Chess is not for wimps. Tactical plays, shocking openings, endgame calculations, referential moves—chess is to drama what football is to faked injuries. While cretins might think that notorious anti-semite Bobby Fischer is the strongest connection Iceland has to those fated knights and pawns, they’d be utterly mistaken. In fact, this tiny country has produced many grandmasters, the first being the incomparable Friðrik Ólafsson.
A big deal
The title grandmaster is an epithet awarded to only the most prolific chess players by the World Chess Federation (FIDE). It basically means that the awardee is an absolute boss on the board, defeating competitors left and right with their rogue rooks and bombastic bishops.
Since FIDE’s inception in 1950, there have been 1,621 players named grandmaster. For reference, there have been 3,140 Oscars awarded. Pathetic, right?
No stalemate here
Our boy Friðrik was a born chess connoisseur. At age 17, he became the Icelandic champion, and one year later was named the Nordic champion. Continuing his reign, in 1958, Friðrik finished equal 5th-6th at the Interzonal tournament at Portorož, becoming the first Icelandic grandmaster in history. At the time, there were only 50 grandmasters worldwide, so it was a big freaking deal.
Since Friðrik’s watershed moment, 13 more Icelanders have achieved the rank. Of course, this does not include the number of Icelanders that have smited the competition in Wizard’s Chess. Currently, that number is uncertain, as our contact at Hogwarts did not send back an owl fast enough to comment.
See more things we’ve won here.