Participants

GM Laurent Fressinet

32-year-old French grandmaster Laurient Fressinet makes his first start in the Sigeman Chess Tournament.

Fressinet is number 3 on the French rating list and has been a regular on the French national team for the last 10 years. He has participated in many tournaments on the level right below the top. His best result is perhaps second place in the individual European championship in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, in 2012. In this year's European championship he finished in tenth place.

Laurient also won the French championship in 2010 and he has had a number of good results playing rapid and lightning chess tournaments. He has finished in second place twice in the European lightning chess championships and won the French rapid chess championship in both 2009 and 2011.

Fressinet is the tournament's highest rated player and has to be considered the favorite in the race for first place. 

Copyright Calle Erlandsson,callerland@gmail.com
2711
France

GM Jon Ludvig Hammer

23-year-old Norwegian grandmaster Jon Ludvig Hammer is one of the the Nordic countries' top three chess players. Despite this, he still has not received much media attention. The main reason for this is of course his fellow countryman and former participant in the Sigeman chess Tournament, Magnus Carlsen, who last fall became world champion by defeating reigning world champion Viswanathan Anand. To be close to Top 100 is really quite an achievement, but Jon Ludvig still has a way to go if he wants to be no. 1 in Norway...

However, Hammer has made steady progress since his last appearance in the Sigeman Chess Tournament, and has recently scored impressive wins in the London Chess Classic Open in December 2013 and in the Rilton Cup i Stockholm this year, both times with 7.5 points in 9 rounds. In this year's individual European championship, he was fighting for first place for a long time, but a loss to Fressinet in the second last round put an end to his hopes.

Jon Ludvig has been coached by Simen Agdestein, yet another credit to Agdestein's coaching abilities. Hammer is a very tough player, something he confirmed in a tournament in Gjøvik a couple of years ago, where he avoided perpetual check and instead won the tournament single-handedly, despite needing a draw to become a grandmaster.

Hammer makes his second start in the Sigeman Chess Tournament and is, of course, one of the favorites. 

Copyright Lars OA Hedlund, Lars.OA.Hedlund@ki.se
2647
Norway

GM Jan Timman

Jan Timman is one of the few chess players in the world who really does not need an introduction. In addition to a fantastic career as a player, he has worked as a chess writer and editor for many years, and he has also written a number of chess books.

He has twice reached the final stage of the World Championship qualification tournament, but both times he was denied a World Championship match, losing to Anatoli Karpov in 1990, and to Nigel Short in 1993. When Nigel Short and Garri Kasparov decided to play their 1993 match outside FIDE, the World Chess Federation, Timman finally got his chance. Timman played Karpov for the World Championship, starting in Dutch Zwolle and finishing in far-off Djakarta. Unfortunately, Timman once again lost.

Today, Timman mostly plays team chess, but in this year's classic event at Wijk an Zee in Holland, he scored 8.5 points in 13 rounds in the challenger group, finishing second avter Croatia's Ivan Saric. He also participated in last year's Politiken Cup in Denmark, where he finished second with 8 points in 11 rounds.

Timman makes his eleventh start in the Sigeman Chess Tournament and is, of course, one of the favorites.

Copyright Calle Erlandsson,callerland@gmail.com
2620
Holland

GM Nils Grandelius

Sweden's most interviewed chess player has, for a long time, been 20-year-old Nils Grandelius, who makes his sixth start in the Sigeman Chess Tournament. He became an international master in 2008, and in 2010 he became Sweden's 17th grandmaster, scoring 7 points in 10 rounds in a strong open tournament in Bosnia-Hercegovina.

The main reason why he is popular with journalists is that he is the first young Swedish chess player since Ferdinand Hellers who has been able to compete with the best in international youth tournaments. In 2011 he became the European champion for players up to 18 years old, and 2012 he finished third in the world championship for players up to 20 years old. The latter result is, together with Ralf Åkesson and Ferdinand Hellers winning the European junior championship, the best result a Swedish junior player has ever achieved.

Last year, Nils shared first place in the Swedish championship top group, but lost the tie-break to hans Tikkanen in the last and absolutely decisive lightning chess game. He then followed up by winning a tournament in Bulgaria, scoring 7.5 points in 10 games. He also played on table 1 for Sweden in the latest European team championships, where he scored an excellent 5.5 points in 9 rounds.

Grandelius shared first place with Nigel Short and Richard Rapport in last year's tournament and is, of course, once again one of the favorites. 

Copyright Calle Erlandsson,callerland@gmail.com
2590
Sweden

GM Erik Blomqvist

23-year-old Erik Blomqvist, who represents Swedish team champions SK Rockaden Stockholm, is Sweden's most recent grandmaster .

In the summer of 2013, he finally secured the title Grandmaster by winning a tournament in Budapest. He was rewarded the title at the FIDE congress in fall of 2013.

As opposed to Grandelius, Blomqvist has not always been on the first page of the chess magazines. However, he has steadily improved from a promising junior to international master and then to grandmaster.

It was not until in 2010 that Erik started to make the headlines of Swedish chess news. After a good result in that year's Swedish championship, where he qualified for the top group, and another good result in a strong tournament in Pardubice in the Czech Republic, he and Nils Grandelius went to Chotowa in Poland and the World Junior Championship. When Grandelius fell ill and could not play in the third round, Erik found himself in the center of attention. After ten rounds, he was right behind the top players and had already secured his first grandmaster norm. He finished in a very impressive 16th place with 8 points in 13 games against very tough opponents.

He followed up by securing his second grandmaster norm in Politiken Cup 2011 and then came close to securing the title on a number of occasions, among those in the Rilton Cup in Stockholm 2013, before finally succeeding in Budapest.

Blomqvist makes his first start in the Sigeman Chess Tournament and it is also the first time he faces a field of this caliber. He will probably not win the tournament, but it will be interesting to see how he does against very strong opposition! 

Copyright Calle Erlandsson,callerland@gmail.com
2496
Sweden

IM Axel Smith

27-year-old international master Axel Smith is yet another of many strong chess players from Lund. However, Axel was not a chess prodigy. Instead, his break-through came in 2006, when he decided to really focus on improving his chess.

Already the same year, he won the Swedish junior championship, something which gave him a place in the Swedish championship top group. This motivated him to follow an even more ambitious training program and ended with a sensational eighth place. His best result so far is third place in the Swedish championship in 2011. Last year he also became Nordic champion in Köge in Demark, where he also secured his first grandmaster norm.

In addition to a busy life touring Europe playing chess, Smith has also found the time to be the chairman of his club Lunds ASK, head the organizing committee at the Swedish championships in Lund 2010, work as a chess coach in a number of places, and be a frequent writer and blogger in the chess community. he has also recently written a book about how to train chess on your own, called Pump Up Your Chess Rating.

Axel makes his second start in the Sigeman Chess Tournament.

Copyright Calle Erlandsson,callerland@gmail.com
2478
Sweden
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