The tournament is dedicated to the late Bobby Fischer
My board before the first round. Look below my game to see more photos.
The Icelandic Chess Center felt impressive today. The organizers did a lot of work to prepare it, with nice posters all over the place showing events of the past Reykjavik Open tournaments. I took pictures of many of the chess celebrities. I was nervous but excited to be playing an IM. I knew FM Bjorn Thorfinnsson a bit, and he was the organizer who allowed me to play in this event (thanks Bjorn!), but I didn't realize he had a younger brother who was an IM.
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Bc4 e6 7. Be3 Be7 8.Qe2 a6 9. Bb3 O-O 10. O-O-O Qc7 11. Rhg1 b5 12. g4 b4 I wasn’t unhappy to see this variation. I love this variation of the Sicilian as the tactics suit me. I am more knowledgeable about the main variation with 12…Nd7. I have looked a bit at this 12…b4 move, mainly a game of Ivanchuk losing against Grischuk. 13. Nxc6 Qxc6 14. Nd5 Qb7 This was the first new move for me. I was ready for the normal 14…exd5, when I play 15. g5 and there follows the threat of bishop takes d5. 15. Nxe7+ Qxe7 16. Bg5 I wasn’t sure if this was right, but I thought the pin would be annoying and hard to get out of. The computer prefers moves that are just way over my head, like 16. Qc4. 16…a5 17. f4 I wanted to up the pressure on that pin of the knight, before he got his queenside attack going. 17…Ba6 I was expecting 17…a4 here, when 18. Bc4 b3 19. cxb3 axb3 20. Bxb3 is equal. 18. Bc4 I thought a bit about playing 18. Qe3 since I thought it might leave me with a slight edge, but I got nervous about the bishop perhaps getting in trouble on b3. The computer likes 18. Qe3 e5 (18... a4 19. Bxa4 Bc4 20. b3 e5 21. Qd2 h6 22. Bh4 Rfb8 (22... exf4 23. Qxb4 Be2 24. Rxd6 f3 25. e5 Qxe5 26. Qd4 Qxh2 27. g5 hxg5 28. Rxg5 Nh5 29. Kb2 f2 30. Bxf2 f6 31. Bg1 Qh1 32. Bc6 Bf3 33. Bxa8 fxg5 34. Bd5+ Bxd5 35. Qxd5+ Qxd5 36. Rxd5 and white wins) 23. g5 hxg5 24. Bxg5 Bb5 25. Qe1 g6 (25... Bxa4 26. Qh4 and white wins) 26. Qh4 Kg7 27. Qh6+ Kg8 28. Rg3 and white wins) 19. f5 Kh8 20. Bxf6Qxf6 21. g5 Qe7 with an edge for white. 18... Bxc4 19. Qxc4 d5 20. exd5 Fritz prefers 20. Bxf6 Qxf6 21. exd5 exd5 22. Rxd5 Rac8 23. Qd4 Qc6 24. Qd3 and black seems to have compensation for the pawn deficit. 20... exd5 21. Qd4 Ra6 22. Bxf6Rxf6 23. g5 Rf5 24. Rge1 Qc7 25. Re5 Rc8 26. Rd2 Rxe5 27. Qxe5 Qxe5 I seem to have played quite accurately, at least according to Fritz. Here the computer thinks black should have played 27... Qc4 28. b3 Qe4 29. Qxe4 dxe4 30. Rd5 f6 31. Rxa5 e3 32. Kd1 e2+ 33. Kxe2 Rxc2+ 34. Kd3 Rxh2 35. gxf6 gxf6 36. Kc4 Rh4 37. Kxb4 Rxf4+ 38. Kc3 and white retains a slight edge. 28. fxe5 Rc5 Now I felt a little nervous about the endgame. I felt I should at least draw with accurate play, but I wasn’t certain I would play accurately. 29. Re2 Kf8 30. e6 fxe6 31. Rxe6 d4 32. Rd6 Rxg5 33. Rxd4 Rg1+ 34. Rd1 Rxd1+ I was quite surprised to see him trade rooks here. I thought he would retain the rook and try to squeeze me for a long time. 35. Kxd1 Ke7 36. Kd2 I was uncertain about this pawn endgame. I realized I needed to play very carefully, and I thought I might even have a slight edge, because I felt I could force off all of black’s queenside pawns and still be able to get my king over to the kingside in time. Kd6 37. c4 bxc3+ 38. Kxc3 h5 39. Kd4 a4 40. b3?! I play it safe. I wanted that last black queenside pawn gone. However, I could have won with 40. h4 Ke6 (40... g5 41. hxg5 h4 42. Ke4 h3 43. Kf3 Ke5 44. Kg3 and I win) 41. Ke4 g6 42. Kf4 and I win. The sad thing is that I looked at the idea of playing h4 on the previous move but dismissed it because my king was one square too far away from the kingside, so black could play g5. I should have understood now that my king was close enough. It is not such a difficult win to see here. 40...a3 41. Ke4?! Another inaccuracy on my part. I should have played 41. h4 Kc6 42. b4 (42. Ke5 Kc5 43. Kf5 Kb4 44. Kg6 Kc3 45. Kxh5 Kb2 46. b4 Kxa2 47. b5 Kb3 48. b6 a2 49. b7 a1=Q 50. b8=Q+ Kc2 51. Qd6 and white may be able to win; I just can’t get my tablebases to work, so I am not sure!) 42... Kb5 43. Kc3 g5 44. hxg5 h4 45. g6 h3 46. g7 h2 47. g8=Q h1=Q 48. Qc4+ Kb6 49. Qd4+ Kb7 50. Kb3 and white wins. 41... Kc5 42. h4 Kb4 43. Kf5 I thought quite a bit here, because there was a big choice to make. I saw clearly that going to f5 with my king would be a draw. I thought that perhaps I could win if I played 43. Kd4 instead, but I couldn’t quite see deeply enough, and I got nervous about overlooking something. (43. Kd4 Kb5 (43... g6 seems to be about the same as the Kb5 variation) 44. Kc3 Kc5 45. b4+ Kd5 46. Kb3 g5 47. hxg5 h4 48. g6 Ke6 49. b5h3 50. b6 h2 51. g7 Kf7 52. b7 h1=Q 53. g8=Q+ Kxg8 54. b8=Q+ Kf7 and I seriously doubt that white can find a way to win this.) 43... Kc3 44. Kg6 Kb2 45. b4 Kxa2 46. b5 Kb3 47. b6 a2 48. b7 a1=Q 49. b8=Q+ Kc4 50. Qg8+ Kc5 51. Qxg7 Qxg7+ 52. Kxg7 Kd6 53. Kg6 Ke7 54. Kxh5 Kf7 1/2-1/2
Ok, so maybe I should be a tiny bit upset that I failed to win, but really I have to be happy to start this well. I have only played one IM before in classical chess and he beat me badly, so this is a good beginning. Even better was FM Bjorn Thorfinnsson's result since he beat top seeded and 2698 rated GM Wang Yue of China! Tomorrow I get to play GM Vidmantas Malisauskas of Lithuania.
On the left is wunderkind FM Illya Nyzhnyk of Ukraine and on the right is my opponent, IM Bragi Thorfinnsson of Iceland.
Former women's world champion GM Antoaneta Stefanova