Liveblog: The finale

10:06: Notkevich and Tari share first place at the moment both on 6 points. Notkevich plays Hammer who goes for an aggressive 4.f3 Nimzo indian. Hammer, being just half a point behind the leaders feels he has a chance and goes for it fireworks are bound to happen there. Lie starts with 1.c4 and plays a reversed Taimanov setup against Tari, how will Tari create something?

In the Mester group Anders Hobber leads with 7 points followed by Ellen Hagesæther with 6. Hobber is sure to have one of the two qualifying places which lead to the Elite group next year. I will mostly talk about the fight for second place.


Hammer has created a gargantuan centre against Notkevich. Will it fall apart? There are three different pawn captures! Madness.

Hobber has just made a draw. Which makes him the undisputed winner of the Mester group. Congratulations.
Hagesæther has a stonewall position with Black, yet she is already trying to get her bad bishop out.

In the Junior group Isak Sjøberg and Abyl Kizatbay lead with 6.5 points. The latter is playing Daniel Nordquelle who plays a sharp dragadorf variation in the sicilian. Sjøberg is playing the Italian game against Kjaræs. We need to mention that also here, one spot for next year’s elite group is at stake.


Strømhaug leads the Miniputt group with seven points followed by Brattgjerd with 6.5. They are playing each other, hence the winner will come out of this game! Brattgjerd playing White is trying to create something in the centre after a London system. The position has big chances to be an Isolated Queen’s pawn position where the question will be if White can get his attack going.


Hagesæther takes a dangerous pawn. White will get a dangerous initiative on the long diagonal. Did she go too far?

The 65+ group has one leader: Ole Smeby with 6,5 points, he is followed by Gunnar Stake-Larsen and Einar Hamre with 6 these two gentlemen are actually playing each other. Therefore Smeby will probably have to win to stay ahead of at least one of the others.


Notkevich is thinking for a long time, the first crucial moment, how to tackle the centre? Holm has a draw and with that a GM norm with a 2624 result congratulations! Tari and Lie are playing very quietly for now.

Gruop one is extremely exciting with three leaders tied for first place. Andreas Strand is playing Simon Sørensen both on 6. Cornelius Kvendseth on 6 is playing Hanna Kyrkebo on the second board. Kvendseth just entered a very drawish pawnstructure. The carlsbad with the Bishop on g2. On board one we see Sørensen battling a grand-prix attack in the sicilian.


Notkevich finds the most played move exd5 against Hammer. Despite the chessbomb engine giving +1.5 this is not true. This stupid engine actually only thinks for a second and makes a huge amount of mistakes for a computer 😉 In this case the computer misses that Black can sacrifice the a8 Rook in order to trap the Queen. Probably this was what Notkevich was thinking about.


Ole Smeby sees his opponent Thrana taking a lot of space against his Scandinavian. Although Smeby might be actually used to cramped positions like these.

Kjaræs has launched g5 in the Guioco piano when the centre is not that closed, curious how this risky punch will work out.

In the Lilleput group Torbjørn Valvag is leading the field half a point ahead of Axel Tunsjø, Eirik Strøm Austad and Joakim Aasen.
Valvag who has beaten Tunsjø in their duel is playing an incredibly aggressive line against the English opening of Austad at the moment. Can Valvag play accurately enough to withstand the risks of his open king?


Tari managed to equalize against Lie and might already be a bit better with the black pieces. He plays h5 and tries to make Lie uncomfortable.

In the Junior group Kizatbay is trying a cheap trick, where Black has a great inbetween-move. Will Nordquelle find it?
Kjaræs is still playing slowly with his king in the centre. I am expecting Sjøberg to start an attack sooner or later.

We are finding out that Lucas Ranaldi was almost playing for an IM norm. His last opponent needed a little more rating than Kjetil Stokke for a chance. Too bad, better luck next time. The GM norm was actually the first for Holm.


Notkevich deviates from the main path giving Hammer a slight advantage. Tari is allowed to push his h-pawn a little more with a better position.

In group two David Grønberg has not showed up with a perfect 8/8 score. This means his opponent has actually joined him in first place. Who knows what happened? Wild winner parties?

Strand versus Sørensen in group 1 sees a g4 push. Opposide side castling with a wild position is not far away. Whereas Kvendseth is not having optimal coordination in his camp yet still an equal position.

In group 3 Robin Wullum who had 7/7 lost in round 8 and is now only a half point ahead of the number two Tomrod Carlin. They are not playing each other. Which means Wullum could win the tournament with a draw. We are not sure if he has offered a draw yet.

