Faroes Open – More than a chess tournament

by Srinath Narayanan
8/6/2017 – Grandmaster Srinath Narayanan needed a change from his routine. When he was invited to play in the Faroes Open 2017, he was thrilled with anticipation, yet a little skeptical. The pictures painted a mesmerising impression. Yet, questions lingered: How would the real thing turn out to be? Will it be like online dating? Breaking through the incertitude, he decided that he had to give it a go. | Photos: Hanna Ólavsdóttir Jacobsen/Jógvan Martin Joensen

Chess News

First impressions

I arrived in Kollafjørður, Faroe Islands, on July 11th, 2017. Coming from the humid, tropical environs of India, as a chilly blast of wind hit me, the first thing that struck me was how clean the environment felt. The freshness of the air, the water, and the uncontaminated nature, it seemed like a different world to me, as if I had stepped back in time, preserving the charms of the past, whilst not neglecting the advancements of technology. I immediately felt that I had made the right decision to come here.


Aside from the geography, the other fascinating thing about the Faroe Islands is its people. Being from India, I come from a place where a lot of importance is attached to treating guests well. Despite being accustomed to this, the kindness, generosity and the hospitality of the Faroese took me by surprise.

Faroes Open

I’ve to confess that I came to Faroes Open with no sporting ambitions. My intention was to just play nine decent games, enjoy each of those games fully, have a good time, tour around, and try to recover my expense with a prize.

I had a relatively easier first round one against one of the main organisers — Jogvan Martin Joensen. Despite the double round on the next day, I decided to go on the mountain hiking trip in around Saksun.


Saksun, Blue Lagoon. The view from one of the smaller peaks. We went much higher | Photo: wikimedia commons

As I nonchalantly hiked my way up, I completely disregarded the warning of Martin to evade the damp areas. Out of youthful defiance, or was it merely curiosity to see what happens, I stepped on the wet, slippery surface with water flowing. The result was a dramatic fall. Although there was no major injury, the rest of the journey was painful and painstaking. However, the beauty of the place and the view from the top more than made up for it. I was able to take solace by relating to Bruce Wayne in The Dark Knight.

Mountain hiking trip, pre climb (Above, L to R): Herluf, GM Normunds, Martin, GM Munoz, the guide, Juergen, Narayanan and GM Julio)
(Below) One can choose to ascend onwards to the peak, descend towards the valley, or just sit and enjoy the view. Which one do you choose?  | Photo: Jógvan Martin Joensen

I did have to pay for this lovely trip, as I woke up dazed and in pain. I was quite lucky to escape the game from a completely lost position.

