The Reykjavik Open is more than just a tournament; it should be called a chess festival. In the last few days there have been quite a lot of side events, such as a pub quiz, a blitz tournament and a
soccer football match!
It’s not easy to be modest and at the same time write about something you won, but the traditional pub quiz cannot remain unmentioned here. I finished first with a huge score (26/30), but this was mainly thanks to my partner GM Ian Rogers.
To the question where “ECO” orginates from, he not only wrote down Chess Informant (something I knew as well), but also the street in Belgrade where they have their office! Another question (obviously number 13) was: “Name at least one of the three players who beat Garry Kasparov at an Olympiad.” I would have written down Boris Gulko, but that’s wrong. Ian knew two: Krum Georgiev and Yasser Seirawan. (The third name is Veselin Topalov.)
The funny thing with these pub quizes is that there will always be a question you don’t know, but you really should. I’ve read a lot about Bobby Fischer, replayed all his games and still I couldn’t remember that he was born in Chicago! (Ian forgot about it as well.)
I’ll give two more questions which I particularly liked. Try to find the answers without Google! (In fact that would be silly because I give them at the end of this article.)
1. This chessplayer was born in Kiev which was at that time part of the Russian Empire. He died 63 years later in West Germany after enjoying a successful career as a chessplayer where he among other achievements won the Soviet Championship two times and got an opening named after him. He was also quoted as saying “When I am white I win because I am white. When I am black I win because I am xxx.” Who was he?
2. This chessplayer was nicknamed by no other than Anatoly Karpov as the “World Champion of amateurs” and he was one of the strongest chess player of his nation for a quarter of a century. Despite being a strong GM he rather wanted to work as a lawyer but he nevertheless represented his country at 12 Olympiads and he also won his country’s Championship 6 times. He once played a match agains Keres where they played the Ruy Lopez on all 8 games. He also beat several very strong players as Fischer, Botvinnik, Tal, Keres and Korchnoi. Who was he?
(Ian knew the first, but we had the second one wrong!)
On Saturday night the playing hall saw another side event: a blitz tournament called “Even Steven”, with a very interesting time odds system. Basically for every 100 rating poins the gap increases two minutes. So 0-100 play 5 minutes each with 1 second increment. But if it’s over 100 it was 6+1 sec vs 4+1 sec. With the rating gap going over 400 we had 9 mins + 1 sec vs 1 min + 1 sec. In such a game, 60 seconds was usually enough for the grandmaster to beat the amateur.
On Sunday night it was time for something completely different: the traditional football match (sometimes mistakenly called soccer) between Icelandic chessplayers and a team of foreign guests. Some GMs played: Alexander Ipatov, Sebastien Mazé, Bartosz Socko and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. Unfortunately their mental skills were not enough to score the winning goal, but only good for a 6-2 loss. I also played, and I realized that the last time I was on a football pitch was… last year in Reykjavik! Needless to say, I played horribly.
The Reykjavik festival includes a lot of activities that are not exactly chess, and so does the tournament itself. In the 7th round a few games were decided in rook endings and time and again this type of endings seems to have nothing to do with chess! They have their own set of rules and players just need a different mindset to be successful.
Here’s what happened on one of the top boards.
