Americans in Reykjavik: Roses, not at Random

The Reykjavik Open has come to a close, with both good stories and disappointing results for the Americans. To continue the theme from my first report, the event organization is exceptional. So it's great news that the sponsor of the event, GAMMA, and the playing venue, the beautiful Music Hall Harpa, have confirmed that the Reykjavik Open will return for at least three more years! Next year's dates will be in early April, and might coincide with the U.S. Championship, but let's hope it doesn't. We left off our journey on a high degree of success for the Americans. Lenderman and Moradiabadi finished 1-2 at the Fischer Random European Championship, while Lenderman was also tied for first in the traditional tournament. Unfortunately for the New Yorker, after a tough draw with Yilmaz he was overpowered by the strong 2700 Richard Rapport, and in round eight fell to the strong IM Deimante Cornette (also known as Deimante Daulyte, her last name before getting married to Matthieu Cornette), eliminating his hopes for top prizes. Rapport took out Josh Friedel... ...and Alex Lenderman back to back In round six I was sent back to school by the eventual winner of the event, Adhiban Baskaran:

[Event "Reykjavik Open"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2018.03.13"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Adhiban, Baskaran"]
[Black "Ramirez Alvarez, Alejandro"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A57"]
[Annotator "alera"]
[PlyCount "53"]
[EventDate "2018.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2018.03.19"]
[SourceVersionDate "2018.03.19"]

{I had played Adhiban last year at the Aeroflot Open, scoring a nice victory.
His repertoire includes anything and everything, and he is a very aggressive
and talented attacker, as he proved in this game!} 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 b5
4. cxb5 a6 {I didn't expect him to go for the Benko, though I was a bit
nervous as I hadn't reviewed my sidelines in a while.} 5. e3 {The quiet
variation, which brings me good memories (defeating Tomashevsky in the World
Cup) but always a dangerous weapon.} axb5 (5... g6 {is also possible, and I'll
have to dig a bit deeper to see if it's still holding up.}) 6. Bxb5 Qa5+ 7. Nc3
Bb7 8. Bd2 (8. Nge2 Nxd5 9. O-O {leads to some unclear positions where White
retains chances for an edge due to his development advantage, but his
structure is pretty bad.}) 8... Qb6 9. Nf3 Nxd5 10. a4 {At this point I didn't
remember much. I recall analyzing it many years ago and that Qg6 was a move
somewhere, but didn't remember exactly where. I will have to review this
before I update my Benko DVD.} Qg6 $5 {This move is not as dumb as it looks.
The threat on g2 is annoying in combination of the power of the bishop on b7,
as White doesn't have much choice but to castle.} 11. O-O e6 {I analyzed this
position before going for Qg6 and though it was ok, some sample variations:}
12. a5 $1 {Played after almost half an hour, and an incredibly strong move. I
was surprised at hose strong it was during the game!} (12. Ne5 Qxg2+ 13. Kxg2
Nxc3+ 14. Qf3 Bxf3+ 15. Kxf3 Nxb5 16. axb5 Rxa1 17. Rxa1 d5 {was an endgame I
was completely unclear of. Black is up a pawn, his knight on b8 is very bad,
but he is close to finishing development. It would be a cool training position.
}) (12. e4 Nxc3 13. Bxc3 Bxe4 {sacrifices a pawn but I don't think I should be
very scared:} 14. Nh4 Qh6 15. Re1 Bb7 {White has compensation but the lack of
weaknesses makes it hard to prove much.}) 12... Nc7 (12... Bd6 13. e4 Nxc3 14.
Bxc3 Bc7 {looks very suspicious during the game.}) (12... Be7 13. a6 Nxc3 (
13... Nxa6 14. Bxd7+ {is just ugly.}) (13... Bxa6 14. Ne5 Qf6 15. f4 $1 $16 {
The queen is in a bit of danger, and the pin on the a-file is very annoying,})
14. Bxc3 Bd5 15. Bd3 Be4 16. a7 {it's impossible to hold with a pawn on a7,
and it will survive} Nc6 17. Bxe4 Qxe4 18. Qb3 $1 $16) 13. e4 $1 {Again very
strong} (13. Be2 Be7 14. Qb3 Bc6 {gives me chances}) 13... Nxb5 (13... Bxe4 {
this was my original intention, but then I noticed:} 14. Nh4 Qf6 15. Nxe4 Qxh4
16. Re1 $1 {This was the move I missed} (16. Bd3 Qd8 {is not entirely clear,
though there is still strong pressure}) 16... Nxb5 (16... Qd8 17. Bg5 {just
loses now}) 17. Bg5 {and the queen is unfortunately trapped!}) 14. Nxb5 Na6 15.
Re1 f6 {upong reaching this position I thought I was worse, but holdable. The
hole on d6 is worrying but I'm controlling the a-pawn and the bishop on b7 is
still annoying. Adhiban put those dreams away quickly.} 16. Nh4 Qf7 17. Qb3 $1
{A brilliant concept: It's impossible to stop Nf5.} Bc6 {what else?} (17... Be7
18. Nc7+ Nxc7 19. Qxb7 Bd6 {will not hold}) 18. Nf5 {this is the problem} Qh5
$2 {Missing a simple trick} (18... exf5 19. exf5+ {and the queen is lost is
the point} Be7 20. Nd6+) (18... Bxb5 19. Qxb5 {is just miserable as I don't
have time to take on f5}) (18... Qg6 {offered more resistance}) 19. Nbd6+ {
the knight is taboo because of Nxg7} Kd8 {The rest requires not explanation}
20. Qb6+ Nc7 21. Bf4 exf5 22. Nxf5 Rc8 23. Rad1 Ke8 24. Bxc7 g6 25. Ng3 Qg4 26.
e5 Qb4 27. e6 $1 1-0[/pgn]
Myself trying to remember how to play the Benko
Adhiban Baskaran
Meanwhile Kamsky was being held to a draw by Nihal Sarin, which started his draw sequence (followed up with draws against Stefansson and Abdusattorov).
Kamsky vs. Sarin
Gotta get 'em while they're young. Unfortunately, Sarin might already be past that stage. The 13-year old finished with a massive 2668 performance and his 20th place was due mainly to bad luck with tiebreaks. However, some of us managed to get back into the tournament. I was able to win rounds seven and eight, while Perelshteyn was quietly surging. Thanks to his round eight win against Benjamin Gledura, he found himself in a strong position going into the last round! Had he beaten me in round nine, Perelshteyn would actually have claimed second place thanks to his amazing tiebreak. In another top board between Americans Kamsky defeated Gabriel Bick.
Nikhil Kumar
Nikhil Kumar finished a decent tournament with a draw against Lenderman, gaining some rating in the process. Kamsky defeated Bick with a strong squeeze, and while I was pushing against Perelshteyn, I was unable to break through. This proved nice for the Americans, as Perelshteyn finished fourth and I finished ninth!
IM John Bartholomew
America's most popular IM, John Bartholomew, lost a heartbreak in round seven that put him out of norm contention, but he finished with two wins. Also quietly gaining ground was Konstantin Kavutskiy. It is rare for a player to win a tournament twice in a row, but it is probably even more rare for a player to win the same category prize twice in a row! Kavutskiy did just that by finishing at the top of the u2400 rating bracket, yet again.

