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The Scandinavian Offense

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Two interesting round-robins are running concurrently in Sweden and Norway. The 15th Sigeman tournament in Malmo, Sweden, is a category 13 that includes four local players. The top seed is Ivan Cheparinov, still better known as Topalov's second but a promising young player himself. Jan Timman is there as well, and while the veteran should no longer be called a favorite in these events, he's a three-time former winner here and his games always deserve attention. The top Indian teen hope, 14-year-old Parimarjan Negi, is also there, struggling a bit so far. After four rounds Cheparinov, Hillarp-Persson, and Berg are tied for the the lead with three points.

The Sigeman event wins the website battle hands down, and it's a category higher than this year's Classic GM A event in Gausdal, Norway. But the Gausdal field has several things going for it, including the presence of local hero and international star Magnus Carlsen in his first tournament since his amazing Linares performance. He's in first place with 3.5/4 and must be considered the big favorite. Irina Krush (Black Belt annotator and Brooklyn in the house!) is continuing her recent run of very impressive play so far. Her wins include one over Dreev with black and an even score the rest of the way would net her another GM norm. She's in second with Krasenkow right now. This event has its own veteran legend, Hungary's Lajos Portisch.

Gausdal also has a less legendary figure in the GM A field, the untitled American chess patron Dr. Eric Moskow. He's been a long-time friend of the Gausdal event and over the years he has played at various tournaments there during this annual festival. He was also in the A Group last year, although it was a considerably weaker event. The mostly retired Florida doctor has been focusing a lot on his chess lately and is attempting to become one of very few players to make significant progress up the Elo chart while closing in on 50 years of age. His ambition is very impressive, but so far his score is not. He's 0/4 with little hope of crossing the 3.5 score needed for an IM norm. Unfortunately, his opponents so far have avoided his famed expertise in the Sicilian Dragon! C'mon guys, are you chicken?!


" Unfortunately, his opponents so far have avoided his famed expertise in the Sicilian Dragon! C'mon guys, are you chicken?! "

There should be an extra rule for this tourney.

-> Everyone should play only Sicilian Dragon with Eric!!!!

They are really great event. I hope Irina gets her GM norm. I wonder if Cheparinov will show what he learned from Topalov, or the Tiger will eat them all.
Yesterday there was a great report after 4th round at http://tournaments.chessdom.com/gausdal-sigeman-update . I hope they put soon another one.
Thank you Mig for commenting it, chessbase is kind of silent on the events and chessvibes somehow disappeared... and I do not know Scandinavian languages lol:)

Greetings to Eric Moskow! He organized a trip in 1975 for 10 of us high-school players to play the Swedish national team in Stockholm (we lost but held our own) and the Solna chess club (we won if I recall), then to Sandefjord, Norway, for a major open there. Five years later I played in Gausdal (which is right next to Lillehammer) and then a round-robin in Oslo. That trip included a visit to scope out Oxford University, and I liked it enough to apply and then go there. The Norway events were organized (among others?) by Arnold Eikrem, who was an incredible host of our crazy presence.

An even more notable Norwegian connection traceable to that trip is that Jonathan Tisdall married and lives there and has worked as both a chef and a reporter. He is currently on the staff of the English/Internet edition of Aftenposten (http://www.aftenposten.no/english/ click "About the newsdesk" on left under "INFO"), and Google Tisdall GM food turns up food-for-thought...

Eric's funniest quote was on the train through forests from Sweden to Norway, a known witticism but he actually said it: "I wish they'd cut down the trees so we could see the scenery..."

What's happening---evidently to "craftsman" too---is that on first try you get an "Internal Server Error" message. So naturally you hit the Back button and try again, but the first one actually went thru. Mig, feel welcome to prune as-needed.

Hey Mig, should I post here the error or send it by mail?

Trust me, I know the error well! I'm trying to figure it out and fix it. Without causing too many more errors. I'll prune regularly.

Both tournaments are great, fantastic games.

Gausdal seems like a beautiful place to have a chess tournament; in the pictures of the eventt you can see snow on the ground outside (it is Norway, of course!).
Here's hoping Irina gets her 2nd GM norm! She lost today :( but is having a great tournament.

Anyone know what kind of money Moskow had to pay to play in Gausdal? Or is he a friend of the organisers? Either way, it's great to see someone a little more err, experienced in life, trying to improve at chess.

"and chessvibes somehow disappeared..."

Excuse me? Stil therrrrrrre! :-)

So, a guy on the ICC (from Brazil) asks me, "The top prize at Gausdal is '1300 Euro + a troll'. What is this troll?" I didn't find anything specific about this on the website. Cave, forest, or mountain? How old is it, and what's its estimated adult height/weight, and when will it reach it? Can it be paper-trained? Care instructions (do I have to keep it out of the sun)? Estimated cost of maintenance? Can you take 800 Euro and no troll?

ken,how you doing, gotta tell my kids about that, remember chess life ran a story and in fact they remember our trip here 30 years later. how bout a reunion event??/

hey ken, ready for a reunion event??

