Arctic Chess Challenge |

We regret to inform that there will be no Arctic Chess Challenge in 2011. We might come back next year, and we are even considering something in a smaller format before that, but there is nothing definite yet. Please check this space for more info at a later time.

- The organizers

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The winner, GM Mikhail Kobalia (RUS)

Runner-up: GM Manuel Leon Hoyos (MEX)

In a dramatic last round, Mikhail Kobalia started with a sudden win over Loek van Wely. That meant that he was certain of a shared win if Hoyos weren’t able to win over India’s Chanda Sandipan. Despite pressing in a long game, Hoyos didn’t manage more than a draw, and they shared the 1st-2nd money prize, both on 7,5points. As it turned out Kobalia won on tie-breaks. Trailing on 7 points were Sandipan, van Wely, B. Socko, Petrov and Turner.

Last year’s winner Monika Socko got the prize for best female, while Frode O. O. Urkedal and Heikki Westerinen got the prizes for best junior and best senior, respectively.

Full results .

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Before the last round

Loek van Wely (Photo: Bjørn Berg Johansen)

Loek Wan Wely is leading ACC before the last round. The rating favorite GM Loek Van Wely has thus far lived up to the expectations and leads the tournament with 7 points. He is followed by GM Manuel Leon Hoyos on the same score, but lower tie-breaks. Young Hoyos is only 21 years old and must be regarded as tournament surprise. He has lost only one game and won the rest.

Trailing the leaders by 1/2 point are GMs Sandipan, B. Socko and Kobalia. The winner of the tournament is among these five.

Talking about Loek; he has really played an international chess tournament and met players from nine different countries, playing on the first board 7 of the 9 rounds.

Norm chances

of Norway has achieved his IM title since he in this tournament has passed 2400 as well as making his fifth(!) norm.
, Finland needs a draw for an IM norm.
from the Netherlands has achieved his third norm, and can even get his first GM norm with a win!
, Ireland needs a draw against Frode Elsness to achieve a GM norm.
, Norge becomes IM if he wins against Dr. Holger Riedel.

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All side events went as planned

It is risky business to invite to outdoor events 6 days in a row in Tromsø. The weather is mildly unstable in Tromsø, and this summer we have had a little less sunshine than normal, too.

Despite bad weather forecasts before the tournament we didn’t have to cancel any of the events. The weather turned out to be better than expcted, and the big barbecue on Nordgården was held Friday evening in glorious weather. All of the approximately 160 partygoers seemed to enjoy soup, gravlax and barbecue.

Summer night in Tromsø (Photo: Beate Forså)

During the week we have arranged fishing trip to Hella, three boat trips with private fishing, city walk, mountain trip, lecture with Hans Olav and now a barbecue.

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Arctic Blitz won by Loek van Wely

88 players fought for eight prizes of a total value of NOK 10,000 in a few hours late Thursday. It was exciting until the last lap, but the highest rated van Wely won in the end in tie breaks ahead of IM Helgi Dam Ziska. Both had 7.5 points and tie-break points decided.

However, there was no doubt about who was the crowd favorite: the 13 year-old Alexandr Bortnik. He is definitely on even ground with the grandmasters in this discipline. As we recall, he won the trip to Tromsø by blitz games on ICC, and we have certainly not heard the last from this guy! .




Round 5

Bartosz Socko alone at the top, meets Loek Van Wely in Round 6

GM Bartosz Socko is now the only one with a perfect score after five rounds. He is ranked fourth in the tournament and thus one of the big favorites to win.

It was also clear that many of the top in this round got adequate opponents. On the 15 live boards, 10 games ended in a draw. The tournament is even and tough, and those trying to secure a draw against their GM colleagues in the rounds to come will probably end up outside both the podium and prize list. The Arctic Chess Challenge this year requires more stamina than ever to go all the way to the top.

We also note also that last year’s winner GM Monika Socko seems happy here, and is doing well with 4 points and a performance rating of 2609. IM Aleksandar H. Wohl bicycled from Trondheim. It seems that this has made him well.

