The Team

Meet our contributors that are part of making the Altibox Norway Chess 2020 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 and 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 Altibox Norway Chess, 
Managing Director Norway Summit

Benedicte has an international background spending big parts of my 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 innovation, 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.

Vladimir Kramnik

Expert commentator in the official, international webcast

Vladimir Kramnik is a well-known chess grandmaster from Russia. He was the Classical World Chess Champion from 2000 to 2006 and the undisputable World Chess Champion from 2006 to 2007. Kramnik has won three team gold medals and three individual medals at Chess Olympiads but he is maybe most known for defeating Garry Kasparov in 2000, where he became the Classical World Chess Champion. Furthermore, he defended his title in 2004 defeating Péter Lékó and in 2006 defeating FIDE World Chess Champion, Veselin Topalov, in a unification match.

Kramnik lost the title in 2007 to Viswanthan Anand, who then won the World Chess Champion tournament. He challenged Anand again in 2008 at the World Chess Champion tournament but lost. Nevertheless, Kramnik remains a top player reaching a peak rating of 2817 in October 2016, making him the joint-eight highest-rated chess player of all time.

Vladimir Kramnik announced his retirement from a professional chess player career in January of 2019. In the official statements he said he intend to focus on projects relating to chess for children and education. Kramnik has played in the Altibox Norway Chess tournament 3 times, in 2014, 2016 and 2017. We are thrilled to have him onboard the Altibox Norway Chess team for the 2020 tournament.

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)

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 five times in Altibox 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 the
University of Nice. 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

Anastasia Sorokina is a Woman International Master (2001), International Arbiter (2002), FIDE Trainer (2005), and 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 at the Chess Kids tournament in Melbourne. Later, she opened her own FIDE licensed Chess Academy. She currently lives in Belarus with her family.
Anastasia Sorokina has been Chief and Deputy Arbiter at several World Chess Olympiads, a number of FIDE Grand Prix events, as well as numerous major international top-level events and FIDE tournaments. 
In 2017, Ms Sorokina was elected as President of Belarus Chess Federation. Under the leadership of Anastasia Sorokina, Belarus became well-known as organizer of several international tournaments and was elected to organize the 45th World Chess Olympiad in 2022, and World Cups in 2020  and 2021. 
In 2018, Anastasia Sorokina was elected as FIDE Vice President. 

Shohreh Bayat

Shohreh Bayat is an International Arbiter, Councillor of FIDE Arbiters’ Commission and a Woman FIDE Master. She is Asia’s first and only female Category-A IA and the only female FIDE Lecturer on the continent. Shohreh is one of few women in the chess world who is the operator of electronic boards.

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

The list of official world events for which she has been an arbiter is quite extensive: Women’s Candidates Tournament 2019, World Olympiads 2014,2016 & 2018, Women’s World Championship 2017 & 2018,  FIDE World Cadet Rapid & Blitz Championship 2018 & 2019, World Junior Championships 2017, World Senior Team Championships 2017,  World Youth Championships 2015 etc.

She has also been appointed Chief Arbiter of the Women’s World Chess Championship Match in 2020, between Ju Wenjun and Aleksandra Goryachkina.

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

Altibox Norway Chess 2020 will be Shohreh’s first visit to the tournament and we are very much looking forward to having her on the arbiter team all the way from Iran.