For a good while it looked like almost all the games in the first round would have a decisive result and that the higher rated player would win in all of them. IM Einar Hjalti Jensson however threw a spanner in the works and managed to grab a draw from the jaws of defeat against one of the tournament favourites in GM Hjörvar Steinn Grétarsson.
Lets have a quick roundup of the games.
GM Jóhann Hjartarson – FM Guðmundur Gíslason
Jóhann can play just about anything and this time he went with 1.e4. FM Gíslason used to be almost exclusively a Najdorf player but has branched out a little bit and played the Taimanov variation of the Sicilian. Johann went with an aggressive f4 thrust and reached a promising attacking position.
White has accepted an isolated pawn on e4 but he is well ahead in development and black must tread carefully. Hjartarson’s last move 12.Kh1 was a typical prohylactic move preventing the exchanging operation with …Bc5. White is now ready to start aggressive operations and it’s not so easy for black to finish his development.
Things really started going downhill after black walked into a pin with …Nf5 in an already very difficult position. The problems mounted and black started to lose material. In fact Johann had only to make 6 more moves and got the first decisive result of the 2016 championship on his way to being a rook up.
IM Bragi Þorfinnsson – Jóhann Ingvason
Most likely Jóhann the bottom seed will be looked at as a punching bag for most of the players who outrate him by couple of hundred points in most matchups. Johann has however showed on many occasions that he can be a dangerous opponent. In this game Bragi seemed to want to play a positional game to avoid Jóhann’s main strengths.
Here Jóhann however changed the character of the position and went for …e5
Bragi looked to have a comfortable position but then Johann looked to be sailing out of any potential problems when he blundered with 23…Ng7??
This allowed a deathblow with 24.d6! which enable the knight to come to d5 with tempo followed by Nf6+ and black couldn’t defend the kingside.
IM Jón Viktor Gunnarsson – Örn Leó Jóhannsson
Örn Leó is the son of Jóhann Ingvason and they are the first father & son to play in the final of the Icelandic Championship in it’s 103 year history!
They both started with black and Örn Leó played the Winawer French against Jón Viktor. Jón went for a sideline with Bd2 a line that he has played before (beating your truly for instance in I believe the 2009 Icelandic Ch).
Black seemed fine out of the opening.
Perhaps here he was too quick to fix the kingside with …g6 as he loses some flexibility as 0-0-0 followed by …f6 is also a logical plan for black.
In the following position Jón Viktor played a very interesting pawn sacrifice. With g4!?
Black took and then took on h4. After 20.Nfh3 we have a very interesting position. White has given up a pawn but on the other hand the knight on h4 is completely stranded and the white king most likely despite all completely safe on g3. White can also think about active operations on the f-file.
Black went for a piece sacrifice not liking his prospect but Jón Viktor kept everything firmly under control and the extra piece was the deciding factor.
GM Héðinn Steingrímsson – IM Guðmundur Kjartansson
A tough matchup for Kjartansson, black against the defending champion in the first round. He went for a Semi-Slav.
Here black deviated with 11…h6 from the famous Aronian-Anand game where Anand played 11…Rc8
Black seemed fine and black has in fact drawn 8 out of 9 games between super GM’s when going …Qc7 here. Guðmundur went for …Qe7 which looks fine also. Black was doing fine until a blunder on move 23.
23…Qb6+ this turns out to be an unfortunate square for the queen and black also loses control of the f4 square. Black must have overlooked something here. He quickly fell behind on material and everything fell apart.
Bc5 was a nice move which won the material and soon after the game.
FM Davíð Kjartansson – IM Björn Þorfinnsson
Here play quickly transposed to a line of the Symmetrical English where black sacrifices a pawn here:
Black got fine Benko like compensation and curiously the game followed exactly the game Amanov, Mezget-Ramirez, Alejandro up until move 19 although I am sure neither player was aware of that.
David played 19.Nb1 but Mezget went for 19.Qd4 in a game which ended in a draw. The game seemed to be dynamically equal with black perhaps holding an initiative until move 33.
Here Kg2 was played, this was a slight blunder. The situation on the clock was tricky as David was playing with just over 30 seconds + the increment against 5 minutes for Bjorn.
Here 33…Rxf2+ was problematic and the game shifted towards black….in what followed the good news for white was the he reached the time control. The bad news is the position looked like this:
White made some spite checks but was mated in a few more moves.
GM Hjörvar Steinn Grétarsson – IM Einar Hjalti Jensson
These two also met in the 1st round last year when Hjorvar won a nice game with black in the Leningrad Dutch. With white here he went with 1.c4 and 2.e3 borrowing the setup that Nigel Short just used against him in their recently concluded rapid match.
What we got was a kind of reversed Sicilian but black decided against going …d5. Perhaps rightly so as that would be the Taimanov Sicilian which Hjörvar plays with black and knows quite well.
Hjorvar always had the slightly better position but nothing too critical. Hjorvar however nurtured his space advantage and managed to penetrate a rook into the enemy camp through the c-file.
Here Einar in a difficult ending decided to take the rook on c6 and give white a protected passed pawn on c6. Objectively this should have been enough for white to win.
In this ending it just looks like white is ready to penetrate with the other rook, either via the d-file or the h-file.
Here the win was probably achieved most easily with the move Rb7 instead of e5 which was played. The win seemed to be there but requires more study than a quick glance with a computer. Einar defended tenaciously however and Hjorvar was unable to capitalize on the advantages of his position and had to concede a draw in the end.
So a very interesting round with decisive games. Quick roundup of the results:
The 2nd round starts as 15:00 local time, as do all rounds except the last one.
Some interesting matchups and people are anxious to see how this years championship race will develop!