Norway took a commanding lead after the first day of their triple friendly match against Sweden, winning 11.5-6.5 thanks to a fierce 5-1 performance in the youth match.
by Jonathan Tisdall
The event runs alongside the Altibox Norway Chess super-tournament this weekend, and is one of the demonstrations of a new cooperation project between the two neighbors – and rivals.
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The federations plan a wide range of knowledge sharing and chess development projects in coming years, and a regular national match is part of the picture. In the super-tournament, Swedish GM Nils Grandelius is getting his debut against the world elite, having won the Norway Chess qualifier ahead of Norwegian number two Jon Ludvig Hammer.
The two-nations match is the first full scale duel between the two countries in a generation, and Norway has fielded a slightly higher rated squad. There is a focus on youth in the top match, with four teenagers playing for the home squad on the open team.
The event pits three six-player teams in open, women’s and youth categories. The total score determines the winner of the event, but each category is considered a contest on its own.
The top six went Norway’s way at first, with Norway’s latest GM Frode Urkedal continuing a recent run of top form with a smooth win with black against Swedish colleague Axel Smith. Aryan Tari made it 2-0 on the top boards for the hosts after opponent Erik Blomqvist got too cute in a comfortable position and walked into a KO blow.
Game of the day has to go to Hansen-Johansson on board 3. The Norwegian GM rolled out some deep, creative, and exciting preparation that led to a rich and baffling game that was well fought and well defended by the Swedish IM.
Sweden struck back to tie the first match 3-3 with white wins on boards 4 and six.
The women’s match was touch and go throughout, with the Swedes slightly higher rated on the top three, and the locals with the better numbers on the bottom three. The teams traded tactical wins on the top two boards, and the decision came when Norway’s Ellen Hagesæther won a gruelling game on board 4 while Sweden’s Inna Agrest let her opponent slip in a deceptive ending on board three.
The final six featured pairs of Under-18, 16 and 14 players. The hosts were efficient on day one, both girls and boys winning 2.5-.5. Sweden’s Anna Cramling-Bellon, with a double GM family name, pushed long and hard for a win but was frustrated by Stavanger’s tenacious Hanna Kyrkjebø.
Swedish team captain GM Stellan Brynell was optimistic going into the second day, saying the games had been closely fought and the result could be reversed on Sunday…
Games on the second day begin Sunday at 12pm. They can be followed live through Chess24.