Article provided by: Søren Peschardt – with assistance from Jørgen Axel Nielsen
Compared to size and number of people, Denmark must be one of the strongest correspondence chess countries in the World! There is no particular reason for this, as Danes are not especially known as patient and careful people, – but nevertheless, we have been able to compete at the highest level for several years in a sport that requires both!
Perhaps it’s in our genes – since the game of chess was very popular 1200 years ago in the Viking age. At that time the Danes (and Norwegians – but they were also Danes in that age!) terrorised the rest of Europe, making raids into almost every country available and when the Dragon ships returned home -loaded to the brim with gold, beer and other valuable stuff- the brave Vikings sat down by the fireside telling stories about their conquests – and when their women went to bed, it was time for beer and a game of chess! At least this is what’s been told in the Sagas, especially from Iceland. Of course the game was OTB-chess – although moves forwarded by Viking ships might have returned faster than some countries’ postal services can manage today!
The first real CC-game in Denmark was played in 1836 between the two brothers Møller with white against the entire chess club “Læseforeningen”, Copenhagen. The 31 moves in the game were exchanged between August 29th and October 18th. The brothers won easily.
In the 1870s and then into the 20th century, many Danes played CC in tournaments run by the famous magazine “Nordisk Skaktidende” (Nordic Chess magazine) or challenged strong German players on a private basis.
In 1903 some chess clubs in Jutland formed a chess federation, which in 1905, when also clubs from the rest of the country joined, especially from Copenhagen, was renamed Dansk Skak Union (Danish Chess Union). Right from the beginning (in 1903!), correspondence tournaments have been organised in Denmark. Since 1926 there have been annual National Championships, 24 times won by Nielsen! Actually, Nielsen is a very common name in Denmark, so the 24 titles have been won by 10 different Nielsens – Axel Nielsen being the record holder with 13!
Only one Danish Correspondence Champion has won the OTB-championship as well – Bjørn Nielsen in 41, 42, 44 and 46. Axel Nielsen managed 3 second-places in 46, 54 and 55 – these last 2 being won by our most famous chess player Bent Larsen.
The most remarkable record holder in Danish correspondence chess by far, is Peter Korning. Beginning way back in 1926, he played 49 times (over a period of 62 years!) in the supreme class of the Danish Championships – 6 times winning the title. In 1998-2001 the 6th strongest tournament in ICCF-history was held in Korning’s memory.
Internationally, Denmark also has achieved some great victories – mostly in individual tournaments.
European Champions: Jørn Sloth (8), Ove Ekebjærg (10), Henrik Sørensen (13), Arne Sørensen (19), Bent Sørensen (20) and Sven Pedersen (21). In those days we almost had a monopoly!
In the World Championship arena, Julius Nielsen was the first Dane to be considered a real contender for the crown – though his best achievement – in 2 tries – was an 8th place in the 5th final with the score of 9/16. But the best was still to come…
After having won the 8th European Championship, Jørn Sloth used his “momentum” to go on and win the 8th World CC Championship as well! It was a very close race, Sloth winning by the smallest margin in history: ½ SB-point!
A very decisive game was this, annotated by Jørn Sloth [game to be provided].
It was not until the 13th World Championship Final for Denmark to win a new medal, this time silver. Erik Bang scored 11½/16, but Umansky from Russia made 13! A little bit closer (but still not enough!) came Ove Ekebjærg in the 14th World Championship Final. The score of 10½/14 was only enough for the silver medal in a tournament that saw Õim from Estonia being the first player ever to win the title twice.
In the 15th World CC Championship Final, we have Allan Poulsen as a medal-contender – and in the 16th Final you will find the “three Danish musketeers” Ekebjærg, Bang and Sloth. Unfortunately it seems like they completely forgot to sharpen their weapons and brought along shields with holes!
We have qualified for the Olympic Final 3 times in 11 tries (we skipped the 7th Olympiad) but never won any medals! Also the European Team Championships have been without any Danish medals. So far!
Denmark also participates in other team tournaments (Baltic Sea, Scandinavian Team and North Sea Team Tournament), but unfortunately also here without any significant success.
The main reason for this lack of achievement is that we have never forced any of our strongest players to take part in our teams. Perhaps this is also the reason why you see so many Danish medals in individual tournaments!?
Denmark has 6 Grandmasters, 8 Senior International Masters, about 40 International Masters and 2 IAs Poul Rasmussen and Jørgen Axel Nielsen (Honourable Member of ICCF in 1998) to guarantee that the Danish players behave properly! Not so bad for a small country!!
DSU has organized 2 major international events:
Julius Nielsen Memorial 1985-1991
1. J. Penrose ENG 11½, 2. O. Ekebjærg DEN 9½, 3. C. Shephard ENG 8, 4. D. Mohrlok GER 7½, 5. D. Stern GER 7½, 6. G. Danner AUT 7, 7. J. Helsloot NLD 7, 8. L. Hyldkrog DEN 7, 9. D. Smit NLD 6, 10. A. Ingerslev DEN 5½, 11. A. Sørensen DEN 5½, 12.M. Breazu ROM, 13. O. Koskinen FIN 4, 14. T. Strand NOR ½.
Peter Korning Memorial 1998-2001
1. J. van Oosterom NLD 11½, 2. C. Hansen DEN 11½, 3.H-M. Elwert GER 10, 4. J. Hector SVE 9, 5. M. Plomp NLD 8½, 6. J. Trapl CZE 7½, 7. R. Knobel SWZ 6, 8. H. Tanggaard DEN 6, 9. M. Rüfenacht SWZ 5½, 10. R. Maliangkay NLD 5½, 11. J. Hartung Nielsen DEN 5½, 12. N. Borge DEN 5½, 13. M. Read ENG 5, 14. S. Jardorf DEN 5, 15. L. Hyldkrog DEN 3.
Søren Ottesen & Søren Peschardt