Faroes Open -Part 2

There were many Side Events for this tournament. I guess when you go to a tournament in the Faroe Islands or Iceland you want to see something other than the hotel and playing venue. There were visits to the various local tourist spots, a chance to play and watch the football and the blitz tournament! Unfortunately the fishing expedition was cancelled due to the fog but I’m sure they’ll try to get that back on the card for next year.

Ga winning 1st Prize in the Blitz.
Ga winning 1st Prize in the Blitz.

The Blitz was won by Gawain on tiebreak (direct encounter) with 8/9. He gained 5 rating points and has increased his blitz rating to 2724.

Some people played Football before the France-Belgium Semi Final but I injured my calf muscle at rugby training just before flying out to the Faroes and decided it wasn’t a great idea to play, especially when I don’t really have a clue of where to be in football. One of the players in the tournament, Torkil Nielsen, scored the first ever Faroese goal when he played against Canada in the Faroes’ first ever international. He also scored in their first competitive game, a win over Austria in the Qualifiers for Euro 1992, the Faroes’ first competitive game. He lives locally in Sandavágur and is the father of two strong chess players: the FMs Rógvi  and Høgni – who have both played at the Olympiad. Both also play football with Rógvi also representing the Faroes at U19 level. What a talented and friendly family!

On the last day we had an early morning round and both of us managed to win our games -yay! It’s always tough to change round times. I was very nervous before playing my game and it wasn’t very good quality but I managed to win. Because I won I managed to win the Women’s Prize! Gawain also managed to squeeze out a win against Rógvi  (I’ll pretend that he did it to get back at Høgni who squeezed out a win against me!).

After the round finished, we had the closing ceremony and Gawain got his cool trophy. Then we had some lunch at the venue while watching the 3rd place playoff. It’s been very interesting watching the football this time as a sort of outsider because I grew up watching rugby but I got quite into supporting England. Let’s just say that France was a deserved winner and there’s still some rules in football that I don’t understand.

Sandavágur was hosting a village party and a rowing competition. Sea Rowing is the big sport in the Faroes and it’s a very different kind of rowing to watch. They have many different boats with kids, women and men rowing. People were practising throughout the week and they were decorating the village with each area having a different colour. It’s so nice to see such a nice sense of community, I guess when you come from somewhere so small everyone is always helping everyone out.

Teams come from all of the Islands to participate in the competition.
Teams come from all of the islands to participate in the competition.

We were in for a treat on the last night. Thanks to the organisers warm hospitality we had an “after party” with interesting and yummy (Gawain’s thoughts) delicacies.

There's Faroese Beer, Dried Whale, Blubber, Dried Fish, Dried Fermented Sheep and Fish Salad.
There’s Faroese Beer, Dried Whale, Blubber, Dried Fish, Dried Fermented Sheep and Fish Salad.

So I think Gawain approved of everything to eat but he likes strong flavours. Skerpikj øtis dried fermented sheep – at first I think someone translated it as rotten dried sheep which didn’t sound so appetizing. It was kind of like chewy strong flavored beef jerky. You had to cut it with such a sharp knife. I’m happy to try things so I tried it all but I wasn’t a fan of the blubber or the whale. If there was something I would have to eat a plateful of it would be the dried fish – I’m used to eating this (although it’s quite dry!) because in Malaysia my family often had this around as a snack. In the Faroes you can add butter to it – like bread to make it more moist.

Since it was a chess after party, there was a lot of time spent chatting and enjoying the spread but at some point the chess boards came out. I wanted to play some hand brain. This is a game we have played many times before with hilarious results. In this variant you pair up in teams of two and one player is the “brain” and one player “the hand”. The brain says which piece to move for example “bishop” then the hand has to choose which bishop and to which square.

One that sticks out in mind is when we (Gawain and I) paired up against IM Lawrence Trent and GM Stephen Gordon. They are such good friends but their chess styles are polar opposites which lead to the brain (Loz) saying “bishop” and the hand (Stevie G) moving the (wrong) bishop to the wrong square so Loz said bishop about 10 times in a row before Stephen choose the square Loz wanted! Here I paired up with Sergio Esteve Sánchez who is originally from Spain and now lives in Belfast and we played against Ingi Wiberg (the organizer) and Milan Hruby (who beat me in the main event and gained 47 points) from the Czech Republic. During our first game I was crying with laughter! It was so much fun.

Gawain 1 - 3 to Ingi - one of the organizers.
Gawain 1 – 3 to Ingi – one of the organizers.

It was a sad moment when we had to say goodbye as I had come to enjoy my time in the Faroe Islands and we had a long journey back home. I just wanted to write Thank  You so much to Ingi and Hjalti who made our stay so enjoyable and I would highly recommend you to come and play chess in the Faroes Islands!

I’m pleased to announce that we have both been selected to represent England at the 43rd Chess Olympiad in Batumi, Georgia. It will be my first visit to Georgia but Gawain has already been there.

Here are the selections: Open – Michael Adams, David Howell, Gawain Jones, Luke McShane, Nick Pert with John Nunn as non-playing captain
Women – Jovanka Houska, Dagne Ciuksyte, Akshaya Kalaiyalahan, Sue Maroroa, Louise Head with Lorin D’Costa as non-playing captain

We are now off to Hull this weekend for the British Chess Championship which starts tomorrow. It’s a very strong event this year and will include all players of the Open team.  There’s also 6 females players participating in this year’s Championship and I would love to be British Ladies Champion – let’s see how it goes this year.