Vibrant tradition: the Norwegian Championships

by ChessBase
7/15/2016 – This year the Norwegian Championships celebrate a jubilee: 100 years ago, in 2016, the first Norwegian Championship was played in Christiana, which later became Oslo. But the tournament is still very much alive and every year about 400 people take part in the various events. This year a lot of talented juniors, three Grandmasters and nine International Masters came to in Tromsø to play for various national titles.

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Norwegian Championships (Part 1)

By Thomas Robertsen

The Norwegian Chess Championships are taking place in Tromsø, July 9th to 16th. The playing venue is Tromstun primary school in Tromsdalen, on the mainland part of Tromsø. There are 376 participants, in 13 groups. Six national champions will be crowned, from U10 champion to the winner of the elite group to a senior (60+).

The playing venue

This year’s Championship is the 93rd. The first Norwegian championship was played in 1916, 100 years ago, in a city named Christiania, now better known as Oslo. With an average of roughly 400 participants the Landsturneringen (the official name of the tournament) is year after year the biggest tournament in Norway. Every year between 10 to 20 percent of all members of the Norwegian Chess Federation take part in the tournament.

The former President of the NSF (Norwegian Chess Federation), who also was one of the driving forces behind Tromsø’s bid for the Chess Olympiad 2014, Jøran Aulin-Jansson, has played in 43 consecutive championships, but he is not the record holder. According to himself, it is with great joy and a tiny bit of sorrow that he greets Jan Svenske (46 consecutive championships) every year in Landsturneringen.

Former president of the Norwegian Chess Federation and leader
of the Master Group, Jøran Aulin-Jansson, cheerful as always.

22 players start in the Elite group, among them three grandmasters (rating favorite Frode Urkedal, Kjetil A Lie and Rune Djurhuus) and nine IMs.

Round 1 saw a few upsets as GM Kjetil Lie lost to his former club mate Anders Hobber (2333), and IM Maxim Deveraux lost against the lowest rated player, Johannes Jakhelln Kjøita (FIDE 2068). Kjøita followed up with a draw against IM Frode Elsness after tenacious defence. Then followed two losses and a win in round 5 – now Henning has 2.5/5.




The same Elsness returned with a vengeance, and beat IM Johan Salomon in round three to join GM Rune Djurhuus and FM Joachim B. Nilsen in the lead – all three had 2.5/3.

GM Rune Djurhuus in shared lead after five rounds with 4.0 points

Both Djurhuus (against Elsness) and Nilsen won in round four, while all their closest rivals drew and thus Nilsen and Djurhuus had 3.5/4 and were one point ahead of the field.


In round four Joachim B. Nilsen (left) played against IM Johan-Sebastian Christiansen

The game between Djurhuus and Nilsen in round five was a bit of an anticlimax because they drew in 16 moves. This allowed GMs Urkedal and Lie, as well as IMs Getz and Elsness to shorten the gap to the leaders to 0.5 points.

The Master group is playing for two places in the Elite group in the 2017 Championships which will take place in Stavanger. Here, FM Jøran Aulin-Janson, mentioned above, leads with 4.5/5 and is one point ahead of this rivals. At a respectful distance we find FM Hans K Harestad, Christian Laverton and Gunnar Berg Hanssen with 3.5/5.

The winner of the Junior group (U20) also qualifies for the Elite group next year, and after five rounds Endre Machlik and Tor Fredrik Kaasen, both from Tromsø, lead with 4.0/5, followed by Lucas Ranaldi, Petter A. Wadsteinvik and FM Benjamin Haldorsen, who all have 3.5/5.

The most charming acquaintance so far is 8-year-old Aksel Bu Kvaløy, who is leading the U10 with a perfect score of 5.0/5. The following game would make any master proud:

8-year-old Aksel Bu Kvaløy (Stavanger) plays impressive chess


The Norwegian Championships are an important source of income for the club that organizes the event, and all work is done on a voluntary basis. A lot of people are setting aside one week of their hard-earned summer holidays to work for free for the local chess club. A cafeteria, cleaning staff, secretariat, hosts, arbiters, a daily bulletin editorial and a live webcast studio are all manned by volunteers, all working long days for the good of the local chess club. For the club administration, the championship preparations have been their main task the previous year. So far, everything is running smoothly.

Helpful and friendly – the kitchen staff

For the first time in history, there is a live webcast from the tournament. Yours Truly and Tron Walseth are commenting the games live while interviewing players and celebrities who visit the studio on the fly. The live webcast is streamed via YouTube and can be followed via the official website.

T&T (Tron and Thomas) interview GM Kjetil Lie (right) who
recovered quickly after his loss in round 1



Hans Olav Lahlum - TV commentator, politician, historian, author and chess player

Lars Monsen

The famous Norwegian wilderness man and adventurer, Lars Monsen, is also a good chess player. Among other things Monsen walked and dog-sledded across Canada, an expedition that took him more than 2.5 years

Patiently waiting for dad...


...or not so patiently

Chess might be all-consuming but it´s important to eat

The midnight sun in Tromsø (Photo: Odd-Steinar Ellingsen)

Rolf (left) and Christian run the webcast and provide excellent live pictures from the playing hall

A good book helps to relax after the game.

The boys in the office take care that no mobile phones are taken to the playing area

All photos: Anniken Vestby

Tournament page


About the author

Thomas Robertsen is a passionate chess enthusiast who follows the great players and tournaments with great interest. He is also very fond of chess history and enjoys reading about the players and tournaments of the past. In the past three years he has been preoccupied mostly with chess administration as a Board member in the Norwegian Chess Federation. Tom also headed the sporting committee which picked players for our national teams in last year's Olympiad. Leaving the adminstration this summer he hopes to get to play more on my own. "I`m not a great chessplayer, but peaked at a decent 2275 a few years ago. Besides playing I hope to get to write more about chess in the near future."

Thomas lives in Tromsö and is the father of Sander (21) and Hannah (7). He works with children and young people as a psychiatric nurse.

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


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