim (2570)
Arctic Chess Challenge 2009 Scandic Hotel, Tromsø (5), 01.08.2009
1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5 5.Ng3 Bg6 6.h4 h6 7.Nf3 Nd7 8.h5 Bh7 9.Bd3 Bxd3 10.Qxd3 e6 11.Bd2 Ngf6 12.0-0-0 Be7 13.Qe2 0-0 14.Nf1 c5 15.g4 cxd4 16.g5 hxg5 17.Bxg5 Nd5 18.Bxe7 Qxe7 19.Rxd4 Qf6 20.Kb1 Qh6 21.c4 Rac8 22.Qd1 N5f6 23.Ne3 Nc5 24.Ne5 Nce4 25.Qf3 Qh7 26.Ka1 Rcd8 27.Rxd8 Rxd8 28.h6 Rd2 29.N3g4 Qf5 30.Nxf6+ Nxf6. Perhaps the Belgian GM thought his position was quite ok, as he threatens the knight on e5 and a queen exchange. If so, he was in for a big surprise.

31.Qxb7! It turns out that Black cannot take the knight: 31…Qxe5 32.Qc8+ Kh7 33.hxg7+ Kxg7 34.Qh8+ Kg6 35.Qh6+ and White picks up the rook on d2 with an easy win. 31…Qh5! The best defensive try, exploiting White’s weak back rank. 32.a3! Simple and strong. The ending is winning for White. 32…Rd1+ 33.Rxd1 Qxd1+ 34.Ka2 Qh5 35.Qa8+ Kh7 36.hxg7 Kxg7 37.f4. Robson is a pawn up, and the queenside pawns are clearly more dangerous than the black kingside pawns. 37…Qf5 38.Qxa7 Nh5 39.Qd4 Qxf4 40.Qxf4 Nxf4 41.a4! The a-pawn is unstoppable. Black resigned. 1-0.

The second player on 4.5 points is GM Sarunas Sulskis of Lithuania. Sulskis plays solid chess, and is ruthless in exploiting his opponents’ mistakes. This approach has been very successful in Tromsø so far.

The Arctic Chess Challenge is an open tournament, where everyone may take part. Among the 118 participants are players from all parts of the world, and their playing strength varies from super-GM to unrated. In the third round a game was played which perfectly illustrates that you can enjoy chess regardless of your age, sex or nationality.

Szymon Socko of Poland (left) vs Rachelle Hoareau of the Seychelles. Watching on
the right is former women’s world champion Susan Polgar

In addition to the chess tournament, the organizers try to show the players the beauty of Tromsø. Even though Tromsø is located north of the polar circle, the weather is very pleasant in summer. The temperature this week is in the mid-twenties, and the sun has been shining from a clear sky.

Late dinner at the Forså/Hansen household, with guests from South Africa. As you
can see, there is plenty of light and sunshine, at 10 pm in the night

Monday night a midnight fishing trip was organized. One German GM even took a swin in the Arctic water! Wednesday morning a mountain expedition took place. The first part of the journey was by cable car. Some people were quite happy to leave it at that, while others went even further on foot.

Going up by cable car, below is Tromsø city (photo: Ulf R. Hansen)

A great view from the cable car’s final stop… (photo: Ulf R. Hansen)

…but some players did not stop until they reached the summit! (photo: Ulf R. Hansen)

Back to the tournament, here are more some players who have impressed in the first five rounds.

Danish GM Allan Stig Rasmussen, co-leader with 4.5 points

GM Monica Socko of Poland, co-leader with 4.5 points

Dieter Amberger of Austria (elo 2054), three points and rating performance 2314

17-year-old Nicolai Getz of Norway, four points and rating performance 2390

The venue and the hotel of residence (which provides free wifi for all players)

Bjørn Berg Johansen, organiser and tournament photographer

 The Arctic Chess Challenge is played in Tromso from August 1st to 9th. Round 6 to 8 start at 12 pm CET; the last round starts at 11 am. Every round you can follow nine games live on or at the tournament website At the website you can also play through games and look at videos and more photos. Finally, do not miss Sven W. Nilssen’s round-by-round commentary at Chess Phantom Blog.

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


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 the PGN games.

Previous ChessBase reports on Tromsø

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.

Reports about chess: tournaments, championships, portraits, interviews, World Championships, product launches and more.


Rules for reader comments


Not registered yet? Register