A Reykjavik retrospective

by Alina l'Ami
3/26/2018 – Looking back on the beauty and grandeur of Iceland's flagship event, the Reykjavik Open, with photos from International Master Alina l'Ami, annotated game highlights, and comments from the eventual winner Baskaran Adhiban.

Master Class Vol.1: Bobby Fischer Master Class Vol.1: Bobby Fischer

No other World Champion was more infamous both inside and outside the chess world than Bobby Fischer. On this DVD, a team of experts shows you the winning techniques and strategies employed by the 11th World Champion.

Grandmaster Dorian Rogozenco delves into Fischer’s openings, and retraces the development of his repertoire. What variations did Fischer play, and what sources did he use to arm himself against the best Soviet players? Mihail Marin explains Fischer’s particular style and his special strategic talent in annotated games against Spassky, Taimanov and other greats. Karsten Müller is not just a leading international endgame expert, but also a true Fischer connoisseur.


Whether you think you can or not, you're right

The World Title — what kind of a chess player wouldn't want it? But for that, just like me, you probably don't play many tournaments, if any, from the interminably long list of required events. The pyramid's too high, the stairs too steep, so why bother?

We don't need a specialist to tell us the reason: we just don't expect to follow in Fischer's footsteps. Given the odds of qualifying for the world championship match, let alone winning it, that might seem like a very reasonable conclusion.

What is important to extract from this is that you are likely to take action based on what you expect, not on what you want.

Reykjavik city overview

You wish for a brilliant holiday but if you don't anticipate getting that in Iceland's capital, I doubt you will go on with booking the tickets
(Click or tap to expand any image!)

Having expectations which differ from what you want isn't just the reason you are not a 2800+ player. It is the reason there are loads of things you crave for in your life but you can't quite seem to attain them.

Reykjavik church

Desiring something is easy, getting it is harder

Insights from the tournament winner

“Let's start with Tata Steel Masters: I finished very badly, so I was very eager to make a comeback. I had two thoughts about Reykjavik Open:
Win it! And
Win it unshared!” -Adhiban aka AD

This warrior spirit didn't falter after the rather slow start in Iceland. AD would wake up, prepare and confidently score as if that was the most natural thing to do — “Beating top players is part of my destiny”. He wanted and expected to win. And he did just that.

What may seem like an absence of modesty, gasconade, or rather useless wishful thinking bursting from a quixotic mind is, in fact, the "ABC" in AD's manual. You can't Achieve your goal without Believing and Constructing towards it

“A major motivation for me was the qualification process for the Olympiad team. My federation was taking the average rating of March-April-May and there was a fight for the last spot between Ganguly, Sethuraman and myself. Both of them had crossed me before Reykjavik. At times I would think about it and felt that my chances of qualifying were rather slim but I told myself firmly: "You are going to give everything you have got!”.

Interesting to note is that AD calls this “positive thinking” when in fact his entire demeanour is more profound than that. He sensed the gap which was forming between what he wanted (to represent India in the Olympiad) and what he started to expect (that it won't happen). Before his plan would get derailed, AD chose to override his automatic thinking:

“You are the one who shapes your destiny and you won't let anything get in the way! A bit intense maybe but that's how my mind works”.


Playing the Reykjavik Open doesn't guarantee him a spot on the Olympic team but not playing it guarantees that he is out of contention, a risk AD was not willing to take. As long as there is a chance, even the slightest one, he would consciously or subconsciously always choose to go for it. Believing in your abilities, in your dream, can be more powerful than a thousand realities.

“Mostly it was the mindset and also I worked very hard during the event, skipping many favourite pastimes [series, sightseeing -AM]. I skipped it all during Reykjavik and now that I see how it turned out I guess I will continue doing so!”.


Adhiban doesn't forget to be “awesome” :)

I personally started to believe that AD is indeed destined for an epic life. I never heard him complaining nor finding excuses for his shortcomings. Jet-lag, the random starting times (we played at 9, 11, 13, 15 and 17 o'clock, which made finding a rhythm all the more difficult for the professionals), the setbacks, the pressure — nothing changed AD's upbeat forecast for the future. Perhaps the reason for his never-ending cheerfulness is an esoteric one. His mind anticipates the rewards he is convinced are out there for him, waiting to be picked up. Until the harvest season will come, AD is full of joy and positive emotions, making him one of the gluiest characters around.

