The Team

Kjell Madland

Founder and chairman of  Norway Chess
Founder and board member at Norway Summit

Kjell has a long background from business. He started his own construction company at 22 years old and has since held leader positions in several companies, including managing director for a Norwegian soccer team playing in 1st division. One of his strengths is to increase company revenue and earnings significantly.

Kjell is the mastermind behind the Norway Chess tournament and the initater of the Norway Summit conference. He has been the main driver in Norway Chess from the idea to the international brand its become today. He has done all the major business deals for the companies and is still a vital driver and a hands-on force within the companies. He is uniqely creative and has the ability to always think outside the box.

Benedicte Westre Skog

Project Manager at Norway Chess, 
Managing Director and co-founder at Norway Summit

Benedicte has an international background spending big parts of her life abroad living and studying in different countries. She holds an MSc in International Development from Utrecht University, the Netherlands and an interdisciplinary BA Honors degree from Dalhousie University, Canada. She has also studied in India, Mexico and Norway.

She has been working with Norway Chess since 2015 as project manager after joining the board in 2014.

She has been instrumental in the creation of the Norway Summit conference in Stavanger, which is an extension to Norway Chess, aiming to create a space for business, technology, finance and sustainability, particularly building bridges between Norway and innovation eco-systems around the world.

In 2014 she founded a non-profit organization, Argan Care, which has reached great achievements in Morocco. Argan Care focuses on reforestation projects, literacy training and creates employment opportunities in southwestern Morocco, in particular for women.

Shohreh Bayat

Chief Arbiter

Shohreh Bayat is a Category-A International Arbiter, FIDE Lecturer, Woman FIDE Master and councillor of the FIDE Arbiters Commission.

She was Chief Arbiter of the Women’s World Championship Final and The list of FIDE events at which she has officiated includes World Olympiads 2014, 2016 & 2018, Women’s World Championship 2017 & 2018, 2020 FIDE Women’s Candidate 2020, FIDE World Cadet Rapid & Blitz Championship 2018, World Junior Championships 2017 , World Senior Team Championships 2017, World Youth Championships  2015, as well as online events like Online Chess Olympiad 2020, Online World University Games 2020 and Online World Youth Chess Championship 2020.

As a player, she has been a participant of the Iranian national team which won the 3rd Women’s World Islamic Games (2001), also achieved 5th rank in the Asian Girls U18 Championship (2004). She has won numerous Iranian tournaments such as the Iranian woman chess festival championship, the Iranian woman blitz championship, the Iranian Junior championship and the Iranian Universities chess championship.

Shohreh has a Master’s degree in Natural Resources engineering and she has published three articles in international journals.

Anastasia Sorokina


Master (2001), International Arbiter (2002), FIDE Trainer (2005), International Organizer (2018). She was born on 26 January 1980 in Minsk, Belarus. In 2003 Anastasia moved to Australia and worked as a chess coach in the Queensland School of Chess, and then in Chess Kids in Melbourne. She now lives in Riga.

In 2018 Anastasia Sorokina  was elected as FIDE Vice-President.
Anastasia Sorokina has been Deputy Arbiter at several Olympiads, Chief and deputy arbiter at a number of FIDE Grand Prix events, as well as numerous other major FIDE tournaments. This will be her third time arbitrating in Norway Chess.

Karl-Johan Rist


Karl-Johan Rist is an International Arbiter from Norway.

Appointed as FIDE Arbiter in 2007 and International Arbiter in 2010. Licensed category A in 2014. His international career started in May 1994 as Chief Arbiter in the Open Norwegian Rapid Chess Championship in Øksfjord, Norway, with players from Scandinavia and Russia.  His last international job was Match Arbiter in the World Rapid and Blitz Chess Championship in Almaty, Kazakhstan in December 2022.
During this 29 years he has been both Chief Arbiter, Deputy Chief Arbiter, Sector Arbiter and Match Arbiter in numerous national and international events. Among them five FIDE Chess Olympiads, Khanty Mansiysk, Russia 2010, Istanbul, Turkey 2012, Tromsø, Norway 2014, Baku, Azerbaijan 2016 and Batumi, Georgia 2018. Two FIDE World Cups in Khanty Mansiysk, Russia 2011 and Tromsø, Norway 2013. He has also been Match Arbiter in the ECU European Chess Union Team Championship 2015 in Reykjavik, Iceland, and Chief Arbiter in the ECU Individual Chess Championship 2018 in Batumi, Georgia and Chief Arbiter in the ECU Senior Chess Championship 2018 in Drammen, Norway.
This will be his fourth time arbitrating in Norway Chess. He was Arbiter in the two first editions in 2013, 2014 and Chief Arbiter in 2016.

Lennart Ootes

Chess board master and photographer

Lennart Ootes is a creative chess professional from the Netherlands. He works for numerous tournaments as a DGT operator, video broadcaster, photographer or web designer. Since 2017 he is involved with Norway Chess as a DGT board operator and photographer. Lennart was awarded as best photographer of 2018 in the photo contest of the Russian Chess Federation.

Maria Fragkaki

Social media

Maria is an experienced Digital Marketing Specialist, trusted by companies in Greece, London, India, Brussels, Berlin, Norway, and The Netherlands. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from the University of Crete, and a BA (Hons) Marketing Management Degree from the Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh, with a research paper on how social media affects women’s body image.

She started as a social media assistant and copywriter for small businesses in 2014; continued as a social media manager at a Creative Digital Marketing Agency in Chania – her hometown – in 2017, to finally move to Athens in 2019 to chase her freelancer’s dream.

In 2020 she founded Lemonpie, a freelance Social Media Branding Agency, offering 360 Digital Marketing Services in collaboration with 15+ freelancers from all over the world, commission-free! Lastly, since 2020 she has been working in the chess industry, a niche market which made her fall in love even more with her sport (she is a 5-time Greek Chess Champion), but also with how social media can really inspire marketers to create more “personal” and quality content than commercial.

Mehmet Ismail

Game Theory Expert

Mehmet Ismail, currently a lecturer in economics at King’s College London’s Department of Political Economy, has a diverse academic background. He holds a PhD in Economics from Maastricht University and during this period, he had the opportunity to work with esteemed game theorist and political scientist, Steven Brams, at New York University. Mehmet also holds a masters in applied mathematics from the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and spent a semester at Bielefeld University as part of the Erasmus Mundus QEM programme.

Beyond academia, Mehmet is an ardent chess enthusiast and a former professional backgammon player. His passion for games goes much further than just playing; he is intrigued by the multifaceted world of games, exploring everything from theoretical foundations and practical applications to game design, fairness and gameplay itself.