In Lilleput, Axel Tunsjø has created a far advanced passed c-pawn which is probably going to decide the game. This will put pressure on Valvag if he would like to win the tournament by himself.


The Kadett group sees leader Grave having a slightly worse position in a Caro Kann advance variation. On the other hand, his only pursuer, Fuglestein on board two, has a slight positional plus. Anything is still possible but both are in a positional fight.

Tari launches his other rook pawn which reminds us a bit of Bent Larsen who could not keep his rook pawns at home either.

Kizatbay sees his knight misplaced on the edge and experiences some problems against Nordquelle. This favours Sjøberg who has a better position against Kjaræs. Sjøberg now the favourite to win the Junior group.


Hammer is going for a pawn sacrifice! Which Notkevich has taken. It seems white has a very promising attack, bad news for Notkevich Tari now the big favourite to win the tournament with a clearly better position against Lie.

50+ sees Petter Fossan with 8 out of 8. Will he maintain his 100% score? At least he has an overwhelming position.

In Mester group the battle for second place sees Hagesæther in trouble. White has more than enough compensation for the pawn on the dark squares. This will give the others a chance to surpass her. Lars Even Andersen has an equal position and needs to create something to surpass Hagesæther. Esbensen, who is playing Hagesæther also has the chance to pass her in the final standings!

The lilleput group is probably see a winner soon as Valvag’s impressive kingside offensive is working very well. Chessbomb gives a -3 which means Valvag is doing well. Yet, one bad move and this sharp position can turn around. Still, Austad is playing passive moves, not creating any counterplay, hence my prognosis Valvag as the winner in Lilleput class.


Brattgjerd has beaten his direct rival Strømhaug who was half a point ahead. Which means we will see Isak Vinh Brattgjerd as the winner in the Miniputt class. Congratulations!

in 50+ B the winner was already known yesterday. Eirik Kyrkebø has taken 1.5 point distance. Congratulations!

The same situation is also going on for group 5 where Even Svindal from Larvik has won the group one round before the end.


Hammer swaps Queens into a slightly better endgame with the pair of bishops. He will probably be better for the rest of the day, Notkevich has hardly any chances to win left.

On the other board Tari has a steady advantage against Lie. The question is, what happens with a tie? Will there be a decisive match? I am asking the arbiters now.


Brattgjerd actually did not win miniputt yet, there was a mistake on the live board. Still he does have an overwhelming position!

The Elite group will be decided on tiebreak. No matches. Main arbiter Hans-Olav tells me the title will be not decided in a rapid or blitz game.


Notkevich refuses to exchange queens giving Hammer a very good position. Tari still has a clearly better position will he be able to convert it to a win?


The author found out a very clear system to write, naming category first it’s a revolution for this liveblog.

Gruppe 4:
Will Jørgen Nordløv win the group? He is a point ahead of Scott Macody Lund and Larvik player Jacob Ounji Nygård who has beaten Nordløv yesterday to keep the category exciting to write about.

Brattgjerd is still playing against Stromhaug’s unfortunate knight on h6. The only question for White is how to keep it out of play permanently.

Hagesæther is defending her extra pawn against Ebensen, in the end extra pawns matter. Still, Ebensen has some pressure. Andersen has not been able to create anything and he might be slightly worse because of his pawn structure.

Daniel Nordquelle is exchanging well and maintains his clearly better position by setting up a blockade. Kizatbay is also dangerously low on time. The other board sees Sjøberg in a winning position against Kjaræs. The position is starting to open up with the black king still in the centre, g5 did not work out well for Kjaræs.

Petter Fossan now winning a piece in an overwhelming position. 100% is closer than ever.


Brattgjerd has acepted a draw offer from Strømhaug! A huge blunder, yet smartly offered. Very strange that he accepted even though it looks scary there was no reason to accept. Yet this makes Strømhaug the undisputed winner. Congratulations!


Someone is telling me that sitting is the new smoking. Hence I am going to walk around the playing hall abandoning this bird’s eye view battlestation for a few minutes.


Valvag and Tunsjø both very nervous. Both in winning positions.

I find out that Sjøberg – Kjaræs was actually a philidor and not a guioco piano. I will use this game as a model game for my own white repertoire 😉  Sjøberg is probably going to be the undisputed winner!

Hammer has a very attractive attack. I would put five to one in his favour if I had to bet. This means Tari probably only needs a draw, A result which is easily obtainable from the slightly better position he has at the moment.


Øye-Strømberg has gotten a clearly winning position against the leader Grave. This means that on board two Sander Fuglestein can pass Grave. He certainly has the position to do it!

