‘Viking chess’ game of Hnefatafl has new world champion

Winner Tim Millar celebrates his victory in the Senior Tournament. Click image to enlarge.
Winner Tim Millar celebrates his victory. Click image to enlarge.

The “Viking chess” game of Hnefatafl has a new world champion and grand master after the second world championships in Fetlar at the weekend.

Tim Millar, from Castle Cary in Somerset, who has been playing the game for 15 years using a set made from carrots, with the carrot top as the King, saw off all comers to be crowned.

He follows in the footsteps of last year’s winner Wendy Sutherland, and is now the proud owner of a specially presented carved wooden Hnefatafl set.

The tournament, officially titled the World Quickplay Hnefatafl Championships, was organised by the Fetlar Hnefatafl panel and attracted 15 competitors from the ages of seven to 70 from across the UK.

They came from the neighbouring islands of Unst and Yell and Edinburgh as well as Somerset. It was the West Country that was ultimately victorious though, with both the senior and junior titles going to that county.

On winning, Tim said: “I feel elated and discombobulated. I Googled Hnefatafl on the web and the Shetland Times article for last year’s tournament came up. I thought I just had to go and I’m glad I did, as Fetlar is so beautiful. I am so glad I came to see it.”

Grand Master Peter Kelly, congratulating the new champion said: “Tim fought hard in the tournament and deserved his win.

“I am very pleased with how the tournament went, especially as we had enough players to make both a junior and senior tournament for the first time. It is really good to have enthusiastic children taking part.

“The Fetlar Hnefatafl panel has given each junior competitor a board and set to remind them of their day and to encourage them to keep playing!”

The junior championship was a closely contested affair with the Clark brothers from Somerset taking on some very spirited local opposition. In the end Sam Clark from Radstock took the inaugural title of Junior World Hnefatafl Champion.

“I can’t believe I won,” said Sam. “I just came here to have a bit of fun. I didn’t expect to win. My mum bought me a miniature set of Hnefatafl a few days ago and that is when I started to play. Today is my first time on a full size board.

“I had lots of adrenaline pumping, especially as I was watching another person play my brother who could have won. That made all the difference. It’s a good, really addictive game.”

The championships also set a new record for the longest game in the tournament with one match between two competitors from Unst and Yell taking just over 50 minutes to complete their battle.

Next year’s tournament will take place on Saturday July 31st.


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