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Reykjavik Open 02:Top seeds have a tough time

by Aditya Pai - 08/03/2018

Rounds 2 and 3 of the Reykjavik Open were incredibly exciting. First up, GM Vaibhav Suri from Delhi was able to carve out a win out of a dead drawn position in his round 2 game against GM Midoux Sebastian. He also managed to win the second game of the day and is now leading the tournament with Mustafa Yilmaz and Elshan Moradiabadi. In another unbelievable game, Erwin L'ami missed a simple back rank trick in his game against English IM Ravi Haria and ended up losing. The two little geniuses Praggnanandhaa and Nihal Sarin also scored their share of upsets on day 2. While Praggnanandhaa held the eighth-seeded Mathieu Cornett to a draw, Nihal signed truce with none other than the top seed of the tournament, Richard Rapport!

Two rounds of classical chess were played on day two of the Reykjavik Open, yesterday. At the conclusion of the three rounds, three players – Yilmaz Mustafa, Vaibhav Suri and Elshan Moradiabadi – share the lead with a perfect score of 3.0/3. Half a point behind is the top seed of the tournament, GM Richard Rapport at 2.5/3. But he is not alone on the second spot; he’s sharing it with 21 other players including the second-seeded Pavel Eljanov and the third-seeded Gata Kamsky.

Erwin L'ami lost due to a shocking blunder in his game against Ravi Haria | Photo: Lennart Ootes

In both rounds of the day, the top seeds did not seem as immune to losing against lower rated opposition as they did yesterday. The biggest upset of the second round was seen in the game between Erwin L’ami and the English IM Ravi Haria where L’ami, the sixth seed of the tournament missed a back rank tactic and lost the game.

Second seed of the tournament, Pavel Eljanov was held to a draw by India's Sundararajan Kidambi | Photo: Lennart Ootes

In another important game of the second round, IM Sundararajan Kidambi managed to hold the second-seeded Pavel Eljanov to a draw. Sundararajan Kidambi had the black pieces in his game against Eljanov who chose the English opening to kick off the game. In response, Kidambi went for one of the rather aggressive setups, the reversed Closed Sicilian. With his ambitious opening choice, Kidambi was able to open up some files but black’s attack was just not there. On the other hand, Eljanov had posted his knight deep into the black camp and had acquired an advantage in the position. However, Kidambi turned out to be quite resourceful in his defence. Generating an attack on his opponent’s king, Kidambi induced Eljanov into making a couple of errors and saved the position successfully.

The position looked dead equal but Vaibhav Suri somehow pulled off a miracle and won the game! | Photo: Jeetendra Choudhary

GM Midoux Sebastian was facing India’s Vaibhav Suri in the second round and went for a bland variation with the white pieces against his opponent’s French Tarrasch. A major liquidation occurred within the first 20 moves and it looked like this game too was heading towards a draw. However, in the ensuing bishop and knight vs double bishop endgame, Suri managed to carve out a win.

Little geniuses, Nihal Sarin and IM R Praggnanandhaa also scored their share of upsets in the third round. Both played on the top two boards of the tournament against Richard Rapport and Matthieu Cornett respectively. Both players succeeded in holding their higher rated opponents to a draw.

Nihal and Prag playing on boards 1 and 2, respectively | Photo: Lennart Ootes

13-year-old Nihal Sarin held the top seed of the tournament, GM Richard Rapport to a draw in round 3! | Photo: Lennart Ootes

The game between Richard Rapport and Nihal Sarin kicked off with an Anti-Meran. Both players tried generating an attack against their opponent’s king. While Sarin voluntarily allowed his pawn structure to be shattered to open up a file against the enemy king, Rapport seized the newly opened file with what Aron Nimzowitch, in his days, might have called ‘restricted advance’. Both players succeeded and therefore neutralized each other’s plans. 28th move onwards, almost all of the remaining pieces were traded off and a draw was agreed on the 30th move.

Praggnanandhaa held the eighth-seeded Matthieu Cornette to a draw | Photo: Lennart Ootes

As for Praggnanandhaa’s game against Matthieu Cornett, this was just as bland as Rapport against Sarin except that this game featured a Reti Opening unlike the Anti-Meran played in Sarin’s game. Starting on move 23, a series of exchanges rendered the position almost dead drawn by the 30th move. Both sides had a light-squared bishop, a knight and six pawns each. With barely any chances for either side and an almost symmetrical pawn structure, the two decided to sign peace.

