Nils Grandelius clinches Reykjavik Open with final-round win

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
4/5/2023 – Nils Grandelius scored an impressive 7½ out of 9 to become the outright winner at the 2023 edition of the Reykjavik Open. The Swedish grandmaster, who was the second seed in Iceland, beat Quentin Loiseau in the final round to claim first place. With over 400 participants in the traditional event, it was not surprising that seven players finished a half point behind the winner. Mustafa Yilmaz from Turkey and Abhijeet Gupta from India got second and third place on tiebreak criteria, respectively. | Photos: Hallfríður Sigurðardóttir

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Outright winner

Nils Grandelius is a well-known name in the international chess circuit. Not only has he been the strongest Swedish player for a number of years but he also has excelled as a commentator and as a second — he was part of the Magnus Carlsen team at the 2018 World Championship match. A likeable personality, he connects well both with the public and with his colleagues. 

This was Grandelius’ 11th outing at the traditional Reykjavik Open. This year, he arrived in the Icelandic capital as the second seed, only behind living legend Vasyl Ivanchuk in the starting ratings list.

After drawing two out of his first three games against lower-rated opposition, he scored 5½ out of 6 in the remaining rounds to become the only player to finish the event with 7½ points in the standings. Importantly, Grandelius won his last three games in Reykjavik, including a victory with black over Abhijeet Gupta, a direct contender for the title.

Grandelius’ victory at the Reykjavik Open is one of the biggest achievements of his career. The 29-year-old is no stranger to triumphs, though. He won the U-18 category at the World Youth Championships in 2011; he defeated Emanuel Berg in playoffs to win the 2015 Swedish Championship; and he got the silver medal at the very strong European Championship in 2019.

A creative player, he proved he can perform strongly against the very best players in the world at the 2021 Tata Steel Masters, where he led the standings until round 6.

Mustafa Yilmaz

In second place — Mustafa Yilmaz | Photo: Hallfríður Sigurðardóttir

Abhijeet Gupta

Abhijeet Gupta bounced back from his loss against Nils Grandelius to finish in third place | Photo: Hallfríður Sigurðardóttir

Playing white against French IM Quentin Loiseau in the final round, Grandelius got good attacking chances on the kingside out of a Ruy Lopez.

 

Engines give about a half-pawn advantage for White here, but for humans it is often much more comfortable to be on the attacking side in these kinds of positions — i.e. Black needs to be extremely precise to keep things together in defence. In the remainder of the game, Grandelius showcased a great intuitive feel for the position, making the most of his initiative while creating difficult situations for his opponent.

29.h5 Bg4 30.Be2 Bd7 (the engines consider Black should be extra cautious already here, as they suggest 30...Ra7 or 30...g5) 31.hxg6 hxg6 32.Nh4 f5 

 

Black threatens ...f5-f4 with a double attack, but Grandelius had foreseen this line and knew that 32.Nxg6 is winning here.

After 33...f4 34.Rf3 Black played the losing 34...Bg4, when 34...Qg5 was a better defence — albeit White would still have a clearly better position.

 

An inspired Grandelius found 35.Nf5, the killer blow, and went on to force his opponent’s resignation six moves later. 

This is how the game ended: 35...Bxf5 36.exf5 Rxf5 37.d6 Kg7 38.Ne7 Rf6 39.Bc4 (the bishop returns to the all-important diagonal pointing at Black’s kingside) Kf8 40.Qd5

 

The queen has joined the party! 40...Ne6 41.Qxe5 and Loiseau resigned.

Final standings

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Nils Grandelius 7,5 0
2 Mustafa Yilmaz 7 0
3 Abhijeet Gupta 7 0
4 Maxime Lagarde 7 0
5 Gabor Papp 7 0
6 Matthieu Cornette 7 0
7 Tamas Banusz 7 0
8 Leon Livaic 7 0
9 Vasyl Ivanchuk 6,5 0
10 V Pranav 6,5 0
11 Emre Can 6,5 0
  Mohapatra Sidhant 6,5 0
13 Sebastien Maze 6,5 0
14 Quentin Loiseau 6,5 0
15 Bala Chandra Prasad Dhulipalla 6,5 0
16 Matthew J Wadsworth 6,5 0
17 Fy Antenaina Rakotomaharo 6,5 0
18 N R Visakh 6,5 0
19 P Shyaamnikhil 6,5 0
20 Magesh Chandran Panchanathan 6,5 0
21 Ludvig Carlsson 6,5 0
22 Vedant Panesar 6,5 0
23 Aleksandr Domalchuk-Jonasson 6,5 0
24 Sebastian Hoffmann 6,5 0
25 Leon Mons 6,5 0
26 Brandon Jacobson 6,5 0
27 Aryan Tari 6,5 0
28 Evgenios Ioannidis 6 0
29 Dimitar Mardov 6 0
30 Kjetil A. Lie 6 0

...401 players

All available games - Round 9

 
 

Replay all available games from the tournament on Live.ChessBase.com

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Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.
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