GAMMA Reykjavik Open 2019

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Roger de Coverly
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Re: GAMMA Reykjavik Open 2019

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue Apr 09, 2019 6:42 pm

Chris Rice wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 5:26 pm
Hannes was definitely winning until he played an illegal move. Under the new rules the arbiter told me later you don't lose immediately but if you do it again...
It was even the identical move Rg3-g4 with the Rook pinned by a Queen on f4 to the King on h2.

Chris Rice
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Re: GAMMA Reykjavik Open 2019

Post by Chris Rice » Wed Apr 10, 2019 3:16 pm

Chris Rice wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 12:46 pm
Kevin Thurlow wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 10:53 am
And I'm relying on Chris to reveal who opens the round - last time, we got the Prime Minister of Iceland one round!
Opening Round 1 yesterday were a stream of Icelandic dignitaries followed by FIDE President, Arkady Dvorkovich welcoming players on behalf of the FIDE Presidential Board. In person he seems like a decent guy, clearly enjoying his new role and was well into the new initiative by the Icelandic Chess Federation to improve chess in schools. Photo courtesy of Fiona Steil-Antoni
Only just found out that the person next to Dvorkovich in that photo is indeed the Icelandic PM, Katrín Jakobsdóttir.

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Round 3 report

Kevin Thurlow
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Re: GAMMA Reykjavik Open 2019

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Thu Apr 11, 2019 8:59 am

Thanks Chris - Yes, there she is. Iceland is one of the few countries where the PM can turn up with apparently no security!

Hope it goes well today and onwards.

Chris Rice
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Re: GAMMA Reykjavik Open 2019

Post by Chris Rice » Thu Apr 11, 2019 11:05 pm

I guess if you call yourself a chess player then you can't come to Iceland and not visit Fischer's grave. It promised to be a rather sad day (though not as sad as round 4 where I missed two clear wins against a Kazakh IM) but it turned out to be quite inspiring. These are my notes from the visit:

Fisher's grave is in a very small village called Selfloss, population 11,000, approximately 50km from the capital Reykjavik. The grave is absolutely the most basic:

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Initially I thought how sad after such an amazing life but it was all quite deliberate. In a last defiant act, only too typical of him, he asked not to be buried in Reykjavik where no doubt thousands of tourists, who had no real idea who he was, would visit him. Instead he wanted to be buried outside the capital where only the people that really cared would visit him. While I was there the tour guide spoke to the farmer next door who looks after the little cemetery. The farmer said he had met Fischer on a few occasions and one time Fischer, who had his own money, asked him if he could work for him and look after the cows. The farmer, however, felt that he might be unreliable so didn't take him up on the offer.
Due to the vast numbers of chess players that did visit the grave it was decided to open a sort of museum, the Bobby Fischer Chess Centre in the village.

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It houses the Selfloss Chess Club and one of the most famous GMs in Iceland, Helgi Olafsson, coaches there on Saturday mornings.

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However, the main purpose of it is as a shrine to the match in 1972.

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A woman who helped organise it (unfortunately I didn't get her name) gave a long speech, about how the match had come about, what happened and then the incredible achievement by the Icelanders to get Fischer to Iceland where he lived his last three years.

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Originally the match in 1972 was supposed to be shared by Yugoslavia and Iceland. Yugoslavia were going to host the first half of the match. However a problem arose because you couldn't guarantee when a 24 game match would end so it was difficult to divide the match into two parts. Eventually Yugoslavia decided they didn't want to host the match and Iceland were to get the whole thing.
After that another problem arose in that the Icelanders had no idea whether Fischer would turn up so they were worried about announcing it. A bullet was then bitten once the prize fund was doubled thanks to a British businessman and they said it was going ahead. Fischer eventually turned up on the 4 July, Independence Day in the US and history was made. They played in the Laugardalshollin, an indoor sports centre.

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Once the match was finished it was clear to the Icelanders that Spassky had been exiled by the Russians for losing, Fischer promised to play a lot but of course never did until the Yugoslav match vs Spassky where he ended up in breach of sanctions. Fischer and Spassky became good friends, according to the woman commentator they found they had a lot in common after both being brought up by single mothers. She also said that Fischer might have gone to Hungary to find his biological roots and that Fischer's problems only started after 9/11 after his remarks that the US deserved it.
However, it was when the subject of Fischer getting arrested in Japan came up that the woman became quite emotional as she explained how a small group of Icelandic men with connections to the 1972 match had moved heaven and earth to get Fischer to Iceland. This small group of guys flew to Japan drafted a letter to the Icelandic Foreign Minister which Fischer then copied out in his own handwriting and was sent. The Icelandic Foreign Minister was duly impressed and the Icelandic Parliament approved citizenship for Fischer in the unprecedented time of 12 minutes and two days after that Fischer arrived in Reykjavik.
On his was to Reykjavik it was suggested that they stopped over in London but Fischer would have none of it suspecting that he would deported to the US so the stopover was in Oslo instead. Even when he got to Reykjavik the Americans didn't give up and tried to extradite him. The response was that the US had no business trying to extradite an Icelandic citizen for playing chess! The US then said that if Fischer ever left Iceland he would be deported to the US. They contacted 400 airports worldwide to show they were serious.
However, it was all for nothing as Fischer died at the age of 64, the number of squares on the chessboard and the latitude of the place where he died.

Keith Arkell
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Re: GAMMA Reykjavik Open 2019

Post by Keith Arkell » Thu Apr 11, 2019 11:20 pm

Wonderful post. Thanks Chris!

