An illustrated report from Arlette Van Weersel (the smaller pictures you can click to see a bigger version):
Life as a chess player has always been very good. I had the opportunity to travel a lot, meet new people and play many interesting games. However, at some point in life, it’s time to get a full time job and start working. Suddenly there is this big dilemma: “Am I going on a holiday or am I going to play a chess tournament instead?”
On many occasions I struggled with this question. Going on a holiday meant having a lot of spare time to go sightseeing whenever and wherever I wanted, playing a chess tournaments gave me the opportunity to play some exciting games and meet many chess friends.
For anyone who struggles with this same dilemma, I can recommend to do something crazy. Get behind your computer now and book a trip to the Reykjavik Open chess tournament. This tournaments really offers the best of both worlds, and with one day to go, you can still subscribe! Aren’t you feeling like playing chess, being a chess tourist in this place is not a punishment either. As 5 rounds will start at 16:30h there is plenty of time to do some sightseeing and with the weekend rounds starting already at 13:00h these days offer a great opportunity to explore the northern light. When you’ve arrived in Iceland, I would recommend you to do the following things:
1. Walk around Reykjavik.
The City of Reykjavik is the largest city in Iceland. The capital is, including the neighbouring towns, by far the largest community in Iceland with a total population of about 170,000 people, which is about 60 percent of Iceland’s population. Reykjavík is home to the largest geothermal heating system in the world. The system provides citizens with electricity and energy around the clock. While walking around the city you can breathe in the fresh air, see the snow covered mountains and look at some historic places.
The Reykjavik Open will take place in Harpa. It’s glass façade is designed by renowned artist Olafur Eliasson, in cooperation with Henning Larsen Architects. The design is based on a geometric principle, realised in two and three dimensions. In the night the LED coloured lamps will give a beautiful lightshow.
Höfði House, built in 1909 and best known as the location for the summit meeting of presidents Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbatsjov. This historical event effectively marked the end of the Cold War in 1986.
2. Going on the Golden Circle tour
The organisations offers players and chess tourists a great opportunity to see the golden circle tour on Thursday the 6th of March. The tournament organisers arranged a special price of only €50.
Included in this package is the bus ride and a guidance and a special visit to Bobby Fischer’s grave.
3. Visit the south of Iceland
Although I was very lucky to be here on one of the best days of this winter I can highly recommend to take the south tour of waterfall and hiking tour along the south coast. This trip offers a great opportunity to enjoy the beautiful nature of Iceland.
The Skógafoss and the Seljalandsfoss waterfall. Legend says that Þrasi Þórólfsson, a Viking and an early settler in the area, hid a chest of treasure behind the falls. It’s said that local treasure hunters found the chest many years later, but it disappeared before their eyes, leaving only the chest ring that one of them had grabbed to pull it out.
Beautiful scenery. Since Iceland was so remote, their horses are considered to be one of the best in the world.
4. Hike a glacier
Feeling a little adventurous, why not try to hike on the ancient glacier of Sólheimajökull. The view of the blue ice is definitely worth the effort.
5. Stroll around the black beaches.
In 1991, the American journal Islands Magazine branded this beach as one of the ten most beautiful beaches on earth. The cliffs west of the beach are home to many seabirds. In the summer times puffins can be found here. There is no landmass between here and Antarctica and the Atlantic rollers can attack with full force.
6. Ending your trip with the Blue Lagoon.
The blue lagoon is a geothermal spa located between Reykjavik city and the airport. Perfect when you’re ready to go home and feel like relaxing after the walking and hiking tours. The lagoon water is a natural mix of sea and fresh water and contains minerals, silica and algae which gives the water its distinct blue colour.
And if these pictures weren’t enough to convince you to visit the Reykjavik Open, I forgot to mention that the people of Iceland are very friendly and speak perfect English. That the nightlife in the weekend is very good with Icelandic beers for consumption and that the food, although for people from Europe might be slightly expensive, is really fresh and tasteful!
Follow me on Twitter @ArlettevWeersel