[Event "Faroes Open"] [Site "Kollafjord"] [Date "2017.07.13"] [Round "2"] [White "Srinath, Narayanan"] [Black "Nielsen, Hogni Egilstoft"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C54"] [WhiteElo "2505"] [BlackElo "2323"] [Annotator "Srinath,Narayanan"] [PlyCount "77"] [EventDate "2017.07.12"] [EventRounds "9"] [EventCountry "FAI"] [WhiteClock "0:04:38"] [BlackClock "0:00:38"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. d3 Bc5 5. O-O d6 (5... a6 6. c3 Ba7 7. Bb3 d6 8. h3 h6 9. Nbd2 Be6 10. Bc2 g5 {was another game in which I made the same mistake, and somehow managed to survive.} 11. Nh2 Rg8 12. Bb3 Qe7 13. Ng4 Nxg4 14. hxg4 O-O-O 15. Bxe6+ Qxe6 16. Qf3 h5 17. gxh5 g4 18. Qf5 Rh8 19. Qxe6+ fxe6 20. Kh2 g3+ 21. Kxg3 Rxh5 22. Kf3 Rg8 23. Ke2 Rxg2 24. Nf3 Rh8 25. Be3 Bxe3 26. Kxe3 Rg6 27. Rh1 Rf8 28. Rag1 Rgf6 29. Rg3 b5 30. Rh7 Nd8 31. b4 Nc6 32. Ng5 d5 33. Nh3 R6f7 34. Rxf7 Rxf7 35. a3 d4+ 36. cxd4 Nxd4 37. f4 exf4+ 38. Nxf4 e5 39. Ne2 Nc6 40. Rg5 Rh7 41. Ng1 Rh2 42. Nf3 Ra2 43. Nxe5 Nxe5 44. Rxe5 Rxa3 45. Rd5 c6 46. Rd6 Kc7 47. e5 {1/2-1/2 (47) Srinath,N (2475)-Mirzoev,A (2536) Olomouc Grandmaster Closed 2013}) 6. c3 a6 7. a4 Ba7 8. h3 $6 {In general, White should refrain from playing h3 before Black short castles, as this gives Black a 'hook' for Black's attack on the kingside.} h6 9. Re1 $6 (9. b4 g5 10. Be3 {is an important move against this g5-g4 idea, as it neutralises the a7 bishop which can be quite powerful in the kingside attack.}) 9... g5 $1 { Through the hazy fog of my early morning brain, I was still able to remonstrate myself for my stupidity in repeating a known mistake.} 10. Nh2 g4 $1 11. hxg4 Rg8 12. g5 $2 (12. Be3 {the same principle, eliminating one of the most dangerous attackers.} Bxe3 13. Rxe3 Nxg4 14. Nxg4 Bxg4 $132) 12... hxg5 { White has closed the g-file, but the h-file is now open.} 13. Be3 g4 $2 { This move unneccesarily wastes a tempo for Black as the knight is forced to move from c6.} (13... Bxe3 $142 14. Rxe3 Rh8 $17) 14. Bxa7 Nxa7 15. g3 Nh7 16. Kg2 Qf6 17. Rh1 Bd7 18. Nf1 Ng5 19. Ne3 Nh3 20. f3 $4 {[#] Opening files in front of my own king. I somehow assumed that the g4-pawn was threatened, completely missing the idea of Qf2+ until I played it.} O-O-O 21. Qf1 Nf4+ 22. Kf2 Nh5 (22... gxf3 {is just a pawn up for Black with a still dangerous attack. }) 23. Nd2 Nxg3 {I was quite prepared to lose here and was already counting how much rating I would lose 'below 2500' etc...} 24. Kxg3 gxf3+ 25. Kf2 Rg2+ 26. Ke1 Re2+ 27. Kd1 {[#]} Qf4 $2 (27... Rxe3 $142 28. Qf2 Qf4 29. Nf1 Re2 30. Qxa7 Bg4 {with forced mate in a few moves.}) 28. Nxf3 Rxe3 29. Nd2 Qxf1+ 30. Rxf1 Be6 31. Bxe6+ fxe6 32. Kc2 {I could breathe a sigh of relief here, but it is still only Black who can play for win.} Nc6 33. Rf6 Re8 34. Rg1 Kd7 35. Rg2 Rh3 36. Nf3 Rhh8 37. Rg7+ Re7 38. Rff7 Rhe8 39. Nh4 {I decided to offer a draw, completely sure that he would reject it, for Black has no way to lose from here and only he can press. My opponent surprised me by accepting.} 1/2-1/2



My next game was against GM Jens Kristiansen. I managed to win after a tactical mistake cost him a pawn. The fourth round was the all important game which decided the event in my favour.

