I am a proud Norwegian, from a relatively small town not far from Oslo, our nation's capital. My name is Bjørn (not an easy name to pronounce for the non-natives), which means 'bear' in English. In Old Norse: Biǫrn. It's a really old name here in Scandinavia, dating back to the Viking Age. I've never really liked my name, it's too common for my tastes, because I like to be extraordinary in everything I do. But I am proud of the Viking connection: our great ancestors were superior warriors and shipbuilders:
I am honored to be the 12th and current Chessgames Chessbookie Champion of the World. Here is my name in the illustrious Hall of Fame, forever recorded in the glorious annals of Chessgames History:
ChessBookie Hall of Fame
Next winter I will defend my title and become the only player so far with back-to-back wins. As you may rightly suspect if you read this, I may come across as a bit full of myself sometimes..but there's nothing wrong with that if one has a reason to (like I have!)..right?
Norway is the new powerhouse of chess. We currently have the undisputed World Champion (Magnus Carlsen), last year's Junior World Champion (Aryan Tari), and the Chessbookie World Champion (Yours Truly)!
I love chess, it has been a lifelong passion for me. But it has been very much a private matter for me: I played a couple of minor tournaments when I was a teenager and I won two scholastic tournaments when attending the Norwegian equivalent of 'Junior High School'. Scholastic chess was (and still is, I suppose) a rare phenomenon in Norway. The only reason that my school had it was because I organized the tournaments myself! And won, both times. But this was a long time ago, nowadays I only play chess online.
When serving in the Norwegian Armed Forces, I met and befriended GM Simen Agdestein (the 2nd best Norwegian player of all time, our country's first GM and an early mentor for Magnus Carlsen), who came to our camp in Northern Norway to play and promote chess, this was back in the 1980s and not long before he had finished 2nd at the World Junior Championship. We played only one game against each other, a Ruy Lopez that ended in a draw after Simen, uncharacteristically, misplayed a completely won endgame. So my overall score against Simen is 50%, I'm content with that. He is also a really, really great guy: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simen...
I've never played (not yet anyway) chess with our beloved Champion, Magnus the Magnificent, but I do have a small personal letter from him where he wrote me some encouraging words (long story). It is one of my most prized possessions. I guess you could say that I'm an avid chess collector: I have a relatively small, but alluring collection of chess books, and some other minor stuff, some rare chess sets, a postcard signed by Karpov (which one of my daughters procured for me), you know, that sort of things.
One of my interests in recent years has been memorization: I've been a National Champion in memory sports. For those who are unfamiliar with the concept of memory sport you can read about it here:
A pet project of mine in recent months has been cryptography: I've been working on inventing a form of code that can be quickly learned by a human and easy in practical use, but difficult (or, perhaps rather optimistically, impossible) for a computer to crack/decode. You can read more about cryptography here:
Another great interest of mine is old radio shows, primarily US shows, but also some British and Norwegian shows. I love collecting and listening to shows from The Golden Age of Radio, OTR as we call it (Old-Time Radio), a broadcasting era that lasted throughout the 30s, the 40s and the 50s..https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golde...
I also love classic TV shows (50s, 60s, 70s), mostly US shows, but also some Canadian and British shows, and I have recently discovered the magical and wonderful world of Film Serials! So not so long ago I started to collect them as well (I love collecting things just as much as I hate throwing things away). Here is Wikipedia's article on Serial Film: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seria...
And I am a big Sherlock Holmes fan, so naturally I collect Sherlock-related stuff also! Now, the problem is that my wife also loves to collect stuff, like me, all kinds of stuff: books, perfume, boxes, you name it, so naturally we no longer have much space for all of our things! Oh well..
My wife and I both have a lifelong affection for books. Like her, I used to read 100+ books a year when I was younger. Today my poor eyesight prevents me from such excesses. I prefer listening to audio books nowadays.
Another interest of mine is Geneaology, the study of family lineage and history, an interest I developed from my grandfather who was a leading researcher in the field back in the day. My username is partly due to the fact that I actually have some noble ancestry (which is not so common in Norway as it is in many other European countries), going back to British nobility, even royalty (although most of my nearest ancestors were farmers and fishermen).
Since I am a non-native English speaker I sincerely apologize for my numerous grammatical errors. I do, however, speak several languages. My wonderful wife of almost 25 years is from Italy (although she has lived in Norway for about 30 years now), so naturally I learned to speak in her beautiful native tongue, the most romantic language in the world. We watch a lot of Italian television together. I love Italian movies, TV shows, Italian cuisine, everything really.. I also speak a little German and I learned some basic Russian so I could read Russian chess literature: so many of their books have never been translated into English. For me, being an expert on memorization, learning a new language is not very difficult.
Another major point of interest throughout my life has been politics: mainly Norwegian, Italian and European politics, of course, but American politics has always fascinated me deeply. When I was younger I planned to go to the USA and finish my academic studies there (however, life intervened: I met the love of my life, got married and chose to remain in Norway).
I love both classical and popular music (I play a little guitar, piano and other instruments, but I haven't really practised it regularly in decades). I've written some songs over the years, but lately I've been concentrating on writing poems (I can always add a musical arrangement to some of them at a later date).
I have some serious health issues, so I try to live a rather calm life (in fact, I have to) so me and my wife, we seek to take delight in the simpler things in life, including mental, intellectual pursuits and such (we seldom travel anywhere). So what better than chess? It's an important part of my life, it really is.
Still, the biggest source of joy in our lives are our three children and two grandchildren. And our two gorgeous cats..
I am what you could call a Slav/Caro-Kann aficionado. My favorite chess players (besides Magnus, of course) are Lasker, Capablanca, Smyslov, Petrosian, Karpov and Kramnik. My own playing style is defensive, positional, so no wonder that some of the guys I mentioned are my personal favorites!
For a glimpse into my playing style, here is a recent online blitz game that I played (the time control was 5+3):
White:NN Black:Count Wedgemore
1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5 5.Ng3 Bg6 6.h4 h6 7.h5 Bh7 8.Bd3 Bxd3 9.Qxd3 e6 10.Nf3 Nd7 11.Be3 Ngf6 12.0-0-0 Qc7 13.Rhe1 0-0-0 14.Kb1 Bd6 15.Ne4 Nxe4 16.Qxe4 Nf6 17.Qh4 Nd5 18.g4 Bf4 19.g5 Bxe3 20.fxe3 Qb6 21.Rd3 hxg5 22.Nxg5 Qc7 23.Rf1 Nf6 24.Qf4 Qxf4 25.Rxf4 Rxh5 0-1.
I think the <Chessgames> community is a fascinating and highly interesting microcosm, featuring so many different and intriguing, captivating personalities. A big thank you to the late and great Daniel Freeman and the co-founder, the late Alberto A Artidiello for having created this wonderful meeting ground for chess players. All the best, Bjørn.