I thought that Kotronias--Hillarp-Persson, in the Sigeman event, was a fine game, chock full of unusual tactics. Indeed, many are the games are worthwhile playing over. While there is the occasional short draw, there are just as many games that are fought down to the last pawn. Hector's win over Timman, using the Winawer Counter Gambit, was a nice swashbuckling affair, although it pretty much put Timman out of contention.

Portish is doing well in the Gausdal event, with an instructive victory over Krasenkow. Krush has dropped back to even with two straight losses. She'll now need to score 2.5/3 in her final games, and she has yet to play Magnus.

Hi Eric and hi Ken.

A year or so ago when local NY master Oliver Chernin upset GM DeFirmian in some minor Marshall Chess Club event, I noted that Oliver is a regular Dragon player -- which then domino'ed me into a flashback to a decades-old Chess Life story involving Eric, the Dragon, and another GM.

Eric, after a long absence from chess, sponsored a very strong tournament (in NY?) and thereby got to play in it. He'd published a (apparently recent) book on the Dragon, which the article's author noted when annotating his game against the GM from the tournament.

The thing that struck me was that the annotator, a GM himself (I don't recall who; maybe Patrick Wolff), took Eric's opponent to task for daring to essay the Yugoslav Attack against someone who'd written a book on it -- even someone rated 500 points or so lower. The annotator was unusually blunt: he used a word like, 'foolhardy,' I think.

Hindsight is 20-20, after all: That GM who plunged into the Yugoslav Attack against Eric soon found himself in a hopeless position. (He managed to win, anyway.)

Failing to remember the opponent's name, I guessed it might have been DeFirmian. But when I saw him a short time later, I asked whether he'd been Eric's would-be victim way back then, and he said no.

Then I encountered Eric on ICC and he told me who it was. Turned out it was someone much stronger than DeFirmian: Lev Psakhis.

someone much stronger than DeFirmian: Lev Psakhis

Where does this one come from, left field?

Dear Eric,
Indeed! I think all the 10 could be brought together. The Q is, do we bring said kids along??

If so, we'd have to inquire whether the "Spider House" (speiderhuset meaning scouts' house in Norwegian) is still available, or even standing :-). I wonder if you can run a UTP-5 cable to the kind of toilet that place had... We played 10-way double-bughouse until late in the evenings, and I'm not certain whether the floor we played it on had carpet or just grass. Or maybe it was on long low wooden tables.

Interesting game with Carlsen-Portisch today. Unfortunately the oldtimer lost control at the end. Portisch' position didn't look bad during the game though White's powerful knight d5 put him into some trouble.

Cheparinov still leading! I expected Negi to win today, but he couldnt...
For me the surprise is one of the IMs that is currently going middle of the table.

IM Pontus Carlsson, where can I find more info about him?


Yermo, honestly I can't make up my mind about the De Firmian-Psakhis comparison. Since you know both of them, and understand chess much more than most of us, maybe you can clarify your position a bit.

In current playing strength I guess they are more or less equal, but in terms of "abstract potential" (if the idea makes any sense at all) wasn't Lev Psakhis perhaps a greater talent? Would De Firmian really have been capable of winning two consecutive USSR Championships, including a shared first with Kasparov?

(Amply off topic, I know, but still an interesting discussion and certainly belonging here no less than arguments on whether Cecil Rhodes was worse than Mugabe or vice versa).

Cheparinov wins!

Its not unusual these days that a database search reveals an entire game to have already been played previously.

Negi - Hermansson, however takes it to a new level. It is completely present in the opening book (Fritz.ctg) of Fritz 8! White won in 23 moves. I wonder how long he took to 'think'

I wonder how Negi would have done, if he had to work out the tactics himself? Hermanssen had a nice win in the 8th round vs L'Ami, but he was pretty much outclassed. Some entertaining chess, though...

In Gausdal, Krush had her typical choke, after getting off to a fast start. She did draw M. Carlsen, though. It was good to see Portisch have a nice result--finishing =2nd

It was awesome to watch Portisch play at Gausdal: I didn’t think he played much these days but he came to win the tournament. The reason he lost to Carlsen was that he tried to beat him with Black because Portisch was half a point behind at that time and figured he needed to win to take first. Carlsen played a nice game as well, to be sure. Portisch gave an entertaining short lecture in an avuncular style; all about a three-way off play-off with Tal and Petrosian to go through to the 1977 Candidates, complete with game-fixing story, Tal drinking story, the works.

As to Doug’s comments on Krush, this sort of ignorant crap about players shouldn’t bother me, but for some reason it still manages to get my goat. Perhaps Doug can explain why IK was ‘choking’ because when she played sharply early in the tournament against Dreev he made a horrible mistake and blundered two pawns, whereas when she played sharply against Krasenkow later in the event he responded well.

In my view (which isn’t worth much either, being based only watching her play at this tournament) the reason – chesswise, at least, there may be all sorts of personal reasons – that IK hasn’t (yet) fulfilled her obvious great early potential has much more to do with inflexibility: she doesn’t seem to know any other way to play than sharply for the win, and when you need 2.5/5 for a GM norm with Eric Moskow (no offence) to come, this ain’t what’s required. I’d have thought that rather than silly comments about choking chessninja, with its absurd obsession about draws, would have applauded her for overpressing against Lie instead of doing what any interested onlooker would have advised, ie taking the draw and going away to prepare. Against Kulaots she was simply caught by a big novelty in a fashionable variation; could have happened at any stage of any tournament.

