March 06, 2012 12:12

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

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

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

Event Reykjavik Open | Details at Chess-Results
Dates March 6th-13th, 2012
Location Reykjavik, Iceland
System 9-round Swiss
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 play 90 minutes for 40 moves followed by 30 minutes to finish the game, with 30 seconds increment from move 1
Prizes fund 1st € 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. Title Naam FED Rtg
1 GM Caruana Fabiano ITA 2767
2 GM Navara David CZE 2700
3 GM Kryvoruchko Yuriy UKR 2666
4 GM Cheparinov Ivan BUL 2664
5 GM Sokolov Ivan NED 2653
6 GM Hou Yifan CHN 2639
7 GM Hess Robert L USA 2635
8 GM Jones Gawain C B ENG 2635
9 GM Kuzubov Yuriy UKR 2615
10 GM Baklan Vladimir UKR 2612
11 GM LAmi Erwin NED 2611
12 GM Shulman Yuri USA 2594
13 GM Avrukh Boris ISR 2591
14 GM Halkias Stelios GRE 2588
15 GM Maze Sebastien FRA 2577
16 GM Papin Vasily RUS 2575
17 GM Ipatov Alexander TUR 2561
18 GM Stefansson Hannes ISL 2531
19 GM Libiszewski Fabien FRA 2523
20 GM Kveinys Aloyzas LTU 2512
21 GM Williams Simon K ENG 2506
22 GM Danielsen Henrik ISL 2504
23 IM Arnold Marc T USA 2502
24 GM Kristjansson Stefan ISL 2500
25 IM Krush Irina USA 2461
26 IM Gretarsson Hjorvar Steinn ISL 2460
27 IM Ziska Helgi Dam FAI 2456
28 IM Hunt Adam ENG 2454
29 GM Ashley Maurice USA 2452
30 IM Bartholomew John USA 2440
31 IM Zumsande Martin Dr. GER 2439
32 IM Kristiansen Jens DEN 2432
33 IM Gunnarsson Jon Viktor ISL 2424
34 IM Kore Akshayraj IND 2422
35 IM Thorfinnsson Bragi ISL 2421
36 IM Lund Silas DEN 2417
37 IM Thorfinnsson Bjorn ISL 2416
38 FM Trella Thomas GER 2410
39 IM Thomassen Joachim NOR 2400
40 GM Thorhallsson Throstur ISL 2398
41 WGM LAmi Alina ROU 2372
42 IM Arngrímsson Dagur ISL 2361
43 FM Moen Andreas NOR 2360
44 FM Agüera Naredo Javier ESP 2358
45 IM Kjartansson Guðmundur ISL 2357
46 FM Coleman Teddy USA 2356
47 FM kiewra keaton USA 2355
48 IM Vuilleumier Alexandre SUI 2350
49   Gudmundur Gislason ISL 2346
50 FM Sigfusson Sigurdur ISL 2346
51 IM Cummings David CAN 2341
52   Mertens Heiko GER 2336
53 FM Johannesson Ingvar Thor ISL 2331
54 FM Michalczak Thomas GER 2326
55 FM Larsen Karsten DEN 2321
56 FM Lagerman Róbert ISL 2315
57 IM Dukaczewski Piotr POL 2310
58   Stuvik Holm Kristian NOR 2290
59 WGM Ptacnikova Lenka ISL 2289
60   David Lemeaux FRA 2287
61   Friedrichs Klaus GER 2283
62 WGM Cherednichenko Svetlana UKR 2279
63 FM Henriksson Johan SWE 2279
64 CM Perez Flavio FRA 2269
65   Doggers Peter NED 2265
66 FM Thompson Ian ENG 2255
67   Karlsson Bjorn-Ivar ISL 2250
68   Jensson Einar Hjalti ISL 2245
69   Vaarala Eric SWE 2241
70 FM Einarsson Halldór Grétar ISL 2239
71   Haarr Jon Kristian NOR 2226
72   Hobber Anders NOR 2224
73   Gikas Andreas Basilius GER 2219
74   Edvardsson Kristjan ISL 2217
75 FM Langer Michael USA 2217

(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!

Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers


Anthony's picture

Ah! Chess! Great!

noyb's picture

Excellent report!

Andres Hortillosa's picture

I will try to play there next year. I have always wanted to visit Iceland.

Joeran Aulin-Jansson's picture

All the best to Gunnar (Eirk the red) and the rest of the organizers !
Wish I was there !

Manuel1981's picture

Good luck, Peter! You'll need it :)

Mar's picture

Cool, looking forward to the coverage.

BL's picture

woo, finally a decent tournament!

KVB's picture

Below Reykjavik Open | Participants (top 75) its printed as Naam instead of Name :)

Ash Warren's picture

hi! I cannot understand the official site at all . I cant see where to watch the live games nor where to watch your daily briefing which I would like to see. Could you post the links?

anon's picture


Here's a link to the livestream.

They leave the splash screen up on the video for quite some time. Today the video starts at around 1:38.

Bjarni Hjartarson's picture

Fantacting article. Iceland is god country to live in and work.Look forward too read your experince of the tourment and dont forget the Iclandic Women. Guðlaug Þorsteinsdottir is vone of kind. Good luck in your chesscarier.

Sander's picture

Why just the top 75? Top 65 too obvious? ;)

Anonymous's picture

All of the honoring of Fischer is a bit much. A man is more than just his avocation. Fischer idolized Adolf Hitler, wrote a fan letter to Osama Bin Laden and celebrated gleefully about the day of the 9/11/2001 attacks against America when it was thought that far more than 3,000 people had perished in the twin towers. "Hitler was right about the Jews" and "It’s time for programs against Jews and it’s also time for vigilante killings of Jews – random killings of Jews." ref:

Peter Doggers's picture

We all know that Fischer lived two lives, and it's not difficult to realize that the Icelandic people are honoring the first part, the 1972 match and the way it boosted Icelandic Chess.

Niima's picture

In addition to Peter's reply, when chess players read a CV article honoring Fischer, most of them know that only his chess past is being honored.

Anonymous's picture

Fair enough, but let's also honor Hitler for making the trains run on time! ; )

Niima's picture

Peter / Macauley:

The pgn links on the tournament website are a mess (that is, hardly any of them work). Can you help?


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