Sundararajan Kidambi held the highest rated player from India... | Photo: Lennart Ootes 

Adhiban Baskaran to a draw | Photo: Lennart Ootes

The all India encounter between Sundararajan Kidambi and Adhiban Baskaran was also drawn. In this game too, there was a wholesale exchange of pieces in the middlegame that cropped out of a Symmetrical English Opening. Adhiban had an extra pawn after all of the exchanges in the sequence were carried out but this pawn wasn’t there to stay for long in the game. Kidambi was able to recover his pawn fairly easily and the players consequentially reached a position with both sides having a rook and four kingside pawns. At this point, they decided to sign the truce.

The one decisive game amid all of these draws was the one between GM Vaibhav Suri and the American IM John Bartholomew.| Photo: Amruta Mokal

Bartholomew, with the black pieces, opted for the Slav Defence to counter Suri’s Queen Pawn opening. After the middlegame skirmishes had fizzled out, the players reached a bishop endgame with four pawns each. On first glance, the position just looked dead equal. However, an important feature of the position was that Batholomew had a passed pawn while Suri didn’t. On his 34th move, he decided to push the pawn down the board and see how far it goes. Suri, too, began pushing his semi-passed pawn on the queenside to get some counterplay and soon it became a race. Both sides were able to queen their pawns but Bartholomew had to sacrifice a bishop to keep up with the speed. However, despite this, the Indian GM was able to queen first and force a trade of queens again. After this Suri was a full piece up in an endgame with one vs no piece. Bartholomew resigned at this point.

With this win, Vaibhav Suri has put himself in joint first place alongside Yilmaz Mustafa and Elshan Mordiabadi with a score of 3.0/3. Just half a point behind is are Richard Rapport, Nihal Sarin, R Praggnanandhaa and nineteen other players! With six more rounds to go and so many players both in the lead and within striking distance, the contest is going to be nailbiting.


Rk.SNo NameTypsexFEDRtgIRtgNPts. TB1  TB2  TB3 Rpnwwew-weKrtg+/-
GMYilmaz MustafaTUR261903,00,0313186332,320,68106,8
GMVaibhav SuriIND254403,00,0313134332,250,75107,5
GMMoradiabadi ElshanUSA253503,00,0313073332,450,55105,5
GMEljanov PavelUKR271302,50,022262432,52,68-0,1810-1,8
GMLenderman AleksandrUSA260002,50,022264732,52,310,19101,9
IMSarin NihalU14IND253402,50,022270132,51,860,64106,4
GMFernandez Daniel HowardENG250502,50,022262832,52,030,47104,7
GMCornette MatthieuFRA262002,50,022266932,52,300,20102,0
GMGrigoriants SergeyRUS256802,50,022253432,52,53-0,0310-0,3
GMFriedel JoshuaUSA256202,50,022261932,52,290,21102,1
IMAbdusattorov NodirbekU14UZB251802,50,022255332,52,380,12101,2
Mai Aron ThorU18ISL197502,50,022187832,52,70-0,2040-8,0
Johannsson Birkir IsakU16ISL186716782,50,022224332,51,151,354054,0
Davidsson Oskar VikingurU14ISL188202,50,022221732,51,241,264050,4
GMRapport RichardHUN271502,50,021270532,52,490,01100,1
GMLagarde MaximeFRA258702,50,021263032,52,310,19101,9
IMHaria RaviU20ENG242423742,50,021272232,51,371,131011,3
GMKamsky GataUSA267702,50,021265232,52,53-0,0310-0,3
GMAdly AhmedEGY264302,50,021265132,52,450,05100,5
GMCan EmreTUR260302,50,021261532,52,430,07100,7

About the Author

Aditya Pai is an ardent chess fan, avid reader, and a film lover. He holds a Master's in English Literature and used to work as an advertising copywriter before joining the ChessBase India team.

Previous reports on the Reykjavik Open

Reykjavik Open Rd 1: Adhiban suffers an early upset

Coverage on Firstpost

Reykjavik Open Chess: India's Adhiban Baskaran held to draw by compatriot Soham Das in Round 1

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