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Vestmannaeyjar Tournament

Anatoly Lein9.5/13(+7 -1 =5)[games]
Helgi Olafsson9/13(+5 -0 =8)[games]
Johann Hjartarson9/13(+6 -1 =6)[games]
Nigel Short8.5/13(+6 -2 =5)[games]
Jon Arnason8/13(+5 -2 =6)[games]
Gudmundur Sigurjonsson8/13(+3 -0 =10)[games]
Karl Thorsteins7.5/13(+6 -4 =3)[games]
William Lombardy7/13(+4 -3 =6)[games]
Jonathan Tisdall6.5/13(+3 -3 =7)[games]
Harold James Plaskett4.5/13(+4 -8 =1)[games]
Ingvar Asmundsson4/13(+2 -7 =4)[games]
Bragi Kristjansson4/13(+1 -6 =6)[games]
Asgeir Thor Arnason3.5/13(+2 -8 =3)[games]
Bjorn Ivar Karlsson2/13(+0 -9 =4)[games]
* Chess Event Description
Vestmannaeyjar (1985)

This was the fifth international chess event in Iceland sponsored by the chess magazine Skák. (1) Its editor Johann Thorir Jonsson was responsible for the organization and implementation, assisted by Sigmundur Andrésson and the chess enthusiasts of Vestmannaeyjar. (2) Also called the Westman Islands, this is an archipelago about 145 km SE of Reykjavík. Only one island, Heimaey, has a population (of about 4200), and the event took place in its town of Vestmannaeyjar, in the Safnahúsinu (culture house). (3) The way to get there from Reykjavík is by airplane, or by bus or car plus a boat trip with Herjólfur. (4) Due to a volcanic eruption, the island was in the news in 1973 when the harbor was saved from the lava flow by the application of sea water. (5) An also well-known island is Surtsey, which was created by an eruption that lasted from 1963 to 1967.

Two of the players in the tournament, Helgi Ólafsson and Björn Karlsson, were natives of Heimaey. Ólafsson played a major role in bringing Robert James Fischer to Iceland (in 2005). (6) Karlsson was a medical doctor. Of the other Icelanders, Jón Árnason and Jóhann Hjartarson were young, promising IMs. Árnason was U-16 World Champion in 1977 and Icelandic champion in 1982. Hjartarson was Icelandic champion in 1980 and 1984 and had two GM norms. He later won the Szirak Interzonal (1987), becoming a world championship candidate. Karl Thorsteins was even younger, only 20. Nigel Short turned 20 on the day of Round 4, and was the youngest GM in the world. (2) Short and another Englishman, James Plaskett, had been invited. Two players from the USA were also invited, Anatoly Lein and William Lombardy. Lein was the oldest player (54). Nine years earlier, he immigrated from the USSR, and came =1st in the US Open (1976). Lombardy was ordained as a Catholic priest (in 1967). He was for ten years the next best US player — after Fischer, whom he coached at the Spassky - Fischer World Championship Match (1972). He played in Iceland at Reykjavik (1978) and Neskaupstadur (1984). He was semi-retired from chess in 1985 but still strong. The last player from abroad was Jonathan Tisdall. He grew up in Syracuse, New York and had used to play with Kenneth S Rogoff, who lived not too far from him. When he was 20, Tisdall left for Europe — and stayed there. First in England, and then in Norway (from 1985/86). (7)

Herjólfur docked in the island, the players arrived on shore, and the event was opened "with pomp and parade". (8) At the pier, Gudmundur Arnlaugsson (9) opened the envelope with the numbered tickets. The pairings were made, but not all participants attended. Three were missing: Short, Plaskett and Lombardy. Round 1 was postponed until the evening, but the delayed travelers were tired and wanted to sleep. Jónsson then resorted to postpone the chess by one day, (8) at the cost of a resting day later. So that the players could "wear the bed dust, while others could explore the situation on the golf course". (8) The competition began in Safnahúsinu on Wednesday 29 May, after a speech by Sigurður Jónsson. The "operator" Sigurður Einarsson made the first move for Short, (8) whom we assume was the greatest star. The referee Arnlaugsson was assisted by Dr. Kristján Guðmundsson (10) and Saevar Bjarnason. (11) Play started at 2 pm. (10) The FM norm was 7 points, the GM norm 9,5 points. (12)

