Gamma Reykjavik Open: The first three rounds

by Gerd Densing
3/8/2018 – Just two days in, already three rounds have already been played in Reykjavik. And only three players remain on a perfect score: Mustafa Yilmaz, Vaibhav Suri and Elshan Moradiabadi. Alina l'Ami, this time in front of the camera, started with two out of two but then lost to Moradiabadi. Gerd Densing reports. Game annotations by GM Daniel Fernandez | Pictured: Alina l'Ami | Photo: Gerd Densing

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Accelerated Swiss surprises

The Reykjavik Open began Tuesday with 248 participants, but because of late arrivals and eight byes taken, only 120 boards were played in the first round. And because of this year's scheduled rest day, which will feature a Fischer-Random rapid tournament, this year the Reykjavik Open switched to nine rounds. That could make it harder for players hunting from FIDE title norms — for instance, the two Indian prodigies — so to help fulfil the requirements, the organiser opted for the "accelerated Swiss system".

The harbour at dusk

While I personally had expected a strong player (FM / IM) for the first round, perhaps somewhere in the upper half of the lower half, the accelerated Swiss system meant that the field was "quartered" and the two upper halves and the two lower halves were paired against each other. For the strong players, this meant that the Elo difference was not as big as the Swiss system. And for the better players in the lower half, this meant correspondingly weak opponents. The system meant that in the first round more or less surprising results were seen on individual boards.

The most prominent examples of surprise draws were seen on boards 4 and 10, with GMs Adhiban and Landa. The latter was skating on thin ice, in a wild game, and could play try to squeeze out a win in an endgame with a passed pawn, but his opponent's counterplay was just in time. Adhiban outrated his opponent by almost a whopping 375 Elo points.

Das Soham vs Baskaran Adhiban (annotations by GM Daniel Fernandez)

In round two, there were already more surprises, partly because the difference in playing strength on the top boards was not that big anymore and partly because the early start of the round at 9 o'clock might have been too early for some of the chess professional.

The 2015 Reykjavik winner, GM Erwin L'Ami (who has been in form of late, including a win against Naiditsch in the Bundesliga) suffered a significant upset. He came up against a Fort Knox French from the young English IM Ravi Haria.

Erwin l'Ami vs Ravi Haria (annotations by GM Daniel Fernandez)

The Fort Knox Variation in the French Defence

If you're one of those French Defence players who has been desperately searching for a reliable and easy-to-learn system against White's two main 3rd moves (3.Nd2 or 3.Nc3) then this is the 60 Minutes for you! The Fort Knox variation (3...dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bd7!

The two young Indian talents IM Nihal Sarin and IM Ramesh Praggnanandhaa started each with two wins. The Uzbek young star IM Nodirbek Abdusattorov made a draw in round two against a slightly weaker player.

IM Nodirbek Abdusattorov

Another former Reykjavik champion, the now-bearded Pavel Eljanov, was nicked for a draw by a more experienced Indian GM Kidambi Sundararajan. For fans of the Pirc / Modern, which was recently reviewed by Davide Nastasio, have a look at Gata Kamsky's game against local IM Gudmundur Kjartansson.


Click or tap the second game in the list to switch

Pavel Eljanov

Pavel Eljanov was the Reykjavik Open winner of 2013 | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Round 3

The pairings brought some interesting "generational duels" to the top boards in the third round. On board one Nihal Sarin had to play black against top-seeded Hungarian 2700 grandmaster Richard Rapport. Sarin had to fight black for a long time on board one before reaching a well-deserved draw.


Richard Rapport vs Nihal Sarin (annotations by GM Daniel Fernandez)

Special guest Susan Polgar, who's arranged a Webster University scholarship to the top player under twenty years old, makes the first move on the board of Nihal Sarin and Richard Rapport

On board two, the second Indian youngster IM Ramesh Praggnanandhaa met the French Grandmaster Matthieu Cornette. "Pragg" was under pressure for a long time and was probably happy with a draw. Shortly before the end of the game, Cornette passed up a chance to give up two knights for a rook and pawn, but keep the initiative and a small edge.

Cornette vs Praggnanandhaa

Draws on the top boards reduce the number of players with perfect scores quite quickly. After three rounds, among the grandmasters, only the Turkish GM Mustafa Yilmaz, the Iranian GM (who now lives in the USA) Elshan Moradiabadi, and Vaibhav Suri from India remain with three points. But it's interesting to see that with the accelerated Swiss system, you could theoretically have seen a player as far down as board 41 and 42 still reach a perfect score.

