Runavik Open 2017

by Srinath Narayanan
12/8/2017 – The 2nd edition of Runavik Open took place in Runavik, Faroe Islands from November 20-26. Blue water, enchanting skies, lush green land and mountains all around! With 12 GM’s and a total of 25 titled players in a field of 59 players, there may have been expectations of a drawfest. There were 4 Indians, an army of ex soviet GM’s, and more than a handful of exciting young players. Nikita Maiorov broke through everything to win with 7.5/9. He had to go through more than his share of difficult moments, trials and tribulations, but deservedly came out on top. Read on to find games and pictures. | Photo: Fiona Steil-Antoni

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Making a run at Runavik

The sound of howling winds and darkness greeted me, as I stepped out of the Vagar airport. The difference between the Summer, when I participated in the Faroes Open and Winter couldn’t have been starker. While the Summer months had 20 hours of brightness and 4 hours of darkness, in the winter, it was the exact opposite. The winds were stronger and fiercer, but one thing didn’t change — the warmth and hospitality of the Faroese people.

We were picked up at the airport and driven to Klaksvik, a small city that is a 30 minute drive to Runavik. The organizers had a few initial hiccups with the broadcast, and the stay arrangements, by the second day, all the little wrinkles were ironed out. They managed to find accommodation for most of us in Runavik and by the third day, we were all set and ready to fight.

The fight

Most of the top seeds sailed through with 2 / 2. By the third round, it was already a clash of GM’s at the top tables. GM Nikita Maiorov, the eventual winner had the most unenviable opponent — the 13 year old kid Nihal Sarin. He already had his work cut out and was worse for most part of the game, but showed resilience to salvage a draw. The top seed, Deep Sengupta showed excellent technique to beat GM Tejas Bakre and move into the sole lead after three rounds.


In the fourth round, Sengupta was held to a draw by GM Vadim Malakhatko. I managed to join him in the lead with the following victory against GM Mikhail Ulibin of Russia.


Unorthodox against the French Winawer

The French Defence is an aggressive and tough opening. Typically, the second player shows his ambitions as early as on move three in the main, after - 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 - the Winawer Variation. Black’s intentions are clear - pressure in the center, and quick development. Check the new Learn in 60 minutes to find a repertoire based on the move 4.Ng1-e2. The author GM Dejan Bojkov used it to win a crucial game at the Canadian Open Championship 2011, which helped him share victory at this prestigious event.

I managed to defeat Deep in the fifth round and move into the sole lead after five rounds with 4½ / 5. In the meanwhile, Nihal was as deadly as the little Tasmanian devil, as he showed some signs of what is to come. After his laptop crashed in the morning before the game, he decided to just play some London system. His opponent was the 37-year-old International Master Jensson Einar Hjalti. He managed to last exactly 13 moves before Nihal’s pieces came crashing down on him.


Tactic Toolbox Scheveningen

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Nihal Sarin, "the boy who never sits" | Source: ChessBase India

The London System with 2.Bf4

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Meanwhile, Nikita notched up a victory over the European Under 14 Champion Jonas Bjerre. This setup a clash against me in the sixth round, with me having an half point edge. Meanwhile, the organizers once again showed us a taste of the Faroese hospitality as they arranged for a powerful replacement laptop for Nihal in short notice. They also took it upon themselves and managed to fix his laptop after several hours and days of effort.


Tactic Toolbox Benoni

On this DVD, Mihail Marin presents the major tactical themes and options available for both sides in the Benoni. Based on an interactive format the well-known theoretician and Grandmaster invites you to take part and challenge yourself.

With this, Nikita moved into the lead with 5 / 6. He was joined along by the defending champion IM Gudmundur Kjartansson, who had reached there on the back of two crushing victories over GM Malakhatko and his flatmate, GM Vladimir Hamitevici.

After my heartbreaking loss on time, I obviously felt numb and frustrated. I decided that revenge was a dish best served cold, and just went online to flag a series of opponents over bullet games. This didn’t help much though, as a sleepless night ensued. I had to collect myself with all my willpower to recover with a victory over GM Igor Khenkin. However, even as I was winning, Nikita was on his way towards masterful positional victory over Kjartansson to go into the sole lead.


And Action! - How to crown positional play by tactics

There are few names which, like that of Alexei Shirov, can be associated with fantastically imaginative and tactically influenced play. Now the Latvian grandmaster is presenting a DVD on precisely that element of the game of chess. And one that is completely based on his own games.

Deep managed to catch up with a crushing attacking over the Northern Lights Open winner GM Xu Yinglun. In the eighth round clash between those two titans, this happened:


This made the climax of the tournament a bit of anti-climax, as Nikita drew comfortably against GM Igor Korneev in the final round to finish a well deserved first. His opening preparation was solid, but his quality of play was consistently at a very high level. I had a quick draw against Xu to share second with five other players. I would like to thank the Mayor of Runavik — Tórbjørn Jacobsen, without whom the tournament wouldn’t have happened, and to Faroese Chess President Finnbjørn Vang for his hospitality and for making the event happen.

Final standings (top 25)

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Maiorov Nikita 7,5 52,0
2 Narayanan Srinath 6,5 52,5
3 Korneev Oleg 6,5 52,0
4 Khenkin Igor 6,5 51,5
5 Xu Yi 6,5 51,5
6 Nihal Sarin 6,5 49,5
7 Yinglun Xu 6,0 51,0
8 Sengupta Deep 6,0 50,5
9 Hamitevici Vladimir 6,0 49,0
10 Kjartansson Gudmundur 6,0 49,0
11 Malakhatko Vadim 5,5 49,5
12 Savchenko Stanislav 5,5 47,5
13 Ulybin Mikhail 5,5 47,5
14 Bjerre Jonas 5,5 46,5
15 Olsen Filip Boe 5,5 46,0
16 Stefansson Vignir Vatnar 5,5 45,5
17 Gleizerov Evgeny 5,5 44,0
18 Nielsen Hogni Egilstoft 5,5 43,0
19 Nielsen Rogvi Egilstoft 5,5 38,5
20 Thogersen Rasmus 5,0 46,0
21 Bakre Tejas 5,0 44,0
22 Rodgaard John 5,0 44,0
23 Jensson Einar Hjalti 5,0 41,5
24 Simonsen Hans Kristian 5,0 39,5
25 Steil-Antoni Fiona 5,0 37,0

Photo impressions

Top three winners with Mayor of Runavik and President of Faroese Chess Federation

Top Three prize winners with the Mayor of Runavik and President of Faroese Chess Federation| Photo: Tórbjørn Jacobsen

Finnbjorn Vang

Finnbjørn Vang, President of Faroese Chess Federation, the man behind Runavik Open | Photo: Tórbjørn Jacobsen)

Mayor and Nihal

Nihal is a tough opponent to most people, but in fact the Mayor has faced stronger (he drew Garry Kasparov in an exhibition game during Garry’s visit to this wonderful Island!) | Photo: Tórbjørn Jacobsen)

Mayor and the champion

Mayor vs. Maiorov: The champion’s toughest opponent | Photo: Tórbjørn Jacobsen

group photo

The whole group (click or tap to expand) | Photo: Tórbjørn Jacobsen

Fiona Steil-Antoni

Fiona Steil-Antoni had a great time in the Faroes and did her usual magic behind the camera | Photo: Fiona Steil-Antoni

Fiona's vlog | Source: Fionchetta on YouTube

Runavik Open will be back next November, but before that, the 2nd Faroes Open will take place in Sandavagur from July 7th-14th. I highly recommend that you join me there. ;)

Those interested should write to ‘’. More details can be found in the official website. The Runavik Open will be back next year from November 12th-18th, 2018.

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Srinath is a 23-year-old Indian Grandmaster. A former World Under 12 champion, at the age of fourteen he became an IM and had shown surprising and unswerving loyalty to the title ever since, until March 2017, when he crossed the 2500 mark and completed the requirements to become a grandmaster. He loves chess and likes to play in tournaments all around the globe.


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