Outside of chess and boxing circles, the most famous guest of the event is the new mayor of Helsinki, Juhana Vartiainen. Juhana is familiar to many as an economic expert and Member of Parliament, but he also has an almost lifelong background as a chess enthusiast.
How long have you played chess and what brought you into it?
Like many children I learned the game from my father. I played often a speed chess game (5+5min) during 10 minute school breaks with my classmate. I also played one letter chess tournament during my student years but I quit it under threat it would take all my time!
You represent the chess club of the Finnish parliament. What kind of chess skills does an average MOP have?
Very limited and patchy. There are a few players though, the brightest star is Arto Satonen and then a few amateurs like Kimmo Kiljunen and myself.
How do you think boxing will affect the quality of chess?
Not sure it will – chess is played largely by intuition. But then again, I have personally never been in a situation where I would have been hit hard on my head!
How well are you familiar with boxing?
As a schoolboy I followed closely the fights between Mohammed Ali and Joe Frazier. These days I occasionally watch various combat sports.
How do you see chess and boxing fit together as a sport?
The sport is a hilarious innovation where two traditional but very different gentlemen’s combat sports are combined. Both require cold-blooded concentration skills and sacrificial will to fight. A very tough sport surely!
Is there still anything you would like to add?
It is always great when Helsinki can host pioneering international events!
Interviewed by Tero Weckroth
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