I came, I saw, I conquered
Margaret I was the first female ruler of Denmark and the founder of the Kalmar Union. Her reign lasted from the 3rd of August 1387 to 28th of October 1412 and her dominion stretched across both Norway and Sweden. Already back then the Scandinavian countries needed a Danish woman as a leader who could guide them towards greater accomplishments. As we all know, history often repeats itself and indeed here we are with a Danish Nordic Champion.
1.Round I take Scania
I had just arrived in the airport and was pretty confused. I had been up at 3 in the morning to catch my flight from Reykjavik and was basically still half asleep. The first round of the Nordic Chess Championships for Girls u-20 was going to begin soon and I had no idea on how I would get there. Luckily for me I got the best friends and when I stepped out of the airport I was meet by Martin Lokander, a sign saying “Ellen Kakulidis” (I probably would not have noticed him otherwise) and a freshly brewed cup of coffee. The rest of the Danish team had already announced that they had left me on my own and I now completely relied on my Swedish helper.
We were walking through the old part of Stockholm, had just grabbed some food and were now on our way to “Stockholms Schacksalonger” the playing venue:
Ellen – “What opening should I play?”
Martin – “Who are you playing and what colour do you have?”
Ellen – “I know nothing”
Martin – “At night in this spot you can eat the spiciest hotdog in the world”
Ellen – “…What”
Martin – “What…”
The round started and I was pretty nervous as always. I used a great deal of time just focusing on staying awake. The clip from the movie Mr Bean’s vacation, where he is putting toothpicks under his eyelids to keep them open, played in my head. Already after the opening I was low on time and the move Bf4 (she moved her bishop to a square where I could just take it) was like sent from heaven. I went straight to bed.
2. Round I challenge my friends
15 minutes late Sara and Ingrid walked through the door. Apparently Ingrid had to do her makeup and it took longer than expected. At least she sat at the board looking better than the rest of us, when she slowly got a worse looking position. The stakes were high since both Ingrid and Sara were my classmates at NTG and Simen was probably going to analyse the game at their next lesson. Overall I was satisfied with the game except for the move g4? It does not improve much and just erases the possibility of playing f4 later on. Nils would have described the move as a “criminal move” and I am sure Ulf would not have been proud… but a victory is a victory and the show must go on… when you play double rounds.
3. Round I conquer Norway
I have had a lot of fancy preparations since Martin started to tell me what to play, but I have to say, that this prep from Peter Grove blew the socks of Martin, my opponent Sara Næss and myself. It is very rare that we see talent in this pure form, but to play 3..h6 in the French should from this day on be called the Grove-variation regardless of who it truly origins from. When I decided what to play I almost felt sorry for Anton who tried to prepare Sara, but they loudly spoke about some master tactics like 1.h4 and 2.Rh3 when I tried to “spy” on them and therefore I had no mercy. Furthermore I did not even castle the whole game and it ended up being a masterpiece. Poor Sara was now on half a point out of three and as the good friends we are, we all laughed when Ingrid came up with the joke:
Ingrid: “What is the different between Sara and a joke?”
Ingrid: “The joke got a point”
I have commented the game in Danish on Aalborg Skakforenings webpage if you are interested: http://aalborgskakforening.dk/klubliv/kommentarer-og-parti-fra-nm-for-piger/. I also have to mention that I believe Sara will make a comeback next year! I personally have scored 0 of 4, 0 of 5 and 1 of 5 in the Nordic Championships and we have all forgotten that now… I hope.
Naturally we went out on the local chess bar “Krukan” to celebrate that I had scored 3 out of 3. We were probably going anyway but it is always good with extra excuses. Ingrid, Sara, Erik and Martin were some of the people joining the party. A couple of beers a little Bang! some lies about the Norwegian girls age and then we decided to go home. We did not exactly reach the hotel before midnight, but that had more to do with the fact that Ingrid had to jump out of the Metro and find the nearest bathroom. Sara and I enjoyed a couple of chilli-cheese-tops and had the chance to discuss how reasonable we were while waiting.
4. Round I kill all resistance
I am a little disappointed that Erik Blomqvist did not come to support me during this important battle. He came Saturday, but seemed more interested in going to the bar than cheering for me. I would in particular have found it funny if I had the support of the three best chess players in Sweden Nils, Erik and Martin when I played the Swedes; I had to settle for 2 out of 3, but I think that is good enough. Nevertheless I was super nervous about this decisive match and the only thing calming me down was the encouraging words from Peter Grove: You are to bad for the game to matter. Thank you very much then I do not need to worry. I again used some time in the opening but only because I tried to avoid playing the whole game against Stellan Brynell (who were the team leader of Sweden and definitely prepared the players). Nils had (almost) for the first time tried to help me by sending a file!?!?! But I just concluded that I was too dumb to understand the point of the moves and I did not want to play it (if you do not understand the amount of question- and exclamation marks after file, I can explain. When I played in Runavik last year, Nils helped all the others to prepare and so on. I asked for help and his answer was “you are not good enough to understand it”… He was right). However the time in the opening was well spent because she definitely struggled when I deviated from her plan. I had some very nice tactics towards the end and you are welcome to play through the game and comments here: http://www.viewchess.com/cbreader/2017/5/31/Game199141421.html
I already knew that this victory meant that I had won the tournament and therefore Martin and I went out to celebrate with a round of sushi! The champagne we saved for later… much later! I also have to say that I am really sorry. I had promised Martin to play 1.g4 if I had already secured the victory before the last round, but I chickened out when the better part of my said it was bad sportsmanship. Of course he is absolutely right.
5. Round and the time to surrender
The nerves had definitely gone away but it is hard to say that was a good thing. She played directly into my favourite opening, the exchange slav, and I could have gotten an advantage at once… but missed it! The game was the least pretty of the tournament and it took some time before I woke up and finished the job. A pretty 5 out of 5 and probably the biggest win streak I have ever had.
Peter Grove tried to lead the rest of the Danish forces into battle, but the resistance was though. We have to remember that it was not only the Danes who were Vikings. Nevertheless I am also pretty sure that the rest of the team were saving their full strength for next year when they have to defend our title.
The time had come and Stellan could no longer postpone the award of my victory. I got a firm handshake and maybe (just maybe) a little smile. It could have been the light or his Swedish politeness, because I have a hard time imagining Stellan giving any kind of recognition. What can you expect from a man whose favourite show is the Antiques Roadshow. The prize giver even tried to take some of my credit by saying I was “half Swedish” and give some to Norway “because I had lived and trained there”, but no no, if you do not want me at my worst, you do not deserve me at my best!
The prize giving was followed by a fun night with Ingrid, Sara, Martin and Anton. First we went to the cinema and saw Beauty and the Beast and then we strolled through Stockholm. Ingrid of course with her second place trophy in hand. She even convinced an old couple she had won a step tournament. I also came up with some funny stories when I took the train home. But it is actually kind of nice that people congratulate you.
Last but not least I threw a party at my place last Saturday and I finally got the chance to drink champagne from the trophy. On that note I think it is time to move on and play a new tournament, I cannot live on this victory forever. Next goal is the double, when I play the Nordic Women Championship. The Kalmar union is great but Denmark is best!