Icelandic Team Chess Championship – A Close Battle Between Iceland´s “Big Four”

The race to capture the Icelandic Team Chess Championship title has never been closer. Four clubs are fighting hard for victories and after four of the seven rounds only two points separate these four teams. In the top division you can find 24 GMs, 10 of which are above 2600 ELO ratings. Almost all the strongest Icelandic chess players did participate in the league and among them also “inactive” grandmasters like Johann Hjartarson, Jon L. Arnason, Margeir Petursson, who played his first long games since 2004 and Fridrik Olafsson, former President of FIDE, who is becoming rather active again at 77!
The Icelandic Team Chess Championship is played over a period of two weekends. In the first half, which took part October 5-7, the first four of seven rounds were played.  There are eight players in every team of which four can be foreign players.  Unlike other chess leagues, the winner is determined by points, but not match points. The second half is held in conjunction with the Reykjavik Open.
The Icelandic champions in each of the last four years, Bolungarvik Chess Club (BCC), is leading the pack with 22½points out of 32. BCC featured four foreign GMs on the top boards, with GM Hjartarson and GM Arnason on board 5 and 6. 
The Viking Club  currently lies second with 22 points. The Vikings also featured four GMs with Pavel Eljanov, the highest rated player of the tournament this year, leading the team. GM Hannes Stefansson, eleven times Icelandic Chess Champion and five times winner of the Reykjavik Open on board five and the latest Icelandic GM Stefan Kristjansson on board six. Kristjansson was the only player, who won all his four games this weekend, and has an incredible 21½ points out of the 23 last games he has played in the Icelandic league. A truly high scoring machine!

The Reykjavik Chess Club (RCC) is in third place with 21½ points. The RCC team surprised many people. The team featured four foreign players and “old heroes” Margeir Petursson and Fridrik Olafsson on boards 7 and 8. Petursson, who resides in that great chess city of Lviv in Ukraine, has been playing blitz there for some time and is not as rusty as he would like his opponents to believe. He, however, lost one game against low rated player, Magnus Teitsson, when his cellphone rang before they have played 20 moves.  Fridrik Olafsson played a great game against Magnus Ulfarsson, of the Viking Club, in the first round.
The fourth club, which has the chance to win, is Vestman Islands Chess Club (VICC).  They also used four foreign GM´s and then two Icelandic GMs, the national chess “czar” Helgi Olafsson and also Henrik Danelsen. VICC has 20½ points.

The standing is as follows:

1. Bolungarvik Chess Club 22½ pts. 
2. The Viking Club 22 pts. 
3. Reykjavik Chess Club 21½ pts. 
4. Vestman Islands Club 20½ pts. 
5. Godinn-Matar Chess Club 17 pts. 
6. Hellir Chess Club 13 pts. 
7. Akureyri Chess Club 7 pts. 
8. Bolungarvik Chess Club – b-team 4½ pts. 

The second half of the Icelandic Team Chess Championship will be held on the weekend of 1st and 2nd of March, right after the Reykjavik Open. Like the Reykjavik Open, the team event will be played in fabulous Harpa concert hall, by the harbour in downtown Reykjavik. Unlike football, the transfer window is closed, so the teams´ existing players will have to battle it out to the last drop of blood. And it could be extremely tight!

Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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