[Event "Faroes Open "] [Site "Kollafjord"] [Date "2017.07.14"] [Round "4"] [White "Srinath, Narayanan"] [Black "Granda Zuniga, Julio "] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B13"] [WhiteElo "2505"] [BlackElo "2656"] [Annotator "Srinath,Narayanan"] [PlyCount "147"] [EventDate "2017.07.12"] [EventRounds "9"] [EventCountry "FAI"] [WhiteClock "0:01:34"] [BlackClock "0:01:21"] 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 cxd5 4. Nf3 {An inspired choice of opening, or in my case - an opening choice when you don't know what else to do.} Nf6 5. Ne5 g6 6. Bb5+ Bd7 ({I genuinely wondered, why not} 6... Nbd7 {why give up the bishop?} 7. O-O Bg7 8. Nf3 O-O 9. Nc3 Nb8 $11 {Carlsen,M (2733)-Morozevich,A (2765) Amber-rapid 17th 2008 (11) 1/2-1/2}) 7. Nxd7 Nbxd7 8. c3 Bg7 9. O-O O-O 10. Nd2 (10. Re1 a6 11. Bf1 {makes ...e5 much harder, and was probably better.}) 10... a6 11. Bd3 e5 $1 {Now Black gets a lot of activity in exchange for his isolated pawn.} 12. dxe5 Nxe5 13. Nf3 Nc4 {The c1 bishop is tied down. White can't play b3 because that would make c3 intensely weak and provide Black an easy target. So how to improve White's position? I couldn't see a way, so I decided to just sit still, wait and put the brunt of doing something on my opponent.} 14. a4 Re8 15. Qc2 Qc7 16. Rd1 Ne4 17. Bf1 Rad8 18. g3 {Black's pieces are optimally placed while White is just waiting around. Now the problem for Black is how to improve his position further. The position is probably around equal as White doesn't really have any major weakness.} b5 19. axb5 axb5 20. Ng5 (20. Nd2 {fails to} Nxf2) 20... Nxb2 $2 ({I don't see how White can do much better than a draw after} 20... Nf6 21. Nf3 {is always an option,} (21. Nh3 {was a riskier idea, with the aim to try and put pressure on d5. However, Black's piece activity easily negates this.} Ne4 {if} 22. Nf4 { then} d4)) 21. Qxb2 Nxc3 (21... Bxc3 22. Qc2 Nxf2 23. Qxf2 Bxa1 {is three pawns and rook for two minor pieces, but Black already loses one pawn back after} 24. Bxb5 {and more after} Re7 (24... Rf8 25. Ba3 $16) 25. Ba3 $16) 22. Bf4 Qb6 23. Qb3 {This was the move my opponent had missed.} h6 (23... Nxd1 24. Rxd1 Bd4 $5 (24... h6 25. Nf3 b4 {White can't take on d5 yet here, however, he doesn't have to. The two passed pawns, are weaknesses and liabilities and are bound to fall.} 26. Bd2 $16) 25. Nh3 b4 {was probably Black's best try}) 24. Nf3 g5 25. Bd2 Ne4 {An unexpected move.} (25... Nxd1 26. Rxd1 {is probably easier for White, although I wasn't quite sure if I could've converted the two bishops vs rook 3 vs 3 on the same side. I was reminded of Carlsen-Karjakin, 2nd rapid game, but I decided to cross that bridge when it came, and in any case White has a pleasant position with only two results possible.