Just like in the upcoming municipal elections, there seem to be inevitable changes at the top in each round! After todays 5th round we have brand new leaders and it’s clear that nothing will be decided in this tournament until in the very last round! That’s how it’s supposed to be, fighting till the end.
Lets have a quick overview of the games today!
Throstur Thorhallsson – Einar Hjalti Jensson
Throstur surprised observers immediately on the first move with 1.d4! Throstur has been a 1.e4 player in over 95% of his games. This is probably due to Einar simply knowing too many of Throstur’s secrets since Einar was his 2nd when he became Icelandic champion in 2012. Therefore it seemed Throstur wasn’t in the mood for any surprises and pre-empted them by going 1.d4 himself!
Einar went with the solid Queen’s Gambit Accepted. This opening Throstur knows quite well having frequently played it with black himself. Throstur took on an Isolated Queen Pawn (IQP) and managed to get a favourable d5 break in…
Usually when the IQP can be advanced in favourable circumstances it guarantees an advantage and here white built up a strong initiative with the better placed pieces and lead in development.
In what followed Einar had to defend tenaciously and managed to find many ‘only moves’ according to the computer.
In this position black just played 25..:Qc4 to which white replied 26.Kg2 here black could have still held on with 26..Qc8 but after 26…Ng6 there was no turning back after 27.Nh7+ and 28.Rxg6
Good win for Throstur who had yet to make a draw in this tournament!
Hjörvar Grétarsson – Henrik Danielsen
An important game for both players. Henrik was half a point behind the leader while Hjörvar just having lost to Stefansson needed a win here while hoping Stefansson would slip.
Hjörvar opened with his customary 1.d4 while Henrik opted for his flexible 1…d6. Here Hjörvar decided to steer the game into 1.e4 territory with 2.e4 when black can opt for pirc/modern or philidor setups. Henrik stayed flexible with 3…c6 but then revealed his hand with 4…e5 opting for a Philidor setup.
Henrik then played a nice positional game, he had a slight lead in development and played the instructive maneuvre Be7-d8-b6 to exchange the important black squared bishop. If you have been reading these reports you’ll remember a similarly instructive maneuvre (I never remember how to write that god damn word!!) by Hjörvar in his game against Thruster (my preferred and phonetically correct spelling of Throstur) with …Kh7 and Bg7-f6-g5. Put this in your notebook of positional patterns!
Henrik then got a really pleasant endgame where it was clear that he was the only one who could play for a win. Hjörvar was left on the defensive end as black can press white’s weaknesses while white has virtually no counterplay. The knights are also much better in these positions as the white bishop is restricted in it’s movement. Henrik excels in these type of endgames and a betting man would have preferred his chances.
Henrik in the end managed to win. Hjörvar maybe could have defended with perfect moves but in a practical game the defense was always going to be difficult. The final position was quite nice as the white king was caught in a mating net. Quite nice to force resignation against a fellow Grandmaster after 47 moves WITHOUT winning material at any point! Fantastic effort by Danielsen and in the final position…44.Rh1 Rd2+ 45.Ke1 Nc2+ 46.Kf1 Rf2+ 47.Kg1 Ne1! end things nicely as nothing can be done about Nf3+ a nice picture of complete domination.
This catapulted Henrik into the lead as when this game finished it looked like Stefansson would be defending with a draw as the best result.
Bragi Thorfinnsson – Gudmundur Gislason
Bragi was coming of a tough defeat against GM Danielsen. Bragi seemed to have a defensible position when he blundered horribly. Today he sought his inspiration from the GingerGM!
Simion Williams is a good friend of many Icelandic chess players and was the reason many of us had the chance to play for the fantastic Jutes of Kent team in the 4NCL. Sadly this time has ceased to exist for the time being so Simon was forced to switch alliance in the 4NCL. This year he played the follwing game:
It seems that Bragi took notice of this game as in the annotations Simon mentions e5 in response to c5.
There followed a highly interesting game with opposite castling and several chances for both sides. White could have gone for it or tried to consolidate…option galore. In the end white tried to combine Queenside control with an offensive on the Kingside. In what followed, both sides used thematic line closing and line opening pawn sacrifices.