Tari chooses for simplification into a level endgame. Probably taking into consideration what is happening on board one where Hammer just took the exchange.

Ellen Hagesæther seems to shuffle her pieces around quite well despite the continuous pressure on the dark squares. Esbensen still has a bind, but the biggest advantage seems to fade away. With a draw, Andersen would have a chance to come at the same height as Hagesæther unfortunately for Lars-Even, his endgame hardly yields anything remotely close to a win. This means the fight for second place will be decided by Esbensen and Hagesæther.

Both Tunsjø and Valvag have given away their advantages, even though both have a pawn on the seventh rank! Anything can happen now in time trouble. Valvag has sacrificed an exchange and his position still looks very good from a practical viewpoint.

Lie avoids exchanging heavy pieces, keeping all major pieces on the board. Will we see fireworks in timetrouble? Anything can happen in this equal position.

I will walk around to take a look what is happening in time trouble.

This was definitely the most exciting category, I could not help but watching this most of the time. Tunsjø and Valvag were watching the board next to them more than their own. Valvag has put the knight permanently offside. Austad is winning there and he could be the outsider for the title. Especially because Axel Tunsjø has a losing position now, until his opponent actually drops a full rook! Wow! A big smile on Axel’s face. Yet the unfortunate Aasen has not lost yet, he has four pawns for the Rook and Axel has no pawns left. An extrememly exciting endgame will Aasen still be able to hold the draw? I believe this is psychologically very hard to do. Giving Tunsjø the best position to win the tournament after the time control.

Hagesæther is consolidating her pawn, yet at that moment she also launches a double edged kingside offensive. It would have been more practical to plan that after the time trouble because there is no rush at all. I would bet on a draw here. Which could mean that Andersen could come alongside, miraculously he has created some small chances in a knight endgame where his a-pawn will be quite dangerous.

Sjøberg has won his overwhelming position, the king stayed in the centre until the very end. A very instructive game if you play too slow when the centre has not been closed yet. Kizatbay has accepted a draw offer in a slightly worse position, which makes Sjøberg the winner of the Junior class. Congratulations Isak!

Group 4:
Jørgen Nordløv did not stand the pressure and lost again. Despite that he will clearly win the group with his better tiebreak score. The prize money will be shared though.

Lie and Tari wrapped up the game and made a draw. With Hammer’s winning position Tari can be 98% sure he will be the winner, hence my congratulations to the new Norwegian Champion Aryan Tari. A very deserved victory.

Tunsjø does not seem to be able to get out of the checks, with a probable draw as a result. This means, if Austad beats Valvag he would win the tournament!

In time trouble Esbensen and Hagesæther will probably exchange to an equal rook endgame. Andersen on board three is a definite draw. Which means the second place will very likely go to Ellen Hagesæther!

In time trouble Fuglestein – Dahl has become an extremely complicated knight endgame. It is still unclear if Fuglestein can win the knight endgame lottery and win his group all by himself, or that he draws and wins his group shared, but with a big tiebreak lead. In that respect the winner is already clear in Kadett, namely Sander Fuglestein. Congratulations to Sander.

group 1:
Sørensen has managed to win an exchange and wine the game. This means that Kvendseth needs to win against Kyrkebo to maintain the lead, it could have been extremely easy for Kvendseth, if he had a winning position instead of a completely losing one. This means that Simen Sørensen will win group one this year. Congratulations!

Tunsjø is trying really hard to do something. Still it is not that easy because the position is objectively drawn. Austad is slowly finding the best way to push his pawns. Which means the most likely winner will be Eirik Austad after one of the most spectacular games I have seen up to now. Still, anything can happen because the players are extremely nervous.

Group 3:
Robin Wullum has won his group with a score of 8 out of 9 points. Strong defensive chess had taken him to the victory. Congratulations.

Hammer is still winning in an endgame with Rook+Bishop vs. Rook+Knight and an extra c-pawn. Black has great difficulties in creating any counterplay.

Hagesæther has blundered. With heavy pieces White tried his luck and got rewarded. It is extremely hard to play with little king safety. Esbensen can now use his technique to get the remaining spot in the elite group. Even though Esbensen just missed a clear win, there will be more wins in the position.

Tunsjø has managed to obtain a winning position, which means he might tie with Austad who has a winning position as well. Then the tension will not be over yet, because it is unclear who will have the better tiebreak! Austad has 47 points and Tunsjø 46, but nothing is too clear.