}) 26. Be3 d4 27. Nxd4 {seemed the simplest possibility with limited time.} (27. Bd2 Qf6 28. Bxb5 Rb8 {is maybe objectively stronger, but would enable my opponent to achieve his objective of setting me problems to solve within limited time.}) 27... Rxd4 (27... Bxd4 28. Rxd4 Rxd4 29. Qb2 Red8 30. Rd1 Nd2 (30... Rxd1 31. Bxb6 $18) 31. Rxd2 Rxd2 32. Bxd2 b4 33. Qxb4 Qxb4 34. Bxb4 {has similarities with Carlsen-Karjakin.}) 28. Bxd4 Bxd4 29. Qxb5 Re6 30. Qxb6 Bxb6 31. Kg2 Nxf2 {I was quite happy to get into this stage. The position is not winning and Black has good chances to hold, but again, with limited time and intense pressure, it's only a matter of time till the breaking point. The first objective was to get to 40 moves.} 32. Re1 Rxe1 33. Rxe1 Ng4 34. Re8+ Kg7 { White has to go after f7, but Black is on time to defend this.} 35. Be2 (35. Bd3 {would stop the Black knight from going to d6, but will allow him a nice grazing spot on e5.} Bc7 36. Re7 Bd6 37. Rd7 Bb4) 35... Ne3+ 36. Kf3 Nf5 37. Bd3 Nd6 38. Re1 h5 39. h4 $5 {Forcing Black to make a committal choice before the time control.} gxh4 $5 (39... g4+ 40. Kg2 (40. Kf4 Ba5 41. Re2 Kf6) 40... Bd4 41. Re7 Kf6 42. Rc7 Ke6 43. Bb1 Kf6 44. Ba2 Be5 {seems like a fortress, yet I am not sure.}) 40. gxh4 Bd8 41. Kg3 f5 42. Kh3 Ne4 43. Rg1+ (43. Bxe4 fxe4 44. Rxe4 Bf6 {would be a theoretical draw.}) 43... Kf6 44. Rg8 Be7 45. Be2 Nf2+ 46. Kg2 Ng4 47. Rg5 {[#]} Ne5 (47... Kf7 48. Bc4+ Ke8 49. Bb5+ Kf7 50. Rxh5 Kg6 51. Be8+ {I stopped here in my calculation and thought it was winning, but it turns out that Black has a brilliant defence in} Kg7 52. Kh3 Nh6 { And how does the rook escape?}) 48. Rxh5 Ng6 49. Rh7 Nf8 50. Rh5 $2 (50. Rh6+ $142) 50... Ng6 $2 (50... Kg6 $142 {would've been a simple draw.} 51. Kh3 Ne6 52. Kg3 Bd6+ 53. Kf2 Bc5+ 54. Kg3 Bd6+ $11) 51. Rh7 Nf8 52. Rh6+ Kg7 53. Ra6 Bxh4 54. Bd3 {I had this material combination for the first ever time in my life, with rook and bishop vs bishop and knight with opposite colour bishop. From afar, I thought this would be a draw, albeit not that straightforward. However, later when I checked on tablebase, the position actually turns out to be mate in 60 moves....} Ng6 55. Bxf5 Ne5 56. Kh3 Bg5 {In a practical game, with 30 seconds each, this is like a fight between a steel sword against a wooden sword. I doubt even Syrio Forel can do much here.} 57. Re6 Bf4 58. Be4 Kf7 59. Bd5 Kg7 60. Kh4 Kf8 61. Kh5 Kg7 62. Bb3 Bh2 63. Ba2 Kf8 64. Bd5 (64. Kg5 {would've been more accurate.}) 64... Nd3 65. Kg5 Nf4 66. Rf6+ {thank god for this check.} Ke7 67. Bc4 Nh3+ 68. Kf5 Bb8 69. Re6+ Kd8 70. Rh6 Nf2 71. Rh7 Nd1 72. Ke6 {finally!} Nc3 73. Rd7+ Ke8 74. Rd3 1-0

