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Arctic Chess Challenge 07

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I'm not sure if the challenge is the 9-round swiss open field with over a dozen GMs or just getting to the Norwegian town of Tromsø. Or maybe it's because Russia just claimed the Arctic? Magnus Carlsen's presence brings attention wherever he goes and it's great to see him playing in events on his home turf. These days it's rare to see top-20 players in their national championships. One of the reasons why that is came true for Carlsen in the first round of the Arctic Challenge when he drew with a local player rated nearly 700 points lower, Brede Hagen (2034). (In a g3 Najdorf that Hugo Spangenberg used to beat Garry Kasparov in a clock simul ten years ago. Game below.)

So many organizers and players obsess over rating points that dropping a dozen of them in one game to someone you would usually only meet in a simul is usually not considered worth the risk. Combine with conditions that don't meet super-GM standards and you see why it's rare to see a 2700+ in an open event like this one. I'm sure Magnus will make up in goodwill whatever he may drop in Elo. He also probably had to endure some parental ribbing after that draw because after the first round he was trailing his father Henrik in the standings! Other top seeds include Mikhail Brodsky, Bartlomiej Macieja, Mikhail Gurevich, and Vugar Gashimov.

[Event "Arctic Chess Challenge"]
[Site "Tromsø"]
[Date "2007.08.04"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Hagen, Brede"]
[Black "Carlsen, Magnus"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "B91"]
[WhiteElo "2034"]
[BlackElo "2710"]
[PlyCount "72"]
[EventDate "2007.08.04"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. g3 e5 7. Nde2 Be7 8. Bg2
Nbd7 9. O-O b5 10. h3 Bb7 11. g4 b4 12. Nd5 Nxd5 13. exd5 O-O 14. Ng3 Re8 15.
a3 a5 16. Be3 Qc7 17. Qd2 Nb6 18. b3 Bf8 19. Rfd1 bxa3 20. Rxa3 a4 21. Qb4 Qxc2
22. Rc1 Qb2 23. Rca1 Bxd5 24. Qxb6 Rab8 25. Qxb8 Rxb8 26. Bxd5 axb3 27. Ra7 Qc2
28. Rc1 Qg6 29. Bxf7+ Qxf7 30. Rxf7 Kxf7 31. Rb1 b2 32. Bd2 d5 33. Bc3 Rc8 34.
Bxb2 Rb8 35. Rd1 Rxb2 36. Rxd5 Ke6 1/2-1/2


After reading Magnus's interview on Chessbase, for a 16 year old, I have the impression he goes his own way. Still, losing those 12 points has to smart a little at least. Also, when I heard about the claim of the Arctic oil reserves, I couldn't help but think what a bone-of-contention that is going to prove down the line.

I just realized (I'm slow but I'm sloppy), You've got to love low rated experts. hehe

12 points? That's not correct.

He lost 3.9 elo by drawing Brede Hagen.

After Magnus beat Nick E De Firmian today (2540) he moved from losing -3.90 ELO to "only" -1.14 ELO.

I was talking about a hypothetical loss in such a pairing, not today's draw, but I see how it could be ambiguous. I think a player's K-factor is frozen at 10 after 2400 and 30 games, so a dozen is overstating a bit regardless.

Quite a few elite players will only play in opens if they receive appearance fees. It's not unreasonable -- it's their career after all. But I'd hope exceptions could be made to promote events on one's home soil.

I was curious about the Carlsen-de Firmian pairing in the second round. Nick lost to Thingstad (1893) in the first round after missing several clear wins in likely time trouble. To then be paired against Magnus must have been another ugly surprise!


I've been bamboozeled.

Stunning game today with some wild tactics (De Firmian didn't seem to do much wrong until the last few moves).

I was just reading Kasparov on Fischer, and how playing mainly against much weaker opponents (in the US), meant that Fischer got used to expecting to win every game/tournament - hence his killer instinct. Russian GMs at the time would soon get used to drawing with their main opponents (and being happy with 3rd/4th place).

So this sort of tournament probably doesn't do Carlsen too much harm, and he's got a good few years of being a wunderkind left before any rating loss would seriously damage his prospects of getting invites.

Talking of which, it's interesting to see Bartosz Socko from Poland also made the trip from Biel. There he was playing in the Open, despite having a rating of 2660, higher than Onischuk, Pelletier, Motylev and Avrukh. After winning the Open in 2006 you'd think they might have given him a shot at the main event. But I guess breaking into the chess elite at 29 is a pretty impossible task...

