Indian success in Iceland

by Alejandro Ramirez
3/20/2016 – The Reykjavik Open has finished, and the big delegation of Indian, comprised of exactly two players, was incredibly successful! Abhijeet Gupta crowned himself as the winner of the 2016 edition of this prestigious open, on top of Andreikin and Cheparinov. Meanwhile Tania Sachdev obtained not only the best woman's prize, but also her second grandmaster norm. Report from Iceland!

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The Reykjavik Open has come to a close in Iceland. Our last report left off with the standings after the seventh round, but before we see how the action finished we have some pictures from the day off.

Iceland is a very unique country, especially for someone from Costa Rica. It has magnificent views, it is strangely cold, and things seem to be rather peaceful. The Reykjavik Open is famous not only because it offers chess players an excellent tournament, but also the opportunity to have many different side events which can be enjoyed, including soccer and guided tours. I decided to join the Golden Circle tour around the geysers and Gulfoss Waterfall.

The day of the tour was extremely cold. It was between rainy and snowy, the windiest day in Iceland during our stay. Actually, the weather was rather moody. Sometimes the day would be sunny and a bit cold, others it would simply be a snowstorm blowing everything away. Our first stop in this windy day was the tectonic meeting place between the North American and Euroasian tectonic plates. Iceland emerged as a result of the divergent, spreading, boundary between these two plates and the activity of Iceland´s own hotspot or mantle plume.

I'm not sure what everyone was trying to pose as. I'm also not sure which ones are chess players and which ones aren't, as most people were so covered up it was hard to tell.

Our second stop was to the geyser field. It was an interesting walk, as the ground was very slippery from the bad combination of ice and rainfall, but it was still worth going. There were several geysers around, some more active than others.

This one in particular erupted every five or so minutes, and it splashed more than one tourist that got too close to it with hot water.

Elizabeth Paehtz doing that weird pose thing in front of a geyser. Is this some kind of European trend?

The third stop was a shivering visit to Gulfoss Waterfall. The picture does it little justice, as fantastic as it does look here, but the weather was simply too cold for anyone to really take out their cameras. Picture by Kostya Kavutskiy, who was far braver than me in actually taking a picture.

Last but certainly not least our trip took us to visit the grave of the legendary Robert James Fischer, and unmissable spot to see when you are in Iceland. Photo by Kostya Kavutskiy.

Reykjavik Open

Back to the chess! The tournament was very hard fought and there were upsets in many, many rounds.

A sunny day to go play chess! This happened only a handful of times...

Anna-Maja Kazarian. Georgian/Armenian playing for the Dutch flag, this promising young lady took third place in the women's prizes, edging out Tatev Abrahamyan (also in the picture) by tiebreak points.

Many epic duels were seen. What a pleasure to see youth and energy in Shakhriyar Mamedyarov battle against experience and strength in Alexander Beliavsky! This time the Azerbaijani took an important win with white.

People traveled from all over for this event, and there was a big American contingency. Awonder Liang was the youngest of them all, and he had an excellent showing playing against many grandmasters. Here he is with his father, Will.

Every round had an immense amount of drama. Lots of unexpected results, time pressure blunders, and players risking more than necessary! A crowd here gathers as Hrant Melkumyan is putting the finishing touches on Steffan Kristjansson.

Tatev Abrahamyan and Alejandro Ramirez

At the end of the tournament it was Abhijeet Gupta who came out on top. Abhijeet played an excellent tournament, finishing with a solid 8.5/10 and showing excellent chess. To me, it was clear that he was gunning for the top positions when he was unafraid to play aggressive chess with the black pieces against his young and talented opponent early in the tournament:

