In 2017, Altibox Norway Chess hosted the top ten strongest chess players in the world according to the players’ ratings. That year became historic, as it is the strongest ever 10-player tournament. Altibox Norway Chess is today known as one of the world’s strongest chess tournaments. Every year, the world chess elite meet in Stavanger to participate in an action dominated tournament. Through Altibox Norway Chess, Stavanger has become a chess metropolis.
The chess adventure started in a small town in Rogaland called Ålgård. An idea to create the world’s strongest tournament on Norwegian soil were soon to became a reality.
Founder and Chairman of Norway Chess, Kjell Madland, questioned why there was no global tournament in chess in the homeland of Magnus Carlsen. After all, he was already among the top players. In October of 2011, Mr. Madland hosted a simultaneous chess tournament with Magnus Carlsen in the town of Ålgård. Twenty-five players aged 10 to 80, a mix of celebrities and locals played against each other and were able to take on the world stars.
The very first Norway Chess tournament was organized before Magnus Carlsen became World Champion. At the time, it was unbelievable for most people that 6-7 hours of chess could entertain half of the Norwegian population in front of the TV. Today it1s become national TV sport and the Norwegian people talk about chess, play chess, and are passionate about this genuine, worldwide game in a whole new way.
Since its inception, Norway Chess has had a focus on being innovative and creative. During the first few years the chess rounds where played at unique locations such as Flor & Fjære, the University of Stavanger, Aarbakke, Utstein monastery, and Stavanger Concert Hall. These events have been historic and given tremendous marketing of the region. Altibox Norway Chess has become a solid organization of international recognition. Besides our own world champion Magnus Carlsen, we have had participants and guests such as Vishy Anand and chess legend Garry Kasparov. Garry Kapsarov even stated in 2014 that: “Norway Chess is the Wimbledon of Chess!”
The way forward
Altibox Norway Chess has shown class, quality, commercialization and innovation, which has made the chess tournament internationally recognized since the beginning.
Countless of hours and resources have been spent to achieve the status the city of Stavanger now has as an international chess city. Players, the press, the audience, FIDE, and anyone interested in chess consider Stavanger as one of the top chess cities in the world. In the future we are talking more innovation, creativity, and a constant changing mindset.
For example, a new concept was launched during the 2019 tournament, which caused the official broadcast to double its viewers.
In the new concept a significantly shorter time control was introduced in the main game. The players that made draws would have to continue in to a game of Armageddon, a type of speed chess game where there is always a winner. The new rules make chess more audience friendly, but also more challenging for the players. The feedback has been very positive both from the players but also from chess experts. FIDE’s President, Arkady Dvorkovich even stated they are paying close attention to the new way of playing chess.
It was recently announced that chess legend, Judit Polgar is going to host the international broadcast together with chess legend, Vladimir Kramnik. Together they will bring Altibox Norway Chess to new levels of entertainment and expertise.