20 May

I Want My MCTV

Recently, an Icelandic public TV network aired 24 hours of live sheep birthing to give the country’s residents “insight into the traditional farming life”. The event was inspired by the growth in popularity of “slow television” broadcasts by neighbouring Norwegian public TV network NRK, which previously aired a 12-hour knitting marathon, a 12-hour wood burning program and a 100-hour marathon of chess when Magnus Carlsen defended his world title.


The ‘Carlsen effect’ is making chess big on Norwegian TV - and in a play on MTV, the Norwegians have nicknamed the phenomena as ‘MCTV’. But now a sports channel has gone one better, by hiring Carlsen to be the co-host and commentator for live coverage of a unique chess tournament recently in Oslo, the EnterCard Scandinavian Masters - the winner of which would qualify to play in the star-studded Norway Chess 2015 super-tournament in Stavanger from 15 to 26 June alongside the world champion and a host of other elite stars.

Six players participated: Laurent Fressinet (France), Jon Ludvig Hammer (Norway), Nils Grandelius (Sweden), Curt Hansen (Denmark), Simen Agdestein (Norway) and Aryan Tari (Norway). The tournament was held on the "Zurich" system: the participants played one game of classical chess, where a victory earned 2 points and a draw 1, and then played a second rapid game, with the usual scoring system of 1-1/2-0.

In addition, the Norwegians made a show of the event, with the involvement of the mass audience. The tournament was held at the headquarters of the studio sports TV channel TV2, and nearby on the street a glass cube was installed in which the games were commented on live by Magnus Carlsen - and even during the classical games, when there was slow slow TV, Carlsen quickly stripped off to take on challengers outside one-on-one at basketball!

In the end, the Norwegian No.2 and Carlsen long-time friend, Jon Ludvig Hammer edged out Laurent Fressinet to win through to take the final spot in next month’s Norway Chess 2015 super-tournament in Stavanger - which NRK are guaranteeing live coverage throughout on public TV.

Jon Ludvig Hammer - Nils Grandelius
EnterCard Scandinavian Masters Rapid, (4)
Grünfeld Defence
1.c4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.Bg2 d5 5.0-0 0-0 6.cxd5 Nxd5 The Grünfeld Defence, named after the German master Ernst Grünfeld (1893-1962), is regarded as one of the lines that helped to establish the hypermodern school of chess during the 1920s and 30s. 7.d4 Nb6 8.Nc3 Nc6 9.d5 Na5 10.e4 c6 One of the main themes of the Grünfeld - and all other hypermodern defences for that matter - is allowing White to establish a pawn centre, and Black looking to undermine it as quickly as possible. 11.Bf4 cxd5 12.Nxd5 Nxd5 13.exd5 Nc4 Black can't take the pawn on b2, as White's active pieces will quickly overrun him: 13...Bxb2 14.Rb1 Bf6 15.Rc1! b6 16.Bc7 Qd7 17.Ne5 leaving White with a big advantage, as Black can't untangle his pieces without losing material. 14.b3 Nb6 Taking the rook is known to leave White with a good game: 14...Bxa1? 15.Qxa1 Nb6 16.Bh6 f6 17.Bxf8 Qxf8 (Black can't capture with the king, as White has a winning attack: 17...Kxf8? 18.Ng5! Nxd5 19.Rd1 e6 20.Nxh7+ Kf7 21.Bxd5 exd5 22.Rxd5!) 18.Rd1 with the better position, as all of Black's pieces are going to be awkwardly placed. 15.d6 White sacrifices the pawn, but in return he does get active piece-play as compensation. 15...exd6 16.Nd4 d5 17.Rc1 Bd7 18.Qd2 Qf6! 19.Be3 Qd6 20.a4 Rac8 21.Ne2 Also an option for White was 21.a5. 21...Rxc1 22.Rxc1 Rc8 23.Rxc8+ Nxc8 24.Bxd5 b6 25.Bf4 Qe7?! Better was 25...Qf6 to stop the knight getting to c3 or d4. White's best option then would be 26.Be3 Qd6 repeating the position. But now, Black just seems to crack in the position and quickly falls into a lost position as he panics over finding a way to safely bring the knight on c8 into the game. 26.Nc3 Bh3 (See Diagram) Developing the knight now, and accepting the minimally worse double bishop ending was best: 26...Nd6!? 27.Bxd6 Bxc3! (27...Qxd6?? 28.Bxf7+!) 28.Bxe7 Bxd2 29.f4 White is slightly better in this ending, but in reality it is a sure-fire draw. 27.Ne4! Now the knight on c8 can't move and now there's also threats on f7 coupled with knight forks hitting the bishop on h3. 27...Be5 28.Bxf7+ The more clinical win was 28.Bg5! Qf8 (28...Qc7 29.Bd8!) 29.Bf6! Bxf6 30.Nxf6+ Kg7 31.Qd4 and Black can resign here. 28...Kg7 29.Bh6+ Kxf7 30.Ng5+ Ke8 31.Nxh3 Nd6 The knight finally gets out - but White has a pawn and a winning attack. 32.Qd5 Nf5 33.Bg5 Qd6 34.Qg8+ Kd7 35.Qxh7+ Kc6 36.Qxa7 Qd1+ 37.Kg2 Qxb3 38.Qa8+ Kd7 39.Nf4 1-0

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