"I was just reading Kasparov on Fischer, and how playing mainly against much weaker opponents (in the US), meant that Fischer got used to expecting to win every game/tournament - hence his killer instinct."

On the other hand it might also be why he felt so frustrated and often even emotionally debilitated after failing to win--not used to it and hence not very good at dealing with failure.

Maceja? Gurevich? Not too low a caliber, especially for an open. Socko, Gashimov, Moiseenko and Epishin are not mentioned by Mig above, but they are also there, as are de Firmian and Stefanova.


Fischer's fear of losing was probably the main underlying reason for his failure to defend his title in 75 against Karpov. Defeating Spassky and the soviet hegemony (alone) had to have been a psychologically brutal experience. I believe he didn't want to put himself through what could have been an even more stressful ordeal. I'm sure he recognized a young chess genius whose style of play would have proved extremely difficult to overcome at that time (not to say that he couldn't have). His history shows that even if the soviets and FIDE had accepted his 9-9 champion retains title request, I believe he would have continued to stonewall.

Carlsen has to be lucky that he didn't lose against Hagen. 29.Rxf7! would have won (not easy to calculate, but engines give this line inbetween seconds; Black is going to be mated).

Correction: 28.Rxf7!

Yes, chesstraveler, largely we agree, and I think mishanp's post suggests an interesting reason why Fischer was so bad at dealing with the possibility and reality of losing. I also think that the Soviet machine went surprisingly easy on him in 72 (I haven't heard of any dirty tricks employed against him by Taimanov or Petrosian, and Spassky on the opposite acquiesced to most of Bobby's demands). It's nice of you to refer to Karpov as a genius--the word is often reserved for the people with a more...eccentric personal and chessplaying style.

Carlsen has to be lucky that he didn't lose against Hagen. 29.Rxf7! would have won (not easy to calculate, but engines give this line inbetween seconds; Black is going to be mated).

-- Posted by: freitag at August 6, 2007 03:31

Wow, I had no idea Magnus allowed a FORCED MATE in his game against Hagen.

What an upset that would have been!

Another ugly game by Carlsen today. He plays like 2100 in the last games; he only gets the points because his opponents pee their pants playing against 2700+.

Ditropan should take care of the bladder problems.

"Wow, I had no idea Magnus allowed a FORCED MATE in his game against Hagen."

Not forced, but the critical line for White to calculate is 28.Rxf7 b2 29.Rb7+ Kh8 30.Rxb8 bxa1-Q+ 31.Kh2 and Black cannot avoid the mate - even with two queens (!). The other lines like 28.- Kh8 are much easier to calculate for White; this wasn't the problem practically.

Well, it is not such a huge disaster after all (ie after saving his round 1,3 games)... Imagine if he had won two amateurs in round 1 and round 2 (rating "say" 2034 and 2330) and in round 3 he lost to a GM (say De Firmian)... He would then have same points with same opponents, but there wouldn't be so much fuss about a disastrous tournament. Just an anexpected loss :-)

Calm down a bit guys, Carlsen plays *a lot* compared to most 2700+ GMs, and still being 16, he would be expected to, ikke?

Ever since Carlsen made his first appearance on the chess scene a few years ago, I believe most fans/followers (and even slomarko on CG!) have anticipated (or feared) a recoil. There was indeed one around the ELO 2600 mark, but now and in the future he will be invited to most (if not all) supertournaments. I expect Carlsen to be top-ten next year. How many years did it take for Topalov to become top-three?

Thing is (to conclude my previous, abrupt post), we expect Carlsen to become *better* than he proved yesterday, what with his age and all?

Scary thought: he will.

(opening preparation for example. The imagination and audacity of the "Big K" I think he already has)

From what I understand, Taimanov, Petrosian and Spassky realised that getting a match against Fischer was a unique opportunity (partly because of his talent, partly because of his capriciousness) and were determined not to let anything spoil it. Spassky in particular turned down the chance to win the match by forfeit after the second game, when Bobby didn't turn up.

There was the incident in which the Soviets insisted on X-raying Fischer's chair (which proved to contain nothing suspicious), but I very much doubt that Spassky had anything to do with that.

For me, one of the main reasons why Fischer refused to defend his title was that he couldn't live up to the image he'd built up after his incredible sequence of wins in the Candidates. I wonder how things would have turned out if he had been drawn against Geller and Korchnoi instead of Taimanov and Larsen?