After this five-hour marathon, we had the blitz championship. I was exhausted. I missed my chance in the blitz against GM Julio even though I was up three pawns at one point. I used the aid of endless cups of coffee to stimulate my brain, but once it became clear that Julio was unstoppable, steamrolling through everyone, having the better tie break, and winning all the crucial moments, my energy levels dropped. I had to be content with the second place.

Julio, the champion, me with the runners up prize, and GM Miguel Munoz with the bronze medal, Luijten Akselsson Apol and Jon i Horni Nielsen in the front

I followed it up with an interesting win in the fifth round, I managed to get on the right side of the result in another critical encounter, this time against the third seed, the Danish GM Allan Stig Rasmussen.

[Event "Faroes Open"] [Site "Kollafjord"] [Date "2017.07.16"] [Round "6"] [White "Srinath, Narayanan"] [Black "Rasmussen, Allan Stig"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B48"] [WhiteElo "2505"] [BlackElo "2540"] [Annotator "Srinath,Narayanan"] [PlyCount "81"] [EventDate "2017.07.12"] [EventRounds "9"] [EventCountry "FAI"] 1. e4 c5 {This by itself came as a surprise.} (1... c6 {is played a lot more frequently by my opponent.}) 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Nc3 Qc7 6. Be3 a6 7. a3 {Once again, an opening choice because I didn't know what else to do.} b5 8. Nxc6 Qxc6 (8... dxc6 {was another possibility, but seems a lot less lively.}) 9. Bd3 Bb7 10. Qg4 {I had got a nice, new position after 10 moves, but the cost was 47 minutes (more than half) of time already spent. I had 43 minutes for the remaining 30 moves. My opponent on the other hand, had 87 minutes remaining here.} h5 11. Qg5 Ne7 12. a4 b4 13. Ne2 Ng6 14. h4 {I was playing much faster around this point, but the position was quite complex and clearly demanded more time for accuracy.} Qc7 15. f4 Be7 16. Qg3 Rc8 (16... Qd8 {would be met by} 17. f5 exf5 18. exf5 Bxh4 (18... Nxh4 19. Nf4 $18) 19. Rxh4 $1 Qxh4 (19... Nxh4 20. O-O-O $1 $18) 20. fxg6 Qxg3+ 21. Nxg3 $18) 17. a5 Qd8 $2 (17... Bc5 $142 {was probably better.}) 18. Bf2 $2 {I trusted my opponent, and with little time remaining, I was beginning to panic a bit.} (18. f5 $142 exf5 (18... Bxh4 19. Rxh4 Qxh4 20. fxg6 Qxg3+ 21. Nxg3 fxg6 22. Ne2 e5 23. Ra4 $18) 19. exf5 Nxh4 (19... Bxh4 20. Rxh4 Nxh4 21. O-O-O $18) 20. Nf4 $18) 18... Bc5 19. f5 $6 {I just forgot that my opponent had 20...Qf6} (19. Bxc5 Rxc5 20. f5 exf5 21. exf5 Ne5 22. Qxg7 {made more sense, but I didn't want to let my opponent's knight on to f5.}) 19... Bxf2+ 20. Kxf2 Qf6 21. Kg1 $2 (21. Ra4 $142 ) 21... Ne5 $2 (21... exf5 $142 22. exf5 Ne5 $17) 22. fxe6 Qxe6 $2 {the decisive mistake.} (22... O-O 23. Rf1 Qxe6 24. Rf5 d6 {with a complicated, unclear position.}) 23. Qxg7 {[#]} Rf8 24. Rh3 {With little time, I just tried to secure my pieces and 'develop' them first.} Qe7 25. Rf1 b3 (25... f5 26. Qxe7+ Kxe7 27. exf5 Nxd3 28. cxd3 Rc2) 26. c3 Rc6 27. Rf5 Rc5 28. Nd4 Kd8 29. Qh6 d6 $2 {[#]} 30. Ne6+ $1 Ke8 31. Nxc5 dxc5 32. Qb6 f6 33. Be2 Bxe4 34. Bxh5+ Kd7 35. Rf1 Kc8 36. Qxa6+ Bb7 37. Qe2 Rg8 38. Rf2 c4 39. Re3 Bd5 40. Bf3 Bxf3 { [#]} 41. Rxe5 {A crazy game, and I was lucky in a couple of key moments.} 1-0

After these interesting turn of events, I unexpectedly found myself with a one point lead, at 5.5/6. Having come with just touristic aspirations, I was clearly unprepared for this and I suddenly started playing a lot more nervously. My next game was against the local favourite GM Helgi Dam Ziska. I manage to hold him to a draw, although my play was rather unconvincing. GM Julio Granda Zuniga had closed in on me with a win, cutting short my lead to just half a point.

