Norway Chess to US Chess Championships

 

Norway Chess

One of the top tournaments of the year, Norway Chess, concluded on September 17. Not surprisingly, World Champion Magnus Carlsen was triumphant, making this his third Norway Chess victory in the last four years and fourth overall.


What makes this event stand out from others is the format. In an attempt to fight a high percentage of draws at top level chess, draws are immediately followed by an Armageddon game. This means that the player who drew with the white pieces got the white pieces again and 10 minutes on the clock, while black got 7 minutes on theirs, with both players getting one second increment starting on move 41. In this format, Black gets draw odds, meaning that if a game ends in a draw, the player with the black pieces wins the match. Armageddon is a common way to end a match when players keep exchanging blows and there is no other way to determine a victor.


The 2021 Norway Chess was a double round robin with six players, which was a mix of both seasoned Super Grandmasters as well as young up-and-coming Grandmasters eager to keep climbing up the rating ladder. At the end, two of the young Grandmasters: the 18-year-old Alireza Firouzja and the 25-year-old Richard Rapport broke into the top 10, and are currently rated numbers 9 and 10 in the world respectively. For those of you who are not familiar with these names, Alireza Firouzja is a super talented player from Iran who recently got his French citizenship and is considered to be a future contender for the World Championship title by fans and Grandmasters alike. After losing to Carlsen in round 6, he went on to win the remaining four games, finishing second behind Carlsen. Richard Rapport is a chess prodigy who is Hungary’s youngest Grandmaster and has an unorthodox playing style.

Alireza Firouzja after defeating Richard Rapport in the final game

 

Photo courtesy Lennart Ootes for Norway Chess


Norway Chess was also the last encounter between Magnus Carlsen and the challenger to his crown Ian Nepomniachtchi before their upcoming World Championship match in November in Dubai. Nepomniachtchi had a subpar tournament, finishing 4th and losing both Armageddon games to Carlsen after drawing the classical games. The Russian player has since returned to his preparation and is not planning on participating in any more events, while Carlsen has played in the European Club Cup and is still playing in the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour. The chess world awaits the upcoming match with great anticipation. 

The World Champion vs his challenger

Photo courtesy Lennart Ootes for Norway Chess



US Championship

Beginning October 6, I will be playing in the US Women’s Championship. The US and US Women’s Championships are the premier chess events of the year in the country, featuring top American talent. This year’s edition will feature top Grandmasters Fabiano Caruana, Wesley So and Leinier Dominguez in the overall championship, and top female players and many time US Women’s Champions Irina Krush, Anna Zatonskih and Nazi Paikidze, and super talented 18-year-old IM Carissa Yip who is chasing her first title.


I have been playing in the US Women’s Championship since 2004 and have come close to winning several times, but alas have lost every tiebreak match for first place I have ever been in. Even so, it’s a major tournament I look forward to every year. I also greatly appreciate the efforts the Saint Louis Chess Club puts into organizing and covering the event. The Saint Louis Chess Club is one of the most beautiful chess clubs I have ever played in; just being there makes one want to play chess. The staff and the organizers always go out of their way to ensure that the players are treated well in every aspect, from our accommodations to our dietary restrictions in the snack area. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic there will be no live commentary or live audience in the playing hall, but the tournament will be extensively covered on their YouTube channel.


I will be focusing on my tournament for the next few weeks and will cover it (hopefully with some good news and games!) in a future newsletter, but in the meantime enjoy one of my favorite games from the 2019 US Women’s Championship against then 15 year old Carissa.


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