In Round 1, Short was still tired and made a short draw with Ólafsson. The other games were "fought with fierce". (8) There were three Sicilian games, two Spanish, and two French games, including a Ruisdonk Gambit (Plaskett vs A Lein, 1985). Karlsson claimed upon adjournment a draw by repetition against Lombardy. (12) Instead of leaving the room to sort it out, Lombardy began to lecture him at the board, much to the consternation of those locked in time scrambles. (11) The claim was rejected by the referee. (12) In Round 3, Short noticed from a distance that Tisdall took a piece? He rushed back to the table, thinking there is nothing to take. (7) Tisdall had made what Tim Krabbe put on his list of the 110 most fantastic moves ever played: (13)

click for larger view

21...Bxh3! There followed 22.gxh3 Qd7 23.Qg2 Rxc3 24.Rad4 Rxc2 25.Qxc2 Qxh3+ 26.Bh2 Qxf3+ 27.Qg2 Qxg2+ 28.Kxg2 Ng4, and it ended in a draw after 73 moves.

After seven rounds, Plaskett had lost all his games. Considering who he played against it might not have happened before in the history of chess that a player of his strength lost seven in a row. (14) But Plaskett took his misfortune in stride. He had a dominant position in Round 7, but chose rather to jeopardize it and ended in time trouble, as so often before in the tournament. (14) An interesting game was played in Round 8 between Ingvar Ásmundsson and Lombardy. The latter had blundered on move 34 and Ásmundsson sacrificed his queen for rook and knight plus two pawns, with an almost won position. Right before the time control, Lombardy felt that Thorsteins was standing too close to the table, (14) and vented his rage against him. Tisdall reported: "Apparently this was because Karl had obstructed his 'line of vision' by walking over to look at the position and that Lombardy had asked him earlier not to approach his table but to look at the demonstration board ... though I had never heard Lombardy make such a request before he insisted he had made it clear to Thorsteins several times during the event." (11) Looking at the position (I Asmundsson vs Lombardy, 1985 after 40 moves), one can understand a frustration:

click for larger view

About an hour later, in the Skútinn restaurant, Lombardy blew up and told Thorsteins at full volume, cross-restaurant, that if he came near his board again, he would "punch him in the fuc-ing mouth". (11) Thorsteins asked to hear it again, which he did, word for word. Thorsteins then asked if he would come to the Icelandic table and try it? Understandably, "Knowing that Bill still bears the damage from a scuffle with a knifecarrying thug in the States, this latest development seemed unwise". (11) Lombardy left after dinner and Plaskett cut the tension by remarking, "You can talk now, Karl". (11) Plaskett was in a good mood — he had just won his first game! After eight rounds, Lein had 6½, Ólafsson 6, Hjartarson 5½, Thorsteins and Lombardy 5 and one unfinished game, and Short and Jón Árnason 5. (14) The next day, Ásmundsson and Lombardy continued their game, and adjourned it for the second time. And Round 9 was played, as if nothing had happened. (15) Then, after nine days, the players finally had a day off. But not Ásmundsson and Lombardy. Their game was resumed for the third time, and Ásmundsson had all the time in the world. He meticulously picked up Lombardy's pawns, one by one. The game was adjourned again, on move 103.

Round 10 started two hours earlier than usual. (11) Lombardy did not turn up for his game against Hjartarson, who missed a chance to gain his third GM norm. The game against Ásmundsson was not resumed either. (15) At about 3 pm, thinking he might be lost in the lava, a search for him was instigated. Even the police took part. He was soon found, in the lounge of a guesthouse in the town, busy writing a protest against the organizing committee. Bjarnason had told him that neither Thorsteins nor anyone else had stood too close to his table, and if someone had been disturbed it was Ásmundsson. Lombardy had taken this as the official view and apparently decided to leave. After a long telephone conversation with Jónsson, he changed his view. After midnight, he appeared at the pub to find Árnason, who was informed that he would have an opponent after all. A surprised Árnason then notified the referee that he would play the game under protest. It was played in Round 11, and ended drawn in 10 moves. (11, 15) According to Tisdall, Lombardy looked nervous and strained in the last rounds. (11)

Arnlaugsson had appointed a players' committee, consisting of Jón Árnason, Tisdall and Sigurjónsson. A protest was drafted, calling for Lombardy's expulsion from the tournament. This was then toned down to gain acceptance from the players: Arnlaugsson was asked to consider this option. Ten players signed, but not Lein, Karlsson, and Ásmundsson. They were involved in another dispute! Arnlaugsson felt that expulsion would make things worse, that Lombardy realized he had done wrong, and that he had already felt the indignation of other players. He allowed him to continue. In Round 12, it was time for the showdown K Thorsteins vs Lombardy, 1985. Grimly determined, Thorsteins fought like a hero from the Sagas of Icelanders, and when Lombardy resigned, a few spectators burst into applause. (11) In Round 13, Short defeated Lein, the leader. Hjartarson drew against Árnason, and Ólafsson could only draw against Karlsson.

Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland, 29 May - 11 June 1985

Age Elo 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 1 GM Lein 54 2465 * ½ 1 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1 1 1 1 9½ =2 GM Ólafsson 28 2515 ½ * ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1 1 1 ½ 9 =2 IM Hjartarson 22 2530 0 ½ * ½ ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 1 1 ½ 1 1 9 4 GM Short 20 2535 1 ½ ½ * 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ 0 1 1 1 1 8½ =5 IM Árnason, J 24 2495 ½ ½ ½ 1 * ½ 0 ½ 1 1 1 1 0 ½ 8 =5 GM Sigurjónsson 37 2485 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ * 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 8 7 Þorsteins 20 2400 ½ ½ 0 0 1 0 * 1 0 1 1 ½ 1 1 7½ 8 GM Lombardy 47 2500 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 * ½ 1 0 1 1 1 7 9 IM Tisdall 26 2420 0 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ * 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 6½ 10 IM Plaskett 25 2495 0 0 0 1 0 ½ 0 0 0 * 1 0 1 1 4½ =11 Ásmundsson 50 2400 0 0 0 0 0 ½ 0 1 ½ 0 * ½ 1 ½ 4 =11 Kristjánsson 40 2295 0 0 ½ 0 0 0 ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ * ½ ½ 4 13 Árnason, A 27 2250 0 0 0 0 1 ½ 0 0 ½ 0 0 ½ * 1 3½ 14 Karlsson 42 2200 0 ½ 0 0 ½ 0 0 0 0 0 ½ ½ 0 * 2

Lombardy forfeited his game vs Hjartarson in Round 10 (= 90 games).

When the dust settled, Lein was the winner. He went back to the USA, one thousand US dollars richer. (16)


(1) Morgunblaðið, 29 May 1985, p. 42.
(2) Dagblaðið Vísir, 30 May 1985, p. 31.
(3) Morgunblaðið, 1 June 1985, p. 3.
(4) Photo of Herjólfur II (the ferry in 1985):
(5) Wikipedia article: Vestmannaeyjar.
(6) Bobby Fischer Comes Home: The Final Years in Iceland, a Saga of Friendship and Lost Illusions, by Helgi Ólafsson (New In Chess, 2012).
(7) Interview by Torstein Bae in Norsk Sjakkblad, no. 2, 2010, pp. 10-13. Tisdall is now (2018) an author, coach and inspirator, playing some team chess.
(8) Jón Loftur Árnason in Dagblaðið Vísir, 1 June 1985, p. 11.
(9) Photo of Arnlaugsson:
(10) Sigmundur Andrésson in Fréttir, 13 June 1985, p. 3.
(11) Jonathan Tisdall in New In Chess, September 1985, pp. 51-58.
(12) Margeir Petursson in Morgunblaðið, 31 May 1985, p. 23.
(13) The 110 Most Fantastic Moves Ever Played, Part 8,
(14) Jón Loftur Árnason in Dagblaðið Vísir, 8 June 1985, p. 4.
(15) Margeir Pétursson in Morgunblaðið, 11 June 1985, p. 46.
(16) Hrafn Loftsson in Þjóðviljinn, 15 June 1985, p. 18.

Original collection: Game Collection: Vestmannaeyjar 1985 by User: Tabanus. Round dates are from Icelandic newspapers at