[Event "Faroes Open"] [Site "Kollafjord"] [Date "2017.07.17"] [Round "7"] [White "Ziska, Helgi Dam"] [Black "Srinath, Narayanan"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B31"] [WhiteElo "2544"] [BlackElo "2505"] [Annotator "Srinath,Narayanan"] [PlyCount "51"] [EventDate "2017.07.12"] [EventRounds "9"] [EventCountry "FAI"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 g6 4. Bxc6 bxc6 5. O-O Bg7 6. Re1 Nh6 7. c3 O-O 8. d4 cxd4 9. cxd4 d5 10. e5 f6 11. exf6 exf6 12. Nbd2 {I didn't remember much here apart from a game of Gelfand against Inarkiev.} Nf7 (12... Re8 13. Nb3 Bg4 {was suggested by my opponent.} 14. h3 Bxf3 15. Rxe8+ Qxe8 16. Qxf3 Qe1+ 17. Kh2 Nf5 $11) 13. Nb3 Re8 14. Bf4 Bg4 15. Qd3 {This position is actually quite interesting and strategically balanced. It looks like Black has a lot of activity, but if well understood, I think it is White who has a slightly tiny tiny edge here regardless of what Stockfish says. However, if your opponent is prepared upto 20-25 moves in all directions(like a lot of 2700's?), it's probably a draw all the same(but White still has to play decent moves of course)} g5 $6 {I disliked this move as soon as I played.} (15... Qb6 16. h3 Bf5 17. Qc3 Bf8 18. Nc5) (15... Qd7 16. Nc5 Qf5 17. Qxf5 Bxf5 {was a possibility worth considering.} 18. Nh4 Bc2 19. Be3 $14 {/=}) 16. Bg3 Qb6 ( 16... f5 {was my masterpiece intention behind g5, completely missing} 17. Ne5 $16) 17. h4 h6 $2 {the real mistake.} (17... a5 18. hxg5 fxg5 19. Ne5 a4 $1 { And it turns out that Black is okay, although it's far from trivial to evaluate this.}) 18. Nh2 (18. Qg6 $5 {is actually quite strong. This was suggested by Martin Jogvan Joensen, although me and Helgi dismissed it almost immediately.}) (18. Rxe8+ Rxe8 19. Re1 Rxe1+ 20. Nxe1 Bc8 {We thought that this was just better for White, yet Stock evaluates it very close to =.}) 18... Bh5 19. Nf1 a5 20. Ne3 a4 21. Nc5 Qxb2 {[#]} 22. Rab1 $2 (22. a3 $142 $1 { is very strong.} Qb6 23. Nf5 $18) (22. Reb1 Qe2 23. Qxe2 Bxe2 $11) 22... Qxa2 23. Ra1 Qb2 24. Rab1 Qa2 25. Ra1 Qb2 26. Rab1 {I breathed a sigh of relief, as I felt like I was in mortal danger for a large part of the game. It seemed to me that we both had a lot to understand about this position though.} 1/2-1/2

Above: The chess players enjoy indoor football | Below: Julio Granda Zuniga is physically 50 years, yet has the heart of a child. He participated in each and every event passionately, fought hard in each game and believes in living life to its fullest. | Photos: Srinath Narayanan

After another nervous draw against the Peruvian born Spanish GM Miguel Munoz, GM Julio had caught up with me with a tense victory over GM Rasmussen.

