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Winner Takes It All in Iceland

3/4/2008 – Actually everyone got their fair share at the Team Championship in Iceland, which was won by the team of Taflfélag Reykjavikur, ahead of Hellir. There were delicious meals and beer at the closing ceremony, with Abba’s “Winner takes it all” performed in honor of the champions. The participants got to visit an Icelandic water reserve which featured "four desperate men.“ IM Dejan Bojkov reports.
 

Winner Takes It All in Iceland

IM Dejan Bojkov, Bulgaria, on the Icelandic team competition

My second trip to Iceland started with an unexpected and pleasant meeting at the airport in Frankfurt. It is well known fact that if there are two chess players in a vehicle, they will inevitably be placed next to each other. GM Luis Galego from Portugal was the second one.


Grandmaster Galego asleep on the plane to Iceland


...and still not fully awake in the car in Reykjavik

At the airport in Reykjavik his team boss Ottar Haukson met us. Ottar is a chairman of the Reykjavik Chess Club, Vice President of Icelandic Chess Federation, a musical producer, and some more things. I was to discover his full potential at the closing ceremony. “I know the Russian chess notation,” he said proudly, “I learned it from my father when Petrosian became USSR champion for first time in 1961!” We spoke about Fisher’s death, his funeral, and were trying to predict what will possibly happen with his heritage. “He left somewhere about 1.8 and two million dollars, and no will”, said Ottar. After which he added: “Get ready, Luis. The closing ceremony will be in our club, and I intend to hold the cup!”


Ottar Haukson, Chairman of the Reykjavik Chess Club, Vice President of Icelandic Chess Federation

But this time it appeared that it will not be that easy. Strong reinforcements from Egypt arrived for the club of Hellir. Junior world champion Ahmed Adly, with his second and best friend Bessem Amin, as well as the former world championship contender Johann Hjartarson, gave spice to the final battles. They won their matches convincingly in round five and six, and went into the final lap with only two points less than the Reykjavik team.


GM Hannes Stefansson, 2574, Taflfélag vs GM Ahmed Adly, 2551, Hellir A


WGM Regina Pokorna, 2350, playing for Fjolnir A

For the decisive match both the teams went with their best players. It all started well for the runner up when the Egyptian players on board one and three won their games as black against Stefansson and Galego respectively. In the meanwhile Hjartarson was a solid pawn up on board two against Nataf, and his win looked like a matter of time. The gold medals were going away from the Reykjavik’s guys until Kaisa changed her mind. Hjartarson first threw away the biggest part of his advantage, and in his opponent’s time trouble simply blundered a rook. At the end Hellir even lost the match 3.5-4.5. My team Fjolnis shared 3-4 with the team of Haukar, but their better tie-break gave them the bronze.

Final results

Team
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
 Tot.
MP
1 Taflfélag Reykjavikur A
 * 
6
7
8
43.0
14
2 Hellir A
 * 
5
6
6
7
8
40.0
12
3 Haukar A
3
 * 
6
7
35.0
10
4 Fjolnir A
 * 
3
6
7
34.0
6
5 Hellir B
2
2
5
 * 
6
31.5
8
6 Akureyri A
1
2
2
 * 
5
20.5
4
7 Akureyri B
0
1
2
½
2
3
 * 
13.0
2
8 Vestmannaeyjar A
½
0
1
1
½
½
 * 
 7.0
0

Tot. = total number of points; MP = Match points

The closing ceremony was held at the Reykajvik Club, where the open tournament will take place tomorrow. The charming President of the Icelandic Chess Federation, Lilia Grettarsdottir, awarded the winners with cups, medals and kisses, while the players were enjoying delicious meals and beer. Abba’s “Winner takes it all” was performed in honor of the champions. The mood was kept high by a small chess band led by Ottar that performed rock and roll till late. “This is the sign of a real chess country” said my teammate Tomas Likavski from Slovakia. And we concluded the evening in the local bars.


The President and the Cup: Lilia Grettarsdottir


The winners: Taflfélag Reykjavikur A


Runners up Hellir A


And kisses all around

The positive impressions from our stay here continued on Sunday when Omar Salama (the Egyptian trainer and player who has been living for the past two years in Iceland, working for the federation) gave us a lift to the domestic geysers. Unfortunately the weather was so awful, that we could not reach them. Instead we visited “Perlan” (The Pearl), the Icelandic water reserve. There was a big book store, an artificial geyser, the most expensive Icelandic restaurant on the top floor (you not only have the best view here, but it is rotating as well!), and a statue of four desperate men. “Try to guess what they are expressing” said Omar, and then added “In my opinion, this is what will happen if we lack water.” We visited the lake, which was frozen, except for one small part for the ducks and swans there, as well as the Reykjavik chess museum. But you will see more about it my next report.


"Perlan", the Icelandic water park


An artificial geyser in Perlan


Birds in a partially open frozen lake


Statues of "Four Desperate Men"


... make that five: our author joins the group

Still I could not help asking Omar as an independent observer: “How is possible that Iceland became such a chess country?” – “1972”, he answered. – “But people told me that chess was very popular even before that”, I argued. – “Yes, but the real boost happened then. It was the middle of the 'cold war', and the Spassky-Fisher match made the country famous. This is a fact that the Icelanders never forget. We must also remember that at the time Iceland was not the rich country that it is now, and to play chess you need only a board, and maybe a couple of books. Nowadays there are thousands of chess books translated in Icelandic language. People care about chess and love it. I have a very curious story. When I arrived here, I won the club domestic championship. A couple of days after that I went to a bar to watch a football match. The bar was full and I sat at a table with another man. Soon after he understood that I am foreigner he said “You must be Omar Salama then”. “But how do you know that?” I asked in disbelief, “The papers wrote about your recent success," he answered. "And if I compare this attitude to the one in Egypt, when Ahmed (Adly) became the first African World Junior Champion and no one recognizes him on the street, you will understand what's going on”, concluded Omar.

# Ti. Player Rtng Club Pts Gms % Brd Perf
1 GM Adly Ahmed 2551 Hellir A 3.0
3
100.0
1
3017
2 IM Gunnarsson Arnar 2433 Taflfélag 3.0
3
100.0
5
2938
3  - Bjornsson Gunnar 2118 Hellir B 4.0
4
100.0
7
2852
4 GM Malisauskas Vidmantas 2489 Haukar A 2.5
3
83.3
3
2708
5 GM Kveinys Aloyzas 2517 Haukar A 5.5
7
78.6
1
2647
6 GM Nataf Igor-Alexandre 2546 Taflfélag 6.0
7
85.7
2
2621
7 GM Thorhallsson Throstur 2448 Taflfélag 2.5
3
83.3
4
2589
8 GM Oral Tomas 2536 Fjolnir A 5.0
7
71.4
1
2579
9 GM Danielsen Henrik 2506 Haukar A 2.0
3
66.7
2
2572
10 IM Steingrimsson Hedinn 2533 Fjolnir A 5.5
7
78.6
2
2564
11 FM Mikkelsen Nikolaj 2315 Haukar A 3.5
4
87.5
3
2561
12 GM Kalod Radek 2492 Hellir A 2.5
4
62.5
1
2527
13 GM Stefansson Hannes 2574 Taflfélag 5.0
7
71.4
1
2523


The author, IM Dejan Bojkov, with Egyptian GM Amin Bassem, 2547

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