Gajewski,Grzegorz (2644) – Vachier-Lagrave,Maxime (2715)
This ending should probably be drawn, but it’s not so easy for Black, who has his king cut off. 36…Ra1+ 37.Kh2 Ra3 38.Rb7 Rc3 39.Kh3 Ra3 40.Kg4 Ra2 41.Kg3 Ra3 42.Rb2 Kg7 43.Kf2 Ra7 44.g4
44…g5 We’re not sure if this is a mistake, but in hindsight it seems better to just wait here. 45.h5 Kf7 46.Ke2 Rd7 47.Rb3 Kg7 48.Rd3 Ra7 49.Kd2 Rc7 50.Rc3 Rd7+ 51.Kc2 Ra7 52.Kb3 Rb7+ 53.Kc2 Ra7 54.Rd3 Rc7+ 55.Kb3 Kf7 56.Kb4 Ke6 57.Kb5 Rc1 58.Kb6 Rc2 59.Kb7 Ke7 60.Rb3 Kf7 61.Kb8 Kf8 62.Rb6 Kf7 63.Rb7+ Kf8 64.Rc7 Rd2 65.Rc3 Ke7 66.Kb7 Rd1 67.Rc7+
Black probably couldn’t avoid this position, and so 44…g5 was the losing mistake after all. 67…Kf8 67…Ke6 68.h6 Rd8 (68…Rh1 69.h7 Kd6 70.Rc6+ Kd7 71.Rc8!) 69.Rc8 Rd7+ 70.Kb6 Rh7 71.Rc6+ Kf7 72.Rc7+ Kg6 73.Rxh7 Kxh7 74.Kc7 Kxh6 75.Kd6 Kh7 76.Kd7 Kh6 77.Ke8 Kg7 78.Ke7 Kg6 79.Kf8+– 68.Kc6 Rd3 69.Rd7 Rxf3 70.Kd6
70…Rd3+? More tenacious was 70…Rf4 71.Ke6 Kg8 but after a waiting move like 72.Rb7! (72.Rf7? Rxg4) White wins anyway:
a) 72…Kf8 73.h6 Kg8 74.Rg7+ Kh8 75.Kf7 Rxe4 76.Kg6 Ra4 77.Re7 Ra8 78.Kxf6;
b) 72…Kh8 73.Rf7 Rxe4 (73…Rxg4 74.Kf5! Kg8 75.Kg6) 74.Kf5 Rd4 75.Kg6 Kg8 76.Rg7+ Kh8 77.Re7 Rd8 78.Kxf6;
c) 72…Rf2 73.Rf7 Rf4 74.Rxf6 Rxg4 75.Rg6+ Kf8 (75…Kh7 76.Kxe5) 76.h6 Rh4 77.Kf5 g4 78.Kg5.
71.Ke6 Rxd7 71…Rd4 72.h6 Kg8 73.Re7+– 72.Kxd7 f5 73.gxf5 g4 74.h6 g3 75.f6 g2 76.h7 g1Q 77.h8Q+ Kf7
78.Qe8+! and Black resigned as 78…Kxf6 79.Qf8+ and 80.Qg8+ picks up the queen.
Jones,Gawain C B (2637) – Yu,Yangyi (2688)
36…g5!? Again going for active play. Here the waiting strategy seems to work as well: 36…Re7 37.Kf2 Rc8 38.Kf3 Re6 39.c7 Kf7 and White cannot make progress. 37.Rcc5 Perhaps 37.fxg5+ Kxg5 38.Re6 Rd5 39.Kg2 f4 40.Kf3 Kf5 41.Re8 offered some chances. 37…Rxd4 38.Rxf5+ Kg7 39.Rxg5+ Kh8 40.Rce5 Rd8 41.Re6 Rdc8 42.Rc5
The Chinese had seen in advance that 42…a5! now exchanges the pawns, and the resulting f+h vs h is an easy draw. 43.Rxa5 Rxc6 44.Rxc6 Rxc6 Black doesn’t even need his h-pawn here. A draw was agreed at move 66.
Huang,Qian (2478) – L’Ami,Erwin (2622)
This rook ending should also end in a draw, but l’Ami showed amazing persistance and finally the Chinese lady cracked at the very end. You can read more about this ending in a separate article by GM Ian Rogers!
Stelios Halkias missed a tactic and saw his position collapse in just one move.
So,Wesley (2684) – Halkias,Stelios (2566)
22…Qc7?? 23.Nxf5! and although he tried for a while, Black was just lost here.
Wesley So vs Stelios Hakias | Photo Hrafn Jökulsson
We finish with a nice example of “the deceiver deceived”.
Cheparinov,Ivan (2709) – Shulman,Yury (2563)
38.Nxf4! In fact 38.Rxg7! also wins here. 38…Re5 38…Nxe1 39.Nxe6 wins big material. 39.Qd1!
39…Nxd4 39…Nxg5 40.Bxe5 and the d-pawn is pinned; 39…Rxg5 40.Qxf3 Rxh5 41.Qxh5+– 40.Qxd4 and White won.
Pub quiz answers: 1. Efim Bogoljubov. 2. Wolfgang Unzicker. Thanks to FM Sigurbjörn Björnsson who gave permission to use the questions in this report.