After an absolutely epic round full of drama, brilliant moves, blunders, swings, sweat and resurrection we have a sole leader after 8 rounds. Veteran GM Johann Hjartarson is now leading with 6 points out of the 8 rounds. In the 8th round Johann more or less came back from the dead as he was completely losing (-35.13 on Chess24) but came back to even win in the end. He claims himself that this game is scientific proof that there is indeed life after death!
IM Jon Viktor Gunnarsson – GM Hedinn Steingrimsson
We’ll tip things off with the game between the leaders before the round. Actually co-leaders and with two other players as four people shared the lead on 5/7.
Jon Viktor yet again went for the quiet Italian game with d3 or as it’s often referred to: Giuoco Pianissimo (Italian: “Very Quiet Game”)
In the early middlegame it looked like black should be slightly better with his control over the d-file and space advantage on the queenside. Truth be told though it looked like it would be hard for either side to do too much.
Hedinn though looked like here he was on the verge of creating somewhat of a squeeze on the white position. Black tried to increase the pressure but Jon Viktor defended well and even though he had to give up a pawn he didn’t look in grave danger at any point.
Here the knight can find a great outpost on d5 via f1-e3. Shortly after the exchange of queens a repetition of moves happened as neither side could make any real progress so a draw was agreed.
IM Bragi Thorfinnsson – GM Hjorvar Steinn Gretarsson
Tough and important game for Bragi to stay in contention. The players ventured into a Queen’s Indian and quite quickly Hjorvar took on the hanging pawns
Shortly after, things started to simplify with the …d4 push…
The game wasn’t far removed from a completely drawn ending which was agreed drawn in a few more moves.
GM Johann Hjartarson – IM Einar Hjalti Jensson
The game started of slowly…the calm before the storm if you will. Einar employed the Triangle Slav and that quickly transposed to a Stonewall Dutch setup for black. The knights were chopped off and black looked close to equal if not equal already.
Here Johann went on a journey with his rook with Rf1-f3-g3 and later to g5. This was be an epic journey of seemingly mostly failure but then unexpected success. Much like Frodo’s journey in the Lord of the Rings.
Here the rooks look all dressed up but still nowhere to go! The thing is if white doesn’t have any sacrifices then he doesn’t really have any pawn breaks to break through on the kingside or in the center and if black can hold him back, he holds all the trumps on the queenside!
Powerful move by Einar. With the rooks not making any progress on the kingside, opening up the queenside and potentially the backrank could prover very troublesome for white!
Here Johann called his troops back. Rf3 was played…..
Johann had no choice but to shed some pawns trying to organise his defence.
Bad news, white is still completely lost. Good news, at least the queen has entered the black position a little bit 😉
Einar kept avoiding …c3 here correctly which was a trick that kept popping up over a period of some moves. Johann would have played Qg3 with double attack on c3 and g6.
50.g4 is what we call all-in! The final desperado, it’s all or nothing. Einar found the correct antidote. He pushed his c-pawn and the door looked like it was closing for Johann. The last nail in the coffin was only a few hammer blows away.
Johann went for one last trick here….. 52.Rc5. Actually Johann was about ready to resign but decided to try one last trick. Black can just play 52…Ra7 and the computer says it’s -35.13
Somehow with 26 minutes left on the clock, Einar very quickly captured the rook, 52…Rxc5?? this technically “loses” 35 pawns 😉
53.Rxg6! = (I told you this rook would eventually find a meaning to his journey!)
White wins the queen and it should be a perpetual.
Here, Einar should just stay on the 8th rank and it’s a perpetual because of the strength of the c-pawn. Einar however, probably still wanted more and didn’t adjust to the new situation.
63…Kc6? this journey is not a good one by the black king! Now white becomes better as he can block the c-pawn and his pawns are quite strong!
Everything is blocked, white will get another queen and the win! A super important tournaround and win for Johann who now leads the tournament and still has the bottom two seeds to play!
IM Bjorn – Johann Ingvason
Bjorn got a nice position out of the English opening and had a nice advantage. It seemed to be somewhat fading away however when Johann made a bad blunder.
Here he took on h6 intending to take on h4 with check to regain the bishop. The simple 28.Bf3 however completely refutes the idea and white will be up a piece.
FM Gudmundur Gislason – Orn Leo Johannsson
Gudmundur Gislason on an amazing four game winning streak. He looked for a while good for a fifth but in the end it was a draw.
Orn Leo took a pawn on c4 in a Slav and held on it for dear life.
Black should be doing fine but perhaps the queen entry was mistaken. After 20.Rf2 Qe1+ 21.Kg2 black blundered with 21…h5? and now 22.Qd3
The black queen is about to be almost trapped. White should have won some material here with black trying to safe his queen.
Instead white got a pawn up ending that was still though tough to win. Here white erred though with a5?! which turned out only to be a target for black.
Here the audience members in the analysis room started debating how this ending was while the players tried to figure out in bigtime timetrouble. The jist of the evaluations was roughly like this:
At first most people thought white was winning but then the idea of …b5 and …a5-a4 was spotted for black. It wasn’t until a bit later when the correct idea for white was found. DON’T take on a4 and play Bc1. The queenside is completely blocked and even though the bishop will be tied up, white will decide the game with his king and advanced pawns.
Instead black was able to take on b3 and sacrifice on of his trippled pawns to enable entry for the king.Instead after Bc1 this would have been a nice blockade:
The ending looked like it was heading to a draw when Gudmundur tried to win it with an apparent losing attempt with e4!?
This apparent losing attempt however contained a great deal of venom!
Turns out that what Orn played, 54…Kxb2 is in fact the correct move. After that the game was quickly drawn by repetition since the new black queen can’t make any inroads or zugzwangs because of the f4 pawn covering the e5 square.
Instead 54…e1=Q 55.Be5! and it might be white who is winning! Truly remarkable!!
FM David Kjartansson – IM Gudmundur Kjartansson
The final game of the round was between Kjartansson and Kjartansson. Despite an early opening advntage for Kjartansson, Kjartansson defended slickly and in the end, Kjartansson won.
A fantastic round with terrific drama. Those who came to see the round had as much fun as they’ve ever had watching a chess event, lets hope the remaining few rounds will hold similar excitement! 15:00 local time is the 9th round.
The crosstable / standings