Iceland, the land of geysers and... chess

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
Strokkur Geysir, Iceland | Photo: Robert RisFor chess fans it's much more than just a small country: it's where Fischer and Spassky played their Match of the Century, and it's where Fischer is buried and where he spent the last years of his life. Iceland, the land of geysers, also has a strong, now annual open tournament in its capital Reykjavik and this year it ended in a four-way tie between Kryvoruchko, Marin and local heros Steingrimsson and Stefansson. Our ChessVibes Openings editor IM Robert Ris played, and sent us some nice pics..

Fischer and Spassky's World Championship Match in 1972 generated a worldwide boom in chess, but it would be far from the truth to state that the Icelandic chess tradition started then and there. In fact, Iceland's history of chess activities date from the Middle Ages. The Reykjavik Chess Club was founded in 1900 and ever since have chess tournaments been organized in Iceland on a regular basis.

Iceland's first grandmaster, Fri??rik ?ìlafsson, was Iceland's first real "celebrity", and every popular media followed his ventures with a great interest and the public flocked to watch, as he showed his magic in Reykjavik.

The first big international tournament in Reykjavik was held in 1964 and won by Tal. Last year, the Chinese duo, Wang Hao and Wang Yue, along with the Icelandic champion Hannes Stef?°nsson, tied for 1st place.

Reyjavik Open 2009The Reykjavik Open 2009 took place March 24th - April 1st in the Reykjavik Museum of Arts, in downtown Reykjavik. The tournament used to be organized bi-annually but with the co-operation of the Reykjavik Chess Academy, the Icelandic Chess Federation can now organize it every year.

This year 110 players played in the nine-round Swiss. Ukrainian GM Yuriy Kryvoruchko (2604) grabbed the lead in round 5 in which he defeated Stuart Conquest, who was the only one in the field who had won all of his first four games. In round 8 (when boards 2-7 ended in wins for Black!) he was joined by Romanian GM Mihail Marin, who beat Yuri Shulman (USA).

The two drew their last round game and so they allowed two Icelandic GMs to joined them in first place: Hannes Stefansson, beating Sebastien Maze (France) and Hedinn Steingrimsson who won against Abhijeet Gupta (India).

[TABLE=687] (Full final standings here.)

Games selection


The playing hall in the Art Museum


The top boards on stage, with live coverage


Bj??rn Thorfinnsson, the main orgainzer and current president of the Icelandic Chess Federation


For the players an excursion to the geysers was organized. This one is called Strokkur geysir, which erupts very reliably every 5-10 minutes, hurling boiling water to heights of up to 20 metres (70ft) towards the sky...

Strokkur explosion

...which looks like this!

Gulfoss waterfalls

The excursion included a visit to the Gullfoss waterfall, located in the canyon of Hv??t?° river in southwest Iceland and one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country. .


Obligatory for any chess player visiting Iceland: the grave of  Robert James Fischer


IM Robert Ris, who took all the other pictures, here just arrived in Akureyri,  a town in the northern part of Iceland where just before the Reykjavik Open the last three rounds of the Icelandic Team Championship were played.


Icelandic Champion Bolungarv??k, playing with big Ukrainian guns Areshchenko, Kryvoruchko en Oleksienko. On the left is the friendly team captain/sponsor Stefan Arnalds.

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