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JustinHorton
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Re: GAMMA Reykjavik Open 2019

Post by JustinHorton » Fri Apr 12, 2019 8:48 am

Odd to see a place with 11,000 inhabitants described as a very small village though. To get the population of the village I live in, remove the noughts.
"Do you play chess?"
"Yes, but I prefer a game with a better chance of cheating."

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Kevin Thurlow
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Re: GAMMA Reykjavik Open 2019

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Fri Apr 12, 2019 9:34 am

Great stuff Chris. The table/chairs in the "Fischer Center" are replicas. The real ones are in the museum in Reykjavik, which is well worth a visit (not just for the table etc). The organizers scheduled a visit there last time.

Selfoss is bigger in area than a village, but it sprawls a bit, so it doesn't seem like a town with a busy centre, then quieter outside. 11000 does seem a lot for a village! A lot of Iceland is open space, the habitation is virtually all on the perimeter.

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JustinHorton
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Re: GAMMA Reykjavik Open 2019

Post by JustinHorton » Fri Apr 12, 2019 10:27 am

Oh, you can get bigger villages than that, it was the "very small" that caught my eye.
"Do you play chess?"
"Yes, but I prefer a game with a better chance of cheating."

lostontime.blogspot.com

Pete Morriss
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Re: GAMMA Reykjavik Open 2019

Post by Pete Morriss » Fri Apr 12, 2019 10:58 am

Kevin Thurlow wrote:
Fri Apr 12, 2019 9:34 am
Selfoss is bigger in area than a village, ....
So Chris's "Selfloss" was a Freudian slip then? I thought it was a rather approprate final resting place for a chess player, and, sadly, perhaps particularly appropriate for Fischer.

David Robertson
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Re: GAMMA Reykjavik Open 2019

Post by David Robertson » Fri Apr 12, 2019 12:24 pm

JustinHorton wrote:
Fri Apr 12, 2019 8:48 am
To get the population of the village I live in, remove the noughts
Good grief! You even managed to work your way into this :roll:

I agree with Keith Arkell - splendid post, Chris!

John McKenna
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Re: GAMMA Reykjavik Open 2019

Post by John McKenna » Fri Apr 12, 2019 8:23 pm

Yes, thanks to Chris Rice for excelling his usual high standard on the forum.

PS I think Justin may have to accept he's in a hamlet -

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Settlement_hierarchy
To find a for(u)m that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now. (Samuel Beckett)

Jonathan Bryant
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Re: GAMMA Reykjavik Open 2019

Post by Jonathan Bryant » Fri Apr 12, 2019 9:21 pm

I agree with comments above - great post, Chris. I particularly enjoyed ...
Chris Rice wrote:
Thu Apr 11, 2019 11:05 pm
The farmer, however, felt that he might be unreliable so didn't take him up on the offer.

Chris Rice
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Re: GAMMA Reykjavik Open 2019

Post by Chris Rice » Sat Apr 13, 2019 12:59 am

Round 5 report where the Iranian GM, Alireza Firouzja is really impressing at the moment as he shares the lead with two Armenian GMs but with Gawain and David Eggleston only a half point back there is still all to play for.

Thanks for the comments on the report guys, very much appreciated. One point I can add to it is in response to
Kevin Thurlow wrote:
Fri Apr 12, 2019 9:34 am
Great stuff Chris. The table/chairs in the "Fischer Center" are replicas. The real ones are in the museum in Reykjavik, which is well worth a visit (not just for the table etc). The organizers scheduled a visit there last time.
The woman who did the speech at the Fischer Center was asked if the table at the Center was the original and she said it wasn't and that the table on display at the National Museum in Reykjavik is also a replica. The original is now kept in the basement at the National Museum and is not on public display but she didn't know why.

Kevin Thurlow
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Re: GAMMA Reykjavik Open 2019

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Sat Apr 13, 2019 8:13 am

"The original is now kept in the basement at the National Museum and is not on public display but she didn't know why."

That's odd. The set I saw in the museum was (I think) behind a screen so you couldn't touch it, let alone steal it. I like the padded bits on the table, so your elbows don't get sore after 5 hours!

Chris Rice
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Re: GAMMA Reykjavik Open 2019

Post by Chris Rice » Sat Apr 13, 2019 1:08 pm

Kevin Thurlow wrote:
Sat Apr 13, 2019 8:13 am
"The original is now kept in the basement at the National Museum and is not on public display but she didn't know why."

That's odd. The set I saw in the museum was (I think) behind a screen so you couldn't touch it, let alone steal it. I like the padded bits on the table, so your elbows don't get sore after 5 hours!
As luck would have it the National Museum of Iceland is only 20 minutes walk from where I'm staying so I went down there this morning to see if I could find out more information.

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It costs around 15 quid to get in and I spent a good hour wandering around Icelandic history but there was no sign of the table, original or replica. Eventually I decided to ask one of the staff and she said it was not on display anymore but in storage in the basement. The table got moved a while ago before she started to work there and the only reason she could immediately answer my question was because I was not the first person to ask. She didn't know the reason it had got taken off display. So I think you must have seen the original Kevin. It does seem a shame it's gone as the 1972 match was such a major event for Iceland and one of the pivotal events in the Cold War.
There is still chess in the museum, there is an alcove where you can play while taking a relaxing break in the middle of the exhibits of the Norwegian Vikings brutally murdering the Icelandic Catholics. Bliss.

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A recycled chess computer from 2004 in one of the displays of modern Iceland:

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and in the museum shop you can find replica sets of the Lewis chessmen, plus the variant game of Viking Chess:

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with the rules:

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