Article provided by: Sven-Åke Kronberg
The earliest known Swedish CC game was played in 1840-42 between the cities of Gothenburg and Stockholm. However, in spite of some other known individual activities during the 19th century, it took until 1910 before the first official correspondence chess tournaments were organised on a regular basis by the magazine “Tidskrift för Schack”. These tournaments were open to its subscribers and to members of the Nordiska Schackförbundet (The Nordic Chess Association). The activities went on until the summer 1938, with an intermission during the years 1924-28. From 1929 the tournaments were led by Nils Johansson (who later changed his name to Nils Tegelman, see below).
In 1923 another chess magazine, “Schackvärlden”, was established in Gothenburg, and also began to arrange international correspondence chess tournaments. This magazine required that participants were registered subscribers.
Gradually a need for a more strict organisation of correspondence chess activities became evident.
February 20th 1938 is an important day in Swedish correspondence chess history. That day the Swedish Correspondence Chess Association (SKS) was founded at the Stockholm Chess Saloons. Responsible for this initiative was the chess enthusiast Karl Henning Svensson from Munkfors, who was appointed as secretary within the board of the new organisation. The board had nine members and included, among others, Nils Johansson and Erik Lundin, who later became IGM in over the board chess.
It was decided that the new association should publish a newsletter, and Erik Lundin became its editor. The first issue came in June 1938 and amongst the contents was a presentation of the new board, statutes for SKS and playing rules, and the first published correspondence game – from 1840-42 between Gothenburg and Stockholm.
The tournaments (16 groups) started on 9th November 1938. The master class group was raised as the first Swedish championship, and saw players like Stig Lundholm (who still is active, 60 years later, as participant in the grandmaster tournament SSKK 60 Years, which started in 1998!) and Harald Malmgren in the starting field. The winner, though, was Bertil Sundberg from Stockholm.
In 1940, Karl Henning Svensson withdrew and was replaced by Erik Larsson, who even before the Second World War had been active internationally as tournament secretary and organiser within the IFSB (Internationaler FernschachBund, founded in Berlin in 1928).
During the Second World War the tournament activities grew more and more (the number of members in 1940 was 225), but in 1946 SKS was hit by a fatal blow when Nils Tegelman (earlier Johansson, as seen above) suddenly died, only 49 years old. He was the administrative “engine” of the organisation and all its activities, and the organisation didn’t survive the loss of his coordinative skills.
The tournaments, however, were taken over by “Tidskrift för Schack” and continued under the leadership of Elis Hugolf. Erik Larsson supported the new tournament leader, and together they were able to reorganise Swedish correspondence chess. Their efforts were so successful, that the number of active players continued to grow, independently of the disappearance of SKS.
In 1949, the new organisation SSKK (The Correspondence Chess Committee of the Swedish Chess Association) was born. At this time, to improve stability, the organisation was formed as a committee under the Swedish Chess Association for over the board chess. Appointed for the committee (usually called “the board”) were Elis Hugolf, as chairman, and Erik Larsson, as responsible for the international contacts. The other members were Erik Lundin, Per Gösta Högborg and Harald Malmgren. With the new committee a long period of stability and prosperity began, and the organisation remains unchanged today.
Over the years from 1949 until today the work has been carried on by several well-known personalities. Among those who have made valuable contributions are Harry Åhman, Sven-Gunnar Samuelsson and especially (during different parts of the last 35 years) A.E. Axelson and Carl-Eric Erlandsson. The latter two members of the committee were very efficient administrators and sources of never-ending inspiration for their contemporary colleagues. A.E. Axelson died in 1982 and Carl-Eric Erlandsson sadly withdrew from all correspondence chess activities in 1995.
Achievements and Tournaments
From the day he became a part of the IFSB-organisation at the FIDE congress in Stockholm 1937, Erik Larsson represented the Swedish national federation in IFSB and later on in ICCF. He was the ICCF tournament director for a long time, until he stepped down in 1987, fifty years after he started his work for IFSB.
Erik’s personal friendship with the ICCF President Hans-Werner von Massow is well known, and during his time in ICCF he took an active part in the organising of the first World Championship cycle which started in 1947. He also reorganised and built up the general tournament system within ICCF after the Second World War.
After Erik’s retirement, Carl-Eric Erlandsson was active as the Swedish delegate to ICCF. After a few years he was chosen as chairman for the Documentation Committee. Among other achievements, he was responsible for the establishment of a huge player register and for the introduction of a country code system, which is used today.
By their idealistic work, Larsson and later Erlandsson inspired many Swedish players, who joined the international tournaments in increasing numbers.