[Event "Faroes Open "] [Site "Kollafjord"] [Date "2017.07.18"] [Round "8.2"] [White "Rasmussen, Allan Stig"] [Black "Granda Zuniga, Julio E"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E32"] [WhiteElo "2540"] [BlackElo "2656"] [Annotator "Srinath,Narayanan"] [PlyCount "66"] [EventDate "2017.07.12"] [EventRounds "9"] [EventCountry "FAI"] [WhiteClock "0:00:33"] [BlackClock "0:02:17"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 b6 5. e4 c5 6. d5 Qe7 7. Nge2 exd5 8. exd5 d6 9. Bg5 h6 10. Bh4 O-O 11. O-O-O Re8 12. h3 Nbd7 13. g4 Ne5 14. a3 Ba5 15. Bg2 Nxc4 16. Bxf6 Qxf6 17. Ne4 Rxe4 18. Bxe4 b5 19. Bd3 {[#] Black has played very energetically and probably stands slightly better here.} Ne5 (19... Qxf2 20. Bxc4 bxc4 21. Nc3 (21. Qxc4 Rb8 $17) 21... Qh4 $1 $15) 20. f4 Nxd3+ 21. Rxd3 Bb7 22. Rg1 Re8 23. g5 Qg6 {It's a very complicated, interesting position with not enough time for either sides.} (23... hxg5 24. Rdg3 g6 25. Rxg5 Kf8 26. f5 Re5 $13) 24. Nc3 b4 25. Nd1 Re4 26. axb4 Bb6 $5 {A strange move, with the aim of evading Re3. Black tries very hard and takes risks to try to win, in view of the tournament situation.} 27. Rdg3 h5 28. Rf1 Bc8 29. Nc3 h4 {[#]} 30. Qxe4 $6 (30. Nxe4 hxg3 31. Nxg3 $18 {was just simpler}) 30... hxg3 { Now it gets hard for White to solve problems with the time remaining.} 31. Qe8+ (31. Qxg6 fxg6 32. Na4 $1 $18) 31... Kh7 32. Qxc8 cxb4 {[#]} 33. Qg4 $4 (33. Rf3 $142 {is the only move that saves White.} b3 34. Ne2 Qe4 35. Rxg3 Qxe2 36. Qf5+ Kg8 37. Rxb3 $16) 33... Be3+ {A very interesting game, full of ups and downs, quite typical of Granda.} 0-1

I’ve to admit that I felt a little bit rattled at this point. I could feel the heat of Julio’s breath upon my neck even as I was slightly ahead. This set up a tense climax, with me having a clear advantage due to better tie-break (direct encounter). I also had a much more favourable pairing, facing Black against the untitled Thorsteinsson, while GM Julio had to get past the veteran Danish GM Jens Kristiansen.

My normal MO in such a situation would be to prepare the hell out and let myself get killed by anxiety. However, this was the Faroe Islands, and here it’s not just about chess anymore. On the evening of the penultimate day, the organisers arranged a fishing trip which was thoroughly enjoyed by all the participants.

Holding a fishing rod for the first time, amused me

Julio with a wide grin, attaining redemption for his childhood fishing trip, where he was the only one without a catch

Danish IM Martin Haubro (above) was clearly the 'kingfisher' with the most catches, including one fresh catch (below) that was cooked the next day

I went into the last round with a refreshed mind. My game was by no means a cakewalk, despite a rating difference of more than 300 points. After 30 moves and around 3 hours, my opponent was the one who had the better position. On the other board, Julio stood worse from the beginning, yet I was pretty sure that he would win through the sheer power of his will. I expected him to make a mistake with less time for a while, yet he kept coming up with the correct moves until…

