Interview: Jan Berglund, Chess Olympiad Ambassador
Published: 29 Jul 2014 11:34 GMT+02:00
Updated: 29 Jul 2014 11:34 GMT+02:00

In August the Chess Olympiad comes to Tromsø. 181 countries take part, crowning it the third biggest sporting event in the world. The Local makes its move to meet Jan Sigmund Berglund, head event coordinator of the event and a key ambassador of the sport in the Arctic Circle.

Jan, what is your background as a chess ambassador?

I learned chess at age of 13 while also playing other more physical sports, such as ice-hockey and football. I really liked that chess was a mindful sport and also very competitive. In 1986, I came to Tromsø, met my wife here, and decided to stay. My interest in chess grew and led me to join and eventually become head of the Tromsø Chess Club.

What’s been achieved by the club during your 30 years in charge?

Clearly landing the Olympiad in Tromsø is a massive achievement for us. Part of the reason for this is the work started by the Chess Club fifteen years ago to encourage young people to take part and foster chess as an active part of community life. Today, we have a tremendous youth chess scene in Tromsø. We also created a chess school in the city where children can progress through 10 grades of chess coaching and excellence.

What are some Olympiad highlights coming up?

All the big names in chess will be here. This will be fantastic for local players and chess enthusiasts visiting Tromsø. You will be able to get up close to the action and the atmosphere will be fantastic. Because Tromsø is a small city, there will be chess players and games going on everywhere. Every day at 11 o’clock, blitz tournaments take place for amateurs to participate before we head to the main arena to watch the Chess Masters compete. We also have special events linked to the Olympiad every day. There are shows, concerts, art exhibitions, and day-trips in and around the city from now until mid-August.

What makes Tromsø the ideal host city?

The Arctic Chess Challenge was held in Tromsø in 2006 and 2010. I was the organizer of these tournaments. They were a success from a chess competition perspective, but also we encouraged participants to visit the nature and attractions in and around Tromsø. People really enjoyed to go up mountains, fish and go camping. This tournament was very successful. Magnus Carlsen was there and maybe this helped Tromsø win its bid to host the Olympiad.

Which teams are you tipping for tournament success in 2014?

Of course, Magnus is the one to watch. The Norway team has never ranked higher, partly due to Magnus’s status and two of the team also having strong world rankings. The Norway team is tipped as the 15th seed this year. Top teams likely to triumph are Russia, Armenia and Ukraine. Israel also has a strong team.

Full article here.

Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
Tags: , , ,