Adhiban Wins Reykjavik Open 'With The Spirit Of Fischer'
The always cheerful Baskaran Adhiban won the Reykjavik Open this year. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Reykjavik Open.

Adhiban Wins Reykjavik Open 'With The Spirit Of Fischer'

| 17 | Chess Event Coverage

"I was telling my friends, I hope the spirit of Fischer is with me. I think it was!" said GM Baskaran Adhiban after winning the GAMMA Reykjavik Open at his first attempt. The Indian GM was the only player to finish on 7.5 points.

The 33rd edition of the Reykjavik Open took place 6-14 March in the Harpa concert hall in Reykjavik, Iceland. A total of 248 players from 34 federations played, including 27 grandmasters. 

Reykjavik Open Gamma

On the last day, main sponsor GAMMA announced sponsorship for (at least) another three years. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Reykjavik Open. 

Many open tournaments these days have a large group of strong Indians participating. Even though the travel is not easy, 11 players from Bharat were playing in this year's Reykjavik Open.

There reason for this is an interesting financial system that many strong Indian players are part of. Many companies in India take sportsmen as "employees," and pay them an annual salary, while the athletes can strive to achieve their goals.

Several chess players are enjoying such an agreement. For players in higher classes of society it's easier to find a company, while others sometimes need to "prove" themselves (e.g. by winning a youth championship) before they get selected.

This edition had a strong "Indian flavor" with Baskaran Adhiban (who is supported by the Indian Oil Corporation) winning the main event, and rising star IM Nihal Sarin scoring his second GM norm. The 13-year-old is now ahead of his good friend Praggnanandhaa R, who also played, but again failed to score his second norm. He is eight months younger.

Baskaran Adhiban Reykjavik Open

Baskaran Adhiban. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Reykjavik Open. 

Speaking of young talents, 13-year-old IM Nodirbek Abdusattorov of Uzbekistan, who has already fulfilled all requirements for becoming a GM, scored a solid 6.5/9 without a loss.

But back to Adhiban. A key game was his win over second seeded GM Richard Rapport in the penultimate round. Adhiban used the Slav Geller Gambit, but a modern version where White kept the initiative after a queen trade. Rapport then made a blunder very early.

Aptly wearing a Superman shirt, Adhiban joined commentator GM Simon Williams and explained his opening choice:

Adhiban entered the final round with a half-point lead over GM Mustafa Yilmaz. A group of 14 players was half a point behind the Turkish GM. With a solid draw in a Stonewall Dutch, Adhiban secured tournament victory:

And, as the tournament winner, obviously Adhiban made a last appearance in the studio:

Top seed GM Pavel Eljanov disappointed, but only slightly, finishing on 6.5/9. He suffered one loss, and that was against the legendary Icelandic player GM Jóhann Hjartarson, a former world championship candidate.

Hjartarson, a Reykjavik Open winner in 1984 and 1992, famously defeated Viktor Kortchnoi in their 1988 Candidates' Match.

Hjartarson: "That's a long time ago. Nowadays I am mostly playing against players who were not even born at that time. But of course, that was a very nice win. But then I gave my professional career, like, 10 years later. Now I'm just playing for fun."

Jóhann Hjartarson, 2018 Reykjavik Open

Jóhann Hjartarson at the 2018 Reykjavik Open. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Reykjavik Open. 

A well-known story in Iceland is that Kortchnoi was blowing smoke in his face during the games. Hjartarson: "He used all the tricks in the books of the Soviet school, you know. But it didn't bother me." Smoking was banned from chess a year later.

Jóhann Hjartarson on beating Pavel Eljanov and on his match with Viktor Kortchnoi.

As mentioned, the Indian IM Nihal Sarin scored his second GM norm. It seems only a matter of a very short time that he will become a grandmaster; the real question is if he will manage to become a top player in the coming years. He did get a special congratulations from a certain Indian player who will return as a member of the Indian Olympic team later this year.

Here's Nihal's win against GM Elshan Moradiabadi in round five and the Indian's appearance in the studio with WIM Fiona Steil-Antoni:

One more grandmaster norm was scored, by IM Deimante Cornette, the wife of the French grandmaster Matthieu Cornette. Her win against GM Aleksandr Lenderman in the penultimate round was pretty and based on one great move. Lenderman graciously allowed mate on the board.

In the final round, Cornette needed to hold GM Konstanin Landa to a draw, and she did after some adventures.

IM Deimante Cornette on scoring her first GM norm.

2018 Reykjavik Open | Final Standings (Top 20)

Rk. SNo Fed Title Name Rtg Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3 Rp
1 4 GM Adhiban, Baskaran 2650 7,5 0,0 6 5 2736
2 13 GM Lagarde, Maxime 2587 7,0 0,0 6 4 2686
3 9 GM Yilmaz, Mustafa 2619 7,0 0,0 5 4 2730
4 24 GM Perelshteyn, Eugene 2513 6,5 0,0 6 5 2567
5 6 GM l'Ami, Erwin 2634 6,5 0,0 6 4 2554
6 2 GM Eljanov, Pavel 2713 6,5 0,0 5 5 2584
7 1 GM Rapport, Richard 2715 6,5 0,0 5 4 2687
8 17 GM Vaibhav, Suri 2544 6,5 0,0 5 4 2637
9 15 GM Ramirez, Alejandro 2568 6,5 0,0 5 4 2595
10 27 IM Praggnanandhaa, R 2507 6,5 0,0 5 4 2579
11-12 19 GM Moradiabadi, Elshan 2535 6,5 0,0 5 4 2533
11-12 31 IM Cornette, Deimante 2447 6,5 0,0 5 4 2593
13 29 IM Christiansen, Johan-Sebastian 2486 6,5 0,0 5 4 2584
14 8 GM Cornette, Matthieu 2620 6,5 0,0 4 5 2589
15 11 GM Can, Emre 2603 6,5 0,0 4 5 2615
16 10 GM Landa, Konstantin 2613 6,5 0,0 4 5 2557
17 22 IM Abdusattorov, Nodirbek 2518 6,5 0,0 4 5 2619
18 3 GM Kamsky, Gata 2677 6,5 0,0 4 4 2630
19 21 GM Stefansson, Hannes 2533 6,5 0,0 4 4 2588
20 33 GM Sundararajan, Kidambi 2427 6,5 0,0 4 4 2552

(Full final standings here.)

Games via TWIC.

This year's edition was a special one, as it commemorated the 75th birthday of Bobby Fischer (on 9 March), who passed away in 2008. Several Fischer-themed side events were organized, most notably the European Fischer Random Cup, which was won by Aleksander Lenderman—with the best European player Richard Rapport taking the cup.

The traditional pub quiz was also strongly Fischer flavored, to the benefit of yours truly. Together with my old friend Arne Moll I managed to win by scoring 24/30. 

Ingvar Thor Johannesson, Peter Doggers, Arne Moll 2018 Reykjavik Open Pub Quiz

Ingvar Thor Johannesson congratulates Peter Doggers & Arne Moll for winning the 2018 Reykjavik Open Pub Quiz. | Photo: Fiona Steil-Antoni.

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Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

Between 2007 and 2013 Peter was running ChessVibes, a major source for chess news and videos acquired by in October 2013.

As our Director News & Events, Peter writes many of our news reports. In the summer of 2022, The Guardian’s Leonard Barden described him as “widely regarded as the world’s best chess journalist.”

In October, Peter's first book The Chess Revolution will be published!

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