[Event "GAMMA Reykjavik Open - Fischer Memorial"]
[Date "2018.03.10"]
[White "Valette, Christian"]
[Black "Kavutskiy, Konstantin"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "E95"]
[WhiteElo "2022"]
[BlackElo "2383"]
[Annotator "alera"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "r1b1r1k1/pp3pb1/2p1nqp1/2P1p1p1/N1B1P3/1P3R2/PB3PPP/R2Q2K1 b - - 0 18"]
[PlyCount "49"]
[EventDate "2018.??.??"]
[WhiteTeam "France"]
[BlackTeam "United States"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "FRA"]
[BlackTeamCountry "USA"]
[WhiteClock "1:30:30"]
[BlackClock "1:30:30"]

{[#]} 18... Nf4 {With Black's last move there is some serious pressure on the
kingside. You also kind of have to wonder what the rook on f3 is doing. Things
are dire, but not unholdable for White.} 19. Qd6 $2 {Seems like a sensible
move. The queen swap will help White's king, and He has the following in mind:}
b5 $1 {An unusual tactic: If White trades queens, en passant is illegal, and
if he doesn't the queen on d6 is en prise!} (19... Qxd6 20. cxd6 b5 21. Nc5 bxc4
22. d7 Bxd7 23. Nxd7 {which is perhaps dubious anyway, but Black has stronger.}
) 20. g3 Qxd6 21. cxd6 Nh3+ 22. Kg2 bxc4 {The rest is basic} 23. bxc4 g4 24.
Rd3 Be6 25. c5 Ng5 26. Re3 Nf3 27. Bc3 Bh6 28. Re2 Rab8 29. Rd1 Red8 30. Ba5
Rd7 31. Nc3 Nd4 32. Ree1 Rb2 33. Rb1 Rc2 34. Rb8+ Kg7 35. Reb1 Bd2 36. R1b2
Rxb2 37. Rxb2 Bxc3 38. Bxc3 Nf3 39. Ba5 Ng5 40. Re2 Rb7 41. Bc7 Nf3 42. Re3 Rb1
Kostya Kavutskiy
Another prize winner was Tatev Abrahamyan. After a couple of bad results in the middle of the event she recovered and ended as the second best woman in the event. Tatev was right behind Deimante Cornette, who scored her first GM norm in this event! Our U.S. Women's Champion, Sabina Foisor, didn't have such a strong showing, losing 18 rating points but ending on a high note with two victories.
World Under 18 Champion Laura Unuk from Slovenia and America's Tatev Abrahamyan
Myself, Abrahamyan and Friedel. Prize winners got a rose.
Group photo with players all holding roses
Making chess players take a picture is like herding cats, but we managed to get most of our prizewinners above. The Reykjavik Open continues to be a very attractive tournament for Americans, and with the even further increased direct routes (Wow airlines, for example, is adding STL-KEF as a direct rout starting in May, just to name one) I would not be surprised that next year's event attracts even more of us! Find further information on the event, including final standings, on the official site. 


In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

WOW airlines may be cheap. As the saying goes you get what you pay for. Unless they have changed since 2016 the bag fees are excessive and service not very good. My experience with them when returning from Iceland was not the best.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I liked WOW just fine when I flew with them, but in addition to WOW, American, Delta, and I think United are all offering flights to Iceland now as well. A few years ago it was just Icelandair; there are many choices now. Icelandair is also adding new cities in the U.S.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Sorry - I can't comment on the airlines, but I loved the article! Great stuff from a fun-loving but extremely strong American GM. Thank you, GM Ramirez, for another great effort at the chessboard and at the keyboard!

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

It was a moment in time..the second Millionaire Open/ Las Vegas. Planet Hollywood elevator pops open. He was climbing in with a lovely senorita. The greatest pop English chess annotator ever rolls in from afar. How strange. How wonderful. A "Dire Straits" concert live. Jude Acers/ New Orleans

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)


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