Reykjavik Open kicks off

by Alejandro Ramirez
3/9/2016 – The traditional Reykjavik Open is under way in Iceland! This traditional tournament is one of the strongest open in the year, third only to the mammoths of Gibraltar and Qatar. This year's event has a few 2700s, several 2600s and many GMs, but we will get to that later. But before we get into the chess, we bring you a small recap of some sightseeing views from Iceland!

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The traditional Reykjavik Open is under way in Iceland! This traditional tournament is one of the strongest open in the year, third only to the mammoths of Gibraltar and Qatar. This year's event has a few 2700s, several 2600s and many GMs, but we will get to that later.

This is my second time in Iceland, and I am very happy to have been invited back. I must admit that I squandered many opportunities when I came here in 2014, and I am not talking about my chess games! Iceland is a beautiful country that is worth seeing, so this time I decided to take a mini vacation and arrive to the tournament a couple of days early, partially to be able to see some sights and partially to get used to the time difference, which for me is six hours.

After landing at Keflavik airport at 5:00 am, I basically slept all day after a long flight. I decided that the second day in Iceland could not be wasted, and I embarked on a small sightseeing adventure. I rented a car and together with my travel partner WGM Tatev Abrahamyan we drove around the south side of the small country.

The tournament is being held in the Harpa Concert Hall, which I can see from my room!

Iceland really lives up to its name. The weather hasn't been that bad, usually around zero Celsius, which we have been told is quite a blessing.

Driving around Iceland you mainly see snow, a village here and there and a lot of random horses

The views were quite breathtaking at times, and it was worth getting out of the car to enjoy the scenery

After a two hour drive, we finally reached our destination.

The Seljalandsfoss (how do you even pronounce that?) Waterfall was highly recommended in the quick internet search of driveable places from Reykjavik, and it was definitely worth going to.

A brave but shivering penguin trekked to Seljalandasfoss. Having my best friend on the trip made the drive much easier.

Seljalandasfoss! The waterfall is 60 meters high, and it's hard to convey in images how impressive it is. It is also possible to hike behind it, though the ice path to get there is extremely slippery.

A view from the side...

And closer up. I did manage to go behind the waterfall, but did not manage to take any decent pictures as the water splashed the camera wherever I stood.

The sun set and it was time to head back to Reykjavik

The next day was spent sleeping and going to the Blue Lagoon, self-proclaimed one of the 25 wonders of the world. I don't have any pictures for this report, but since I loved the experience and will be going back wait for the next one!

Round One - Photos by Lennart Ootes

Gunnar Bjornsson, the event organizer and an extremely friendly person. Actually, the entire organization is very approachable and incredibly friendly, which from what I gather from talking to the locals is the way all Icelanders are!

A small sax showing kicked off the event

Top seed Shakhriyar Mamedyarov checking out Richard Rapport's game in round one

Henrik Carlsen comes back to Iceland!

Armenia has three of their strongest players here in Melkumyan (pictured), Sargissian and Movsesian

Round one went mostly "according to plan" with relatively few upsets, however the most noticeable definitely came in Nils Grandelius' board:

[Event "Reykjavik Open"] [Site "?"] [Date "2016.03.08"] [Round "?"] [White "Valdimarsson, Einar"] [Black "Grandelius, Nils"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D00"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/8/1R5p/3N1kp1/2P1p3/4K3/6PP/1b4r1 b - - 0 43"] [PlyCount "8"] 43... Ba2 {After winning a pawn in the opening, Grandelius started misplaying his position. By this point it is White that is playing for a win, at least objectively, but of course the 2600 tries to force a win with black.} 44. Ne7+ Kg4 $4 {Unfortunately, this is much worse than a draw!} (44... Ke5 45. Ng6+ Kf5 46. Ne7+ {is automatically a draw, so Grandelius goes forward}) 45. Kf2 Rc1 46. h3+ {unfortunately for the Swedish player, his king finds himself in a mating net now.} Kf4 (46... Kh5 47. g4+ Kh4 48. Rxh6#) 47. Ng6+ {and he had to resign due to Kf5 g4#} 1-0

The surprise winner!

Grandelius was quite a good sport about his loss, laughing and looking like he knew this could
happen to anyone, it just happened to be his turn!

Tomorrow is the double round day, which is usually very tough, and the day after that there is a tour to the Golden Circle. A busy schedule in beautiful Iceland, with amazing chess to come! We will be bringing you a midway report after round five, meanwhile make sure to catch the games on the server.


The games will be broadcast live on the official web site and on the server If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

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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