Within the field of competitions Swedish players have had a fair deal of success. One of the best achievements was Harald Malmgrens’ second place in the First World Championship. Later on Folke Ekström won the 5th and Bo Hjort the 40th European Championship.
Another great performance was Eric Arnlind’s victory in the German memorial tournament BdF 25 Years in 1970-74. This tournament was regarded as an unofficial world championship at the time.
In team tournaments Sweden has taken part in all European Team Championship finals and in the latest two Olympic finals.
In recent years Göran Andersson has won the Swedish invitation tournament SSKK 50 Years, played 1988-93. Through this victory he became a grandmaster, as did Jan Ohlin, who finished in third place.
SSKK 50 Years (1988-93)
1°. Göran Andersson (SVE) 9 points; 2°. Heinz-Wilhelm Dünhaupt (GER) 9; 3°. Jan Ohlin (SVE) 8.5 4°. Gerhard Löh (GER) 8; 5°. Borislav Vuksevic (YUG) 8; 6°. Ove Ekebjærg (DEN) 7.5; 7°. Kjell Krantz (SVE) 6.5; 8°. Devis R Godes (RUS) 6.5; 9°. Horst Handel (GER) 5.5; 10°. Viggo Bové Quist (DEN) 4; 11°. Werner Stern (GER) 3.5; 12°. Miron N. Sher (RUS) 2; 13°. Sven-Gunnar Samuelsson (SVE) 0.
However, the most spectacular success has been gained recently by the well-known GM (in over the board chess) Ulf Andersson. In his first experiment as a correspondence chess player he won the Norwegian tournament NPSF 50 Years, played during the years 1994-98. It was one of the strongest tournaments ever, with participation of several players with very high rating, including number one on the list, Gert Timmermann. By winning this tournament Andersson became a grandmaster also in correspondence chess.
SSKK 50 Years was the second tournament arranged by SSKK in the eighties. The first one was A.E. Axelson Memorial, played during 1984-93, which also belongs to the category “one of the strongest ever” – all the participants were famous grandmasters. This tournament was realised only thanks to special efforts by Carl-Eric Erlandsson.
A.E. AXELSON Memorial (1984-93)
1°. Tönu Öim (EST) 11.5 points; 2°. Erik Bang (DEN) 10; 3°. Jørn Sloth (DEN) 8.5; 4°. Pentti Palmo (FIN) 7.5; 5°. Juan Sebastian Morgado (ARG) 7; 6°. K D Mulder van Leens Dijkstra (NLD) 7; 7°. Vytas V Palciauskas (USA) 7; 8°. Paul Heilemann (GER) 7; 9°. Vladimir Zagorovskij (RUS) 7; 10°. Eric Arnlind (SVE) 6; 11°. Sándor Brilla-Bánfalvi (HUN) 6; 12°. Fritz Baumbach (GER) 5.5; 13°. Keith B Richardson (ENG) 5.5; 14°. Jozef Boey (BEL) 5; 15°. Klaus Engel (GER) 4.5.
Another tournament, which was completed only a few years ago, was SSKK-Bulletinen 40 Years. The winner was German grandmaster Dieter Stern.
SSKK-BULLETINEN 40 Years (1993-97)
1°. Dieter Stern (GER) 11 points; 2°. Stephan Busemann (GER) 10; 3°. Richard Polaczek (BEL) 9.5; 4°. Maurice W Johnson (ENG) 9; 5°. Ivar Bern (NOR) 8.5; 6°. Ingvar Carlsson (SVE) 8.5; 7°. Jonny Hector (SVE) 8; 8°. Juan Sebastián Morgado (ARG) 8; 9°. Manne Joffe (SVE) 8; 10°. Achim Soltau (GER) 7; 11°. Christian Issler (SWZ) 6.5; 12°. Hannes Olafsson (ISD) 4.5 13°. Gunnar Hjort (SVE) 4; 14°. Sture Nyman (SVE) 2.5; 15°. Vladimir Zagorovsky (RUS) 0
SSKK-BULLETINEN 60 Years (1998-2002)
Participants: Dan Olofson (SVE), Rune Holmberg (SVE), Jörgen Nilsson (SVE), Brice Boissel (FRA), John G. Brookes (ENG), Rodolfo Binelli (ARG), Rene du Cret (USA), Jens Ove Fries Nielsen (DEN), Olita Rause (LAT), Franko Lukez (SVE), Stig Lundholm (SVE), Jon Edwards (USA), Reijo Hiltunen (FIN), Norberto E. Patrici (ARG), Andreas Bachmann (GER).
Following Eric Arnlinds’ death at the end of 1998, Sweden was left with 6 GMs. The number of IMs has grown rapidly throughout recent years and at the moment, is estimated to be around 40.