Tunsjø forks the black queen off the board! Which means he will be the first to reach 7 points. Who will join him? He will probably be hoping for a draw. Austad has a winning position bus has to make a very difficult position regarding the resulting pawn structure. Will he be able to find the right way? I think so, but as we have seen the tension being able to make them blunder rooks anything can happen.

Valvag is trying to create something with his knight. Austad can sacrifice the exchange back for a win, will he do it? YES. The win is now trivial. The tiebreaks of Austad and Tunsjø are extremely close, even the two games left on the lower boards can have an influence now on deciding the winner.

Hagesæther seems to consolidate her position slowly. Yet with all the heavy pieces on the board, I still fear that she will lose in the long run.

Hagesæther is still having a very difficult position despite the fact that Esbensen is not finishing it.

Austad is allowing a draw by threefold repetition. He does not find the win in a surprisingly easy position he was too afraid to give up his threats and play a quiet move. At this point calculation has been long gone. However, Valvag plays on for a win, and loses on the spot. White will queen at least one of the three passed pawns.

Fuglestein did not find the way to win the extremely difficult knight endgame. He will have to settle for a draw now.

Jon Ludvig Hammer has exchanged to a winning rook endgame. It will be nearly impossible to not win it at this point.

Valvag resigns! Now we can take a look at the tiebreak scores which will be very close between Austad and Tunsjø who share the first place.

Hagesæther was not able to withstand the long term pressure on the king. The position is +5 but will Esbensen finish it?

Hammer has won, now sharing first place with Tari. Congratulations with the comeback Jon Ludvig!

Esbensen finds the right moves and is very likely to take the second place home. After pinning the queen with a rook it is over. Esbensen wins a big fight for second place. King safety again proves extremely important in the long run.

People leave the playing hall and we will get ready for the prizegiving.

Austad and Tunsjø end with exactly the same tiebreak scores. The organisation will need to find a way to decide, this will be exciting until the prizegiving.

Game of the day 10-07-2019: Brettgjerd – Olsen (miniputt)

Often people get the idea that young players do not have the experience to play positional chess. That that is something to learn later on. Well I believe there is an innate preference for it. Some learn positional chess quite fast. One of the reason to opt for the London system at a young age is in order to get a positional game against aggressive opponents who can’t seem to create anything. William Alexander Olsen shows very well how to create something for Black.



Game of the day: 09-07-2019 Ihlen – Evenshaug

Be ready to re-think the concept of any Bishop in this game. Chess intuition gets fooled by situations we have not been in before. Well clearly here you will see the worst Bishop ever in the centre. And if there is a way to actually make sense of double Bishop endings. The two players engaged into a long fight where both Ihlen and Evenshaug had their chances.


GM norm for Holm?

Not every article can be about Aryan Tari. That’s not the way the world works. And Kristian Stuvik Holm is giving me a great excuse to write about something else. With a 5/7 score and a 2493 average rating he is getting very close to a GM norm. With draws against Notkevich and Tari he did great business. Even though Holm had the best of the game against a shaky Tari who was surprised by a Pirc!

Holm has done great business today by beating Benjamin Haldorsen. Which means that most probably he only needs to get one point out of two games. Unless he would like to win the title of course, because as from today he is only half a point behind leader Tari who drew against Notkevich. Together with Urkedal on half a point distance as well.

This means we will see an exhilarating finale to the NM. Let’s hope we will see high quality of fighting games!


09-07-2019: Who got through double round madness?

It is hard to say that double rounds do not affect the quality of play. Often the players who are the fittest will be able to deal with the double rounds best. There are several strategies on how to stay fit or not to lose too much energy. That is why there are often quick draws in either the morning round or the afternoon round. When others, often slightly more respectable, fight until they look like zombies pushing wood. Having a double round in the middle of the tournament lets us see a clear distinction who the leaders are. So let us see what has happened in all groups in the first few rounds.


The Elite group only had one round, very beneficial for the level of chess and the ones who are not as fit as others. Besides Tari, who brilliantly beat Urkedal with Black, we have a clear group chasing Tari at a point distance. The group is led by Kristian Stuvik Holm, who has played against most of the grandmasters in the tournament and he did not lose a single game! He sadly has not made it to my game analysis because his style is very efficient in drawing, and the neutral public sadly takes less interest in draws. Holm is on the right course to score a GM norm at the moment, good luck in the last four rounds.


