Tuesday, March 07, 2006

(3) Anna of Terndrup; "We´ll meet again."

In July 1982, Glenn Flear and I travelled together to a chess tournament in Esbjerg in Denmark. We went by boat train leaving from London’s Liverpool Street Station.
En route we got chatting to a Danish girl called Anna who was returning to her hometown after a stint as an au pair in the Home Counties. (I am afraid I only recall that her last name ended "...Gaard".)

When we docked at Esbjerg we said our farewells and she continued on north to the little town of Terndrup.
After the tournament I travelled up to visit her for a few days, after which I journeyed south to Esbjerg and the boat home.

In the first weeks of March 1985, I accepted an invitation, at a day’s notice, to play in the Bronshøj chessclub 50 years Jubilee tournament in Copenhagen. The event took place in a college called Medborgerhuset in the Bronshøj area of Copenhagen.
This was my first trip to Denmark since Esbjerg 1982, and I had had no communication with Anna since.

The event coincided with the fiftieth birthday of Bent Larsen, by far the strongest player Denmark ever produced.
Indeed the tournament was almost in his honour.

Two days before the British Chess Federation called me with the invite, I had a strange dream.
The setting was New York City and the scenario was a gang of baddies/robbers were being chased by Cops. I seemed to be one of the fugitives and I was surprised to note that with me was Bent Larsen. We seemed to hurry down a spiral staircase which descended from street level until, magically, an entrance to a hidden room materialised out of a wall.
We entered it and thus made our getaway.

I flew to Copenhagen and checked into a hotel where several of the other players were staying. In the coffee bar I met Bent Larsen.
The drawing of lots to decide who would play whom and with which colour was held that evening at 5 p.m. at the playing hall, immediately before the first round. It transpired that the draw gave me as my first opponent Larsen, with myself playing black.
We drew a fluctuating struggle.

As I sat down to begin my second or third round game I saw at my board an envelope with my name on it but no address or stamp. It was a note from Anna.
In it she mentioned that she had noticed my name in some newspaper reports of the tournament and she happened to be a student of the college.

The next day we met and saw the film The Hit together.

Early in the film a criminal played by Terence Stamp testifies against his colleagues in return for immunity and sanctuary in Spain.
As he leaves the courtroom his associates break into a spontaneous chorus of  "We´ll meet again, don´t know where, don´t know when...".

Anna said that her studies took place in the complex of buildings in which the tournament hall was situated. She may even have said that she sometimes had lectures in the very hall in which we were playing, although I am not one hundred per cent certain about that.

Copenhagen is over one hundred and fifty kilometres from Terndrup, and it is also on a separate island from the Danish mainland.

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