Thoughts about 2020 before Tata Steel Chess 2021

Most people will remember 2020 as the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic hurting so many with the loss of lives, health, jobs and freedom. I am of course extremely privileged. I have so far avoided the decease, and as most Norwegians I have been less affected by lockdowns than most. Having felt some frustrations myself due to restrictions on travel and activities locally in Oslo and cancelled tournaments, I can only try to imagine the hardship felt and experienced by all those seriously affected by the pandemic one way or another.

We first heard about the pandemic nearly a year ago, and after Tata Steel Chess 2020 only one of the classical chess tournaments I was scheduled to, or considering to play, actually took place, Norway Chess. I’m grateful to the organizers for their commitment and dedication and how they put on a great tournament. I managed to win with a +2 score in the classical part and the good score in the Armageddon games that followed drawn classical games.

2020 was the year when serious elite online events really came off age. Some organizers replaced their planned events with high level online chess, and I’m really proud of the role Play Magnus played by staging the five-tournament (Magnus Carlsen) Chess tour this summer. From November onwards we are now well into the 2nd season ten-tournament Champions Chess Tour. I did well and won most events both this summer and in the St.Louis online events in September, while late November and December was surprisingly unkind to me.

Chess players can continue to fight at the highest level at a higher age than in most physical sports, as evidenced by the excellent 1968-1970 “generation” of top players headed by former World Champion V.Anand. Anyhow, already for some years I have had a creeping feeling of gradually having to start to fight against age, and that may be one of the reasons why it was particularly satisfying to be able to say that the first half of 2019 probably was my best 6-month period ever chess-wise. 2020 has not been as good, although I’ve played quite decent rapid chess in some of the online rapid events this summer, particularly the Chessable Masters in July.

The delay of the originally planned 2020 World Championship by one year necessarily had a significant impact on priorities and plans in the 2nd half of 2020.  In 2021 my main challenge will be to be the best version of myself in the rest of the online Champions Chess tour and in the World Championship match.

But, first things first. Of course, I want to play well also in the upcoming Tata Steel Chess and later in Norway Chess. Fortunately my head coach Peter Heine Nielsen is joining me Wijk aan Zee in this weekend and I look forward to start playing on Saturday 16th!

In cooperation with Play Magnus, I have recently entered into cooperation with the trading platform Skilling and become a brand ambassador for media strategy and analysis company Meltwater. Even more importantly for readers of my Simonsen Vogt Wiig blog post, SVW and I are entering the 12th successive year of cooperation. That is quite something!

Happy New Year!