When the players woke up there were two clear leaders in the Mester group: Anders Hobber and Lars Even Andersen both on three out of three. They were followed by Lars Johan Brodtkorb on two and a half points, and don’t forget the ton of eager piranha’s with two points. In the morning round the two leaders were facing each other, or did they? They used the quick draw technique, a way to save energy. Actually the first six boards were drawn, maybe it is contagious! This meant that the standings did not change too much. Only the two most eager piranha’s Thanke and Huse managed to join Brodtkorb in the group of pursuers. Hobber managed to win the afternoon game in the standard London system attack, which if one would have told me the game was 1+0 I would have believed it. It is a very fine example for everyone who would like to study the London. You can check it in the live games.

Andersen however was playing an incredibly peculiar game against Brodtkorb in the Knight’s Tango. When I came at the board to watch it Andersen was completely winning, but I am quite surprised to learn he did not win. It turned out there were three different successful piece sacrifices at that exact moment when I watched. But he did not play one of them, before he had played the manoeuvre Qe8-c8-e8-c8-e8-c8 to get to that better position (strange right? Although it is very, very psychological). Probably it was fatigue causing the chess machine to shut down at some point. But Brodtkorb managed to take the point home and stay within a half point of the leading Hobber.

Gruppe 1

Before the long day there was already a lonely leader at the mountain top of Gruppe 1. But in this group not everything is as it seems. Hans Arild Runde had already agreed to have only play seven of the nine rounds. For the two rounds bye he will get in total a half point. This means the others will be able to catch up! Fortuantely for Runde, they did not. Most of the top boards ended in draws. This means that Runde maintained the lead!

In the second round of the day there were serious casualties. Audun Engeset, the son of the organizer Bjarte Engeset was surprised by Another Audun, Audun Hoem played the Ng4 trick in the accelerated dragon. After taking on g4 and Black taking on d4 White needs to make a very unnatural move Qg1-d1 back. At any level those moves are difficult to find. Engeset did not manage to find it, his pieces lost coordination and Hoem finished the game with fine technique. Then sitting next to the Auduns on board two there were two players fighting for a long time. Runde was playing White against Per Kr Vigdal. After a while Runde had a lot of pawn weaknesses, the position was tenable but the mental strain of playing with weaknesses is often too big. Runde could did not manage to save his position against the long manoeuvering of Vigdal. This means Gruppe 1 has a two new leaders after round five: Audun Hoem and Per Kr Vigdal.

Gruppe 2

68 players make quite a large group in this NM. That means that contrary to the other, smaller groups, we still have five leaders after round three. David Grøndahl, Daniel Sinnes, Ole-Kristan Nergård, Mark Akali and Lars-Arne Oldernes. This day will decide who will have the best position to go into the last four rounds. Akali played White against Oldernes, the higher rated Akali goes blindly for the kill. His will to win translates into an all out attack with poor concern for his own King. Tables turn and Oldernes gets the attack picking up the point quite effortlessly. Nergård on board three joins the lead winning with Black as well. They get company from Grøndahl who knows how to use the dynamic aspects of the Sveshnikov, Whereas his opponent Sinnes could not keep the game peaceful despite his peaceful setup. Opposite coloured Bishops, and a loose White King decided the game.

There was a chance that the day would see two grand leaders with 100%. Oldernes must have been impressed by what he was seeing on the board next to him. The god of dynamic chess was with Grøndahl again, this time he crushed Nergård in 21 moves. The game will be featured in the game section. When Grøondal left the board after signing the scoresheet he must have thought Oldernes would join him in the lead. Oldernes was playing an improvised version of the four pawns attack with the Bishop on g5. Big centres are impressive but they can fall apart like stars blasting apart in a supernova explosion. A few inaccurate moves can trigger this supernova and that is exactly what happened. Fortunately enough Oldernes managed to cling on to a draw before it was too late. This leaves David Grøndahl as the leader, his attractive aggressive chess will be hard to deal with in the upcoming rounds.

Gruppe 3

Of course after three rounds there are three leaders in group three, that’s meant to be (rhyme intended). Robin Wullum, Stein Ivar Røste and Alexander Johansen were all three on three out of three, what a trinity (rhyme intended). Johansen was facing Wullum, all seemed to go well for Johansen playing the White side of the Grünfeld Indian. Two pawns up and an attack on the enemy King is something I would like every day. Until he compromises his own King with the pawn launch f4. Black slowly gets coutnterplay and in time-trouble White is unable to finish his attack. A lost position is the result, and Wullum takes the full point in fighting style. Røste was facing a 2.c3 Sicilian, yet he was perfectly able to accumulate small advantages step by step. Until the advantage grew into an extra minor piece! Both players faced each other in the afternoon, both after a very long fighting game.

