Monday, April 30, 2007

The Chess Capital of Norway

Thanks to the late Arnold Eikrem, Gausdal used to be the chess capital of Norway. I know some foreign chess players even believed it was the real capital of Norway. That illusion was hard to retain after having visited the site, because it really was (and is) a quite desolate place.

During the eighties and nineties I spent altogether more than half a year at Gausdal Hoyfjellshotell or the surrounding cabins. It was not at all a bad holiday resort. But without Eikrem as a driving force, and with new owners of the hotel, the tournaments lost much of their attraction for me and many others. Now I see that the Gausdal tournaments again are attracting Norwegian players, and I consider playing a high mountain tournament again after a more than 10 years long break. Future will show, but I fear it will not be the same.

Below is my second to last Gausdal game, played two years after the death of Eikrem.

A.Berg - Sv. Johnsen
Troll Masters Gausdal (8), 1996
1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Nf6 3.c4
Actually my main preparation for this tournament was the Portuguese gambit 3.d4 Bg4!?, which had been scoring well for some time.
This is the Icelandic Gambit. Probably 3...c6 objectively is a better move. Black’s compensation after 4.dxc6 Nxc6 is hardly in doubt. The main problem is 4.d4!, which after 4...cxd5 leads to the Caro Kann, Panov variation - a line I had not prepared.
4.dxe6 Bxe6
This is a developing move, but not particularly aggressive. In contrast to the 3...c6 4.dxc6 lines, it’s not at all clear that Black has got enough for his pawn.
5.Nf3 Nc6 6.Be2 Bc5 7.0–0 Qd7 8.a3 0–0–0 9.Nc3
This appears to be a novelty.
a) 9...Rhe8 10.d3 Bf5 11.Bg5 Bxd3 12.Bxd3 Qxd3 13.Qa4 Nd4 14.Nxd4 Qxd4 15.Nb5 was unclear in Cherniaev-Liardet, Cannes 1997
b) 9...Nd4 10.b4 Nxf3+ 11.Bxf3 Bd4 12.Qb3 Bg4 13.Bxg4 Nxg4 14.Ra2 Qd6 15.g3 Qh6 16.h4 Bxf2+ gave Black a clear advantage in Antoniewski-Teske, Koszalin 1999
It’s hard to say how much compensation I have got for the pawn safter 10.Nxg5, but the semi-open g-file seemed more useful than the pawn.
10...Bd4 11.b5 Ne5 12.Qa4 Nxf3+ 13.Bxf3 g4 14.Be2
14.Bd5 may be a better defensive try.
14...Rdg8 15.Bb2
White unpins his knight on c3 so that it defends his queen, thereby preparing b6.
15...g3! 16.hxg3
16.b6 gxf2+ 17.Kh1 Bxb6 18.Qxd7+ Bxd7 =+.
16...Rxg3 17.b6

This loses but there actually is no defence.
This brutal move decides immediately.
18.Kxg2 Rg8+ 19.Kh2 Qd6+ 20.f4 Ng4+ 21.Kg3 Ne5+?! 0–1
White resigned rather than allowing 22.Kh2 Bd7. But actually 21...Nf2+ 22.Kf3 Bg4+ 23.Kg2 Bxe2+ 24.Kh2 Qxf4# was a quicker mate.

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