We saw another round of extremely interesting and fighting chess at Harpa yesterday as all of the top 5 boards were decisive. On board 1 Robin van Kampen beat Richard Rapport in what was probably one of the most exciting games of the day. In yet another Pirc (the amounts of Pircs we have seen so far in the tournament is simply incredible!) Richard played an interesting pawn sacrifice when he went for 9…Qd8, deviating from the Hansen-Hoffman game from round 2, where Black had gone for the more common 9…Qxc5. The advantage then swung back and forth until Richard went wrong with 19…Rc8 (19.Qc7 would have left him with a clear edge). After this move Robin didn’t let go of his advantage anymore and duly converted it into a win.
On board 2 Erwin L’Ami beat Nils Grandelius with the black pieces and as Eric Hansen lost to Bassem Amin on board 3, the two only players left with a perfect 5/5 score were the two Dutchmen Robin and Erwin! On the other top 30 boards the rating logic prevailed and we didn’t really have any surprises.
After the round a record-breaking number of players gathered at the SKY Lounge & Bar for what was probably one of the mostly anticipated side events of this tournament: the Chess Pub Quiz! The evening was a resounding success as everyone hugely enjoyed themselves and this was a great opportunity to make some new friends all the while refreshing your chess history knowledge. The winners of the night were Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam (the editor of New in Chess) and GM Helgi Olafsson with 21 correct answers out of a total of 30 questions. One might argue that this was a too strong match-up, but last year they surprisingly only came second behind a Canadian team, so they were very eager to restore their honor!
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Ingvar and Stefan for picking some particularly tricky questions (and of course for being such amazing Quiz Masters in general!) and thereby preserving the record of 29,5/30 that Heini Olsen and myself established back in 2009 in what was the first edition of the Pub Quiz. Heini tragically passed away a year later, but he will forever be remembered for his incredible chess knowledge and especially for being one of the nicest people you would ever meet both on and off the chessboard. We all miss you Heini!
At the start of today’s round 6 all eyes were of course turned to the top board encounter between Erwin L’Ami and Robin van Kampen. Those who believed the two Dutchmen would agree a quick draw couldn’t have been more wrong. The board 1 clash was indeed the second last game of the tournament to finish after 5 and half hours and 82 moves! Erwin had a small advantage throughout the game, but Robin showed very impressive defensive skills and managed to hold the draw. I was particularly impressed by the 62…b6 move, which nobody in the commentary room spotted (although several titled players were watching!) and which subsequently led to some sort of fortress. Erwin understandably tried to find a way around this defensive setup for a while, but when he realized Robin would not let this one slip away from him he played 82.b7 and after Bxb7 the draw was signed. A very interesting and fighting game by both players!
Board 2 saw another draw between Mikhail Kobalia and Li Chao, while on board 3 Bassem Amin took out Ferenc Berkes with the black pieces and joined the two Dutch leaders on 5.5/6. On board 9 the legendary American GM Walter Browne took advantage of a blunder by Nils Grandelius on move 38 to join the group of players on 5/6. A spectacular performance by this 6 times(!) US Champion! Another player who is doing extremely well so far is Danish IM Simon Bekker-Jensen who beat Stefan Kristjansson today, taking his score to 5/6 too. Simon has excellent GM norm chances at the moment and I wish him best of luck for the rest of the tournament!
Tomorrow the games will start at 13:00 once again, so make sure you don’t miss what promises to be another exciting round here in Reykjavik!