After a quiet start to the Altibox Norway Chess tournament, there has been no little drama in the last few days including a cook-off between the players – definitely worth checking out – a withdrawal as a result of an injury and a defeat for Magnus Carlsen. The premature exit was by Ding Liren who injured himself while cycling during the first rest day. Initially, he thought it was not serious but later it was decided that he would need surgery on his hip and so he withdrew from the tournament. Before quitting, however, he chose to go through with the players’ cook-off competition which had been arranged for the rest day. The players drew lots to be paired off in five groups of two and were then given recipes to cook. Their culinery experience appeared to be limited in most cases so it must have been a surprise when Ding and Vishy Anand – who claims only to have once cooked an omelette – were declared the winners. This clip, courtesy of Chess.com, is worth a look:
Carlsen had made a confident start to the tournament and amid a cluster of draws, he was the only one to have achieved two wins in the first five rounds to sit on top of the table with 3½/5. However, he was beaten in Round 6 today by Wesley So who in doing so registered his first win. The leader board now looks much more interesting as the players head for the second rest day.
White: Wesley So (2778) Black: Magnus Carlsen (2843)
Altibox Norway 2018 Round 6
Hibernation is defined as a period when mammals spend the winter moving very little and sleeping a lot in order to save energy. Substitute ‘estivation’ for ‘hibernation’ and ‘chess players’ for ‘mammals’ and you get the general picture for most chess clubs after Easter. Not so here at Broadstairs where we have another two and a half months to go which involves several remaining matches in the club championship, three more rounds of the Summer Swiss, the semi-finals and finals of the knockout competition and the Broadstairs Blitz on July 2. If that is not enough, there is also the 49th Thanet Chess Congress to look forward to in August to which everyone is invited. Details and online booking can be found at http://www.thanetchesscongress.co.uk. Entry is free for GMs and IMs, and only £5 for U16s.
No such rest for the world’s top players who have descended upon Stavanger for the Altibox Norway Chess tournament, an all-play-all competition featuring ten of the top players in the world. Rather than list those attending, it is easier to name those of the leading thirteen who are not (Kramnik, Giri, Grischuk). To give you an idea of the standard of the tournament, Vishy Anand is the weakest player with a pathetic FIDE rating of 2760. Round 1 featured an intriguing rehearsal for November’s World Championship match between Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana, and it was the only game with a positive result.
White: Magnus Carlsen (2843) Black: Fabiano Caruana (2822)
Altibox Norway 2018 Round 1
Stavanger is described as the oil capital of Norway and is an attractive city well worth a visit. If your idea of a fun evening is watching Scandi noir serials on tv, you might be forgiven for thinking that Norwegians lack a sense of humour but don’t you believe it. On a visit there last year, your correspondent came across a Mexican restaurant outside which there was a sign displaying the following recommendation in perfect English: “Mexican food so authentic that Donald Trump would build a wall around it.” If a visit to the oil museum is not your cup of tea, try tracking down the dozen or so Antony Gormley statues liberally scattered around the city in the most unlikely places including one inside a shop. Meanwhile, as none of the ten stars currently appearing at the Altibox tournament has yet replied to my request for them to opt in to my updated post-GDPR privacy notice enabling me to display their photographs, here is a picture of Stavanger instead.
This week’s Game of the Week, nominated by Michael Doyle, is his demolition of Richard Bowles in the second round of the Summer Swiss. Michael is proud of the win and says of the game, ‘I haven’t seen a black blitzkrieg like that since I first played chess when Bobby Fischer torpedoed Spassky’.
White: Richard Bowles (52) Black: Michael Doyle (81)
Summer Swiss Round 2
Congratulations to the Broadstairs team that has retained the Team Buzzer shield won last year. David Faldon reports: ‘Only two teams turned up for the 2017/18 Thanet Team Buzzer Tournament so we made the best of it and played an eight-round match with each of the four Broadstairs players taking on each of the Margate players twice. The outcome was a 13-3 win for Broadstairs using a scoring system of two points for each round won. Broadstairs were represented by Nick McBride (6/8), David Faldon (6/8), Paul Carfrae (6½/8) and Richard Clement (4/8). The Margate players were Peter McGill, Colin Gregory, Leon Garfield and Cameron Plater.’
Most players would be happy to have one game included in Game of the Week but John ‘the Gullbuster’ Couzens has played two cracking games recently against strong opponents so for those who were not lucky enough to be there on the night it is only fair to share them with a wider public. First up is a tremendous win in Broadstairs’ 3½-3½ draw with Folkestone in March. The fact that John Atherton was playing on Board 5 with a grade of 163 only goes to emphasise what an impressive result this was for us and how important was JC’s victory. In the final position White resigned but was about to lose on time.
White: John Atherton (163) Black: John Couzens (116)
Millar Cup v Folkestone
This second game features our only individual win in a 4½-2½ defeat by Bridge A. John modestly dismisses this win as a consequence of 7. gxf3? when recapture with the Queen seemed a better idea. However, this ignores the skilful way he maintains and builds on his advantage and the ending is neat, White resigning as he is about to lose a rook.
White: Patrick Burns (156) Black: John Couzens (116)
Millar Cup v Bridge A