Retired Icelandic Stars Back At The Board In Sardinia

Retired Icelandic Stars Back At The Board In Sardinia

| 9 | Chess Event Coverage

A big Icelandic delegation that includes former stars GM Johann Hjartarson, GM Margeir Petursson and Fridrik Olafsson is currently playing in the International “Capo d'Orso” tournament in Sardina.

Italians GM Sabino Brunello and IM Marco Codenotti share the lead after six rounds.

The seventh Open Internazionale "Capo d'Orso" is underway in Palau, Capo d'Orso, Sardinia, Italy. Palau is a municipality in northeast Sardinia, about 220 kilometres north of Cagliari. 

As always, the tournament is held in the splendid resort Porto Mannu, which can truly be called a chess paradise. The author of these lines attended the very first tournament in 2007 (and was there also in 2008) as part of his ChessVibes on Tour, so he know what he's talking about!

At the time I wrote on my website about some small details which, for me, made the difference — such as an air-conditioned playing hall, and wooden pieces on all boards (not that plastic crap). Quoting myself:

Right at the start of the first round I got a certain degree of sympathy for the tournament. Firstly, it wasn't only the DGTs that struck me, but also the chess sets. Wooden boards everywhere, as well as well-crafted, heavy wooden pieces, with soft textile at the bottom. You don't often see such high-quality material, even on the lower boards, and to me it signifies a high level of respect for the game of chess and its players.

I remember the rest of the tournament as much more than “respectful” with such splendid surroundings, the beautiful view of the Mediterranean, the friendly and laid-back organizers and the wonderful food that was served. A big buffet with fresh Italian food is hard to beat!

The beautiful view on the way to the private beach.

The winner of that first tournament was Icelandic grandmaster Hedinn Steingrimsson, who arrived at the resort holding a big, heavy desktop (!) computer under his arm. His laptop had broken down shortly before his trip. The runner-up in 2007 was...IM Fabiano Caruana.

Fast forward to 2015. The top seeds are GMs Jan Gustafsson of Germany, Konstantin Landa, followed by two Icelandic GMs who retired from competitive chess a long time ago: Johann Hjartarson (2535) and Margeir Petursson. They are part of a big Icelandic delegation that even includes Fridrik Olafsson

The former world championship candidate and ex-FIDE president, who turned 80 earlier this year, hardly plays chess anymore — about one event a year, normally in Reykjavik.

Former world championship candidate Fridrik Olafsson, playing in Sardinia.

Hjartarson (52), the most successful Icelandic player after Olafsson, normally only plays league games but suddenly participated in the Icelandic Championship last month.

Petursson (55), who also represented Iceland at several Olympiads, left tournament chess in 1997 and only played a few events in Reykjavik since — except for a France-Iceland match in Paris in 2004.  He studied economy and finance, was a lawyer and eventually founded MP Bank in 1999.

Since 2004, only eight Icelandic league games by Petursson can be found in the database: three in 2012, two in 2014 and three in 2015.

Two more Icelandic stars: Margeir Petursson (l.) and
Johann Hjartarson. | Photo Gunnar Björnsson.

The three Icelandic icons are part of a group of 17 players from Iceland playing in Capo d'Orso. The president of the federation and main organizer of the Reykjavik Open, Gunnar Björnsson, can be found behind the chessboard as well.

Olafsson started with 2.5/3, then lost to GM Sabino Brunello and the played two rather quick draws — but who can blame him?


Brunello vs Olafsson. | Photo Gunnar Björnsson.

Hjartarsson's start was better: he scored 3.5/4, including the following game. He is currently on 4.0/6. Like Olafsson, Hjartarson only lost to an Italian grandmaster: Axel Rombaldoni

And yes, Petursson's only loss was against an Italian player as well: IM Marco Codenotti, who is currently sharing the lead with Brunello.

In the sixth round there was a remarkable pairing: Hjartarson vs Petursson. The two played dozens of games, the first in 1982 Reykjavik, the last (blitz) in 2004.


Petursson and Olafsson playing next to each other. | Photo Gunnar Björnsson.

Behind Brunello and Codenotti, three players are trailing by half a point: Konstantin Landa, Axel Rombaldoni and Sergei Beshukov.

The top seed drew three games after winning two, but then lost to the aforementioned Italian IM. Somehow things went terribly wrong in a slightly better ending:


Top seed Gustafsson is trailing the leaders by 1.5 points. | Photo Yuri Garrett.

Three more rounds will be played in the Porto Mannu resort. The time control is 90 minutes for 40 moves followed by 30 minutes to finish the game, with a 30-second increment from move one. The lucky ones who are participating can also enjoy morning classes by GM Mihail Marin.

2015 Capo d'Orso | Round 6 Standings (Top 25)

# Sno Title Name Rtg Perf Fed Pts BucT SB
1 5 GM Brunello Sabino 2526 2615 ITA 5.0 24.0 20.00
2 11 IM Codenotti Marco 2397 2759 ITA 5.0 24.0 19.25
3 2 GM Landa Konstantin 2627 2579 RUS 4.5 23.5 17.00
4 6 GM Rombaldoni Axel 2502 2631 ITA 4.5 23.0 16.25
5 13 GM Beshukov Sergei 2385 2528 RUS 4.5 22.5 16.25
6 30   Schaefer Michael 2165 2236 GER 4.0 23.0 15.75
7 4 GM Petursson Margeir 2529 2444 ISL 4.0 22.5 13.25
8 10 GM Vogt Lothar 2408 2445 GER 4.0 22.0 14.25
9 3 GM Hjartarson Johann 2535 2429 ISL 4.0 21.5 13.50
10 16 FM Karason Askell O 2324 2329 ISL 4.0 21.0 12.75
11 26   Byron Alan M 2196 2153 ENG 4.0 21.0 12.75
12 20   Sonis Francesco 2241 2337 ITA 4.0 20.5 13.00
13 14 WGM Haast Anne 2373 2309 NED 4.0 20.0 13.50
14 8 GM Tischbierek Raj 2442 2328 GER 4.0 20.0 12.00
15 23 FM Esposito Luca 2220 2267 ITA 4.0 20.0 12.00
16 82   Kyrkjebo Hanna B. 1785 2054 NOR 4.0 17.5 10.00
17 86   Garofalo Sergio 1742 1872 ITA 4.0 16.5 10.00
18 89   Gorodnichin Leonid 1726 1869 RUS 4.0 16.0 10.50
19 1 GM Gustafsson Jan 2640 2480 GER 3.5 25.0 13.50
20 7 IM De Jong Jan-willem 2449 2342 NED 3.5 23.0 12.75
21 12 GM Olafsson Fridrik 2397 2297 ISL 3.5 22.5 12.25
22 43   Bjornsson Gunnar 2085 2176 ISL 3.5 21.0 11.75
23 29   Tommasini Enzo 2166 2112 ITA 3.5 21.0 11.50
24 37   Koenig Dirk 2109 2147 GER 3.5 20.5 11.75
25 36   Hill Alistair 2121 2330 ENG 3.5 20.5 11.25

Full standings here.

Petursson giving advice to the many young Icelandic
players who are also playing. | Photo Gunnar Björnsson.

Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

Between 2007 and 2013 Peter was running ChessVibes, a major source for chess news and videos acquired by in October 2013.

As our Director News & Events, Peter writes many of our news reports. In the summer of 2022, The Guardian’s Leonard Barden described him as “widely regarded as the world’s best chess journalist.”

In October, Peter's first book The Chess Revolution will be published!

Company Contact and News Accreditation: 

Phone: 1 (800) 318-2827
Address: PO Box 60400 Palo Alto, CA 94306

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