Short on Norway Chess
History of Norway Chess
The chess adventure started in 2012 with the idea to create the world’s strongest chess tournament on Norwegian soil. Founder of Norway Chess, Kjell Madland, questioned why there was no international elite chess tournament in the homeland of Magnus Carlsen (this was before Carlsen became World Champion). 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 it’s 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. Other countries are now following.
Since its inception, Norway Chess has had a focus on being innovative, creative and highly professional. 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.
In 2017, Altibox Norway Chess hosted the strongest 10-player chess tournament in the history, according to the players’ ratings. The world chess elite meet in Stavanger annually to participate in what has now become more than just a tournament. Through Norway Chess, Stavanger has become a chess metropolis and an exemplar for a completely new way of thinking about chess and its role in society and in the world of sports.
The Wimbledon of chess
Garry Kasparov stated in 2014 that: “Norway Chess is the Wimbledon of Chess.” Reminiscent of other major sports events such as indeed Wimbledon, Norway Chess exhibits a distinguished and emotionally recognizable aura. Those who are following the games and the commentary online and via tv broadcast are being immersed into an exciting and memorable setting. This is precisely what has made the chess tournament internationally renowned 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. Or as Arkady Dvorkovich has put it: “I do not know Stavanger because of oil and gas, but rather because of chess.”
New time control and Armageddon playoffs
In 2019 we took the slightly risky yet exciting decision to alter the game format slightly. This wasn’t easy as we had little to no idea how it would turn out in practice and after all chess is a game of so much tradition. After consulting with our players, we came to the agreement that it was worth giving it a try. In Armageddon time controls are significantly shorter and the outcome of its games are always decisive. The players that made draws in the classical game-format would have to continue into a game of Armageddon. 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. The new time control and Armageddon playoffs caused the official broadcast to double its viewers.
Broadcast and Commentary
Today our tournaments are being broadcasted in multiple countries around world, both by national TV broadcasters and also online through several well-known platforms such as Twitch and YouTube and chess24. During last year’s tournament we have reached 2.5 million viewers through national tv in Norway only. In recent months the world of chess has seen a historically unprecedented increase of players and viewers. We are therefore expecting the number of viewers to increase by a huge margin during the upcoming event in May 2021. In 2020 Judit Polgar hosted the international broadcast together with chess legend, Vladimir Kramnik. Together they lead Altibox Norway Chess to new levels of entertainment and expertise.