World Championship Match 2018 in London coming up

I’ve spent most of October abroad. In the UK we saw a few football matches and I met young chess enthusiast and top Liverpool footballer Alexander Trent Arnold for a game of chess. Later the same day the annual Play Magnus live event took place in Hamburg in the offices of Der Spiegel. Several of the players put up a good fight and I was a bit lucky to win all the games.

Next we went to Rome for the excellent Simonsen Vogt Wiig event October 9th. I managed to beat all my opponents within the allotted 30 sec but it was a close call, and the 3min against 30 sec is an exciting concept that has come to stay!

My last tournament before the World Championship Match was playing for Vålerenga in the European Club Cup in Greece. An old cold hadn’t completely let go, and the emphasis was more on the social aspects of playing on a team of friends than the chess games, at least compared to my approach during regular top tournaments. My teammates did great, and before the last round we had the sole lead despite being outrated by several of the other teams. The last round loss didn’t prevent us from placing as good as 5th, by far the best result of a Norwegian team in the ECC ever. Together with the 5thplace in the 2016 Olympiad, Norway is starting to be a serious top place contender also in team events!

After the ECC my team and I had the last regular training camp prior to the match. We have tried to learn from the previous matches, what worked well and what can be improved, and now all look forward to the match itself.

My last preparations before leaving for London tomorrow was a few days of cross country skiing up at Gausdal, reknown for a unique chess history. It was an emotional reminder of my more than a dozen visits to tournaments at Gausdal Hoyfjellshotel from 1999 to 2007, organized by the indefatigable Hans Olav Lahlum who took up the tradition of legendary Arnold Eikrem. The Gausdal chess tournaments were so important for me and a generation or more of Norwegian chess players.

The Carlsen-Caruana match Opening Ceremony and drawing of lots takes place November 8th, and round 1 starts at 3pm GMT Friday!