To the North of Copenhagen and within sight of the Swedish coastline lies Kronborg castle, famous as the scene of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Just a few hundred meters from the castle has been held the Kronborg Chess Open for the past fifty years.
We participated in the 2022 edition of this tournament from the 26th to 29th May. For the past three years the tournament has been played at the Marienlyst Strandhotel in Elsinore (Helsingør). The view is magnificent and a large bay window in the tournament room makes it possible to admire the castle and the sea even though the latter is less turbulent than our chess games !
The Kronborg Open takes the form of a series of round robin tournaments (in each group one plays against all the other players). This year the tournament attracted 104 chess players comprising 13 groups of 8. The players are placed in groups on the basis of their ELO rating with the result that these mini tournaments are closely contested and almost any result is possible. The winner of the first group obtains the honorary designation as “Kronborg Master”. We appreciated the friendly nature of this arrangement as we get to know all the members of our group and can exchange more with our opponents than is generally the case in a traditional format.
Clement was placed in the first group (Master 1) and Zoe in the 9th (Kronborg 5). All the matches were played in the same room and the games from the first three groups were available live on chess.com.
The Marienlyst Strandhotel offered a 15% reduction for tournament players but this was still above our budget and we opted for an Airbnb 10 minutes on foot from the tournament venue. Note that there is also a campsite with bungalows on the beach just 50m from the playing area but it was full when we were making our reservations.
In spite of the fact that 75% of the participants were Danish and just 25% non-Danish, 11 out of 13 of the mini tournaments were won by non-Danes. The Swedish FIDE Master Tom Rydström was the winner of “Master 1” and thus becomes the new Master of Kronborg.
Kronborg 5 – 4,5 points/7 – first place/8
Phew !! I resurface after the Durham tournament where I scored no points… The first day was difficult with two losses but after the Friday break I managed to change my mind-set and I was unbeaten for the final five games with four wins and a draw.
I finished first helped by the circumstances as the group was very closely contested. Overall, I was fairly pleased with my games and I identified a number of issues to work on for the future.
Master 1 – 3,5 points/7 – 5th place /8
This was an interesting tournament but with three successive losses in the middle of the tournament I was out of the running for the first places although it was well within my capabilities. A big disappointment was the third-round loss where having obtained a distinct advantage, I refused the offer of a draw when I was low on time, and tried to force the position but finally lost.
Conclusion on this tournament
This tournament came to Zoe’s attention several months before the start of our chess journey project as she is attracted to the Scandinavian countries. The local area as well as the round robin format were also appealing for her. When planning our journeys, we had looked at other possible tournaments as there were difficulties in putting together an itinerary. We had in mind to participate in the Bregenz tournament in Austria but it was fully booked. A cloud with a silver lining as we loved the Kronborg tournament and do not regret our short trip into Denmark which also enabled us to visit our friends in Aarhus and to spend time in Copenhagen.
In the event we have succeeded in revising our itinerary and are now steadily making our way towards Prague for our next tournament from 10th to 17th June with a tourist stop in Berlin en route. See you soon !
In comparison with other tournaments we have attended, there were a good many more speeches before each round and we particularly liked these interludes. For example before the second round the organiser and Danish Grand Master paid tribute to Ole Bøgh Larsen, a local player in the Master 1 group. Ole has won several dozen tournaments in Denmark and in the past has been awarded the title of Master of Kronborg.
We also appreciated the time taken to thank the arbiter and the voluntary helpers who received a gift for their involvement.
What we liked
What we liked less
Our visit to Denmark was arranged in three stages: we began by visiting our friends in Aarhus, followed by the visit to the capital Copenhagen and then to Elsinore.
Aarhus is the second largest in Denmark and is situated in Jutland, the continental peninsula North of Germany. We liked walking in the parks and gardens in particular those of Marselisborg castle, the summer residence of the Queen. We appreciated walks along the coast and cycling on the numerous dedicated cycle tracks in the countryside.
Copenhagen, Denmark’s capital, is situated on the island of Seeland opposite the Oresund straights, separating Seeland from Sweden. It is a magnificent city which is well known for its quality of life, the use of cycle transport, its architecture blending ancient and modern styles with also the port of Nyhavn with multicoloured houses. One of the most popular tourist attractions is the statue of the Little Mermaid inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s tale.
Copenhague mini-vlog (sorry it's in French, we will try to add subtitles eventually)
Elsinore is a small port town at the North East of Seeland some 45 minutes by train from Copenhagen. It is known world-wide for Kronborg castle, made famous by being the site of Shakespeare’s play Hamlet. The situation and the layout with regard to the surrounding waters inspired the 20th century architect Jorn Utzon for his design of an architectural masterpiece on the other side of the world: the Sydney Opera House.
Our short stay here did not allow us to do more than walk around the port and in the streets of the town centre but it was an absolute delight. The town is just five kilometres from Helsingborg in Sweden with ferry access every 30 minutes.