Mustafa Yilmaz vs Eugene Perelshteyn (annotated by GM Daniel Fernandez)

Today there was be the traditional Golden Circle tour, with a special Fischer program scheduled for some participants during the day, before the fourth round at 5 pm local time (18:00 CET / 12:00 EST). 

Results of round three

1 1
GM Rapport Richard 2715 2 ½ - ½ 2 IM Sarin Nihal 2534
2 27
IM Praggnanandhaa R 2507 2 ½ - ½ 2 GM Cornette Matthieu 2620
3 9
GM Yilmaz Mustafa 2619 2 1 - 0 2 GM Perelshteyn Eugene 2513
4 29
IM Christiansen Johan-Sebastian 2486 2 ½ - ½ 2 GM Lenderman Aleksandr 2600
5 13
GM Lagarde Maxime 2587 2 ½ - ½ 2 GM Fernandez Daniel Howard 2505
6 35
IM Haria Ravi 2424 2 ½ - ½ 2 GM Friedel Joshua 2562
7 17
GM Vaibhav Suri 2544 2 1 - 0 2 IM Bartholomew John 2477
8 19
GM Moradiabadi Elshan 2535 2 1 - 0 2 IM L'ami Alina 2306
9 58
FM Risting Eivind Olav 2304 2 0 - 1 GM Eljanov Pavel 2713
10 3
GM Kamsky Gata 2677 1 - 0 IM Loiseau Quentin 2427
11 33
GM Sundararajan Kidambi 2427 ½ - ½ GM Adhiban B. 2650
12 5
GM Adly Ahmed 2643 1 - 0 IM Kjartansson Gudmundur 2432
13 7
GM Gledura Benjamin 2632 ½ - ½ IM Kvetny Mark 2408
14 11
GM Can Emre 2603 1 - 0   Bick Gabriel 2416
15 43
IM Thorfinnsson Bjorn 2399 0 - 1 GM Grigoriants Sergey 2568
16 47
FM Shah Fenil 2346 ½ - ½ GM Brunello Sabino 2542
17 52
IM Sarkar Justin 2322 ½ - ½ GM Stefansson Hannes 2533
18 59
FM Stefansson Vignir Vatnar 2300 0 - 1 IM Abdusattorov Nodirbek 2518
19 23
GM Hjartarson Johann 2513 1 - 0 IM Kavutskiy Konstantin 2383
20 6
GM L'ami Erwin 2634 1 1 - 0 IM Cummings David H. 2322

All available games


Standings after three rounds

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Yilmaz Mustafa 3,0 0,0
  Vaibhav Suri 3,0 0,0
3 Moradiabadi Elshan 3,0 0,0
4 Eljanov Pavel 2,5 0,0
  Lenderman Aleksandr 2,5 0,0
  Sarin Nihal 2,5 0,0
  Fernandez Daniel Howard 2,5 0,0
8 Cornette Matthieu 2,5 0,0
  Grigoriants Sergey 2,5 0,0
  Friedel Joshua 2,5 0,0
  Abdusattorov Nodirbek 2,5 0,0
  Mai Aron Thor 2,5 0,0
13 Johannsson Birkir Isak 2,5 0,0
14 Davidsson Oskar Vikingur 2,5 0,0
15 Rapport Richard 2,5 0,0
  Lagarde Maxime 2,5 0,0
  Haria Ravi 2,5 0,0
18 Kamsky Gata 2,5 0,0
  Adly Ahmed 2,5 0,0
  Can Emre 2,5 0,0
  Hjartarson Johann 2,5 0,0
  Praggnanandhaa R 2,5 0,0
  Christiansen Johan-Sebastian 2,5 0,0
24 Zhou Aiden 2,5 0,0
  Sikkel Dirk 2,5 0,0
26 Jonsson Olafur Gisli 2,5 0,0
27 Perelshteyn Eugene 2,0 0,0
  L'ami Alina 2,0 0,0

... 240 players

Live games and commentary


Commentary by Simon Williams and Fiona Steil-Antoni (when available)


Gerd is an avid club player who enjoys competing in tournaments. He has recorded his impressions in many reports on the ChessBase news page.


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