The greatness of ICELANDIC chess!


For such a small society, Iceland has produced alot of GMs. In fact, according to Wiki, in 2005 Reykjavík had the greatest concentration of GMs anywhere in the world (not sure this is true now Fischer is dead):

"As of December 2005, Reykjavik, Iceland, with eight grandmasters (Jon Arnason, Johann Hjartarson, Margeir Petursson, Fridrik Olafsson, Throstur Thorhallsson, Helgi Gretarsson, Hannes Stefansson, and Bobby Fischer) had a higher percentage of grandmasters per capita than any other city worldwide; the city of 110,000 had one grandmaster per 13,750 residents.[12] As of April 2008[update], the population of Reykjavik had grown to 118,861; Fischer died on January 17, 2008."

Anyone have any opinions on why chess flourishes so well in Iceland?

And who has an opinion on who is the best Icelandic chessplayer? I'm gonna go with Friðrik Ólafsson. (Other notable players are Hannes Hlífar Stefánsson, Jóhann Hjartarson and Jon Loftur Arnason - you can view their impressive profiles on Wiki - see above).

Wiki claims that Ólafsson has achieved the most and notes that he beat Fischer twice ("...sá íslenskur skákmanna sem mestum frama hefur náð í skákinni, t.d. er hann eini íslenski skákmaðurinn sem lagt hefur að velli Bobby Fischer (tvisvar sinnum).")

Here is the Icelander beating Fischer in those two games:

He also beat Tal twice:

Enjoy :-)


Interesting article, thanks for the games.


Fischer and Olafsson got their GM titles at the same time, from qualifying for the Candidates Tournament in the 1958 Portoroz Interzonal.

I believe they were long-standing friends.