From the desk of the SA Olympiad team captain


Team SA has arrived in Tromso, Norway to compete in the 41st World Chess Olympiad.

The Open Team is: IM Kenneth Solomon, IM Mohamed Henry Steel, IM Watu Kobese, FM Donovan van den Heever and IM David Gluckman.

The Women’s team is: WIM Denise Frick, WIM Anzel Solomons, WIM Tshepang Tlale, Robyn van Niekerk and WCM Michelle Fisher.

The team is currently preparing, as their first match is tomorrow afternoon Saturday 02 August 2014 at 15h00 SA time.

Some facts and figures about the Olympiad:

1. The event is from 1 – 14 August 2014.

2. There are 11 days of competition.

3. It is the first time an Olympic event has been arranged in the north of Norway. It is the largest event ever held here.

4. It is the 4th largest sporting event in the world, measured by the number of participating countries.

5. The number of participating countries is 174.

6. 800 participating players and team captains.

7. 174 teams in the Open Section.

8. 137 teams in the Women Section.

9. 250 accredited journalists.

10. 3000 participants in total.

11. The estimated online audience is 100 million people.

12. 7500 square metres is the size of the playing venue, which used to house Mack (the world’s northern most Brewery).

So you have never heard of Tromso.

We have arrived now in Tromso and I thought it is important to give my readers some background details about Tromso.

Tromso is a city and municipality in Troms County in Northern, Norway. The administrative centre of the municipality is the city of Tromso. Tromso is the ninth largest urban area, and the seventh largest city in Norway with a population of 70 000. It is the largest urban area in Northern Norway and the second largest city and urban area north of the Arctic Circle in Sapmi.

The city centre of Tromso contains the highest number of old wooden houses in Northern Norway, the oldest of which dates from 1789. The Artic Cathedral, a modern church built in 1965, is probably the city’s most famous landmark. The city is a cultural centre for the region, with a rich array of festivals throughout the year, including the northern lights festival and the Tromso International film festival.

In August the sun is only gone for two hours each night, the sun sets at 23:15! And rises again at 02:30 am, it will not get dark during our stay since the sun is only below the horizon for a few hours; a phenomenon called the white nights. I felt this last night when I woke up and thought that it is six am already!

According to various documents I consulted people have been living in the Tromso region since the end if the Ice Age. Way back then it was the Sami that first braved the Arctic, settling down in fjords. Around 890 AD the Vikings came to the area. The northernmost church in the world was built in 1252. In 1794 Tromso was awarded city status. From around 1850 Tromso became the centre for Arctic hunting expeditions and later polar expeditions.

In 1812 the English attacked the city but joint Danish- Norwegian troops prevented an invasion. During the Second World War the king of Norway fled to Tromso after the outbreak of war and stayed here until he left for England. Tromso is also known as the Tromso of the north. The nickname of the Paris of the North has its origin from around 1840 when the local girls were perceived to be dressed as dressmakers from Paris.


Captain Lyndon Bouah
Reporting from Tromso. Norway
Friday 01 August 2014

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