I too would have said Psakhis was in a different class to de Firmian. Depends how many classes you classify players into, of course.

rdh, I will be forever indebted to you if you could please relate the 3 way playoff story, omitting no details!

I thought you were already in my debt after my attempts to set you straight on the matter of the odious Topalov?!

The story itself isn’t that interesting: you sort of had to be there, and I can’t do the Hungarian accent and gestures – Portisch is a pretty good raconteur.

But the gist of it was that Tal, Petrosian and Portisch had to play a three-way play off, four games against each opponent, to see which two went through to the Candidates. Portisch had the worst tie-break score. Portisch demanded that the draw be fixed so that the last round wasn’t Tal-Petrosian. The Russians protested and asked why Portisch hadn’t made the same stipulation in 1973/4 when he played Polu and Geller in a similar play-off. Portisch replied that that had been P and G, and this was T and P, which got everything off to a flying start, but anyway the Russians had to agree in the end.

Portisch then started by losing to Petrosian with White. Everyone knew all the T-P games would be drawn, and so they were. So Portisch had to beat Tal – even beating Petrosian wouldn’t be enough – and he did as Black in a brilliant game, which he showed. The last game was P-P. Petrosian on +1 was already through, and a draw would see him win the first prize and Portisch qualify. Tal knew what would happen, so he retired to his room with a bottle of vodka. And the negotiations began. Baturinsky wanted Petrosian to play for a win with Black against Portisch. Petrosian didn’t want to risk first prize, but in the end after many hours’ discussion he agreed to play for a win, and everyone went to bed. Next day at lunch Petrosian sidles up to Portisch’s table while Baturinsky is out of the room, and of course offers a draw, which was agreed.

Some naïf from the audience asked how the game itself had proceeded and the arrangement thus been concealed from Baturinsky. Portisch smiled. ‘Is no problem’, he replied. ‘We are grandmasters.’

Irina K gave a very good lecture as well, by the way, and so did Krasenkow and Reinderman. I recommend this event: they have suitable minnow sections alongside the main action.

haha, that was a great story thanks! Guineas on the way!


So you were present at Gausdal, too - didn't know that, or else I'd might approached you.

Regarding Krush-Lie, Irina actually offered the draw, but Kjetil declined, even if he was in a worse position. So it was actually Kjetil who wanted the win most in the end (due to his terrible 0/3 start), not Irina - despite her slightly better position.

Why has Dreev gone down so horribly?

Dreev is a russian male - what is the main social problem Russia?

Dreev is a russian male. Russian men have habits. Nuff said.

If egilarne suggests Dreev went drinking, he obviously was never in Norway. Alcohol is expensive there, I remember seeing somebody pay for his whiskey with a credit-card. You don't do that if it is cheep.

Dreev has a chess school, if I'm not mistaken, and plays less than he used to. So his results are worse than before, when he was a fulltime chessplayer.

Pictures of the winners with their trolls: http://www.sjakk.net/foto-gausdal-vinnere.php


Irrespective of what egilarne is suggesting:

1) egilarne was born in Norway

2) egilarne has lived in Norway for about 50 years

3) egilarne was present during the entire tournament at Gausdal

What are your "qualifications" regarding Gausdal, Norway and Dreev?

Judging by the hotel’s prices for beer (either I don’t understand the currency or a 33 cl bottle was about £6.00) a credit card wouldn’t be adequate for a bottle of whisky. You’d need a mortgage.

Sorry to miss you, Gladiator, although perhaps we spoke anyway? After all we were both incognito, so to speak.

Interesting about Krush-Lie. I didn’t see the second session, but that g-pawn must have got to g5 somehow, and I don’t think Black cunningly lured it there. I still think a certain amount of overpressing, or possibly not knowing what result to play for, must have been involved. But as I said my opinion is not worth much.

I put Dreev’s poor form down to the rather attractive young woman he had with him. Although it didn’t seem to do the splendidly Byronic Tomas Oral much harm.


In a pub/bar, a "pint" (meaning anything between 0,4 and 0,6 liter in Norway) usually is 4-5 english pounds, which is expensive, but still a little less than hotels will ask. There are some pubs in Oslo where you get away with paying about 2 pounds, but this is unusual. Buying beer at the super market of course is cheaper.

Liquors are even more heavily taxed, so whiskey is often bought abroad... :)

About whether we spoke or not. I only spoke at some length with one british player, actually, and then mostly by the piano. By the way, I was of the impression that Dreev's female companion "disappeared" quite early on in the tournament. My source is fairly reliable...

Yes, I did sense that we were not going about the task in the most economic way.

Not me then, I steered clear of the piano.

I had the same impression about Dreev's companion, in fact. No wonder he played badly....


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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on April 22, 2007 12:54 PM.

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