The local teams continue to make the job of including reportage of interest to a Norwegian audience a straightforward task. Less than three hours into the session, it became clear that Norway's second team would be increasing its time in the spotlight, while the main squad for the home nation again gripped viewers by not quite meeting expectations.
Text by GM Jonathan Tisdal, chess analysis by GM Einar Gausel
Norwegian champion Frode Urkedal, 21, evened up Norway 2's tussle with second ranked Ukraine by defeating the renowned Vassily Ivanchuk, a feat which immediately catapulted the youngster into the media hot seat and the NRK TV studio.
6. 0-0 ♘f6 7. ♗f4 b5 8. b3 ♗a6 9. ♕c1 ♗d6 10. ♘bd2 0-0 11. e3 ♘e4 12. ♖e1 ♕e7 13. a3 ♘a5 14. ♗f1 ♖b6 15. c3 g5⁉ After the game, Urkedal said he was happy to see this move since the weakening of Black's kingside might be a source of counterplay later on.
17... ♘c4 may have been preferable.
Frode Urkedal later told Tarjei Svensen that he hadn’t been scared of his opponent, commenting:
Ivanchuk just collapsed. He probably overlooked something and his king was quite weak. He probably thought I had to go for his knight. It obviously feels good to beat a strong player such as Ivanchuk.
Not long afterwards, World Champion Magnus Carlsen agreed to split the point against Finnish GM Tomi Nybäck, a result that symbolizes the slow start to the high hopes for Norway's A-team.
Nybäck's draw carried some extra sting as
Carlsen was undoubtedly eager for revenge, having lost to the Finn in the 2008
Olympiad in Dresden. Norway 2 completed their upset by holding Ukraine 2-2, a
result that would have pleased the first stringers. Norway 1 had to settle for
2-2 against Finland, a repeat of their 2008 meeting.
Jon Ludvig Hammer sat out the day’s play and made himself useful on the official live broadcast you can watch below:
Many of the top matches were again characterized by healthy rating gaps between top and bottom half, but the atmosphere was noticeably more tense and the duels more closely fought.
The start of serious business was also evident from the appearance of nearly all of the big guns who rested up on day one. The heavyweight teams rolled out their muscle on top, with a few notable exceptions - England's Michael Adams has not been spotted yet, and the USA's Hikaru Nakamura has made his frustration with travel problems well known via Twitter, and had not yet arrived after getting stuck in London.
One tragic enforcement of the zero tolerance rule ended in tears when Layola Murara Umuhoza, the 10-year-old first board for the Rwandan women's team, lost without play. One has to question the point of a rule that prevents games being played in an event that has so much importance, especially for smaller nations, because of what is often just minor tardiness.
Chief Arbiter Takis Nikolopoulos felt he had no choice:
I explained this to the Palestinian women. I really hate this rule, but I have to apply it.
Nikolopoulos also said that the team from the Maldives had visa problems but has arrived in Tromsø and will be paired from round 3 tomorrow. That will lead to a bye in the open tournament. He added:
We still don’t know about Turkmenistan, Congo and Mali. They will probably not come because of visa problems.
The top Baltic battle between Alexei Shirov and Sarunas Sulskis was a modern interpretation of a rarely seen romantic classic, a Fried Liver attack. Latvian attacking legend Shirov didn't need to be asked twice, and successfully set off the sacrificial fireworks:
6. ♘xf7 It's hard to convince a computer that White's long-term initiative gives him sufficient compensation for the sacrificed piece, but in practical play White does extremely well. However, this might be the first time two grandmasters decide to discuss this razor-sharp line.
Scottish GM Colin McNab held his own with the world elite, splitting the point
with Azerbaijan's number one Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. World number two Levon
Aronian was held by Australian GM David Smerdon, and Russia's Ian
Nepomniachtchi drew with untitled Hamad Al-Tamimi from Qatar. Hungary had a
tough time with Venezuela, and only edged out a 2½-1½ victory, with young star
Richard Rapport losing to IM Juan Rohl Montes.
On top of this, Judit Polgar's fine combinational finish came after her opponent missed a winning opportunity, so Venezuela was near the sensation of the day.
28... ♕c6? Objectively Black's best seems to be
Most top teams shed board points, but France, Netherlands, Germany, Cuba and Italy of the top 20 ranked teams kept their perfect records.
Among the women the picture was similar - the big favorites continued to gather steam - though there was an interesting contrast in their deployment of heavy artillery. Top ranked China continue to reserve World Champion Yifan Hou for use at a later date, while rivals Russia have put their controversial new acquisition, former Ukrainian GM Kateryna Lagno, into action from round one.Even with the champ still on the sidelines the powerful Chinese team rolled to another 4-0 win, this time over Venezuela, and Russia kept pace by blanking Brazil. Armenia was the only other top ten team that managed to extend a perfect score.
Ukraine and Georgia each dropped a point today - Ukrainian GMs Anna Muzychuk and Anna Ushenina were held to draws by significantly outrated IM Irina Berezina and WFM Thu Nguyen of Australia. Georgia had their bid for continued perfection derailed after WFM Marija Stojanovic beat IM Salome Melia in a violent battle.
The Egyptian team came close to nicking a match point against 12th seeded Germany, managing a 1½-2½ result despite being massively outgunned on every board. Norway's women impressed with a 4-0 win over Ecuador, in a match that looked to be close on paper.
round three pairings - which can be found by selecting Round 3 on our Results and Pairings page - reveal the beginning of some heavyweight duels, with match-ups such as Armenia-France, Germany-England and Poland-Cuba promising our first all-2700 clashes. The US might also want to call on Hikaru Nakamura when they take on the Netherlands!