[Event "Faroes Open"] [Site "Kollafjord"] [Date "2017.07.19"] [Round "9"] [White "Thorsteinsson, Sjurdur"] [Black "Srinath, Narayanan"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A65"] [WhiteElo "2190"] [BlackElo "2505"] [Annotator "Srinath,Narayanan"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r3r1k1/3b1pb1/3p1np1/p1pPn3/1q2P1P1/2N1BP1p/RP1NB2P/Q4RK1 b - - 0 21"] [PlyCount "43"] [EventDate "2017.07.12"] [EventRounds "9"] [EventCountry "FAI"] {[#]} 21... g5 $2 (21... Nexg4 $142 {normally I would've played this without much thought, but with the first prize on the line, I tried to keep things as safe as possible.} 22. fxg4 Nxe4 23. Rf4 {I had stopped here, not sure about the evaluation.} Bd4 (23... Nxd2 24. Rxb4 cxb4 25. Bxd2 bxc3 {I had missed this idea completely.}) 24. Rxe4 Bxe3+ 25. Kh1 Bxd2 $1 {I missed this} 26. Rxb4 cxb4 {And Black is clearly on top.}) 22. Qc1 Nh7 23. Kh1 a4 24. Rg1 c4 25. Ndb1 Ng6 26. Na3 Rab8 27. Nc2 Qb7 28. Nd4 Nf4 29. Bxc4 $2 Rec8 $2 (29... Bxd4 30. Bxd4 Qb4 31. Qf1 Rec8 $19 {transposes to the game}) 30. Qf1 $2 Bxd4 31. Bxd4 Qb4 { [#]} 32. Ba6 Qxd4 33. Bxc8 Rxc8 34. Ne2 Qc4 35. Nc3 Qb3 36. Qa1 Nd3 37. Rf1 Qc2 38. b3 Qxc3 39. bxa4 Qb3 40. a5 Rc1 41. Rxc1 Nxc1 {[#]} 42. Rf2 Qd1+ 0-1

Receiving the reward from the Prime Minister of Faroe Islands, Aksel Vilhelmsson Johannesen. President of the chess club Hjalti Petersen watches in the background

Julio Granda Zuniga, 2nd place with 7.5/9

Helgi Dam Ziska, the pride of Faroe Islands, was solid and finished with 6.5/9 and 3rd place, which I think was modest considering his capability

GM Allan Stig Rasmussen, 5.5/9, 5th place was unlucky to be on the wrong end of a couple of intense games.

After the end of this wonderful event, I stayed on for three more days to experience Faroe Islands, without the distraction of playing chess. Here are some of the highlights:

Who wouldn't want to enjoy this beach?

Just one word: wow!

The waterfall has a natural rainbow.

Nature, beauty, chess, fun — Faroes Open in one shot

Again, wow!

The view from the tournament hall in Sandavagur, for Faroes Open 2018. I'll be sure to be back next year, same time for the 2nd Faroes Open. You?

Special thanks to:


Hanna Ólavsdóttir Jacobsen

Hanna is a 18 year old girl who lives in a small, beautiful town called Kollafjørður located in Faroe Islands. A third year business student, she loves playing chess and taking pictures. She has excellent potential and a long way to go in both these fields. She is also a keen observer of people, nature and everything around her. She tells beautiful stories primarily through pictures, but also in words. 


Jógvan Martin Joensen

Jógvan Martin Joensen is among the most interesting persons I’ve met. He is full of enthusiasm and energy. He has lived an interesting and adventurous life and the experience shows in his youthful wisdom. It is also reflected in the way he plays chess, aggressive and going straight for the kill. He ensured that I had a great time in Faroe Islands and was immensely helpful to me in helping prepare this report by driving me around half of the country. When he is not modest and down to earth, hosting foreign chess players, he also runs a couple of companies. He is the contact point for professionals interested in playing Faroes Open next year. Oh, did I mention? He is also among the most eligible bachelors in Faroe Islands!



Topics Faroes Open

Srinath Narayanan is a 23-year-old Indian Grandmaster. A former World Under 12 champion, at the age of fourteen he became an IM and had shown surprising and unswerving loyalty to the title ever since, until March 2017, when he crossed the 2500 mark and completed the requirements to become a grandmaster. He loves chess and likes to play in tournaments all around the globe. He is a critical thinker and enjoys to think deeply not only about chess but life itself. In 2017, he co-founded ChessMine with the mission to make chess a financially powerful sport.
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