As you probably know, the Reykjavik Open is held – this year for the second time – in Harpa. Harpa is both a concert hall (it is the official home of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and the Icelandic Opera) and a conference centre, and it has quickly become a famous landmark, located next to Reykjavik’s harbour, from where its numerous glass panels of different colours play with rays of light during the day, and produce a spectacular light show at night. Harpa is beautiful!
A Harpa photo from Wikipedia
The building is 28,000 square meters in size and the bottom slab is 8,000 square meters. It is 43 meters tall. And on Wednesday, the day of the gruelling double rounds, the participants were introduced to another Harpa characteristic: its excellent acoustics. As it turned out, on the same day both the Icelandic Music Awards (in the evening) and the rehearsals for it (in the afternoon) were scheduled. This meant that during both the morning round and the evening round, from time to time the players could enjoy the music coming from upstairs (without entry fee).
Well, some of them enjoyed it more than others. We overheard one grandmaster saying:
I’m not sure what is worse, the volume of the music or the fact that it’s so boring!
And indeed, sometimes the base was so dominating that the “music” sounded more like a heartbeat – and nothing else.
Obviously the organizers did everything they could to limit the nuisance for the players, which included handing out ear plugs to everyone. However, not everyone was actually using them. “I quite like to play chess on the rhythm of the music,” said one player!
Chinese GM Yu Yangyi is known for his attacking skills, and one can imagine his series of killing moves being played on the rhythm “boom-boom-tsssh”:
Yu,Yangyi (2688) – Handler,Lukas (2369)
20.Bb6! (Bass drum) 20…Qxb6 21.Rxc8 (Floor tom) 21…a4 22.Qc4 (Ride cymbal) 22…g6 23.Qc1 (Floor tom) 23…Kg7
24.Rxf8! (Base drum) 24…Kxf8 25.Qxh6+ (Crash cymbal) 25…Ke8 26.Qh8+ (Snare drum) 26…Kd7 27.Rc1 (Bass-drum) 27…Qd8 28.Qf6! (Hi-hat) 28…Ke8 29.Ng5
(Splash cymbal) 1–0
Yu Yangiy vs FM Lukas Handler | Photo Hrafn Jökulsson
Amin Bassem, Egypt’s number one grandmaster, was also swingin’ along, but somewhere he missed a beat.
Amin,Bassem (2631) – Muir,Andrew J (2313) [B30]
9.Nh4 Let the attack start! 9…Be6 10.Nd2 Qd7 11.f4 And… boom! 11…Rac8 12.Ndf3 h6 13.Qd2 Kh7
14.f5 Boom-boom! 14…gxf5 15.exf5 Nxf5 16.Nxf5 Bxf5 17.Nxe5 And boom! 17…Nxe5
18.Rxf5 And boom! 18…Qxf5 And… o wait. 19.Rf1 19.Be4 Nf3+ is another song. 19…Qe6 Tssssh. 0–1
In this round WGM Dinara Saduakassova danced along with Ukrainian grandmaster Yuriy Kuzubov and followed his steps without stepping on his toe once. As a result, she won half a point. Turkan Mamedharova, one of Shakhriyar Mamedyarov’s sisters, is playing here and she also drew with a GM: Mikhailo Oleksienko.
Chief of police Stefán Eiríksson paid a visit to the tournament on Wednesday – you just cannot take cheating in chess seriously enough. | Photo Hrafn Jökulsson
IM Bogdan Borsos (Ukraine) beat GM Xiu Deshun (China) on time from a position that was probably lost. A bigger upset was Dutchman Bob Beeke, untitled and rated 2257, beating Icelandic GM Henrik Danielsen – convincingly, we may add!
Beeke,Bob (2257) – Danielsen,Henrik (2507)
21.Bxc5! dxc5 22.d6 22.h3! was more accurate. 22…Bc6? 22…Bxd6 23.Qxd6 Bc6 with equal chances. 23.dxc7! White is just going to keep this pawn as the threat of 24.h3 is annoying. 23…Bxg2 24.Kxg2 Qxc4!? 25.Qd5+!? Kg7!?
26.Nc1! This is completely winning. 26…Qb4 27.Nd3 Qd4 28.Qxf5 h5 29.h3 Nh6
30.Rxe7+! Finishing in style. 30…Rxe7 31.Qxg5+ Kh8 32.Qxh6+ Rh7 33.Qe6 Rxc7 34.Ne5 Qb4 35.Qf6+ Rg7 36.Rd7 Qxb2+ 37.Kh1 1–0
A tactical short circuit occurred in the following game:
Bjerke,Richard (2131) – Norowitz,Yaacov (2432)
Black has just played 23…Rc4. Can White win material or not? 23.Re5 Qc6 24.Rxa5! Yes he can! 24…bxa5 25.Ne5. 24…Rc2 Really? 25.Rc5! Yes!
Top seeds Anish Giri and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave didn’t slip yet; both are on 3/3. Third seed David Navara, however, didn’t have a very good (Wednes)day. The Czech grandmaster drew twice, against WGM Gulnar Mammadova and against GM Fridrik Olafsson, and in both games he was worse. In fact, he was lucky that in the evening his legendary opponent offered him a draw in a promising position, after having missed a win:
Olafsson,Fridrik (2416) – Navara,David (2710)
30.Nf3 Right after the game Navara thought that 30.Bg5 was winning here. After 30…Rc8 31.exd5 Qd6 32.Nf3! the threat of 33.Nxe5! is hard to meet. 30…Qb5 31.Qc3 d4 32.Qc7 Qd7
Here Olafsson played 33.Qxe5 and offered a draw, perhaps fearing the upcoming timetrouble. (The Icelandic GM used to be famous for his strong play with little time on the clock!) 33.Qc4+ Qf7 34.Qxa6 should win fairly easily for White. ½–½
Dutch grandmaster Ivan Sokolov was one of the few GMs who took a bye in the morning round, and not because he “doesn’t like to get up early”, as we wrote before. No, in fact in three previous editions he played the double rounds, but his score wasn’t great: 2 out of 6 in these games. You can imagine how disappointing it must have been for him when his opponent, an American FM, showed excellent technique…
Jayakumar,Adarsh (2271) – Sokolov,Ivan (2644)
38.h4 h5 39.f3 Rb1 40.Kf4 f6 41.Ra6+ Ke7 42.Ke4 Nc4 43.Re6+ Kf7 44.Kd5 Ne5 45.Ra6 Nxf3 46.Ra7+ Kg8 47.Nxf3 Rxb5+ 48.Ke6 Rb6+ 49.Ke7 Kg7 50.e4 Kh6 51.Rd7 Rb3 52.Nd4 Re3 53.Kxf6 Rxe4 54.Ne6 Rxh4 55.Rd8