The Reykjavik Open in Iceland ended Thursday and Anish Giri of the Netherlands, the top seed, finished in clear first with 8½ points out of 10. He raced out of the gate with victories in his first four games, including what turned out to be a crucial fourth-round victory over his young countryman, Jorden Van Foreest. Van Foreest finished tied for second, half a point behind Giri, so the tournament might have had a very different outcome had he managed to draw.
After that game, Giri drew his next three and fell slightly off the pace. He won in Round 8 to tie for first, then he beat Baadur Jobava of Georgia in Round 9, giving him a half a point lead heading into the last round.
Had Giri drawn in the last round he’d have finished in a five-way tie for first. But, facing another countryman, Erwin L’Ami, Giri closed the tournament with an exclamation point, winning a short and brutal game.
Van Foreest had the best tiebreaks of the four players tied for second, and his victories in the last two rounds are worth examining. First was a miniature against Awonder Liang of the United States, one of the country’s top prodigies. Liang, who turned 14 earlier this month, is already an international master and is close to achieving the grandmaster title.
To finish in second (and to have a chance to tie for first) Van Foreest needed to defeat Vidit Santosh Gujrathi, a strong Indian grandmaster. Van Foreest, who had Black, prevailed after Vidit got carried away with dreams of a kingside attack.
Two others in the tie for second, Abhijeet Gupta, another Indian grandmaster, and Sergei Movsesian, a grandmaster from Armenia, faced off in Round 7. Had Movsesian drawn, he might have been in the race for first at the end.
The last member of the quartet of runners-up was Gata Kamsky of the United States, a former challenger for the World Championship. At his peak, Kamsky defeated many strong players, even other world championship contenders, by creating small problems for hour after hour until they snapped. That’s just what happened to Emre Can, a Turkish grandmaster, in Round 10. He came within a move of drawing by the 50-move rule on his way to a 121-move loss.
Finally, an honorable mention to one of the players who finished in the group with 7.5 points. John Pigott is only a FIDE master, and he was born in 1957, but no matter: In the last two rounds he crushed a pair of grandmasters. His first victim was Magesh Chandran Panchanathan of India, and if that wasn’t enough he disposed of Alexei Shirov of Latvia, once among the top three in the world, and still No. 51, in the final round.
Dennis Monokroussos is a FIDE master who has written about chess on his blog “The Chess Mind,” since 2005. He has been teaching chess for almost 20 years and for the last 10 years has been making instructional chess videos, which can be found at ChessLecture.com. Between 1995 and 2006, he taught philosophy, including a four-year stint at the University of Notre Dame.
Check your mailbox to activate your account