Reykjavik Open starts today; Caruana, Navara and Hou Yifan are playing and we're there too

PeterDoggers
PeterDoggers
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0 | Chess Event Coverage

Today the annual chess festival in Reykjavik, Iceland takes off. The open tournament is very strong, with 25 GMs and 20 IMs. Top seeds are Fabiano Caruana and David Navara, who could be found in Wijk aan Zee's top group earlier this year. Reigning World Women's Champion Hou Yifan is in Reykjavif k as well, and so are we!

The tournament takes place in the Harpa Concert and Conference Hall in Reykjavik, Iceland

EventReykjavik Open | Details at Chess-Results
DatesMarch 6th-13th, 2012
LocationReykjavik, Iceland
System9-round Swiss
Players
Top players include Fabiano Caruana, David Navara, Yuriy Kryvoruchko, Ivan Cheparinov, Ivan Sokolov, Hou Yifan, Robert Hess, Gawain Jones, Yuriy Kuzubov Yuriy, Vladimir Baklan, Erwin l'Ami, Yuri Shulman and Boris Avrukh
Rate of play90 minutes for 40 moves followed by 30 minutes to finish the game, with 30 seconds increment from move 1
Prizes fund1st € 5000, 2nd € 2000, 3rd € 1250, etc. - see here

Reykjavik is one of those places on earth that every chess fan wants to visit. It has that special sound, which gives it that magical "chess aura". The reason of course is the 1972 World Championship match (now exactly 40 years ago), and because Bobby Fischer was living there the last three years of his life. Having met many very nice people from Iceland over the years, and having heard great stories about the festival, the editor-in-chief of this site decided that it was time to go!

I'm in Reykjavik together with Macauley Peterson, and together we'll create an atmosphere video about the event. Besides, I will publish several reports at ChessVibes and Macauley will provide a "light" version of the now well-known live show that he produced at e.g. the London Chess Classic and in Gibraltar. Every night at 22:00 CET there will be a 30-60 minute live broadcast with GM Simon Williams and guests. Afterwards, these sessions will be available for replay in a video playlist.

And... I actually decided to participate in the tournament. It's good to play every now and then, not only to stay in form, but also to know what it's like to actually play a tournament, not just write about it! And it does feel funny and kind of nice to meet people like Fabiano Caruana, Hou Yifan or Ivan Sokolov at breakfast and have a theoretical chance to actually face them over the board!

Macauley and I arrived on Sunday afternoon and spent the free Monday mainly walking around the centre of Reykjavik. So far the weather hasn't been great (a few degrees above zero Celcius and rainy), so we took every opportunity to go inside!

We first visited  the Hallgrímskirkja, which you can see from almost anywhere in the city.

It's a Lutheran parish church. At 74.5 metres (244 ft), it is the largest church in Iceland. It is named after the Icelandic poet and clergyman Hallgrímur Pétursson (1614-1674), author of the Passion Hymns. It took 38 years to build the church; construction work began in 1945 and ended in 1986.

In front of the church there's a statue of Leif Eriksson (c. 970 - c.1020), a Norse explorer regarded as the first European to land in North America (excluding Greenland), nearly 500 years before Christopher Columbus.

The statue was a gift from the United States in honor of the 1930 Alþingi Millennial Festival, commemorating the 1000th anniversary of Iceland's parliament at Þingvellir in 930 AD.

We had a coffee in Kaffi Mocca, the oldest coffeeshop in Reykjavik. Its decor has changed little since the 1950s, and kept its original mosaic pillars and copper lights.

We also went to the antique book shop which Bobby Fischer used to visit.

In this corner, where at the moment piles of old National Geographics are stacked, the 11th World Champion could be found reading every now and then.

We could only find one chess book: a beginner's manual from the 1970s by the late Tony Miles.

The book store commemorates Fischer like this - above there's a postcard that depicts the 1972 match.

The Reykjavik Open is becoming bigger and stronger every year. It's amazing to realize that with my 2265 rating I'm 65th seeded!. Top players include Fabiano Caruana, David Navara, Yuriy Kryvoruchko, Ivan Cheparinov, Ivan Sokolov, Hou Yifan, Robert Hess, Gawain Jones, Yuriy Kuzubov Yuriy, Vladimir Baklan, Erwin l'Ami, Yuri Shulman and Boris Avrukh.

Reykjavik Open | Participants (top 75)

No.TitleNaamFEDRtg
1GMCaruana FabianoITA2767
2GMNavara DavidCZE2700
3GMKryvoruchko YuriyUKR2666
4GMCheparinov IvanBUL2664
5GMSokolov IvanNED2653
6GMHou YifanCHN2639
7GMHess Robert LUSA2635
8GMJones Gawain C BENG2635
9GMKuzubov YuriyUKR2615
10GMBaklan VladimirUKR2612
11GMLAmi ErwinNED2611
12GMShulman YuriUSA2594
13GMAvrukh BorisISR2591
14GMHalkias SteliosGRE2588
15GMMaze SebastienFRA2577
16GMPapin VasilyRUS2575
17GMIpatov AlexanderTUR2561
18GMStefansson HannesISL2531
19GMLibiszewski FabienFRA2523
20GMKveinys AloyzasLTU2512
21GMWilliams Simon KENG2506
22GMDanielsen HenrikISL2504
23IMArnold Marc TUSA2502
24GMKristjansson StefanISL2500
25IMKrush IrinaUSA2461
26IMGretarsson Hjorvar SteinnISL2460
27IMZiska Helgi DamFAI2456
28IMHunt AdamENG2454
29GMAshley MauriceUSA2452
30IMBartholomew JohnUSA2440
31IMZumsande Martin Dr.GER2439
32IMKristiansen JensDEN2432
33IMGunnarsson Jon ViktorISL2424
34IMKore AkshayrajIND2422
35IMThorfinnsson BragiISL2421
36IMLund SilasDEN2417
37IMThorfinnsson BjornISL2416
38FMTrella ThomasGER2410
39IMThomassen JoachimNOR2400
40GMThorhallsson ThrosturISL2398
41WGMLAmi AlinaROU2372
42IMArngrímsson DagurISL2361
43FMMoen AndreasNOR2360
44FMAgüera Naredo JavierESP2358
45IMKjartansson GuðmundurISL2357
46FMColeman TeddyUSA2356
47FMkiewra keatonUSA2355
48IMVuilleumier AlexandreSUI2350
49 Gudmundur GislasonISL2346
50FMSigfusson SigurdurISL2346
51IMCummings DavidCAN2341
52 Mertens HeikoGER2336
53FMJohannesson Ingvar ThorISL2331
54FMMichalczak ThomasGER2326
55FMLarsen KarstenDEN2321
56FMLagerman RóbertISL2315
57IMDukaczewski PiotrPOL2310
58 Stuvik Holm KristianNOR2290
59WGMPtacnikova LenkaISL2289
60 David LemeauxFRA2287
61 Friedrichs KlausGER2283
62WGMCherednichenko SvetlanaUKR2279
63FMHenriksson JohanSWE2279
64CMPerez FlavioFRA2269
65 Doggers PeterNED2265
66FMThompson IanENG2255
67 Karlsson Bjorn-IvarISL2250
68 Jensson Einar HjaltiISL2245
69 Vaarala EricSWE2241
70FMEinarsson Halldór GrétarISL2239
71 Haarr Jon KristianNOR2226
72 Hobber AndersNOR2224
73 Gikas Andreas BasiliusGER2219
74 Edvardsson KristjanISL2217
75FMLanger MichaelUSA2217

(Full list here.)

A number of players travelled to Iceland a few days earlier to play in the Icelandic Team Championship, for example Ivan Sokolov, Vladimir Baklan, our blogger Gawain Jones and commentator Simon Williams.

The tournament has quite a big group of players from the United States, including Robert Hess, Yuri Shulman, Marc Arnold, Irina Krush and even Maurice Ashley, who, like the author of these lines, hasn't played such a tournament in many years, except one event in 2011.

Even if Maurice and I are having a bad tournament, we'll surely enjoy ourselves. There's a nice program of side events, including a football match Iceland-ROW, a tour to the Golden Circle and Fischer's grave, a pub quiz and a blitz tournament. I'll keep you posted!

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