[Event "Reykjavik Open"] [Site "Reykjavik, Iceland"] [Date "2016.03.09"] [Round "3.6"] [White "Liang, Awonder"] [Black "Gupta, Abhijeet"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B67"] [WhiteElo "2405"] [BlackElo "2634"] [PlyCount "80"] [EventDate "2016.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:01:13"] [BlackClock "0:30:58"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Bg5 e6 7. Qd2 a6 8. O-O-O Bd7 9. f4 b5 10. Bxf6 gxf6 11. Kb1 Qb6 12. Nf3 b4 13. Ne2 a5 14. f5 e5 15. Ng3 h5 16. Qd5 Rc8 17. Bb5 Qc7 18. Bc4 Nd8 19. b3 Ke7 20. Qd3 Nb7 21. Qe2 Nc5 22. Nd2 h4 {A very complicated position, hard to say typical of the Rauzer Sicilian, but you can definitely see that the structure stems from this opening. Black has positional problems, such as his king on e7 and a hole on d5, but he hopes activity will compensate for it.} 23. Ngf1 (23. Nh5 Bh6 24. g4 Bc6 $17) 23... Bh6 24. Ne3 Bxe3 25. Qxe3 a4 26. g4 axb3 27. cxb3 Ra8 {An invitation for Awonder to go for it... the American is not shy, but maybe he should have excercised some restraint.} 28. g5 $2 (28. a4 $1 bxa3 (28... Bxa4 $1 29. bxa4 Nxa4 30. Bb3 $5 {with still a crazy position.} (30. Rc1 Nc3+ 31. Rxc3 bxc3 32. Qxc3 $13)) 29. g5 {and black has no attack down the a-file.}) 28... Qa7 29. gxf6+ Kxf6 $1 {Going forward with the king! One tempo or one check separates black from life or death} 30. Rhg1 Rh5 31. a4 Nxa4 32. Qf3 (32. Qxa7 Nc3+ 33. Kc2 Rxa7 {leaves Black up a pawn.}) 32... Nc5 $1 33. Kc2 (33. Qxh5 Qa1+ 34. Kc2 Ra2#) 33... Qa2+ 34. Kc1 Rc8 $1 {Very nice move, and probably what Awonder missed.} (34... Rh7 35. Qe3 $13) 35. Rg6+ {sheer desperation.} (35. Qxh5 Nd3#) (35. Rdf1 Nxb3+ 36. Qxb3 Qxb3 37. Nxb3 Rxc4+ 38. Kb2 Rxe4) 35... fxg6 36. fxg6+ Rf5 $1 37. exf5 Bxf5 {White is getting mated.} 38. Ne4+ Nxe4 39. g7 Qa3+ 40. Kc2 Rxc4+ 0-1

He finished the tournament with a fantastic 2.5/3, defeating on his way grandmasters Movsesian, Grandelius and drawing Rambaldi in the final round. With a 2799 performance and a 20 point boost, this Indian player is definitely fearsome!

Second place went to Russian Dmitry Andreikin, despite the fact that he took two byes. A solid showing and winning some key games allowed him a place in the podium. Third was Ivan Cheparinov, who edged several people out on tiebreaks to claim this place.

Best woman went to Tania Sachdev, who also collected her second GM norm. A great success for the Indian delegation! She defeated Stefansson and me back to back, and held many draws against tough opponents to win her norm.

