From the cover of the welcoming info brochure, to countless posters and banners around town, one mysterious man can be seen everywhere. Mysterious at least to international visitors to Tromsø - to Norwegian chess players, and particularly those in the north, this is quite a familiar face.
by GM Jonathan Tisdall
Jan Sigmund Berglund: At the Olympiad I've been a coordinator of events outside the chess itself, for the organizers. This means the blitz tournaments, side tournaments, activities and work for the marketing department, and advance work for the Olympiad creating promotional events, and events for sponsors.
Jan Sigmund Berglund has been an integral part of the Tromsø chess scene for a generation, president and driving force of the town's chess club and tireless promoter of the game. In younger and more active days he was more often to be seen at the board, and besides dominating regional events he also played in the top group of the Norwegian championship.
Jan Sigmund - and the other local poster 'children' of the Tromsø Olympiad - 13-year-old Elise Jacobsen and 11-year-old Benjamin Halvorsen, who can be seen draped on the building that contains the playing hall, and the highly pugnacious visage of Sigurd Rushfeldt, a former footballer with an illustrious international career - were all chosen to be the Olympiad's visual image as part of a long-term strategy.
Elise played for Norway 3 in the Olympiad, and Rushfeldt is not just a celebrity addition, the former Tromsø, Birmingham City, Rosenborg, Racing de Santander, and Austria Wien striker is a strong amateur and rumoured to be playing 'constantly' on the Internet.
JSB: This is a conscious strategy of (press chief) Jarle Heitmann. He thought - the Chess Olympiad is over in 14 days, and it is the chess community here in Tromsø who will have to carry the legacy of the event on. So if chess in Tromsø is going to reap long term benefits from the Olympiad, it makes sense that the event is associated with people from these circles.