Again Wullum somehow gets the worse position out of the Nimzo-Indian against Røste. After a brilliant piece sacrifice by Røste he forgets to fatally prepare e6. After missing a shot on an open goal in winning position the tables turn and the extra material starts to matter. After winning two losing positions with Black Wullum leads the field, and I am interested to talk to his guardian angel about mutual beneficial possibilities 😉 Wullum is trailed by Roy Drange Hansen who is half a point behind.

Gruppe 4

Even when you have 100% like Jørgen Nordløv and Martin Skretteberg, a day with two games can change everything. But did it?
Well obviously round 4 saw them play each other. Nordløv was pressing from the opening making a lot of pwn moves and taking more space. Then suddenly Skretteberg’s Rook payed a visit with his Rook on h2, just saying hi, I’m here :). The position seemed to turn around when Skretteberg suddenly drops the Rook. A dramatic way of deciding who should lead the field.

Round 5 Skretteberg who was clearly still affected by the previous game lost again on board two. One bad day can do a lot of harm, but let’s hope for him he makes his way back to the top. Nordløv has the other side of the coin in the afternoon he beats yet another one of his direct opponents. Losing a pawn does not really matter for Nordløv because he creates a lot more threats than his opponents, and when there is more pressure there are more chances to win. That’s why statistically the outcome of 5/5 is quite expected. And even more fortunately he has taken a point distance from the rest just like Tari.

Gruppe 5

One of the biggest successes of the NM is that there are groups for real chess lovers who, are able to win some games against people with similar playing strengths. On the other hand there will also be a lot of unrated players who do not have the slightest clue about their playing strength. After round three there is a group of five (!) leaders with 100%: Aleksander Kjærstad, Tom Dalbak, Mads Tollefsen, Karl Wallevik and the local player from Larvik Even Svindal. The local hero actually managed to win twice, and this might be due to his double fianchetto setup he is playing with both colours. He knows what moves to play for most of the game and he hardly gets in trouble because no one knows exactly how to punish this unusual playing style. After this day Svindal is leading his group, keeping his 100% score. He is followed on half a point distance by Mads Tollefsen.


The Señors must have their way of dealing with the heat, although slow manoeuvering positional games is actually not the best way to save energy on such a tough day. It seems that the best is to play the London system. With one and a half point out of two Gunnar Stake-Larsen took the lead. We have already seen one of his Greek gift sacrifices in the game of the day, and he does not stop to impress. Will he be able to keep this level up, or will Ole Smeby following on four out of five put too much pressure on the leader?


I do not believe there is any group with such a clear clear favourite as Peter Fossan from Stavanger in the 50+ category. He could have played in Mester, but this is of course a lot of fun as well. It would be surprising if he would have given away any points, which he did not. Still, getting five points out of five games against any opponents is something to be proud of. The fight for second place is between Svein Hansen and Ole Jørn Guldenås. Both on three and a half points.

50+ B

This category is probably one of the biggest successes. Actually a lot of 65+ players have joined this group in order to have more chances for nice games. And rightly so, the rating categories are designed to have more exciting games more participants and more happiness. Before this day Harald Mottang and Alte Stærli went to bed with three points (Assuming they did not go to any wild Larvik parties). They would meet each other the next morning to decide who the true leader should be.

Mottang started out energetically against the Slav/Grünfeld hybrid. launching his f-pawn to create an impressive centre. Unfortunately the Grünfeld players get very happy when they see big centres against them. And surely enough Stærli won the game in a counter where White blundered the exchange and he was gentleman enough to resign immediately.

Stærli being a point ahead does not manage to keep that lead into the end of the day. In a Fianchetto King’s Indian the slow positional game, even a pawn up is too much of a strain. In the Queen+Minor piece endgame matters get so difficult that the question becomes: Who blunders first? Well Oddvar Kristiansen was very happy he could collect the minor piece, he managed to prolong the fight and got rewarded for his tenacity. This means we have three leaders after day four. All on four points. Kristiansen, Stærli and Eirik Kyrkjebø making a nice comeback after his loss in round two.


The Junior group is a small group of older youth. Most of them are actually playing in either the Mester and Elite groups, hence the small size of the group! Remember Aryan Tari could have also played this group ;-). A few years ago the k-factor of younger players was changed from 15 to 40. And other players increased from 15 to 20. This means that younger players see their rating fluctuate a lot more these days, which is quite hard, because most chessplayers tend to identify with their respective numbers a lot. It makes for a fascinating group with a lot of fighting spirit. Every game is worth 40 points (as an IM with k-factor 10 I sometimes dream about k40, but then I wake up realizing life without a title is a big nightmare, haha. OK I lied, who actually dreams about having a different k-factors?)

