Norway Chess 2017 Blitz Kick-off

| Chess
| Stavanger, Norway

This year Norway Chess is important for many reasons. Already celebrating the 5th edition, Norway Chess has become a main feature on the elite chess calendar. The more than impressive line-up with the Top 10 players on the February 2017 rating list (in June all still within top 12), undoubtedly makes it the strongest tournament this year. After the World Championship match I’ve ended 2nd or 3rd in all events. While not bad, it is not the standard by which I judge myself.

Coach Peter Heine, my father and I arrived in Stavanger by car from Oslo Saturday after a successful evening stop in Sirdal to watch Real Madrid win the 3rd CL trophy since 2014.

Most of the event takes place in the Clarion Energy hotel outside Stavanger city this time. It is a nice hotel in a nice location albeit outside walking distance to the city centre.

The other participants are all regular elite players that I’ve met many times in the past; So, Kramnik, Caruana, Vachier-Lagrave, Aronian, Anand, Nakamura, Karjakin and Giri.

Norway Chess initial press conferences are unusually good, and today was no exception. The Blitz tournament was as always great fun, and I reached the same good result as last year, 7.5/9 points and clear first. I knew I was in reasonable shape after the training camp last week, but I must admit both the result and the overall quality of my play was a pleasant surprise. After two initial draws, it went very smoothly throughout the rest of my games, and it was great to feel the adrenaline flow again.

I picked start number three this year, and face Wesley So in round 1 tomorrow at 4 pm (3pm GMT). Wesley So has had a tremendous last 10 months, and he is now number two on the FIDE rating list. His Blitz form was not impressive, but he will as usual be a difficult opponent to beat in classical chess. The games are broadcast live on TV2.