There were speeches from the one of the organisers, Bjorn Thorfinnsson (brother of Bragi, who is mainly responsible for me coming to Iceland!)
and the President of the Icelandic Chess Federation, Gunnar Bjornsson
The speeches were witty and humorous and the crowd was having a good time. Then there was a performance of two traditional Icelandic songs
This was followed by a presentation of a portrait to Henrik Carlsen. The portrait was, understandably, of his son. Henrik said that Magnus played in Reykjavik in the past and won a few rating points, but this time he tried his best to return the favour (he lost 43.5 points)
And then something interesting happened. Three people were invited to the stage, participants of the first Reykjavik tournament in 1964 (this year was the 50th anniversary), which was won by Tal, ahead of Gligoric and Fridrik Olafsson. Unfortunately I didn’t get the names of the other two players, but one of the three was the legendary Fridrik Olafsson himself
From left to right: Gunnar Bjornsson, one of the participants, Fridrik Olafsson, the other participant.
This was a lovely gesture from the organisers. I was surprised to see how positive Olafsson looked, bearing in mind that he was born in 1935. Apart from being a Candidate in the Bled-Zagreb-Belgrade tournament in 1959, he was also a President of FIDE from 1978-1982.
After this the players who achieved norms were invited to the stage and then the prize giving began. Here are the winners on the stage with the winner Li Chao with the flowers:
That was the end of the official part and then the social part began. I was very surprised that actually nobody knew that there were two players in the tournament who had played Bobby Fischer! I found Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam (the editor of New in Chess) and asked him about this. He was surprised by the question at first but then quickly said Walter Browne, which is true, of course, as Walter played Fischer in Rovinj-Zagreb in 1970.
Browne (that’s him in the brown jumper) had a great tournament. He looks thin and worn out, but the intensity and the will to win are still there. I remember my father telling me stories about his demonic time-troubles at the Olympiad in Skopje in 1972 – this time his time-troubles weren’t that dramatic, but he was all focus and determination during play. He beat Grandelius and drew with Gajewski and was mostly playing on the top boards.
But Dirk didn’t know the other player. Then I showed him the older gentleman with white hair
and told him that his name was Vik Pupols. I already mentioned that I am a Fischer fanatic, so it was not a problem for me to recognise the name; Pupols played (and beat) Fischer in a junior event in 1955.
Before talking to Dirk I had a short chat with Pupols, who was happy I remembered this and seemed a very likeable person. Dirk was also very happy and grateful for the tip and thanked me several times. We chatted a bit more (he said he was not going to Khanty for the Candidates) and after a while I left the Hall and returned to my hotel, from where I am writing these words.
I am very happy to have come to Reykjavik. I have played a lot of open tournaments, but this is one of the rare ones where the player feels welcomed and taken care of. The organisation was perfect and the event ran smoothly. Congratulations to the organisers on a job well done!
My flight tomorrow is at 7am (but I am being picked up from the hotel at 4am!) so my Icelandic adventure slowly comes to an end. I really hope to be able to come back next year, it’s been a fantastic experience!