The Norwegian hopes to intervene in the main prize fight are going well with 3.5 points. We have so far been most impressed with FM Kjetil Stokke, who play very good chess. He seems to be better in almost all of his games despite very strong opponents. He has now played three draws in a row against three GMs and gets his fourth in a row in round 6.

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Update on some of the side events

Lecture by Hans Olav Lahlum

Please note that tomorrow at 21:30 Hans Olav Lahlum will give a lecture in English entitled: “The United States, the World Society and the Presidents from 1914 to 2010: From Woodrow Wilson two Barack Obama.” See invitation here.


Thursday night at 20:14 there will be a 9-round blitz tournament with guaranteed high GM-factor. Total prize fund 10.000 kr! See the invitation here.

Barbecue on Friday

The weather forecast finally looks brighter, so we take the chance to invite to an outdoor barbecue  at Nordgård this coming Friday. Read here what is to come.




Round 2 and 3

IM Frode Elsness white against GM Heikki Westerinen

The 2 or 3 first rounds in major opens are usually “transport stages” for the best players, since they usually play considerably lower rated players and are supposed to win their way to the big battles against their peers later on. As we all know, theory and practice are different things, so the 12 super GMs with 2600+ already had to give three points away in the first 2 rounds.

After 2 rounds, 32 players were on 2/2, and as expected the highest ranking Norwegian players were among them. On the 16 highest tables, we found IM Espen Lie, FM Kjetil Stokke, FM Frode Urkedal, IM Bjørn Tiller and IM Frode Elsness. As a result, all of them met a GM in round three.

The fight on the chess boards are tightening, and after yesterday’s round 3, only 11 players have a perfect score. IM Frode Elsness is the only Norwegian, and in fact the only IM on the first 8 boards. This round is when the GMs start meeting each other in earnest.

has his first bulletin about the tournament. We also see that Susan Polgar follow us every day, and Erik Gullaksen is of course writing news bulletin as usual on Bergen Chess Club. Tobias Petterson is the tournament’s most loyal and is participating for the fifth time. He also has a blog where we gcan read about his ACC experiences. Lars Grahn’s great blog gets firsthand information from Kaj Engstrøm and has a steady flow of news from the tournament.

Yesterday the side events calendar had a city walk on the agenda, and a small video update can be found under Video in the main menu. The videos are made by Macauley.

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Second day

Happy fisherwomen

Small bombs are constantly detonated, and today GM Heikki Westerinen attracted the greatest attention by beating his much younger and higher ranked colleague Sergei Azarov. Apart from that there were 4 GMs that had to concede half a point, incidentally all four of them to women.

Today there was also organized a fishing trip to “Hella”, where about 60 of the participants were seen until late in the evening.

Bjørn Berg Johansen is always present with the camera where things happen, and you can see his photos from the tournament and the fishing trip here.

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Arctic Chess Challenge in numbers

Some statistics from ACC: Of the 164 participants 21 are female. 16 of these have FIDE titles. Last year’s winner Monica Socko is the female GM in the field. 3 women are IMs. The 76 FIDE titles are as follows: 25 GM, 25 IM, 5 WGM, 4 WIM, 14 FM, 3 WFM

The average rating in the tournament is 2234, the 10 highest rated GMs have an average of 2636, while the GM group in total has 2568. There are 12 GMs above 2600.

61 players have more than 2300, which means that there are 103 to be distributed in the three rating groups. That means 35 in group 1, 34 in group 2, and 34 in group 3.

4 seniors participating in the tournament, all male. Women are counted as seniors from the age of 50, while men must wait 10 more years.

73 participants are from Norway. Of the 91 foreigners, 53 (58%) come from seven (20%) countries, with England and Sweden having 10 each. Then comes Netherlands with 9, Poland 7, Ukraine and Germany 6 each, while Finland has 5.

17 players come from the host club. 8 of them are juniors, two are seniors. 7 Tromsø players have international ratings. Half of the juniors are girls. Tromsø Club Team Bjørnsen has one participant.


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