After round three there were two leaders. Isak Sjøberg and Abyl Kizatbay. They met by chance in the fourth round (it is not Swiss) and Sjøberg managed, after being a pawn down, to hold a draw with the longest perpetual check possible (Qh1-a8-h1-a8-h1). The afternoon game made Sjøberg even happier. Around move 15 I passed by to watch, and Sjøberg was making very strange faces. The typical face when someone blunders. I did not see the right continuation but Sjøberg took after a quiet Philidor on f7. Without King safety left it was too hard to hold on later for his opponent Andreas Sebastian. Kizatbay was not that fortunate and lost against Melaa, who is currently making a great comeback after losing round one. Which means Sjøberg is leading the group one point ahead. Will he give it away?


After playing the game of the day Mathias Lind Schouten was leading the table. And as a fighting player he managed to fight his way through the day gaining 1.5 points, maintaining the lead and staying ahead of Sander Fuglestein and Jacob Templen Grave from Tønsberg. Everything is possible in this group with no one taking a big distance and most players able to beat everyone.


After three rounds of warfare, two players were left with 100%. The big favourite and only player with a rating above 2000 Axel Tunsjø and the surprising Larvik player Sivert Ihlen who has around 500 rating points less than Tunsjø. This day turned out to be incredibly intense for both of them. Ihlen tricks Tunsjø in the opening, but forgets to make use of his trickery in a highly complicated Sicilian Taimanov. In the end Tunsjø emerges with a piece versus three pawns. Still with the Queens on the board the position was completely winning for Tunsjø. Slightly irritated and puzzled he did not manage to deliver the final blow, Ihlen exchanged into an endgame with two pawns versus the Knight which was very difficult to calculate. Hence in time trouble they bailed out with a draw, both joining the group behind them.

In the afternoon game it was clear that both gentlemen after playing such a difficult game were not reaching their usual level. Tunsjø played against Amadeus Hestvik Evenshaug, but did not manage to impress. Fortunately in the decisive moments Evenshaug, playing Black missed a lot of tactical possibilities letting Tunsjø escape with a draw. Probably he collected the karma he gained in the morning game.

Ihlen created a winning position out of thin air after manoeuvering in a double Bishop endgame for 80 moves in a dry Caro-Kann against Eirik Strøm Austad. But on the decisive moment Ihlen, who kept one arbiter busy downstairs when the others were eating his pizza, decided to go for a mate which did not work because of a desperado trick. Luckily for Austad, Ihlen blundered a pawn in the process leaving him with a winning endgame, the tired young Austad did not manage to show the precision needed to finish Ihlen in the sixth hour of play. Resulting in a draw and four leaders after round 5.


On three out of three we find Isak Vinh Brattgjerd, Lykke-Merlot Helliesen and William-Alexander Olsen. In the morning Helliesen and Oslen played a tense game. Olsen had the better of the game for quite some time, but then he missed a nice ‘Greek gift sacrifice.’ Which brought victory to Helliesen. Brattgjerd played against Havard Haug, he really got his game in a closed Sicilian. After gaining two pieces for a Rook and two pawns Brattgjerd made good use of them. The pieces worked like a charm and the point was only a matter of time.

In the afternoon Helliesen and Brattgjerd played another dramatic game. This time Helliesen made an opening trick work, yet she took the pawn on d5 one move too late. She assumed she could take on b7, but this gave Brattgjerd a huge counterattack. Through skillful defence the Black initiative slowly died and the game simplified to a draw. Which leaves Brattgjerd and Helliesen in the lead with half a point more than the six pursuers.

And that was it. A long report on a very long day. The tournament still knows four rounds with a lot left to happen. But the potential winners are really showing themselves now. Some had more luck than others, and some were just way too strong. Let’s hope the last games will be rough fights for the top spots. Good luck!

08-07-2019: The 2600+ showdown

Finally we were treated to an all 2600 game. Tari was playing White against Hammer. In a slow Italian game White still shows a lot of ambition, after misjudging a pawn weakness Hammer lands a very difficult position. Again, Tari’s games are very wild and again he got the best of the play. Very impressive sovereign lead after four rounds.

Tari is followed closely by Urkedal, who managed to catch his opponent in preparation. A seldomly played move-order tempted Haldorsen to take a semi-poisoned pawn. This game is really a positional masterpiece, anyone who would like to study the theme Knight versus Bishop will have a great lesson prepared.

