Category Archives: Chess

Book Review: Endgame

Endgame: The Spectacular Rise and Fall of Bobby Fischer by Frank Brady

I read  Endgame by Frank Brady in March 2016

Bobby Fischer still is of some fame today, thirty years ago he was known across the globe. And made Reykjavik and Iceland famous world wide too. A simple game of chess captivated audiences around the world, culminating in victory to the lonely American, taking the trophy from the mighty Soviet chess system. The cold war across the board, where the Russians always had been way stronger, was suddenly won by the US.

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Bokin in Reykjavik. A Second Hand Book Store

I visited Bokin in Reykjavik in March 2016

Bokin second-hand book store in Reykjavik is my kind of book store. The whole space is crammed full of books. The bookshelves are overflowing, books are piled on the floor, on the counter. A huge pile of books lie in front of the cashier. The books at the bottom can’t have been touched by human hands for years. The whole store has that old-book-smell. The smell is really strong here, there are so many old books. My only regret is that the best selection is in Icelandic. Their English section is a lot smaller, and the quality of the books not so good. This is a book store that makes you want to learn Icelandic.

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The Bobby Fischer Center in Selfoss, Iceland

I visited the Bobby Fischer Center in Selfoss, Iceland in April 2016

It was the game of the century, the lonely American chess player against the might of the whole Soviet chess machine. The Soviets had held the Chess World Championship for 34 years, and was not going to see the trophy come into the hands of this uneducated American. With the Soviet Union and the United States being locked in the Cold War conflict as well, the match took on a deeper meaning. It was the Cold War over the chess board, the government controlled Soviet chess schools up against a self-taught individualist from capitalist America. All eyes in the world were turned to Reykjavik at this time. All eyes were watching the two players battling it out over the board, best out of 24 games. As the reigning champion Spassky would retain the title in case of a draw and needed 12 points to win. As the challenger Fischer needed 12,5. One point for a win, half a point for a draw. Finally Bobby Fischer was ready to play for the World Championship title in chess.

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Bobby Fischer’s Grave

I visited Selfoss and Bobby Fischer’s Grave in March 2015

It was a long walk to get there, across the wide, open fields. Only in the distance could you see the mountains, here it was all flat. No shelter for the wind, which was really strong here. Blowing hard against me, making it harder to walk, even hard to breathe some times.

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Brokstad, a chess tournament in Trondheim

I played Brokstad’s memorial in Oktober, 2015

Of course I had to meet a member of the same club as myself the first round. Not only was he better that me but also knew my playing style. My only hope was to surprise him somehow, but it did not work. Slowly he gained an advantage, eventually big enough to capitalise on. I lost the first round.

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A game of chess in Okayama

I played a game of chess in Okayama in July 2015.

Neither one of us gained much of an advantage in the opening, I was afraid he might be slightly ahead but it looked very equal. I wondered how good he was, if I would lose again. My confidence, after Osaka, wasn’t very high. I needed this win. I took one more look on the board and castled. My king was safe, I was ready.

Chess in Okayama

A game of chess in Okayama

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Chess in Sarajevo

The following game of chess in Sarajevo happened in April, 2015

I play a little chess myself, and when I read about the daily chess games between old men in Sarajevo, I knew I had to have a look. It wasn’t hard to find, I could hear loud discussions from far away.

Chess in Sarajevo

The chess players

At first it was hard to tell who were playing and who only were watching. The spectators took an active involvement in the game, sometimes even stepping in and doing the moves for the players. Doing a bad move was certainly unacceptable and the player could quickly find himself overruled.

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