Letter from Hell – Chessbase News

by Alina l’Ami

9/7/2019 – Certainly you have noticed the big “H” in the headline for this post. And indeed, ALINA L’AMI is alive and well, reporting on a chess tournament in the Norwegian village “Hell”, which lies about 40 km east of Trondheim. And as always, Alina managed to create magical photos, not to mention the obligatory photo with the providentially humoristic sign; “Gods Expedition” — in fact the archaic spelling for cargo handling. | Photos: Alina l’Ami

Go to Hell (…in a good way!)

A match made in heaven is a chess tournament in Hell. That is not the familiar fire burning place where cauldrons boil pitch and devils poke with tridents. It is a quaint little village of some 1,589 souls in the southern part of Nord-Trøndelag county in Norway.

Click or tap any image to enlarge!

Scenic view

‘Helfie’ opportunity with the Hollywood-like sign

The Norwegian town which does freeze over winter is a source of great amusement due to its self-explanatory name. Even the locals occasionally trade on their town’s celebrity: “Blues in Hell”, “Hell of a Coffee” or “The Beauty Queen from Hell”, which was the publicity stunt of the native Mona Grudt, crowned Miss Universe 1990. 

Town branding

“Hell Chess” — a new brand is born

Weirdly enough, hell means “luck” in Norwegian but the town’s name, however, comes from a different and more prosaic root. The Old Norse word hellir means “overhang,” a reference to the cliffs just outside of town. 


A place which can be visited not only for its name
The sunsets are never boring and the wild berries taste
100 times better than the supermarket ones

Welcome to Hell

In a competitive crowded chess market, it’s the well positioned tournaments that stand out. Branding is not just a product, a business card or a website; it is also not an emotion or a feeling but a sum of all experiences a chess player has during the competition.

Hell Chess Festival developed a standard for excellence from its very first edition, offering a walk through the underworld without the hard time part. Conveniently located within five minutes walk from Trondheim Airport Værnes, the tournament hotel and venue creates a faultless frame  for a thriving chess event.

venue collage

Space is an important notion in chess and
playing in a roomy venue, surrounded by beautiful design, is a delight

Hell kids

But there is no room for error

The threatened with extinction one game a day schedule, the multiple side events and the hotel’s facilities are all good reasons to participate. Peaceful surroundings, good food and even better people are also part of the organization’s hallmark.


Life is good in Hell

outdoor chess

Hell Chess association has the potential of conducting
tournaments on a much larger scale 

Tournament director

Inspired to inspire others
 (the tournament director and his lovely daughter)

Chess doesn’t send anyone to hell, it just honours the players’ choices, which are not always top-notch. Not seeing a mate in one or a stalemate idea in completely winning positions (of course) does sound like purgatory after a short-circuit between the brain and the hand. Making the unconscious conscious would be great in order to avoid such episodes but how exactly to apply the Jungian prescriptions in the world of chess remains an unsolved case.


Five excerpts from the medallists’ games, with a few puzzles and notes for the readers — worth mentioning is the one point gap between the tournament winner and the rest of the field, the second place obtained by Sergey Volkov after his horrific round seven incident, and the highly disputed mise en scène illustrated by Johan-Sebastian Christiansen who occupied the third place after drawing the final six out of ten games.


Bence Korpa

The sole tournament winner, the Hungarian GM Bence Korpa
8/10 and 19 rating points

kids in the playing hall

A keen-eyed public for every group

Kid thinking

Choices, choices

A fitting anonymous background for a tournament in Hell

Finding the right plan doesn’t always come easy — four representative examples and a study-like stalemate trick.


Eduardas Rozentalis

A smiling Eduardas Rozentalis right after his round 9 miss

There must have been something in the fresh Norwegian air since nobody was spared the spell of errors. As an odd coincidence, the Rook+Bishop vs Rook (in)famous endgame was the tournament’s recurrent theme and a symbol for the long behind the board debates. It is hardly surprising that after an intense chess workout, the brain switches off. People do get tired. The copying mechanism for some is a walk in the forest, for others a bustling city would do the trick. 


Trondheim gateway is a 30-minutes drive

See you in Hell

It is rather odd that a postcard can be sent from Hell and not from Heaven, only from Heavener or from the Paradise alternative. As google search points out, maybe the fact there is an entire highway to hell and only a stairway to heaven, says a lot about anticipated traffic numbers. Until late 1995, the European route E6 highway was aligned through Hell and across the Hell bridge but the new road now goes around the village. No more excuses to not chip in when the next opportunity arrives.


A last sunset

Final standings (top 20)

All available games



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