Chess in the midnight sun

by Frederic Friedel
12/12/2018 – Most chess players who have visited Iceland have stayed and played in Reykjavik. Northern Iceland is another story, quite different from the capital area. This spring there is a chance to visit an exotic part of the country to play in an international tournament – in beautiful surroundings and excellent conditions. The Icelandic Open 2019 will take place from May 25th to June 1st in Akureyri, just 60 km south of the Arctic Circle. Plan it in.

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Icelandic Open, May 25 to June 1 in Akureyri

Akureyri is the principial town of Northern Iceland with approximately 20,000 inhabitants. It‘s chess club, Skákfélag Akureyrar, which for a long time has been the strongest and most active club outside the capital region, is currently celebrating it‘s 100th anniversary.

In the spring of 2019 the club will be hosting the Icelandic Open – Akureyri Centennial Chess tournament. The venue is the Hof Cultural Center [photo Menningarhúsið] in the center of the town, overlooking the fjord and the magnificient mountains which surround the urban area.

For the traveller, the visit to Akureyri and Northern Iceland is an unforgettable experience. The town is only 60 km south of the Arctic Circle, yet has a mild climate for it's latitude, sitting at the end of Icelands longest fjord and sheltered by mountains reaching 1000-1500 m. With luck you can experience summer temperatures already in the beginning of June. As the summer solstice comes closer, the nights get lighter, and it is only dark for 2-3 hours at this time of the year.

Like to get an impression of Akureyri? Well, here are tons of very nice pictures in Google Maps. In many of them you can hold down the left mouse key and pan from left to right – up to 360°.

For the players, conditions will be near-to-perfect. The entry fee for GM, WGMs, IMs and WIMs is free, FMs, WFMs and players under 16 pay €60, other participants €120. The prize for the Open is €3000, 1700, 1200... 400, total €7,600, plus special prizes for women totalling €1,600 and for U18 €1,600. Grand total: €12,000. Accomodation is available in hotels, in the Amma Guesthouse or Our Guesthaus (approx €700 for the entire event) and can be arranged through the tournament director.

Getting to Iceland is fairly easy. There are international flights to Keflavik Airport, just outside Reykjavik, from all over the world, many on low-cost carriers. A free bus ride is available for all participants from the BSI bus terminal in Reykjavik to Akureyri on May 24 at 5 pm. More information here.

Iceland is – exciting!

By Frederic Friedel

Iceland is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean. It was settled by Norwegians in the 9th Century, and today has a population of 330,000, making it the most sparsely populated country in Europe. But it is certainly geologically the most interesting place in the world, sitting on a hotspot on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. It basically rose out of the sea, in volcanic eruptions, and is highly active, with volcanoes and geysers.

Last July my geologist wife Ingrid convinced me to take my first real holiday in 16 years – to a place she had been dying to visit for a long time. We booked a round trip with a German group and spent a week circling the island on the Ring Road N1, which passes the most interesting geological places. You can read my enthusiastic pictorial reports on my biographical and general interest blog, specifically:

Our trip around Iceland included a stay in Akureyri, which lies in the north and is a vibrant university town, full of culture and education.

The town offers a wide range of activities and interesting places e.g. notable museums, the world’s most northerly botanic garden, good hiking trails and a free city bus. Akureyri is also a good base for many of Iceland’s most beautiful natural wonders, such as waterfalls, volcanic areas and canyons, as well as exciting activities as river rafting, hiking, fishing, whale watching and horse riding.

You should consider extending your stay and taking part in a round-the-island tour. It is definitely worth doing.

A memorably experience: close encounters with Humpbacks in the fjord of Akureyri

Full information on the Icelandic Open 2019 is available on the tournament web site.

Editor-in-Chief emeritus of the ChessBase News page. Studied Philosophy and Linguistics at the University of Hamburg and Oxford, graduating with a thesis on speech act theory and moral language. He started a university career but switched to science journalism, producing documentaries for German TV. In 1986 he co-founded ChessBase.


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