Hnefatafl: the Big Sensation at International Ladies Tournament, Berlin
Friday, 6th December 2013
By René Gralla, Hamburg (Germany)
There has been a premiere in the long history of hnefatafl: The ancient chess of the Vikings has been part of the accompanying program of an international tournament of standard chess. Norway's Women's International Master Silje Bjerke played a spectacular exhibition game of hnefatafl against the CEO of the German daily "neues deutschland" (abbr.: "nd"), Mr. Olaf Koppe, during the "8th 'nd'-Ladies Chess Gala" on 28th November 2013, in Berlin.
The historic duel, that had been integrated into the timetable of the tournament because of the initiative of German journalist René Gralla, took place during the break between the three preliminary rounds and the finals of the annual contest of rapid chess that is organized by the Berlin-based paper "neues deutschland" ("New Germany") since 2006.
The showdown between 31-year-old Bjerke (who actually studies gender science at Oslo University) and Koppe attracted many spectators. Some people even climbed on chairs and tables in order to have a better look at the battle that saw the Norwegian Amazon smartly outmaneuvering her opponent.
"Silje Bjerke has demonstrated some interesting ideas", said one of the bystanders approvingly, a young man with long hair who might just have ridden in on his own drake. The 19-year-old Arne Roland knew what he was talking about: the student of maths is - by fighting under his dreaded nick "Nath" - the reigning World Champion of hnefatafl-online 2013 after having prevailed over 12 opponents on Aage Nielsen's hnefatafl platform http://aagenielsen.dk in the web.
The first event of hnefatafl in the context of a well-established tournament of standard chess has extensively been covered by German media. Just have a look at the following publications:
And even the website of the German Chess Federation (!) has mentioned the event:
Now there are plans to organize a tournament of hnefatafl in Berlin in 2014, which Roland has already discussed that project with Koppe. And there will probably one more prominent participant: Norwegian Professor Kjetil Jakobsen, who lectures on Scandinavian studies at Humboldt University Berlin, was totally intrigued by hnefatafl so that he spontaneously played a series of casual games against Roland - end even scored once!