“There was a man of the North, Ingólfr, who is truly said to be the first leave it for Iceland, in the time when Haraldr the Fair-Haired was sixteen winters of age (…), he settled south in Reykjavík.”
This is taken from Íslendingabók, the Book of Icelanders, written in the 12th century by an Icelandic priest. It is the first source of information about the early Icelandic history.
The quote is about Ingólfur Arnarson, a Norseman who is known to be the first settler. Together with his foster-brother Hjörleifur he went on an exploratory expedition to Iceland and stayed over winter. A few years later, in 874, they returned to settle the land with their men. We’ll let Wikipedia tell the story for us:
When they approached the island, Ingólfur cast his high seat pillars overboard and swore that he would settle where they drifted to shore. He then sent his slaves Vífill and Karli to search for the pillars. They found his foster-brother Hjörleifur murdered, and all his men gone. Ingólfur gave his foster-brother a heathen funeral in the Norse style and slew the murderers, who had fled to the Westman Islands.
As winter approached, Ingólfur’s slaves found the pillars by Arnarhvol. When summer came, he built a farmstead in Reykjavík and claimed all the land west of the rivers of Ölfusá, Öxará and Brynjudalsá.
Ingólfur commands his high seat pillars to be erected | ‘Ingolf tager Island i besiddelse’ by John Peter Raadsig, 1850
Simon Williams seems to feel very much at home in Reykjavik. Every day he joins the locals for a chat, a laugh and a drink or two, and in round 6 the English grandmaster even played in the spirit of Ingólfur Arnarson! Early in the game he decided to throw both of his rooks overboard and swore he would checkmate his opponent’s king, as if the Danish IM had murdered Simon’s brother:
Bekker-Jensen,Simon (2405) – Williams,Simon K
23.Rxc4 White should have continued in the same style: 23.Nd6+! Bxd6 24.Rxc4+ Kb8 25.Qxd4 Bxg2+ 26.Kg1 just wins. 23…Bxg2+ 24.Kg1? Much better is 24.Kh2 Nf3+ 25.Qxf3 and the complications seem to favour White. 24…Nxh3+
25.Kxg2? 25.Bxh3 Qxh3 26.Rxc5+ Kb8 27.Rh5 Nf3+ 28.Qxf3 Qxf3 29.Rb5+ Ka8 30.Rc1 a6 and the game continues. 25…Nf4+ 26.Kg1 Nde2+
and here White resigned because of 27.Bxe2 Qg3+ and mate.
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This game would easily be the game of the day, except that… we have another candidate: Pavel Eljanov’s great achievement against Ivan Cheparinov. The Ukrainian grandmaster “only” sacrificed one of his rooks, for long-term compensation:
Cheparinov,Ivan (2709) – Eljanov,Pavel (2678)
17…Nxb6!? 18.Nxb6 Qc5 19.Rf3 Bf6 20.Nxa8 Rd8 21.Qe1 Nc6 22.Nb6
Black is a rook down (OK, for one pawn) but his compensation is not immediately clear. Impressive judgement by Eljanov! 22…Bd4 23.Kf2 e5! This is the key move.
24.b4!? The best try. 24…Nxb4 25.fxe5 Nc6!
26.Qd2? White should have played 26.Nbxc4 Bxc4 27.Kf1 Nxe5 28.Nxc4 Nxc4 and now 29.Rd1 or 29.Rd3 might hold. 26…c3 27.Qc2 Nxe5 It’s over. 28.Qf5 g6 29.Qf4
29…Re8! Making the threat stronger than the execution. 30.Nbd5 Qxd5 31.Kf1 Nxf3! and resigned. 32.Nxd5 Bxe2
is a pretty mate, isn’t it?
The two top games Yu Yangyi vs Anish Giri and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave vs Wesley So ended in draws, and so Pavel Eljanov is now leading by half a point. Behind him is a group of seven players: Vachier-Lagrave, Giri, Yu, So, Gajewski, Jones and Halkias.
The latter, Greek grandmaster Stelios Halkias, got a free point on Saturday as his opponent, FM Adarsh Jayakumar (USA), had missed the fact that the round started at 13:00 and not at 16:30, as before. Luckily he can still score norms over 9 rounds…
Round 6 in action | Photo Hrafn Jökulsson
There’s an interesting story about another American here in Reykjavik. Yaacov Norowitz, a 2432 rated but untitled player, recently decided that his religion shouldn’t prevent him from playing chess during the Sabbath. However, it does need some modifications. The problem is that for 24 hours he is not allowed to use electronic devices, so besides having someone to open his hotel room and picking up his phone, Norowitz also needs someone to… press his clock!
In round 5 his opponent Mikhailo Oleksienko showed amazing friendliness and tolerance by agreeing to press the clock for him, and in round 6 an Icelander was found to do it. Norowitz also couldn’t write down his moves, which according to one of the arbiters “just deprives him from his rights to claim a draw and such”.
It’s quite a unique situation (normally Jews prefer not to play at all during Sabbath), and much can be said about it. The author of these lines just prefers to see it as another wonderful example of chess bringing together so many different kinds of people. The story ends, by the way, with Norowitz winning the blitz tournament at night, which started after the Sabbath!