As many of you all know, I recently returned from my three month trip in Europe. While I was often the only American in many of the tournaments I attended, the Reykjavik Open, my final stop, drew many from the states overseas. My coach, Grandmaster Eugene Perelshteyn, made his first pilgrimage to Iceland, and shares his thoughts on the tournament with us here on Chess^Summit.
Chess^Summit: Iceland is pretty far from the US. What made you decide to play in Iceland?
Eugene Perelshteyn: I wanted to play in a strong tournament where it’s one game a day in a beautiful setting. Given that Iceland is only five-hour flight from Boston, I figured it would be a good idea to play there!
CS: The Reykjavik Open is already prestigious as far as open tournaments go. Have you played in any other famous open tournaments?
EP: I don’t think any of the Open tournaments would match it. I’ve played many US Championships, this would probably be the closest comparison.
CS: What is Reykjavik like? Did you get to explore Iceland before the tournament?
EP: Yes, I rented a car and explored Iceland for a week before the tournament! This is probably the best decision given how much natural beauty there is to see!
CS: You got to play Anish Giri in just round 3 of the tournament. What was that like? Is he the strongest player you’ve ever played?
EP: I would say he’s the highest rated played that I’ve ever faced (rated 2775). I was impressed by his opening knowledge. He showed a completely new plan in a sideline that I felt I knew well. But he’s already well-known for his openings, so it may not be that a big surprise. However, his technique and quick decision-making was duly impressive as he didn’t give me any chances by converting an extra pawn.
CS: You put together a strong 7/10 performance in Reykjavik. What are your thoughts on your play – positives/negatives?
EP: On a positive note, I didn’t expect to have all ten decisive games! I managed to put together 7 wins. However, my loss to a talented Indian girl from a good position was probably the low point of my tournament. I have to say that she played well beyond her 2200+ rating!
My wins vs IM Piasetski and GM-elect Sarkar that both finished in mating attacks was a good recovery!
CS: While you had to play a lot of lower rated players, you also got to play Giri and Kamsky. How does a Grandmaster improve from these experiences? Is this different from how an amateur might respond from a critical game?
I definitely learned a thing or two from playing Giri! My game vs Kamsky was evenly matched until I miscalculated and had to defend a rook and pawn endgame down a pawn. Yet, while we both thought I was lost, I had a feeling there may be a draw. And, indeed giving up the second pawn 52.h5 draws! The lesson: never give up and keep looking for chances!
CS: Would you recommend the Reykjavik Open to American players? Do you think you would play in the event again?
Yes, I would definitely recommend it, especially if you’ve never been to Iceland. The only thing I didn’t like about the tournament is allowing players U2000 in the open section. While I understand that it gives amateurs a chance to face a titled player, I think it creates a strong rollercoaster-like conditions for everyone else where you play either 200-300 points up or down (end of interview).
One game I was particularly impressed by was Eugene’s triumph over FM Victor Plotkin in the fourth round of the tournament. Looking to bounce back with Black after losing to the eventual tournament winner, Eugene put together an instructive game to crush the Alapin Sicilian. By slowly building the tension and keeping the nature of the position, he exploited White’s lack of a plan. In many of my own posts, I try to show how this is an effective idea against roughly 1800-1900 rated players, but Eugene did it perfectly against a titled player rated nearly 2250! Eugene was nice enough to share a video analysis with us, and if you like his videos, I would recommend you visit ChessOpeningsExplained for more!
Hope you enjoyed this Reykjavik Open tournament wrap-up! We have one more coming later this week by IM Kostya Kavutskiy, who put together an amazing 6th place finish in Iceland with a 7.5/10 finish. If you recall, Kostya and I put together analysis videos for each round, so I’m excited to see what he has to say about one of his best tournament performances to date!