GM Alejandro Ramirez on the Reykjavik Open
Photo Lennart Ootes, Official website
The Reykjavik Open is one of the best tournaments in the World, no doubt about that. Held every year in the capital of Iceland, this open has obtained the reputation of being not only one of the strongest events of the year, but also one of the friendliest and with the best environment to play in. Iceland itself is an absolutely beautiful country, with amazing sights, waterfalls, geysers and enough touristic attractions to last several weeks. Indeed, Reykjavik attracts many tourists – up to 1.5 million per year, which is almost five times the population of the entire country!
The tournament is held in the Harpa concert hall, a beautiful and spectacular building which oversees the bay. When it is sunny, it is possible to see a wonderful view of the surrounding glaciers and snowed in mountains around Reykjavik. In the windy days, you can see (and hear!) the snowstorms from inside the hall, while sipping on some hot chocolate and playing your game.
With “only” one round a day, the event gives enough time for players to walk and explore Reykjavik, and sometimes even attend certain tourist expeditions. There are a slew of side events, which include soccer, a pub quiz, blitz events, tours to waterfalls and geysers, and even a backgammon tournament! That tournament is certainly amazing as a half tourist, half tournament destination, but if one wants to take the event seriously, it is also one of the strongest events of the year.
The starting list saw some incredibly strong players at the top: Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Dmitry Andreikin, Richard Rapport, Gabriel Sargissian, Ivan Cheparinov, only to name a few. For this reason, many Americans attended the tournament, to face against some of the best players in the World. Some did it seeking norms, others did it for fun, while we even had two people do it as preparation for the upcoming U.S. Championship!
Peter Giannatos, Photo Lennart Ootes for official website
Peter Giannatos is the person in charge of the Charlotte Chess Club, a venture that is definitely picking up steam and that has GM Ben Finegold overlooking the upbringing of new chess players in the area quite consistently. Trying to get a taste of European chess, Peter traveled not only to this tournament but also to the rapid tournament in Riga which preceded the Reykjavik Open. Not only did Peter get a good taste for international chess, but he also won a whopping 30 rating points! That is not a small feat, by any means.
Peter Giannatos (Finnish hat) and this author overlooking Tatev’s superior position against a 2600 GM. Photo Lennart Ootes for official website
Following in rating order, Tatev Abrahamyan is one of the participants in the upcoming U.S. Women’s Championship. After a rocky year, it seems that Tatev has finally found some stable ground. Her performance in Reykjavik was superb, winning 22 rating points and playing against some very high rated opponents. She was winning in several of her games, including against near 2600 GM Danyyil Dvirnyy, but her cleanest performance was in the last round against Italian WGM Maria Brunello:
Awonder Liang, Photo Lennart Ootes for official website
Now come a string of success stories, starting with Awonder Liang.
Young Awonder went with his father, and had a very solid performance. He was only defeated twice, once by the tournament winner, Abhijeet Gupta and once by super-GM Sergei Movsesian. I chose his game against Gupta to annotate and show, because I think it was one of the key games of the tournament (not just for Awonder, but as a whole) and because it was such a learning experience. But with a 2445 rating performance, a win over GM Henrik Danielsen and drawing two 2500s, the tournament was certainly a success for this young prodigy.
View Awonder Liang's exciting game against GM Abhijeet Gupta, the tournament winner, with annotations by GM Ramirez in the full article, Alejandro on Americans in Iceland at uschess.org