After a totally grueling double round day we have 13 players on 3 out of 3. After a rather smooth first round for most of the higher rated players, rounds two and three presented some bigger challenges for the titled players in this tournament.
In round 2 most of the top seeds won in clinical fashion. Notably Gawain Jones won in nice style vs Ukrainian IM Ponomarenko and Kobailia demonstrated a typical Russican “school” squeeze out of an exchange Slav. Most of the other top seeds also won in convincing fashion but the first big upset of the tournament was when Norwegian Brede Kvisvik managed to sensationally beat Gzregorz Gajewski. Gajewski had been in good form lately, butchering his opposition in the recent Icelandic league so an impressive win by the Norwegian.
After about the top 13-14 boards we started to see some GM’s dropping half points but on the other hand most of those draws had the GM’s offering and getting draws with either worse positions and even in some cases completely losing ones. The timing and psychologoy of the draw offer clearly plays and important part in chess!
Roudn three gave us some IM’s vs GM’s on the top boards and while most of the GM’s prevailed, top seed Arkadij Naiditsch had to resign against Egyptian Mohammed Ezat. Naiditsch sacrificed a rook for a very promising attack but chose the wrong recapture at a critical point. He still had a draw in hand for a good while but went too far trying to win and in the end had to admit defeat vs his resilient opponent.
Of those checking into round 4 with a full house, Rapport, Berkes, Nakamura (edit: I’ve just been informed that Nakamura isn’t playing the tournament so I guess at the time of writing I meant Kobailia!…was watching Nakamura Knockouts at the time of writing which makes the error less embarassing ;0) and Van Kampen all had to demonstrate a tremendous amount of endgame technique and trickery to bring hom the points in the 3rd round. Rapport even prevailed despite a rather dubious opening experiment where he managed a novelty on move 3 after 1.Nf3 e6 2.g3 g5?!?!! 3.d4 g4?!?!!!!?!
Joining these players with a full house are several names and it will be interesting too see what the veteran Walter Browne will do now on the top boards. Walter played the Reykjavik Open many many years ago and it is a pleasure to have such a mainstay of the old tournaments here on the 50 year anniversary tournament.
For most players this was a gruelling day since we had a double round but also it shall be added that early in the morning round the 28.000 sqm. Harpa building had to be evacuated because of a fire alarm. Normally Icelanders are a bit too relaxed when these things happen but in thise case all protocols were followed and the building had to be evacuated while a firetruck came and everything was taken care of. In general our players met this unexpected obstacle with a small on their faces.
For some of our visiting foreign guests perhaps today they experienced something new since it snowed rather heavily for most of the day. For round 4 we can finally expect some well anticipated GM’s clashes but hopefully now fire drills but most likely we’ll have some snow for a while!