GM Magnus Carlsen will return to Norway Chess, his homecoming tournament, after he abdicates his world champion title, it was announced on Monday.
Once again, the world number-one tops the lineup for the elite event—now in its 11th year—held in the southwestern city of Stavanger from May 29 to June 9.
In a matchup that will thrill fans, the Norwegian will face, among others, his rival GM Hikaru Nakamura who is yet to play a classical tournament this year.
Here is the full lineup:
Norway Chess 2023 | Participants
Carlsen will enter the tournament for the first time as a regular grandmaster—not holding the world champion title, which he is due to vacate after the upcoming world championship match between GMs Ian Nepomniachtchi and Ding Liren is over. But there is still much to fear for the rest of the lineup. Carlsen’s record in Stavanger is staggering. The Norwegian has won half the preceding Norway Chess events and will be going for his sixth win.
With a cheeky nod to his dominance, here’s what Carlsen posted on Twitter after last year’s win:
Everyone always says it’s great for Chess when I don’t win.
So today was another bad day🥶 https://t.co/cSr99fEhCC
— Magnus Carlsen (@MagnusCarlsen) June 10, 2022
While Carlsen has been a fixture, two fresh new faces will be making their debuts: 18-year-old GM Nordibek Abdusattorov and 16-year-old GM Gukesh D.
Abdusattorov, the 2021 World Rapid Champion, said: “I was very happy when I got invited to the tournament. I’m truly very excited to play in this tournament and looking forward to play entertaining chess.”
For a second year running, there will be no Russian grandmasters taking part. Following the outbreak of war in Ukraine last February, Norway Chess announced it had decided to “support the sanctions the world community has made against Russia.” It appears that policy has continued.
Norway Chess is a grueling event spread over 12 days, including rest days on June 2 and 7. It has a unique format: the first day kicks off with a blitz tournament before the classical round-robin begins.
The prize fund is the same as last year, 2,500,000 NOK (approximately $237,000 at the time of writing), with 750,000 NOK ($71,000) going to the winner.
The classical time control is 120 minutes on the clock with an increment of 10 seconds after move 40. For the armageddon game, White has 10 minutes and Black has seven, with a one-second increment per move for both players starting from move 41.
What happened last year?
Last year, Carlsen sealed the title on a thrilling final day when he was held to a draw by GM Veselin Topalov. Carlsen could have been overtaken by GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, who returns to the event this year, but the Azerbaijani also drew his game against his countryman GM Teimour Radjabov.
The tournament was also notable for a stunning return to form for Indian legend GM Viswanathan Anand. The former world champion delighted fans by winning seven of his nine mini-matches.
Anand was in the running right up until the penultimate day when he made a heart-breaking one-move blunder with 22.Qb5?? against Mamedyarov that led to a mate-in-two. The Tiger of Madras resigned immediately. Mamedyarov, who wasn’t at the board at the time, was shocked when he returned to find the game was over.
Carlsen also nearly had his chances scuppered in round eight against GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave but found a way to win despite being seemingly lost several times in the match.
Will Carlsen’s mastery over his home tournament continue without the tag of world champion?
A Norway Chess spokeswoman said: “We are excited to witness these highly skilled chess players in action. We look forward to hosting an unforgettable tournament!”
Norway Chess will be broadcast live with commentary on Chess.com.