The Team

Meet our contributors that are part of making the Norway Chess 2021 edition a fantastic event. During the tournament we gather people that are experts within their respective fields, assuring that all aspects of the “behind the scenes” of the tournament is well taken care of.

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.

Jasmine Larsson

Sales & Events at Norway Chess, 
Sales & Events at Norway Summit

Jasmine joined the team at Norway Chess in 2021 after having worked as a project manager in the events sector for several years selling and project managing both small and large scale events and conferences nationally and internationally.  

Jasmine is a project, sales and marketing professional with an international background.  She holds a BA in European Marketing and Modern Languages (French & Spanish) from Roehampton University (London, UK) including studies at NEGOCIA (Paris, France) and Universitat de Vic (Vic, Spain).

Being half Swedish and half Norwegian and having studied at Roehampton University in 4 different languages, Jasmine enjoys working across cultures and languages, creating engagement and building relations. She believes that quality is of high importance and she therefore works after the motto that “the devil is in the details”.  

Judit Polgar

Expert commentator in the official, international webcast

Judit Polgar from Hungary is considered the best female chess player in history, two-time Olympic champion. At the age 15 she broke Bobby Fischer’s record by becoming the youngest Grandmaster. She has been ranked the world number one female chess player for over 25 years, and on the occasion of this exceptional achievement she was awarded a Guinness Record in 2014.

Ranked in top 10 in the Open (Men’s) World Rating list and participated at the World Championship tournament in 2005. During her career Judit has defeated several world champions, including Kasparov, Karpov, Anand and Carlsen.

Silver medallist member of the Hungarian Olympic “Men” National Team, first in 2002 and repeated the success in 2014. After winning the silver medal at the Chess Olympiad the second time, she announced her retirement from competitive chess. In 2015 at the European Championship she led the Hungarian men to winning the bronze medal as team captain.

Established the Judit Polgar Chess Foundation in 2012 and is the main organizer of the annual Global Chess Festival. Judit’s passion is to promote the game, inspire younger generations and to make a difference in education. Judit Polgar is the author of prize-winning books for professional chess players and children alike.

Judit and her team have developed the award-winning Chess Palace and the Chess Playground programs for children age 4-11. These educational programs use chess as an exceptional learning tool to facilitate children’s development and to enable deploying their talent through chess. The motto of the Judit Polgar educational programs: Play your way to creative thinking.

Judit is also making efforts to make steps for gender equality as a “Planet 50-50 Champion” which was given to her by UN Women in 2016.

Given the James Joyce Award by the University College Dublin, in 2017.

Official commentator of the World Championship Final Match in 2016 and 2018.

From the end of 2018 Judit Polgar is the Honorary Vice President of the international World Chess Federation (FIDE)

This will be Judit Polgar’s third time as official expert commentator at Norway Chess.

Anemone Kulczak

Chief Arbiter

Anemone Kulczak’s father taught her to play chess when she was 7 years old. She has played many tournaments during her teenage years. She became an arbiter 16 years ago and have arbitrated in more than 80 tournaments in France, and in other countries (Round Robin tournaments, French National championship, International Open Tournaments). She has also been part of the organization of many international tournaments in France and regional director of the arbiters during 10 years.

In Norway, She has been chief arbiter six times in Norway Chess (2013, 2014 and 2017, 2018 and 2019) and sector arbiter at the Chess Olympiad in Tromsø.

In her daily life, she works as a Human Resources Manager and HR teacher at Université Côte d’Azur. She is also a French lecturer, one of the 24 members of the steering committee of the French Federation, and she does national
arbiter training.

She has also been the first female to be chess referee in a competition
of “chessboxing”, a hybrid sport where competitors fight in alternating
rounds of chess and boxing.

Anastasia Sorokina

Arbiter

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. After her daughter born in 2009 she moved back to Belarus where she opened her own FIDE licensed Chess Academy.

In 2017 Ms Sorokina was elected as President of Belarus Chess Federation.
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.

Shohreh Bayat

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.

Lennart Ootes

Official photographer, chess board master and social media

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.

Anastasiya Karlovich

Press relations & social media 

Anastasiya Karlovich is a Chess Grandmaster (WGM) Chess promoter and journalist.

Anastasiya has been involved in chess since early childhood. As a player, she has been a winner and medallist in the Ukrainian and European Youth Championships. In 2003 she was awarded the title of Woman Grandmaster (WGM).

In 2008 Anastasiya became active in journalism and chess photography. Since 2010 she has been responsible for co-ordinating the press centers of the strongest FIDE events worldwide, including World Chess Championship Matches (Anand-Gelfand in Moscow 2012, Carlsen-Anand in Chennai 2013 and Sochi 2014, Carlsen-Karjakin in New York 2016), the FIDE Candidates Tournaments (London 2013, Khanty-Mansiysk 2014, Berlin 2018), World Chess Olympiads (Istanbul 2012, Baku 2016), Women World Championships (2010 – 2017), etc. Her interviews with organizers, sponsors, top players from all these events are countless, including hundreds of hours analyzing live chess games! Her articles, reports and photographs have been published in numerous chess magazines and websites.

Anastasiya also holds a Master degree in law from the National Law Academy of Ukraine. Her legal background has been very useful in resolving various issues regarding media rights of FIDE events, keeping players, organizers and sponsors happy.

This will be her second time as one of the team members of Norway Chess.

Maria Emelianova

Social media & photography

Maria Emelianova, also known in Norway and in the chess world as MissLovaLova, was born in Russia and now lives in London.

She learned to play chess at six years old and reached Woman FIDE Master level before stepping away from competitive chess, to focus on university instead, but still translating and proofreading chess articles throughout this time, including one year work for “64” magazine, alongside with Alexander Roshal.

Despite initially studying Computer Science, she returned to chess as a photographer and journalist, completing a diploma in Photojournalism at Moscow State University, writing a thesis on Digital Manipulation and Ethics in Modern Photojournalism in 2014.

For more than a decade, Maria’s photographs have been published in all the leading online and periodical chess magazines and newspapers. Her photographs were exhibited at the Sochi 2014 World Championship, the Baku 2016 Olympiad, and Tata Steel 2017. In 2018, 2019 and 2020, Maria won or was honorably mentioned in multiple categories of the Chess Journalist Awards. In 2021 she became an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society.

Maria works for Chess.com, providing photo and video content, working with the broadcast team and providing commentary in Russian and English. She is a Twitch partner, and recently hosted commentary for GMHikaru, the largest Twitch chess channel.

Anton Leodolter

Media & content management

Anton was born and raised in Austria, Graz, played and (almost) won chess tournaments as a kid, lost interest in the game in his teens but returned to it when the online era of chess took off some 12 years ago. He now has ambitions (dreams) to attain the CM title one day.

He currently resides in the UK and is in the course of finishing his PhD in Philosophy. His project is funded by the AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council). With the support of the council Anton was able to take on a payed internship position at Norway Chess which he holds since 2020. He is currently responsible for editing and creating webpage and social media content. Besides his academic work he also writes chess related articles for the Norway Chess Magazine.