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Magnus Magnusson Smith

Updated on August 30, 2017

Icelander becomes Canadian Chess Champion

Heimskringla (which could perhaps be translated as "The Globe"), an Icelandic newspaper in Canada,founded by Icelander Frimann B Anderson in 1886, had excellent news to report on 13th April 1899. The Icelandic Brass Band saluted Magnus Magnusson Smith, newly crowned Canadian Chess Champion (to this day the only Icelander ever to have achieved this):

Magnus becomes Canadian Chess Champion: Icelanders Intellectual Equals to the Best!

Our compatriot Magnus Smith, of Winnipeg, has now emerged victor in his chess encounter in Montreal and is now recognized as the best chess player in Canada.

Magnus Smith came to this town [Winnipeg] just over half a year ago. Before that, he had spent a few years over at the Pacific, where he practised chess. There, in the west, he was the best of chess players.

After conquering the best chess players in California, British Columbia and the Northwest Territories, he came to Winnipeg to compete against the best local players in two clubs.

But is was soon clear that no player in these two clubs were any match for him.

Competing for the Title

Those who had previously been acknowledged as skillful chess players now had to admit defeat against our sharp-witted countryman, but as a respect to them, it must be mentioned that the more he crushed them on the chess board, the more they thought of him.

Then it happened, that a general meeting of chess players was arranged to be held in Montreal, where the players would compete for a cup and the title Chess Champion of Canada.

The Winnipeg chess clubs then arranged for Magnus to be sent to this meeting of chess masters. Icelanders in Canada liked the idea of sending Magnus, and for once Heimskringla and Lgberg [another Icelandic newspaper in Canada, founded in 1887, which also published in Icelandic. The two newspapers merged in 1959 to become Lgberg-Heimskringla, which publishes in English.*] could agree on something.

A small fund was created for this purpose, and Magnus was sent east to Montreal. And this has had the aforementioned result, and it is a glory for Mr. Smith and all us Icelanders.

Many men came to this chess meeting. But 18 of them played for the title, and each was to play twelve games. Magnus got 9,5 points, losing one game and drawing three, but each draw is considered a half-game for each side.

The runner-up was only half a game behind him in the end. After this victory, congratulations to Mr. Smith came pouring in from every direction, including the two chess clubs in Winnipeg.



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Magnus Magnusson Smith
Magnus Magnusson Smith

Canadian Chess Champion

His conduct in Montreal has been exemplary. His opponents hold him in high esteem, and regard him as worthy of the honour that he has achieved in this journey.

Icelanders and others here in town [Winnipeg], that gave money for the trip, shall be thanked for their part in this. They need not regret their expense, because Magnus has earned our nation [i.e. the Icelandic nation] great recognition, and showed the world what many Canadians have acknowledged before, that when it comes to intellectual abilities, Icelanders are in no way inferior to the best in this country [i.e. Canada], no matter what ethnicity.

Magnus is expected to arrive to town tomorrow, and that the icelandic Brass Band shall welcome him at the train stations here.

It is likewise expected and only natural that the local chess clubs and Icelanders have a recption for him before long.

Magnus Magnusson Smith became Canadian Chess Champion three times: In 1899, 1904 and 1906.


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