Gudmundur Kjartansson wins Icelandic Championship

by André Schulz
9/5/2020 – The 107th Icelandic Chess Championship took place in the last week of August. It was an over-the-board single round robin tournament with ten participants. Gudmundur Kjartansson won his third national title. Bragi Thorfinnsson and Helgi Ass Greatarsson finished a half point behind. | Photos: Icelandic Chess Federation

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A third national title for Kjartansson 

Iceland was one of the first countries to hold its national championship as an over-the board tournament. The championship was held for the 107th time — it is older than the country’s chess federation, which was founded in 1925. Even before the 1972 World Championship between Boris Spassky and Bobby Fischer in Reykjavík, Iceland had a great chess tradition, with Friderik Olafsson as their best representative historically.

The sensational World Championship match in 1972 naturally fuelled the enthusiasm for chess, and for a while Iceland was the country with the highest density of grandmasters in the world. However, the number of chess professionals decreased significantly over time, mainly due to the increasing cost of life in Iceland. Many Icelandic grandmasters therefore took different paths and were successful in various fields. Margeir Petursson, for example, founded the MP Bank, an institution that is successful not only in Iceland but also in Eastern Europe.

Margeir Petursson

But he could not leave chess behind, and even participated in this year’s national championship. The defending champion was Hannes Stefansson, who won the title no fewer than 13 times, but did not play this year.

32-year-old Gudmundur Kjartansson won the event, finishing a half point ahead of Bragi Thorfinsson and Helgi Ass Gretarsson, the winner of the 2018 edition.

The winner was only decided at the very end. Before the final round, Helgi Ass Gretarsson, with the better tibreaker score, and Gudmundur Kjartansson were sharing the lead. In the final round, however, Gretarsson lost to Bragi Thorfinnson, while Kjartansson saved a position an exchange down against Hjorver Stein Gretarsson. He “locked” the opposing king in a corner to save the draw.


You cannot blame Black for not trying to win this position, as he kept manoeuvring around for quite a while.

51.Kg3 Kg8 52.Kg2 Rf8 53.Kg3 Kh7 54.Kg2 Ra8 55.Rd7 Kg8 56.Rd1 Re8 57.Kg3 Kf8 58.Kg2 Re2+ 59.Kf3 Re8 60.Kg2 Rh7 61.Kg3 Re3+ 62.Kf2 Re6 63.Kg3 Re8 64.Kg2 Kg8 65.Kg3 Ra8 66.Kg2 Rh5 67.Kg3 Kh7 68.Rd7 Rf8 69.Rd1 Rb8 70.Rd7 Kg8 71.Rd1 Ra8 72.Kg2 Re8 73.Kg3 Kf8 74.Kg2 Re2+ 75.Kf3 Rhh2


76.Rd8+ Re8 77.Bg7+ Ke7 78.Bf6+ ½–½

In the game between Gretarsson and Thorfinnsoon, Black obtained a convincing victory:


33.Qd1? [Abandoning the f-pawn was not the right way forward. The correct defensive plan was 33.Nf3 e4 34.Bd4 Qg3 35.Qe3 with roughly equal chances.]

33...Qxf4 34.Nf3 h6 35.Qd3 Rc1 36.Qxb5 Rec8 37.Bb2 Rxe1+ 38.Nxe1 Qf2 39.Qd7 Qxe1+ 40.Kh2 Rb8 41.Qxd6 Qxb4 42.Qxb4 Rxb4 43.Bxe5 Rb5 44.Kg3


44... Rxd5 45.Kf4 Rd2 46.Kxf5 Rxg2 47.h4 Kg8 48.Bf4 g6+ 49.Ke6 Kh7 50.Be5 Rf2 51.Bf6 g5 52.hxg5 Kg6 0-1

It is never easy to make out who is who in Iceland...

Two Gretarssons playing each other

It is important to note, however, that in Iceland only the first names are significant, as surnames are not really surnames but rather indications of the patronymic.

So the winner was Gudmundur, the son of Kjartan. 

Gudmundur Kjartansson

Final standings

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Kjartansson Gudmundur 6,5 0,0
2 Thorfinnsson Bragi 6,0 1,0
3 Gretarsson Helgi Ass 6,0 0,0
4 Gretarsson Hjorvar Steinn 5,5 0,0
5 Stefansson Vignir Vatnar 4,5 1,5
6 Thorfinnsson Bjorn 4,5 1,0
7 Ragnarsson Dagur 4,5 0,5
8 Petursson Margeir 3,0 0,0
9 Thorhallsson Throstur 2,5 0,0
10 Jonsson Gauti Pall 2,0 0,0

All games



André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.


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