Eight Tie for First in Reykjavik

It was a bit of a dog-pile at yesterday’s conclusion of the 2019 Reykjavik Open. Eight players – GMs Alireza Firouzja, Nils Grandelius, Abhijeet Gupta, Gawain Jones, Constantin Lupulescu, Mircea-Emilian Parligras, Tigran L. Petrosian, and Aryan Tari – finished in a tie for first place at 7/9, with Lupulescu having the best tiebreaks. Another nine players, including American GM Andrew Tang, finished a half-point back at 6.5/9.

Lupulescu appeared to be running away with the event after the seventh round, when he won this sparkling game against the Iranian phenom Firouzja.

But he was brought back down to earth in round eight, losing a fascinating game to England’s Gawain Jones. Jones will remember Reykjavik for more than his shared first place finish, as he broke the 2700 rating plateau for the first time with his performance.

While Lupulescu-Jones was being fought out on board one, a truly stupendous battle was unfolding on board two. Words can hardly describe the game between Abhijeet Gupta and Nils Grandelius, so without further ado, I present the game below. It’s worth the price of admission.

Three players – Jones, Lupulescu, and Mircea-Emilian Parligras – entered the final round with 6.5 points, while another 14 (!) trailed by just a half-point. Fellow countrymen Lupulescu and Parligras played a bloodless draw on the top board, opening the door for Jones to claim the event outright with a final-round win. His opponent, GM Erwin L’ami, had other ideas, and Jones had to fight tooth and nail just to hold the draw.

Jones-L’ami (photo Steil-Antoni)

The Reykjavik Open is in recent years a popular destination for American players, with excellent playing conditions and cheap flights from New York being primary draws. 19 Americans made the trip in 2019, including three of our most promising juniors.

Internet legend GM Andrew Tang and award-winning problemist IM Christopher Yoo entered round nine with 5.5 points each, and found themselves paired with each other. In this case experience won out over precocity, and Tang took the full point to join the pack at 6.5.

12-year-old Kirk Ghazarian started his Reykjavik adventure with a jolt, drawing eventual co-winner Gupta in the first round. While a draw against a 2600+ GM is a great result for anyone, Ghazarian will certainly have mixed feelings about the game, as he had a win in the final position.

Both Ghazarian and Yoo finished the tournament with 5.5/9.

Tang wasn’t the only American legend in Reykjavik. Dan Smith, “the best [poker] player in the world without  a WSOP bracelet” according to Daniel Negreanu, made the journey and ended up with 5/9 points. Only a few of his games are available, as not all the lower boards were broadcast, but the finale to his round five loss to IM Zan Tomazini is worth a diagram.

Results for all American players:

Complete results are available at the tournament websites:




  1. Why does the American with the highest performance rating (2742) and second most rating points gained (16.1) not merit even a brief mention in this article? I am referring to IM Justin Sarkar.

  2. IM Sarkar’s performance rating was actually 2472 (I transposed some numbers in my previous comment) but I stand by my main point that IM Sarkar’s accomplishment should have been mentioned in the body of the article.

Leave a Comment

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Announcements

  • US Chess Press