As for Karpov, I would agree. Players who behave normally (for chessplayers!) and whose games don't contain lots of "obviously brilliant" moves seem to be underestimated. Karpov seems to be regarded as a dull return to Soviet conformity between the brief but dazzling supernova of Fischer's last years and the sustained extraordinary luminance of Kasparov. In reality, he is one of the greatest players who has ever sat at a chess board.

It's because some people call Magnus the Mozart of chess, but these days he plays more like Ozzy Osbourne.

I don't really see your point, Freitag. "These days" and "in the last [sic] games" Carlsen beat Radjabov and De Firmian nicely.

You should try playing (and winning) a GM tournament in Switzerland and then flying straight to another tournament in the arctic circle, missing your connecting flight en route. That plus having to adapt to playing people you're expected to beat easily (so being tempted to take risks to avoid draws - as in the last game).

It's all very well having the natural talent and sense of harmony of Mozart, but Mozart didn't have someone sitting opposite him trying to destroy everything he wrote ;)

"How many years did it take for Topalov to become top-three?"

Coincidently the same time that Fritz 9 came out.

Parsnips, you can't be that stupid. Even if Topa was cheating, Fritz 8 was good enough to beat Kasparov and so anyone else in the world.

I am not sure that the three Russian GMs really felt that way, but if a mere request from Mark Taimanov or Tigran Petrosian was enough to get USSR not to do anything against Fischer, that suggests that either the "Soviet machine" wasn't so hell bent on defeating Fischer or it believed it could defeat him over-the-board. Regardless, I think the portrayal of Fischer as having defeated an invincible psychological warfare machine is false--they didn't really deploy any psychological tricks against him that cycle and in fact a few breaks were thrown his way, such as acceptance of demands in the final match and Spassky declining the forfeit. The chair thing was rather late in the match and is generally viewed as attempt at retaliation against some of Fischer's own tricks.

But this has all been pointed out before, and I don't want to entirely hijack this thread about a rather good tournament. How about GM Kjetil Lie, Magnus's second in Elista, grabbing the lead today with a victory over Moiseenko?

Check out de Firmian's third round win -- after the way the first two rounds went, this must have been fun to play, albeit somewhat embarrassing...

[Event "Arctic Chess Challenge 2007"]
[Site "Scandic Hotell Troms¯"]
[Date "2007.08.06"]
[Round "3"]
[White "De Firmian, Nick E"]
[Black "Pedersen, Johnny Karl"]
[Result "1-0"]
[PlyCount "0"]
[EventDate "2007.??.??"]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 exd4 4.Qxd4 Qf6 5.Qd3 Nc6 6.Nc3 Ne5 7.Nxe5 dxe5 8.Nd5 Qc6 9.Qg3 f6 10.Bb5 1-0

De Firmian's problem is he lost against 18xx in the first round which really should not happen.

Well, that's true, but it was a pretty unusual swindle to which he fell victim. (A really cool little line, actually -- check out Tim Krabbe's site, it's at the top there now.)

Besides, aren't things "which really should not happen" part of what makes chess interesting? The 13-year-old Fischer wasn't supposed to pull out that incredible combination against Donald Byrne; Karpov really wasn't supposed to collapse at the end of that title match with Kasparov; and so on...

I don't know how Nick makes his money, but I thought he was interested in winning one of the prices - which is now nearly impossible ;)

Carlsen offered a draw to his former coach Agdestein who had just one minute on his clock for five moves. Nice gesture of Magnus.

"Well, that's true, but it was a pretty unusual swindle to which he fell victim. (A really cool little line, actually -- check out Tim Krabbe's site, it's at the top there now.)"

I respect Krabbe very much because of his novel "The Golden Egg" which I haven't read, but I have seen the movie "Spoorloos" by George Sluizer which was pretty good.
According to the combination in the de Firmian game, I would say Nick should have better followed the rule by Tarrasch or Tartakower (it must have been someone out of this age) who said: Give check, it could be the last!
Playing a silent move like grabbing a new queen without check is always questionable ;)

Pairing for the next round :))))

9. GM Magnus Carlsen - Henrik Carlsen

Abbout getting to Tromsoe: Its not that difficult. Plan to Oslo, and another one from Oslo to Tromsoe. The hotel of the event are only 5 minutes from the airport. That it :-) Welcome everyone next year!
Gunnar Berg Hanssen, Tromsoe Chessclub

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on August 5, 2007 11:49 AM.

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