Reykjavik Open 2017

After a relaxing Easter Break at home we went on to Reykjavik. While at home and looking at the calendar Gawain said “It feels so strange to not be playing chess over Easter” and I jokingly replied that “I’ve signed him up to play at the chess club!”. On our train to Birmingham Airport we received a message from our good friend

GM Nils Grandelius stating “I’m in some incredible s***”

He had just been playing in the strong Grenke Chess Open where over 5 days the players have to play 9 games with 4 double round days to fight for the 1st prize of €10,000. Nils had been booked on a flight from Germany and it was meant to arrive at  around 11am  but when he messaged us at about 10am he was nowhere near getting on the plane and he told us his arrival time would be 2pm and our flight to Reykjavik was departing Birmingham at 1.25pm. There was bad weather the day before and we could hope for a slight delay but it didn’t appear to be likely! It was only when I checked the flight arrival times into Keflavik that I noticed a delay on most of the Icelandair flights and our flight was now departing at 4pm. Luckily for Nils, he managed to get through security, pick up his bag and then was able to drop it off and get on the flight! Before we knew that our flight had this major delay we were trying to figure out the best way for Nils to get to Reykjavik which would be taking a train to London and getting on a late evening flight into Keflavik and arriving into Reykjavik in the very early hours of the day we were meant to play!

We started the first day with a healthy breakfast then a meet up with Nils, WCM Ellen Kakulidis (who is also a blogger) and GM Erik Blomqvist for a walk around town.

The first round went smoothly for us and then it was time to rest before a 9am start the next day! This double round day went much better for me then the double round day in Dubai. I managed to score 1.5/2 against two IMs and Gawain also finished the day perfectly with 2/2. After 2 games and about 10 hours of play we tried to get some food but most of the restaurants stopped serving at 10 pm so we had to go to Dirty Burger and Ribs. I will try to annotate my crazy game against IM Eesha Karavade later but you can see the game here.

Round 4 was another good day for both of us with Gawain winning against Josh Friedel and me drawing with IM Bragi Thorfinsson after outplaying him in the game. I reached a winning opposite colour bishop endgame but didn’t see the zugswang idea that I would get after taking his pawn! It was a shame to do all the hard work and come out with a half point but my play here was so much better than in the UAE.

Weather wise there has been sun, snow and lots of wind! Going from 35 degrees+ to about 5 degrees was a bit of a shock to the system but I’m glad we had a few days at home to change our wardrobe and grab some warmer clothes. When it’s a nice day in Iceland, you really appreciate it! There have been many times when we’ve been here that things have been iced over and the winds chill you to your core.

Ellen decided to play in the Harpa Blitz and we decided to pop along to support her! I wasn’t going to play after playing my long 4th round. We also spotted another Ginger GM, our good friend Hjoppi who unfortunately didn’t play the tournament as he had exams on.

In Round 5, I had a completely lost position against IM Batchimeg from Mongolia. She had outplayed me and I left myself with 30 seconds a move for 15 moves. I managed to play well in time trouble to get back into the game. 

We went to the pub quiz and Ellen and I were quite pleased we were able to answer quite a few of the questions! I’ve heard in the past the questions have been quite difficult and my chess history knowledge is patchy at the best of times. Congratulations to team Grandellen who won the pub quiz! I think they were also the youngest players to play. We finished 2 points behind them and scored more than the “Journalist team” who had Peter Doggers and Tarej Svensen – it was quite funny as they only got 1 answer right regarding the World Championship and they both attended the match!

The tournament with me went well overall. I missed a WGM norm by 1/2 a point and I ended up on the same score as Gawain. He finished this tournament with 3 losses overall. We have had an incredibly tough schedule the last month but it’s been a learning experience for both of us. I found out also that I wasn’t able to update (to you the readers) during the tournament as I guess I then started thinking about how I was performing and the analysing that rather than just playing. I won’t be playing for the next few months so I’m sure I’ll be able to update more often and hopefully on some interesting subjects. Gawain will be playing in the European Individual in Minsk, Belarus as we managed to renew his passport on Tuesday (as he had no blank pages for visa!). I’m also pleased to say that Gawain will be playing in the British Chess Championship in Llandudno in the Summer. I’ll take some time out in the next week or so to analyse why I did so terribly in the first two tournaments and let’s see if I can change my results for the better.