Finally, finally, we have a proper Reykjavik Open! For the first time since 2019 before the pandemic, we have a proper open edition of the Reykjavik Open! It seems like the chess players are equally happy as the organizers as the nice turnout of 245 players is more or less business as usual as it was before.
The accelerated pairings that were started a few open editions ago seem to produce much more interesting first rounds than the normal swiss system. Several of the top seeds either had to concede draws or work extremely hard for the full point in a fun first round.
Top seed Idani Pouya probably had the least trouble of all the top seeds….but not without risk!
Perhaps the risk was minimal and the Iranian had the piece sacrifice perfectly calculated. Black can take a piece on d4 but will not survive for long. 17…exd4 is answered by 18.Bf5 and black simply can’t untangle. White will take on d4 and bring the other rook and any ..Kc8 running away attempt is answered with Re8+. Chapman had to go to an ending that brought no hope to the black pieces.
D Gukesh seemed to be having a smooth sailing with the black pieces and a well played game but faltered in the endgame. His opponent seemed to have an easy draw…
54.Kxg5 seemed simple enough but 54.h4?? changed the result from an upset to a win for the Indian GM.
Hans Niemann also had to work hard on board three. He seemed to have some advantage out of the opening but his opponent defended tenaciously. Possibly the endgame was holdable for black with best play but practically white retained good chances for “a squeeze”. Hans squeezed!
Adhiban, a former winner, had a good day at the office. He neutralized the London system and didn’t allow white much hope in the middlegame.
The toughest win was undoubtedly for Raunak Sadhwani against Nigel Povah. The players reached an endgame with a rather locked pawn structure and despite white holding perhaps an optical slight edge there wasn’t much in it. In fact, after defending for a while, Povah had a chance to put his higher-rated opponent in big trouble.
50…c4!? would have been a tremendous shot. Black ends up wrecking white’s kingside and his passers become monsters. Instead, Sadhwani escaped but it was again objectively drawn when the improbable happened….Sadhwani blundered into a loss!
The 91st move 91.g5?? should have allowed black perhaps to win after 91…Kf7. White is zugzwanged, black picks up pawns and the knight comes to g6 to defend. Instead 91…Kf5?? returned the favor….but it was still drawn!
The Indian GM then went for it on move 94:
94.b4!? is still not enough to win. It wasn’t until move 99 that black finally erred.
99…Qc7?? loses but 99…Qb2! draws.
Amazing twists and turns!
The upsets remained mostly in the form of draws with GM’s Mads Andersen, Abhimanyu Mishra, Johann Hjartarson, and Oleg Romanishin conceding draws. The first big upset came on board 26 where 2119 rated Belgian Rafael De Coninck defeated local GM Throstur Thorhallsson.
Round 2 features some very interesting matchups as internet sensations Irene Sundakar and Eric Rosen are on the top 4 boards. It will be an interesting double-round day.
Some notable games
Our vote for the game of the day goes to GM Matthieu Cornette
Coverage was provided on the Reykjavik Open YT page