[Event "Reykjavik Open"] [Site "Reykjavik, Iceland"] [Date "2016.03.11"] [Round "5.13"] [White "Tania, Sachdev"] [Black "Stefansson, Hannes"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E11"] [WhiteElo "2370"] [BlackElo "2600"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "95"] [EventDate "2016.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:11:57"] [BlackClock "0:46:52"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 Bb4+ 4. Bd2 a5 5. g3 d6 6. Bg2 Nbd7 7. O-O e5 8. Nc3 O-O 9. Qc2 Re8 10. a3 Bxc3 11. Bxc3 e4 12. Ne1 c6 13. Bd2 d5 14. cxd5 cxd5 15. Bf4 Nf8 16. Qd2 Ne6 17. Nc2 Nxf4 18. Qxf4 Qb6 19. b4 Bg4 20. Qd2 Qb5 21. Rfe1 Rec8 22. Ne3 Bh5 23. Bf1 h6 24. Rec1 Rc6 25. Rc5 Rxc5 26. bxc5 b6 27. Rc1 a4 28. c6 Ne8 29. Bh3 Nc7 30. Nf5 $1 {Fully committing for the initiative. This move tries to push the c-pawn by combining threats on the kingside.} Qxe2 31. Qf4 Qb2 32. Rf1 {cold-blooded and correct, played in severe time pressure. Black has no good way of defending the knight.} Ne8 (32... Ra7 33. Ne7+ Kh8 34. Nc8 $18) 33. c7 Qxa3 34. Qh4 $6 (34. Qe5 $1) 34... Nxc7 35. Qxh5 {White is up a piece, but Black has three pawns for it. If he can get b and a rolling, the game is very unclear.} Ne6 $2 {A mistake, and Sachdev punishes it immediately.} 36. Nxh6+ $1 gxh6 37. Bxe6 fxe6 38. Qg6+ Kh8 39. Qxh6+ Kg8 40. Qg6+ Kh8 41. Qh6+ Kg8 42. Qxe6+ {Everything falls with check.} Kf8 43. Qf6+ Kg8 44. Qxb6 $2 {Letting Black back into the game, but the defense is still difficult.} (44. Qg5+ Kf8 45. Qf5+ Kg7 46. Qe5+ Kh7 47. Rb1 $1) 44... Qb3 $2 45. Qg6+ Kh8 46. Rc1 $1 Rf8 47. Qh5+ $1 {The detail missed by Stefansson. Black will have no check on d1 now.} Kg8 48. Rc7 1-0

The closing ceremony was held in the City Hall

Success for the Indian delegation, which consisted of exactly three people. These two and Tania's mom!

Again, I cannot emphasize enough how pleasant it is to play in Reykjavik. It is an incredibly professional tournament, but still accessible to all and with enough side events and side activities that it doesn't feel like a stress fest. I can't wait to go back to the land of cold, of cod, of geysers and waterfalls, and fall in love yet again with Iceland. And, after all, I feel third time will be the charm... I have yet to see the northern lights!

Final top-20

Rk. Name FED Rtg Pts.  TB1  rtg+/-
1 Gupta Abhijeet IND 2634 8,5 68,0 20,0
2 Andreikin Dmitry RUS 2732 8,0 61,5 3,9
3 Cheparinov Ivan BUL 2684 7,5 68,0 4,2
4 Rapport Richard HUN 2720 7,5 67,5 0,5
5 Mamedyarov Shakhriyar AZE 2747 7,5 66,0 3,1
6 Movsesian Sergei ARM 2653 7,5 65,0 5,8
7 Rambaldi Francesco ITA 2541 7,5 64,5 12,8
8 Grigoriants Sergey RUS 2587 7,5 61,5 3,7
9 Melkumyan Hrant ARM 2653 7,5 61,0 -1,9
10 Grandelius Nils SWE 2646 7,5 60,5 -6,3
11 Tari Aryan NOR 2553 7,5 58,5 -3,6
12 Jones Gawain C B ENG 2645 7,0 66,0 1,3
13 Shabalov Alexander USA 2520 7,0 64,5 8,0
14 Tania Sachdev IND 2370 7,0 63,5 30,5
15 Esserman Marc USA 2458 7,0 63,5 15,7
16 Ramirez Alejandro USA 2564 7,0 62,0 -1,3
17 Beliavsky Alexander G SLO 2630 7,0 61,5 -5,9
18 Sargissian Gabriel ARM 2702 7,0 61,5 -8,7
19 Lampert Jonas GER 2472 7,0 61,0 3,3
20 Brunello Sabino ITA 2567 7,0 59,5 3,6

Photos: Lennart Ootes (Tournament page)

Photos from free day: Alejandro Ramirez


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Grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez has been playing tournament chess since 1998. His accomplishments include qualifying for the 2004 and 2013 World Cups as well as playing for Costa Rica in the 2002, 2004 and 2008 Olympiads. He currently has a rating of 2583 and is author of a number of popular and critically acclaimed ChessBase-DVDs.


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