In the 65+ class we saw Stake-Larsen taking the shared lead with a pretty game. A standard sacrifice which never gets old.


Game of the day 08-07-2019: Kristiansen – Schouten (Kadett)

If you think you have seen closed pawn structures think again. I wanted to compare the pawn structure to Word War I trenches (they were digging in well, that’s why they took so long), however, this was even bigger than “just trenches.” The stalemate in the Korean civil war comes closer. These borders still exist today, no one could cross the mountains in the centre of the country.

In chess, trench war is different. Often the one open file (which the Koreans did not have) decides as was the case here. Watch and see how a closed position like this breaks most chess laws.


07-07-2019: Tari takes the lead

It was clear that around time trouble there was a very tense atmosphere. Everyone knew there was something big happening. And sure enough, though Hauge and Tari were the most important actors for me. Others went to a congress, supposedly. Which was even more tense, supposedly. For me there is only one thing at this tournament and that’s the chess. I like putting chess first, it has taught a lot of life skills to a lot of young people. In that sense chess is a great addition to a world where hardly anyone is able to focus for longer than 30 seconds without looking at some sort of screen. Normal people cannot even imagine people being able to focus for such a time.

This is the reason why the NM is such a great tradition, so many chess fans from all around Norway finding each other to play a game that is worth mentioning. I am from a small country with three times as many people, and our Dutch championships have just the same amount of participants. Can you imagine, the longest Dutch train ride does not take longer than four hours! This means, that getting nearly 600 participants here is a huge achievement for Norway especially from an international perspective. I hope Norwegian chess will stay this way, congresses will not matter. Intentions of countless volunteers matter.

So chess first. In the Elite group the main game to watch was Hauge – Tari. Hauge managed to surprise his opponent with 1.f4, resulting in a wild game where both sides have had good chances for a full point. We love to see fighting chess, and I am sure Hammer likes it as well as he tried to win against Elsness’ Berlin wall. Sometimes the drawing margin of a position is too big. A win was on the table for Kjetil Lie, who started the tournament a little slow, missing a win in the first game and saving energy in the second. Lie also played an early surprise against Risting. This might make the surprise the best weapon this tournament up to now. You can check the analysis of the games of Lie and Tari below.

Again I would like to praise the Junior group for their fighting spirit, it gives us great games. The Junior group has a group of three leaders with two points. I have analysed the game of one of the leaders: Sebastian-Bruaset which was nearly flawless from the White side. A magnificent performance of you ask me, taking the initiative right out of the opening and not letting his poor opponent Bruaset off the hook for a single moment.

The last game which you should not miss is Andersen – A. Fossan: An English opening, where positional manoeuvering suddenly leads to incredible tactics where a move, gaining thirteen pawns in one move, was not the best move! Andersen stayed in the lead after two rounds in the Mester group.




Game of the day: 07-07-2019

Yesterday’s game of the day was played by the smallest ones. Strand versus Myagmarsuren started lilke a quiet Slav but both players got quite creative with their Kings. Both kings stay in the middle of the board in a wild middlegame. Myagmarsuren from Tromsø kept his cool and took the opposing King home, even using his own king into the attack. Definitely a game worth playing though, even if you thought you have seen it all.


06-07-2019: A lot of rain and a lot of players.

Somehow the rain is always comforting when playing chess. The sound of metal and water colliding a thousand times every second is somehow soothing. The feeling that you’re safe from the striking water, inside, doing sports, doesn’t that feel amazing. In such beautiful playing conditions it does not matter how bad your position is, it just does not matter.

The top boards in the elitegroup mostly thought about drawing except for Mikalsen and Hauge, they have played a tense game. Mikalsen was winning for some time after a very energetic opening, but he could not find a finish. Then in time trouble he commits a fatal mistake. Hauge picked up the fallen gems and snatched the full point. Hauge took the sole lead with 2/2. Details of this game you will find in the analysis section.

In the Mester group the fight for first place will probably be fought between three favourites on rating. Esben Even Andersen, Anders Hobber and Gunnar Lund. No big surprises in round one. Hobber showed some fine instructive attacking skill early in the game and scored a pretty win.

Another category with a lot of fighting chess is the Junior group. Ten players playing a round robin, and on the first day there were two surprising results. Daniel Nordquelle and Sondre Lillestøl Melaa did not get a lucky start. In a very wildly complicated attacking game Melaa did not find the way to the white King and lost. This spectacular game is also included.

Let’s hope the soothing rain washed away the bad taste of first round losses.

The games can be found here: