March 09, 2012 20:39

Six GMs lead in unpredictable Reykjavik

Six GMs lead in unpredictable Reykjavik

After four rounds at the Reykjavik Open, GMs Fabiano Caruana, David Navara, Ivan Sokolov, Ivan Cheparinov, Gawain Jones and Robert Hess are still on 100%. Outside it's cold, with very unpredictable and changeable weather, while inside the playing hall things are heating up, with GMs facing GMs already in round 4.

The sun shines through the playing hall in Reykjavik, Iceland - but you never know for how long

Event Reykjavik Open | PGN via TWIC | 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

Let's start this report by explaining the title, because that will give you a good idea of what it's like to be in the capital of Iceland. During our 15-minute walk from the hotel to the playing hall on Friday, we experienced the following. Yesterday's snow had melted in the sun and was more or less gone, but just when we were leaving the hotel, it was snowing heavily once again.

Bravely, we decided to defy the harsh conditions, despite the fact that the Harpa building, about a kilometer from the hotel, was completely invisible. Just five minutes later it stopped snowing, and before we knew it we saw the sun and a blue sky. And then, about five minutes after that, just hundred metres from the playing hall, we found ourselves in the middle of another snow (or rather hail) storm!

Inside, the temperature was more comfortable and with several "GM vs GM" games already in round 4, so things are actually heating up!

The playing hall, with the top boards on a small stage

The Reykjavik Open's first four round saw not many upsets, but there were a few. In the first round Viktor Thorell (2034, Sweden) held GM Stelios Halkias (Greece) to a draw. US grandmaster Maurice Ashley, who rarely plays chess these days, drew with 1941-rated Vijay Bharat (India). Dagur Ragnarsson (1858, Iceland) even won against IM David Cummings of Canada.

GM Maurice Ashley (2452, USA)

The surprise of round 2 was GM Yuri Shulman (USA) losing against Svetlana Cherednichenko (2279, Ukraine). IM Björn Thorfinsson, who is one of the organizers but plays as well, lost to his compatriot Sverrir Orn Bjornsson (2153).

IM Björn Thorfinsson (2421, Iceland)

The next day IM John Bartholomew managed to hold Yuriy Kryvoruchko (Ukraine), who was more than 200 points higher rated, to a draw. German FM Thomas Trella reached the same result against Women's World Champion Hou Yifan and so did Bragi Thorfinsson, Björn's brother, against Yuriy Kuzubov (Ukraine). In a game between husband and wife, Erwin l'Ami beat Alina.

Yuriy Kuzubov (2615, Ukraine)

After two draws against higher rated players, I lost against a player rated 300 points lower. I must say that Stian Johansen played better than his rating, and I played worse than mine, obviously underestimating him! Besides, he's from Norway, and in recent years there, someone has been showing his compatriots how to move the pieces... Luckily I won quickly the next day, so at the moment of writing "I'm back!"

Selection of games rounds 1-4

PGN file

During the 4th round GM Johann Hjartarson gave commentary...

...while IM Simon Williams and IM Björn Thorfinsson provide daily briefings, produced by Macauley Peterson:

"Daily briefings"

Here are a few more photos of the stunning playing hall Harpa.

The top boards are located next to the northern side of the venue

Where the glass walls have a honeycomb-like structure... and there with multi-colored panes...

...while at the front, the glass wall is beautifully constructed like this

Let's share a few experiences from the many side events that are being organized and that make the tournament extra special. After the first round, a football match was organized between players from Iceland and players from the Rest of the World. It was an exciting affair this year, which eventually ended in 3-3. (Yours truly was responsible for an assist.)

A group photo afterwards, taken by Macauley Peterson

We were back at the hotel at around 01.00, so it was quite tough to get up 07.30 a.m. the next day for the big bus tour to the Golden Circle. The first location where we stopped was Þingvellir, a place in the southwest.

It is the site of a rift valley that marks the crest of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge

The tour guide explained that it is also the location where the oldest parliamentary democracy started in 930, adding "only at the Faroe Islands they started earlier, but they are too small so that doesn't count!"

Unfortunately we could hardly see the site, due to heavy snow, and we were afraid that the whole tour would be like that. How naive! As explained above, the weather changes quite often and so at many other locations things were much better. (At the end of the day we had experienced snow, rain, sunshine, heavy wind and hail...)

Next was the amazing Gulffoss waterfall, which is just spectacular to watch, but to hear as well.

The average amount of water running over this waterfall is 140 m³/s
in the summertime and 80 m³/s in the wintertime!

We then drove to the geothermally active valley of Haukadalur, where the Geysir and Strokkur geysers can be found.

The geyser named Geysir was the first geyser described in a printed source and the first known to modern Europeans. The English word geyser (a spouting hot spring) derives from Geysir.

Yes, in the middle of the snow, that water is quite hot!

At the moment Geysir is not active, but about 50 metres south there is Strokkur, which erupts about every 7 minutes.

Waiting for the Strokkur to erupt...

...and here it goes! (Well, we're cheating a bit)

Next on the program was the Kerið crater, a volcanic crater lake

We finished the tour with a visit to Bobby Fischer's grave

The grave is part of quite a small cemetery belonging to a church in Selfoss - it is placed opposite of the front of the church

Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers


nickeur's picture

Very nice to see the prize fund and pictures.

Andre From Outkast's picture

'IM Simon Williams' - should say GM. Other than that, fantastic report :)

TMZ's picture

Twitter conversation between @GMHikaru and @SusanPolgar:

Hikaru Nakamura‏ wrote:
After seeing people picking up rating points off of beating weaker players, I am convinced chess ratings should be weighted like in tennis.

Susan Polgar‏@SusanPolgar wrote:
@GMHikaru But tennis ranking has its own problem. Caroline Wozniacki was ranked #1 without winning a single Grand Slam.

Hikaru Nakamura‏@GMHikaru wrote:
@SusanPolgar Perhaps, but there is no way that playing against a weak field in Iceland should be the same as playing in Wijk aan Zee...


Conclusion and translation:
CARUANA's rating points are INFLATED.

Roberto's picture

I'm sure the very good, serious, honest and professional Fabiano doesn't need any help or defense, especially from a 'weaker' player like me, rated only 2200.
But I read a couple of days ago the tweet of GMHikaru (on and I immediately told my girlfriend (who is Japanese) about it, explaining also to her that the Live Rating List is becoming more and more popular and it was clear that GMHikaru was simply scared to death to loose his #6 spot, fact that indeed happened in just a couple of days.
Like all the (stupid) accusations, it's quite easy to show that GMHikaru is simply wrong:
- GM Fabiano Caruana and GMHikaru both played in Reggio Emilia: they shared 3rd-4th place, but Fabiano had a little better performance, simply because his initial rating was lower than GMHikaru's
- GM Fabiano Caruana and GMHikaru both played in Wijk aan Zee: here Fabiano finished clearly AHEAD of GMHikaru (Caruana 2nd-4th: 8/13, perf. 2837, GMHikaru 5th-6th: 7,5/13, perf. 2808)
- GM Fabiano Caruana then played in the very strong OPEN Aeroflot Tournament (amazing to see how brave he was in doing that, and how brave he is in playing now in Reikiavik, considered that 2700+ players VERY RARELY play in OPEN tournaments, knowing how much they risk in term of loosing rating points). He missed the win (prize: Dortmund Supertournament) but scored 6 out 9, sharing 4th-8th, perf. 2772! And guess what? He was anyway INVITED in Dortmund, what a coincidence indeed!
Neither GMHikaru nor GM Gata Kamski partecipated in the Aeroflot OPEN tournament, I suppose mainly to avoid the risk of loosing rating points...
Making a simple calculation we can see that GM Fabiano Caruana, in the two months before the last Official Rating List, has played 32 rated games with a weighted performance of 2801,5.
There is no need to explain that this would be simply IMPOSSIBLE just playing against 'weaker' players.
But I repeat: Fabiano doesn't need my defense, nor he has time to loose with such stupid accusations, as he clearly prefers to seriously prepare, study, play chess and win!
Oh, by the way: the ridiculous accusation of the GMHikaru comes from the same guy who had the possibility to study and prepare with Garry Kasparov, who did it for a little, but then dismissed him, saying that Garry was good only for the opening preparation? Amazing indeed.
I can only conclude, as GMHikaru likes the comparison with tennis, that there was another American tennis champion who was nicknamed 'the Superbrat', for the childish and unpolite way he behaved, in and out the court, but at least that guy was truly an amazing talent (and hard working professional) who showed perhaps the best tennis style ever: John McEnroe...
What about changing the nick of twitter in ChessSuperbrat? No offense intended, of course, from a weaker player.

Bertie Sassoon's picture

'I immediately told my girlfriend (who is Japanese).'
The point is...?

cinde's picture


Bertje ENkelhaar's picture

As I write this on my macbook pro (which is already 2 years old) Ireally dont get it either what the fact she is Japanaese got to do with it. I am 32 by the way.

Oh and before i forgot. I love my steaks medium

Thomas's picture

I generally agree with you about Nakamura (even if I wouldn't choose your provocative language), but wonder a bit about the rest:

The main reason why many 2700ers rarely play opens might be that they have enough round-robin invitations, and opens cannot meet their financial demands or expectations. I wonder if Caruana will keep playing Swiss opens, he may have committed to Aeroflot and Reykjavik before he became a top10 player. Kamsky did play Aeroflot in 2011 (6/9, Elo +3) and 2010 (5/9, Elo -6), so things can go either way. Last year, Nakamura did play the US Open, scoring 2/3 against players rated 2450-2530 to lose 5 rating points.

BTW, how do you know about the Dortmund invitations? An Italian source mentioning Caruana, or is the entire field already known but not yet officially announced by the organizers?

Roberto's picture

About my language, I think GMHikaru was much more provocative (and insulting) toward Caruana, using the expression 'some players' (everybody understood who he was talking about, and they are supposed to be colleagues, from the professional point of view). I like irony, I think it's a form of art, like chess...

About the source of the news of Caruana in Dortmund, I thought it was public domain, anyway it's reported (in Italian) on the website of l'Italia scacchistica, the oldest Italian Periodic about chess, here:

"[19-Feb-2012 19:44]
Anteprima - Caruana a Dortmund !
Fabiano Caruana parteciperà al Torneo di Dortmund che si svolgerà dal 12 al 22 luglio.
10 giocatori, girone all’italiana."

On the partecipation in the opens of the top players I don't agree with you, and think that Caruana was indeed brave (beeing already 2736) to risk his reputation (and ELO) in Moscow and Rejkiavik aginst 'fishes'. An other example? Kramnik (that I admire very much) lamented recently that in the first part of the 2012 he was playing very little, not playing for example in Wijk. He was also invited in Gibraltar, but his answer was (more or less) that his actual rating [2800 class] didn't allow him to accept that challenge. My understanding is that he didn't want to risk ELO points in a tournament in which he had to score 90% or more against 'weaker' players.

To Bertie Sassoon:
The point is that GMHikaru is American but he was born in Japan, and moved to US at the age of two. In Japan (where I live) chess is nearly unknown and very little played and followed, but there are a few passionate (and polite and correct, as usual in this country) players, who of course admire Nakamura, like a kind of National treasure.
I don't know what their opinion will be after this tweet (and the story of Kasparov as well), and my girlfriend commented: it's a real shame...

Thomas's picture

About language: If you criticize Nakamura there's no need to "copy" him - it's up to you, I wouldn't do it ... . One reason why Nakamura is popular among chess fans and organizers may be that he always "speaks his mind" openly (even if noone asked him). Maybe more popular than players who seem to be more polite and restrained, e.g. Caruana but also Karjakin. Just an observation or hypothesis, like it or not, right or wrong.

On 2700ers and Swisss opens: of course Kramnik isn't a typical 2700er (but a stable top5 player). Ivanchuk played Gibraltar, Mamedyarov played Gibraltar, Baku Open and Aeroflot Open (another story is that he dropped out), Svidler played Gibraltar, Kamsky played Aeroflot, (probably other examples can be found). BTW "90% or more" (to merely defend your Elo) is an exaggeration for Gibraltar: this year Short scored 8/10 (TPR 2838), Adams scored 7.5/10 (TPR 2807) [Hou Yifan is another story: basically she played a supertournament with just a few sub-2700 players].

But the most interesting news is about Dortmund, if my Italian isn't all wrong. "Girone all'italiana" probably means round robin (only "Swiss system" is clear for an international audience), and 10 giocatori means 10 participants!!? I don't think they will try to duplicate Tal Memorial but they might go "London-style" inviting several German players - which was actually often suggested or demanded in German chess circles. By comparison, Caruana's invitation isn't surprising at all.

noyb's picture

If Hikaru is so wiped out about being displaced on the list by Caruana for beating "fish", why doesn't he just go fishing himself?! Not like anybody is stopping him...

Clifford's picture

Actually, Nakamura hit 2700 by scoring 100% in a very weak Japan Open. One rule for him, another for Caruana...

redivivo's picture

What a joke Nakamura is, Caruana hasn't even gained six points by winning four games in a row in Iceland, and you don't just win by default against players like L'Ami, who is 2611 and played Wijk A last year (losing only four of this thirteen games). Krush is close to 2500 and not that easy to beat either, at least not compared to the opponents Nakamura himself faced in the last US Open.

Guillaume's picture

Watch the night sky for auroras, Peter! You're in the right place in the right time.

Bertie Sassoon's picture

Interesting point about the geyser.
Knew a big bloke called Bob Mountain once.
Do you think...?

noahses's picture

Peter, Please post some of your icelandic games. I am sure many here will be interested to see the playing style of our chessvibes host.

Jason Spaceman's picture

I'm going to Iceland next week and I'm thinking about visiting Fischer's grave. Is the church cemetery open to the public, or will they chase people away who come around snapping pics of the headstones?

Peter Doggers's picture

No, you can certainly try it, it's very quiet there.

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