Giri Dutch King In Reykjavik

Giri Dutch King In Reykjavik

| 24 | Chess Event Coverage

On the day that Dutch king Willem-Alexander turned 50, Anish Giri was the king in Reykjavik. The Dutch number one won the Reykjavik Open with an undefeated 8.5/10 score, and finished ahead of four grandmasters who reached 8/10.

Giri flanked by Iceland's Minister of Social Affairs and Equality Þorsteinn Víglundsson and tournament director Gunnar Bjornsson. | Photo Lennart Ootes.

It was a fitting final round on Koningsdag (King's Day): an all-Dutch encounter on board one, in the Reykjavik Open's final round. Even better: the top seed was playing the 2015 winner.

Already half a point ahead of the pack, Giri needed a draw for at least shared first, but that wouldn't guarantee tournament victory with direct encounter and number of wins as the first two tiebreaks. A win would be much better.

Against one of his long-time seconds it wasn't easy to choose an opening, but Giri found something suitable and quickly outplayed l'Ami. In less than three hours, the tournament was decided.

The interview with Giri after round 10.

Some result-minded fans might have forgotten that Giri is absolutely capable of playing for a win, and showing enterprising chess while doing so. And while his opening repertoire might be shaped for playing solid games against the elite, they don't necessarily lead to quiet positions.

"The thing is, my openings are reasonably aggressive with Black, but White can make a forced draw, for example in the Najdorf, Poisoned Pawn," he said. "But in the top tournaments White wants to get a fighting game, like Baadur did, and then, once we get a fighting game, my openings are very good."


Giri joining Fiona Steil-Antoni in the live show produced by | Photo Maria Emelianova.

Besides, there's nothing wrong with Giri's style; he simply has trouble converting sometimes.

"It's absolutely obvious now to every amateur that often I am not able to convert a winning position. Even in this tournament I failed converting, against Kamsky," he said.

"I hope it will improve slowly. It's one of the most difficult things in chess. Magnus Carlsen lately has a big issue winning good positions."

An example of Giri taking more risks than we are (and he is?) used to, was his game vs the young German GM Alexander Donchenko. Black gave up two pawns on the queenside ("in hindsight this was a sacrifice!" was a typical Giri quip), then got a crushing attack, and found a beautiful final move.

Giri's best game was probably in round nine, against third seed Baadur Jobava. The latter's desire to play for a win came in handy.


Giri liked the way he calculated in this game. | Photo Maria Emelianova.

The tournament had hardly started when the first upset was there. In the first round, the first game ended with a 1200 player checkmating a 2100 player!

Open tournaments always have a big side story: the possibility of norms. Three were scored in Reykjavik, and two by the 'Chessbrahs': a GM norm for IM Aman Hambleton and am IM norm for FM Michael Kleinman (both Canada).

For Hambleton it was his second GM norm. He is not shaving until he gets the title. Here's how he beat Alexei Shirov.

Here's Kleinman's pretty win from round five.


Hambleton (l.) and Kleinman bringing norms to Canada. | Photo Maria Emelianova.

FM John Pigott of England also scored an IM norm. The 59-year-old told the chess world that there's still hope: born in 1957, he made this third norm in this event, and also broke 2400!

Unlike the two Canadians, Piggot got his norm after ten rounds. He had no idea that he was playing for his third norm, and also wasn't aware of the fact that he was easily crossing 2400. Shirov going Shirov-style, but playing an incorrect sacrifice, was a most welcome gift.

Reykjavik Open | Final Standings

Rk. Fed Title Name Rtg Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3 TB4 Rp rtg+/-
1 GM Giri Anish 2771 8,5 0 7 5 55 2865 10,7
2 GM Van Foreest Jorden 2584 8 0 7 5 52,5 2699 15
3 GM Movsesian Sergei 2677 8 0 7 4 52 2729 6,4
4 GM Gupta Abhijeet 2607 8 0 6 4 53 2775 22,8
5 GM Kamsky Gata 2668 8 0 6 4 52 2736 8,4
6 IM Kavutskiy Konstantin 2347 7,5 0 7 5 46,5 2505 43,4
7 GM Blomqvist Erik 2548 7,5 0 7 5 45 2443 -8,8
8 FM Pigott John C 2381 7,5 0 6 4 46,5 2492 27,2
9 GM Grandelius Nils 2641 7,5 0 5 4 55 2757 17,1
10 GM Almasi Zoltan 2696 7,5 0 5 4 54 2746 6,7
11 GM Can Emre 2578 7 0 7 5 49 2577 2,7
12 GM Perelshteyn Eugene 2509 7 0 7 5 48,5 2512 2,6
13 GM Torre Eugenio 2455 7 0 7 5 44,5 2464 3,2
14 GM L'ami Erwin 2614 7 0 6 5 50 2575 -2,2
15 GM Hjartarson Johann 2536 7 0 6 5 50 2559 5,2
16 IM Christiansen Johan-Sebastian 2429 7 0 6 5 50 2526 14,5
17 GM Harika Dronavalli 2521 7 0 6 5 48,5 2509 2
18 WGM Abrahamyan Tatev 2364 7 0 6 5 48 2432 22,4
19 GM Stefansson Hannes 2566 7 0 6 4 43,5 2536 -0,5
20 IM Hambleton Aman 2434 7 0 5 5 53 2619 25,9

(Full final standings here.)

The Reykjavik Open is not just an open tournament. One of the main reasons for chess players to play this tournament is of course the special location. They take the double round on the second day for granted (or simply take a bye), and many join the Golden Circle tour on the Monday, when the round starts at 5pm.

The tour visits the Thingvellir National Park rift valley, the Gullfoss waterfall, the Geysir Hot Spring Area and at the end, the bus stops in Selfoss for a visit to the grave of Bobby Fischer and the nearby Fischer Center. This year this included a talk by Guðmundur G. Þórarinsson, the main organizer of the 1972 match. This first-hand account of several different ways the match could "not" have taken place was priceless.


The stunning Gulfoss waterfall alone is worth the trip.


Giri together with his wife Sopiko Guramishvili, who also played. | Photo Maria Emelianova.


In the traditional speech by the tournament winner, Giri stressed that the
tournament is excellent for amateur players. | Photo Maria Emelianova.


Indian rising star Praggnanandhaa R together with GM and former
FIDE President Fridrik Olafsson. | Photo Maria Emelianova.

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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