Despite the strong tournament last year, the organizers headed by Kjell Madland have managed to put together an even stronger field this year in a top notch event. I.m up against most of the world elite - Aronian, Grischuk, Caruana, Kramnik, Topalov, Karjakin, Svidler, Giri and Simen Agdestein who qualified by beating Jon L. Hammer in a rapid match late April.
On the rest day today we all visited a school team competition held at Science factory (Vitenfabrikken) in Sandnes. 29 local schools participated - not bad at all!
The favorite attraction among the top players was a two-player mindgame measuring brain waves with a headband. Aiming at total relaxation, the lower activity will drive the ball into the court of your opponent. Most of the grandmasters did well. I.m not sure if we.re just a lazy bunch or good at controlling brain activity:)
In the first edition of Norway Chess in 2013 I started with four draws. This time I.ve started with three draws. The first two games were pretty decent. My opponents Anish Giri and Vladimir Kramnik defended well. Yesterday I got a promising position from the opening against early leader Caruana, but blew it all in a few moves having missed his a5 resource. Fortunately I managed to draw a difficult endgame a piece down.
Caruana is playing well and is sole leader with 2.5 points ahead of Grischuk and Kramnik at 2 points. The main revelation so far has been my former trainer Simen Agdestein who has three draws but managed to put a lot of pressure on both Aronian and Karjakin with the black pieces!
The media coverage is quite amazing, and after each game we visit two live studios and make several TV interviews onsite at the Forus venue before heading back to the hotel in Stavanger.
Tomorrow at 3:30 pm local time I.m playing black against former World Champion Veselin Topalov in round 4.
Magnus Carlsen, Stavanger, June 6th 2014