 page 1 of 4; games 1-25 of 90  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. A T Arnason vs J Tisdall  ½-½461985VestmannaeyjarB22 Sicilian, Alapin
2. Short vs H Olafsson  ½-½141985VestmannaeyjarC84 Ruy Lopez, Closed
3. J Arnason vs I Asmundsson  1-0211985VestmannaeyjarC11 French
4. B I Karlsson vs Lombardy  0-1601985VestmannaeyjarB73 Sicilian, Dragon, Classical
5. Plaskett vs A Lein  0-1341985VestmannaeyjarC02 French, Advance
6. K Thorsteins vs Hjartarson  0-1471985VestmannaeyjarC92 Ruy Lopez, Closed
7. B Kristjansson vs G Sigurjonsson  0-1251985VestmannaeyjarB93 Sicilian, Najdorf, 6.f4
8. H Olafsson vs Plaskett  1-0301985VestmannaeyjarA17 English
9. J Tisdall vs B I Karlsson  1-0381985VestmannaeyjarD58 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tartakower (Makagonov-Bondarevsky) Syst
10. Lombardy vs Short  ½-½581985VestmannaeyjarC00 French Defense
11. A Lein vs B Kristjansson  1-0681985VestmannaeyjarA03 Bird's Opening
12. Hjartarson vs A T Arnason 1-0421985VestmannaeyjarA54 Old Indian, Ukrainian Variation, 4.Nf3
13. I Asmundsson vs G Sigurjonsson  ½-½181985VestmannaeyjarB52 Sicilian, Canal-Sokolsky (Rossolimo) Attack
14. J Arnason vs K Thorsteins  0-1391985VestmannaeyjarC92 Ruy Lopez, Closed
15. Short vs J Tisdall ½-½731985VestmannaeyjarB84 Sicilian, Scheveningen
16. K Thorsteins vs I Asmundsson 1-0211985VestmannaeyjarD53 Queen's Gambit Declined
17. A T Arnason vs J Arnason  1-0641985VestmannaeyjarB22 Sicilian, Alapin
18. B I Karlsson vs Hjartarson  0-1291985VestmannaeyjarB99 Sicilian, Najdorf, 7...Be7 Main line
19. B Kristjansson vs H Olafsson  0-1891985VestmannaeyjarB22 Sicilian, Alapin
20. Plaskett vs Lombardy  0-1561985VestmannaeyjarC41 Philidor Defense
21. G Sigurjonsson vs A Lein  ½-½281985VestmannaeyjarB80 Sicilian, Scheveningen
22. K Thorsteins vs A T Arnason  1-0321985VestmannaeyjarA36 English
23. H Olafsson vs G Sigurjonsson  ½-½131985VestmannaeyjarA56 Benoni Defense
24. Lombardy vs B Kristjansson  1-0341985VestmannaeyjarC00 French Defense
25. Hjartarson vs Short ½-½621985VestmannaeyjarE16 Queen's Indian
 page 1 of 4; games 1-25 of 90  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  Tabanus: Following Tisdall's report in New In Chess, September 1985, comes an editorial note by Willem Andriessen (p. 56):

<Taking advantage of the presence of Lombardy at the Ohra tournament in Amsterdam, the editors showed this article to the American grandmaster in order to offer him the opportunity to comment on its contents. In general, he felt no need for comment (the same goes for the article), but he did relate something about the cause of the incident.

Since the presence of Thorsteins near to his board disturbed him, Lombardy asked him to go away; Thorsteins in turn claimed to have the right to be allowed to watch the games of his colleagues. After Lombardy had repeated his request a few times and had pointed out the possibility of following the game on the demonstration board to Thorsteins, who insisted upon his rights, Lombardy flew into a rage.

So much for Lombardy. We do not want to judge or mitigate the incident, however, some general remarks are in place. Of course, a participant at a tournament has the right to be in the playing hall and to use the possibility resulting from this fact to look at the other boards. But there also exist a right of players to be able to play their games undisturbed, and it is the duty of the referee to see that this takes place harmoniously; anyone can realize that the right not to be disturbed prevails over any other right.

In this connection perhaps the thoughts that Spassky developed after his match with Korchnoi, which occurred not without incidents, are not uninteresting. Spassky proposed that the board and the immediate surroundings be considered as the territory of the player who is to move. For example, that player may smoke, wiggle his legs, put on sun glasses, in a nutshell do anything within generally accepted limits that he wants. This right immediately transfers to the opponent as soon as he starts his clock. The player who is not to move may remain at the board, but he should submit to the rules of the opponent.

I also willl not hold back a case that occurred in The Netherlands a few years ago... Here it was always the custom that journalists were allowed to be in the playing hall, in connection with their work. That went fine until a journalist from a small provincial paper made his appearance. He was a small, nervous, chain smoking man who took his job seriously and, as you will, he would glance at the boards, leaning over the shoulders of the players while he stabbed his cigarette out in their ash trays. After protests from the players, the tournament directors decided to bar all journalists from the playing hall in the future. (The good must now suffer with the bad.) The right of journalists to inform themselves as well as possible was considered here to be secondary to the right of the players to exercise their profession undisturbed.>

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Thank you User: Tabanus for a vibrant and comprehensive introduction!
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Tabanus, I only go by what I see, physically before my eyes. Everything I have seen produced by you is outstanding, and again I thank you.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Tabanus: Thanks offramp! You inspire me.

More than the charges of me being attention seeking, pretentious, elitist, vandal, robotic, and so on.

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