Here white just sacrifcied a pawn on e5 and followed up with 20.f5. The idea of course was to shut out the g7 bishop.
Black reacted with the counter-sacrifcie …e4 which of course has the aim to free the bishop again, not allowing white the consolidating knight jump into e4.
The thematic pawn sacrifices didn’t end and with 23.f6 white wanted to prevent black from gaining time with ..:Qf6. Some very instructive moments in this game.
Finally black blundered with 27…Ne6 which allowed a nice sequence taking advantage of the newly opened a2-g8 diagonal.
Nice win for Bragi which means that he might have an outside chance of contending if he finishes the tournament very strong.
Helgi Áss Grétarsson – Guðmundur Kjartansson
Gummi went for the Leningrad Dutch in this game and Helgi selected the Nh3 variation. Usually black goes …d6 in that line but Gummi started with …Nc6 which felt unusual to the author (who has occosionally ventured into Leningrad waters)
Black lost some time but in return got an attacking position on the Kingside. The position looked threatening but Helgi went for the thematic Bh3 trying to gain control of the white squares.
Here we had another interesting moment and similarly to the previous game, black decided to open up his Bishop on g7 and avoiding a super knight on e4 with the pawn sacrifice 18…e4!?
In what followed Gummi got really interesting compensation for a pawn. The computers might like what but on the other hand for white it’s really hard to move anything and the Rook on b1 and the Bishop on c1 can hardly move in this position! Eventually things simplified and black got the better rook ending. White should have been able to hold easily but failed to go Rb7-h7 early which would have almost secured the draw.
Here white made the decisive blunder. It seems that 63.Rb8 should draw since white can take on h2 and check on c- and e-files if the king moves utilizing his own b-pawn for leverage. Instead 63.Rd8? lost a vital tempo when white was not in time to play b7 against d3 and Gummi managed to squeeze out yet another important victory and tie Henrik at the top of the table!
Héðinn Steingrímsson – Hannes Stefánsson
Finally we look at one of the most important games of the round. Hannes was leading with half a point before this round whilte Héðinn Steingrímsson had lost an important game already. For Steingrimsson to contend he had to win at all costs while Stefansson most likely was happy with a draw with the black pieces.
Hannes has been playing the Nimzo almost exclusively lately so the opening was no surprise since Héðinn is almost always opening with 1.d4. Héðinn went for the Qc2 variation and we quickly got a typical Nimzo type of positon.
In the middlegame, black went for the black squares but in the process conceded the white squares so white held an edge and tried to control the f5 square while also having possible play on the Kinside and a safer king.
Later Steingrimsson changed the structure with Nf5 and now his plan was Be4 exchanging off the light squared bishops with domination on the light squares as well as pressure on the weak black pawns. Add to this that white had the safer king and it was clear that white was the only one playing for a win.
White methodically increased his advantage and in the end it proved too difficult for black to defend against white’s mounting initiative on the queenside and across the board. A big space advantage and overall the much better pieces secured the white edge and in the end Stefansson just couldn’t defend.
A fantastic game by Steingrimsson who positionally outplayed his experienced and prestigious opponent. This win means that the leaderbord really shook up. Kjartansson and Danielsen moved into the lead with Stefansson dropping to third. This also gave Steingrimsson an outside chance of contending with some further good results and a win against Danielsen in the next round could go a long way towards that goal!
Masters & Women
In the Masters, Magnus Teitsson preserved his lead despite taking a bye in the 5th round. FM Davíð Kjartansson could have caught up but FM Sigurdur Sigfusson had other ideas after sacrificing a piece in the Sveshnikov.. Sickfuzion (another phonetically correct spelling) threw a spanner in the works for Kjartansson’s plans.
This meant that he catching up was left up to WGM Lenka Ptacnikova. Again, Lenka got into slight trouble in the opening and veteran IM Saevar Bjarnason had the better game in the opening when he chased the black queen around Lenka managed to solve her problems and got a classical IQP position and showed good technique, exchanging pieces and eventually got a good rook ending which she converted.
This moves Lenka into a joint lead and she’ll face Teitsson in the 6th round. Naturally Lenka is also leading the Women’s Championship. Elsa María and Jóhanna Björg are here nearest competitors chasing her a full point behind.
And finally todays broadcast: