For the longest time I was not planning to attend the 2018 Reykavik Open, but I got in touch with GM Eugene Perelshteyn (friend of Chess^Summit!) who found a decent room for rent on AirBnb, in a nice place and location in downtown Reykjavik, and before I knew it I was back in Iceland again! This year they were holding a special edition of the tournament, calling it the Bobby Fischer Memorial to celebrate what would have been Fischer’s 75th birthday during the event. And on his birthday, March 9th, they had a rest-day for the main tournament and held the 1st European Fischer Random Cup, which was quite a lot of fun and a huge success for the American players!
As usual for me, I tried to avoid having huge expectations for the tournament–I wanted to do well, but most of my time in 2018 has been spent on chess work (teaching, writing, etc.) rather than real chess training, like solving Aagaard puzzles or whatever GM-hopefuls are doing these days…so I didn’t feel like I really deserved to crush it. And I did well, I didn’t crush it as well as last year, but pretty good overall! Of course die-hard Chess^Summit readers will remember that Isaac and I roomed together for this event last year, recording detailed post-mortems after each round.
Well, this time around I ended up scoring 6/9 and taking the top-U2400 prize on tiebreaks. In my opinion, the tiebreaks were kind of arbitrary, which would have been fine had the prizes been shared, but they weren’t, which seemed unfair to the other players. Also scoring 6/9 (in tiebreak order) were IM Shiyam Thavandiran (2nd), IM Bjorn Thorfinnsson (3rd), IM Justin Sarkar, IM David Cummings, and WGM Tatev Abrahamyan. Oddly enough I had a friendly connection to all of them– Shiyam, Tatev, and Justin were friends already, I met David during the event through Shiyam (both Canadian), and while I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Bjorn, his rating and mine are very close, and so I sat next to his board several times not only at the 2018 Reykjavik Open, but also in the 2017 and 2016 editions as well! Collectively, it’s like 40 hours that I’ve spent right next to his board, seeing his games, so yeah, I feel like I know him too !
My hair sparked a lot of heated debate during the event; specifically, what color it was, and whether it was intentionally like that. Photo: Lennart Ootes
Eugene also finished strong and ended up taking 4th (!) place on tiebreaks, with 6.5/9, ahead of many strong players. The reason is the same that I somehow managed to finish in 6th place last year, in that the first tiebreak is total number of wins, favoring those of us used to the culture of U.S. open tournaments, where scoring a large number of wins is very important. You can check out the full standings and results here. So we both did well, really well, and won a few hard-earned euros for our efforts. But that’s not all we did during the event!
GM Eugene Perelshteyn had a fantastic event, including a big win over GM Gledura in Round 8. Photo: Lennart Ootes
Leading up to the tournament, I was working on a new project, my Patreon page, where I could post instructive chess content, as well as opening analysis that I wouldn’t necessarily wish to share with the whole world, but rather a select group of followers (patrons), and get paid for it! Meanwhile, Eugene has been hard at work with his own site, Chess Openings Explained, so we decided to continue the tradition and record our own post-mortems of each round. You can check them out round by round below:
Round 1 – Jonsson (2104) vs. IM Kavutskiy 0-1 – Closed Sicilian
Round 2 – IM Kavutskiy vs. GM Can (2603) 1/2-1/2 – Ragozin Defense
Round 3 – GM Hjartarson (2513) vs. IM Kavutskiy 1-0 – King’s Indian
Round 4 – IM Kavutskiy vs. Velez Romero (1987) 1-0 – Benoni Defense
Round 5 – Valette (2022) vs. IM Kavutskiy 0-1 – King’s Indian
Round 6 – IM Kavutskiy vs. GM Moradiabadi (2535) 1/2-1/2 – Queen’s Indian
Round 7 – GM Gledura (2632) vs. IM Kavutskiy 1-0 – Sicilian Taimanov
Round 8 – IM Kavutskiy vs. FM Jacobsen (2161) 1-0 – Queen’s Indian
Round 9 – Kristjansson (2123) vs. IM Kavutskiy 0-1 – Symmetrical English
At the closing ceremony, we managed to get most of the U.S. players in for a photo:
— Tatev Abrahamyan (@Tatev__A) March 14, 2018
All in all, I had a great time in Reykjavik once again–the organizers really know what they’re doing, running a smooth event with over 500 players in a beautiful location is not easy! The team of arbiters and staff also run a very tight ship, making sure the players are always taken care of. Were the rumors true, that Fischer looks down on Americans playing Reykjavik? Most likely. Well, I look forward to playing again in future years!
Kostya vs. Gata Kamsky from the European Fischer Random Cup. 1-0. Photo: Paul Truong