Come play in the Shire of Modern Earth!

6/28/2017 – One of India's most recent GM Srinath Narayanan came across a chance to play in an astonishing location for a week and enjoy nature. The Baggins side in him immediately woke up. As he embarks on the adventure, he invites readers to join him at this outlandish location, that is the closest one can get to the 'Shire' in the modern earth. Visit the Faroe Islands and explore Europe's best kept secret.

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Come play in the Shire of Modern Earth!

The Faroe Islands, also called the Faeroes, is an archipelago between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic, about halfway between Norway and Iceland, 320 kilometres (200 miles) north-northwest of Scotland. The Islands are an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark. It’s area is about 1,400 square kilometres (541 square miles) with a population of 50,030 in April 2017. (Source: Wikipedia)


Faroe Islands, with the Faroese Sheep grazing. The climate stays like this for six months in the Summer before becoming darker for the next six months.

Faroe Islands, is like a place no other on earth. When I first heard about this tournament and started reading about it online, I couldn’t help but conjure up images of ‘Shire’ from J.R.R.Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Much like Bilbo Baggins did a few decades ago, although with a lot less hesitation, I decided that I absolutely had to set out on this adventure. I am not expecting Trolls,Wargs or an encounter with Smaug itself (long dead in any case), but this seems like my closest shot to experience that landscape. The stillness, rawness, the smell of fresh air, lush greenery, and the rugged rocks.

View of Faroe Islands in the moonlight

The distinguishing feature of the island is the climate, which can change like the temperamental teenager’s mind. One can experience all four seasons of the earth in a single day.  Among other reasons to visit Faroe Islands also is that it is a gastronomer’s delight.

Skipanes on Skálafjørður Eysturoy. Note the different weather in the distance. 

Beinisvord, Westcoast of Suduroy, Faroe Islands

Faroese chess

There is good reason to play chess in Faroe Islands, as the Winter months(November-April) in the Island can be cold and dark, thus discouraging outside activities. chess is one of those sports that can be played anywhere, anytime without having to venture outside, and is therefore one of the popular Winter sports in the Island.

Faroe Islands also experienced a surge in popularity in the 70’s, thanks to the Fischer-Spassky revolution. However, similar to the other parts of the world, interest in chess dwindled in the subsequent years, until…. They got their first GM in the 2016 Baku chess Olympiad. With a relatively small population and limited geographical area, each sporting achievement in the Islands is well received and celebrated. Martin Joensen, part of the organizing team, proudly referred to him as ‘The Magnus Carlsen of Faroe Islands chess'.

Helgi Dam Ziska, Faroe Island's first GM, "Magnus Carlsen of Faroe Islands". (photo by Paul Truong)

Faroes Open

The Faroes Open will take place from July 12-19 in Kollafjørður, Faroe Islands. It is held to mark the 50th year of Kollafjørður chess club. It is financially supported by the local municipality, Faroese Chess Federation and a few other local sponsors. It is jointly coordinated with the chess club in Sandavágur, which turns 50 in 2018, thus assuring us of another edition next year(personally I hope it continues every year).

Julia Granda Zuniga (2663) will be the first seed

The tournament also has a host of other side activities, including mountain hiking, fishing trip, indoor football, and a blitz tournament, all free of cost. Apart from the main prizes, the tournament also offers prizes for elo between 0-1500, 1501-2000, 2001-2200 and 2201-2400, thus offering something for almost everyone, in both prizes as well as other activities.


Kollafjørður, the place of the tournament


The organizers are in particular looking for a Woman titled player, and are willing to offer attractive conditions. The participation of these top players will definitely motivate and inspire the promotion of chess in the Islands, especially among Women. Those interested, please write an email to faroesopen@faroesopen.com to know more.

It might also be an interesting option to combine Faroe Open with one of the other popular opens in Europe. For example, Xtracon Open takes place in Helsingør(which is an hour away from Copenhagen) from 22nd July to 30th August. Other options include Andorra Open in Spain, Dieren Open in Netherlands, Cannes Open in France, and the Biel chess festival in Switzerland, to name a few popular ones among numerous other options.

Information on how to travel to this exotic archipelago can be found here. For more information about Faroe Islands, please visit the Faroe Islands tourism website. With just two weeks to go, is anyone up to join me on an ‘unexpected journey? 

Starting list
Official website
Faroe Islands tourism

All photos taken from Wikimedia Commons unless otherwise specified.


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drawattack drawattack 6/29/2017 04:15
Who is the author? Thanks!
1