Norway wins neighborhood rivalry

Norway with a convincn win vs Sweden. Photo: Tarjei J. SvensenNorway with a convincn win vs Sweden. Photo: Tarjei J. Svensen

There was no reversal of roles for Sweden in the second day of their international match against Norway. The duel was part of the festivities alongside the Altibox Norway Chess super-tournament.

by Tarjei J. Svensen and Jonathan Tisdall

Norway took an imposing 11.5-6.5 lead on Saturday, powered by a 5-1 win on the youth boards, and a narrow 3.5-2.5 win from the women’s team. In the open class, honors were split 3-3, a symbolic victory for the visitors who were slightly outrated on all boards.

The Swedes had hopes of turning the tables on what they felt what a somewhat deceptive margin, but these vanished quite quickly as the Norwegian kids once again started harvesting points. The home team swept the U-16 and U-14 boards, and IM Lars Oskar Hauge slowly but very securely won on U-18 as well.

Anna Cramling-Bellon earned Sweden’s only win, to make it another 5-1 result. It doesn’t hurt to have two grandmaster parents!

It helps to have two grandmaster parents! Photo: Tarjei J. Svensen

It helps to have two grandmaster parents! Photo: Tarjei J. Svensen

The women’s match was again tense, with many decisions falling around the time control. Sweden’s Ellinor Frisk completed a personal sweep on board two, which was answered by a Norwegian sweep by Ellen Hagesæther on board four. The real difference on the day came from Norway’s twin sisters Edit and Monika Machlik, who produced two points from two very complicated games.

4th board Ellen Hagesæther was the women's top scorer with 2/2. Photo: Tarjei J. Svensen

4th board Ellen Hagesæther was the women’s top scorer with 2/2. Photo: Tarjei J. Svensen

The top six boards ended in another deadlock, this time with just a single victory to each side. IM Johan Salomon avenged his painful defeat at the hands of colleague Philip Lindgren with a comprehensive win in similar style. Sweden’s full point came thanks to another tenacious defensive effort by IM Linus Johansson. Again his game vs GM Torbjørn Hansen would be my clear pick of the day.

Again the Norwegian built up a big advantage thanks to highly creative and dynamic play, and again Johansson responded with resourceful defence, this time taking the whole point when his opponent stumbled during the tricky technical phase.

For the record the top match ended tied 6-6, but Norway claimed the trophy thanks to the tiebreak of highest board victory, making teenage GM Aryan Tari team hero for his first round win on top board.

One of Norway's brightest talents, GM Aryan Tari in action vs Erik Blomqvist. Photo: Tarjei J. Svensen

One of Norway’s brightest talents, GM Aryan Tari in action vs Erik Blomqvist. Photo: Tarjei J. Svensen

It was a comprehensive overall victory for the Norwegian team – 23.5-12.5 – but the details behind the result were also interesting, Norway’s Director of Elite Chess says:

The result was comfortable thanks to the massive margin our juniors gave us – we were favorites there, but it was an impressively maximal performance. Our youngest player, Thyra Kvendseth is worth singling out, since she was actually a slight rating underdog but won twice, very convincingly. Four of our youngsters swept their matches, and Johannes Haug’s match was particularly interesting.

The women’s result 7.5-4.5 was the most gratifying since this match was completely even on paper, with Sweden having a slight edge of the top three boards, and Norway having the same on the bottom half. This result was earned by extremely hard fighting and every game was tense.

In the open class Norway were slight favorites on all six boards, so technically speaking the 6-6 result was a Swedish victory. I think it was an excellent exercise though, and with four teenagers playing it provided valuable experience for a team that is really undergoing a profound generational change. When 22-year-old Frode Urkedal is one of the team veterans, that says a lot. Performance here was very much linked to previous experience on the national team, so I’m sure we will have much good in the future from the experience gained here.» «I was also very impressed by the class of play demonstrated by Torbjørn Hansen, and now that he is coming back to active play I expect him to regain the routine necessary to consistently convert this class into full points.

While Magnus turned heads when he was a surprise spectator on the first day of the match, on Sunday the real prize for the participants was to follow local heroes Carlsen and Nils Grandelius in the main event.

The post-match atmosphere reinforced the feeling that this traditionally deadly rivalry has also always been one between friendly neighbors. The playing hall turned into an impromptu blitz party, with both teams unwinding with lightning games in between following the action in the super-GM event.

Rematch next year – this international match is planned as a new tradition and part of a goal to turn the Stavanger tournament into a full-fledged festival of chess.

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