Pragg with children

But he is not the only one

The winner takes it all but the others are not standing small. Contrary to most predictions, the podium, however, didn't welcome the 2700+ favourites. They say that while two dogs are fighting for a bone...

Maxime Lagarde and Mustafa Yilmaz

… a third runs away with it.

On a more serious note, the 24-year-old French GM, Maxime Lagarde, displayed good chess, sharing second place with the Turkish GM, Yilmaz Mustafa, who was also leading the first half of the event.


Magic of Chess Tactics 2

FM Claus Dieter Meyer has put under the microscope a comprehensive fund of topical and timeless games / fragments. On video Hamburg GM Dr. Karsten Müller has outlined corner points of Meyer's work and created 14 tests plus 10 interactive test sets.

On a lighter note

The unofficial U14 championship would challenge the maturity of many adults. How it is possible to have such great minds in such small bodies is still a mystery to me.


Still searching for Bobby Fischer

Praggu won it, but the Uzbek IM Nodirbek Abdusattorov made a fat GM norm (although he doesn't need it as he has them all already), while the other little Indian, Nihal Sarin, got his second GM norm despite scoring 'just' half a point out of his last two games.


A scary kid faces a former scary kid (Gata Kamsky)

Fschr Rndm

If all these successful players were inspired or not by Fischer, we can't be sure. But his spirit was always present. The 2018 Reykjavik Open was dedicated to the Chess King and a special Fischer Random tournament was organized precisely on the 9th of March, a date which would have been celebrating Fischer's 75th birthday.

Chess960 tournament

With such fitting circumstances, there is no surprise that a fun side-event took bigger proportions. It received further generous sponsorship by Susan Polgar and it is also now proudly holding the title of the first European Fischer Random Cup.

Zurab Azmaiparashvili

ECU President Zurab Azmaiparashvili announces the winner

It was my first time ever to have tried my hand at Chess960 and I must say I enjoyed it a lot! Introducing order in such randomness is a brain breaker but so much fun too! :) And winning the European Fischer Random title for women is not too bad either. I did have some troubles with the castling rules though, just like many other players:

Chess960 position

Black to play

My husband will not like me for this but his game with White against Elshan Moradiabadi is illustrative.

The position above was reached after the following moves:

1. d4 g6 Nb3 f5 3. Na5 where Erwin thought he is doing great since the b7 pawn can no longer be protected — 3... Bd5 would run into c4.

3... 0-0-0!! Oops:) Black just swapped the position of the d8-king with the c8-rook and that was it, White is in big trouble, as a2 is hanging as well.

From my perspective, Fischer's idea is brilliant not because it is avoiding theory (I have my doubts that the good old chess has an expiration date) but because of the priceless perplexed looks, jokes and bonds it creates among the players.

Richard Rapport

Chess on steroids!

The next two examples are not from the European Fischer Random Cup but they are surely not randomly chosen:



Rapport is the European Champion in Fischer Random but since the event was open to everyone, the overall winner is the American GM Aleksandr Lenderman

The Reykjavik Open is special whether we are speaking about the people that are organizing it, working for it, playing in it, or simply about the never-ending topic — the Icelandic weather and its collateral beauty. The tournament hall alone is a dazzling jewel, the managerial decisions a standout (it would take your author over 2000 characters to only enumerate all the side-events and details) and Iceland itself a wonderland.

Harpa interior

Black and White study

Alina's postcard

Postcard from an architectural heaven (click or tap to expand!)

colourful houses

Tropical Iceland


Participating in the Reykjavik Open will not guarantee you winning but not playing it guarantees losing

Instead of farewell



Alina is an International Master and a very enthusiastic person in everything she does. She loves travelling to the world's most remote places in order to play chess tournaments and report about them here on ChessBase! As chance would have it Alina is also an excellent photographer.


Rules for reader comments


Not registered yet? Register