Round 9 – Three tied at the top

The excitement continues at the top of the table in the 2016 Icelandic Chess Championship. We now have three leaders with 6,5 out of 9 and one player on 6 points.

Coming into the round, Johann Hjartarson was the sole leader but he failed to win his game. He played against Gudmundur Kjartansson and seemed to be struggling a bit in the opening but sacrificed a pawn and got plenty of play. Gudmundur erred allowing some deadly pins on his pieces and the win was available in a very nice variation for Johann. He however overlooked a small detail and instead went for a pawn up ending. Gudmundur managed to create enough of his own play there and in the end Johann had to agree to a draw.

This opened the door for other players to catch up. Two of them did.

The first one was Hedinn Steingrimsson, the defending champion. He faced Bjorn Thorfinnsson who after a slow start has now lost 3 of the last 4 games. In short, Bjorn never saw the light of day in this game. He entered a structure that was unfamiliar to him and got a very crippled position that was difficult to defend. Steingrimsson won in nice fashion.

Bragi at the top again
Bragi at the top again

Bragi Thorfinnsson also caught up, beating Einar Hjalti Jensson. After a heavy maneuvering middlegame Bragi managed to spring a trap on Einar in the timetrouble phase of the game making the rest easy.

Despite the battle at the top, it was Gudmunur Gislason once again making the headlines. After his now well documented slow start of 0 out of 3, he now has 5,5 out of the last 6 (should even have been 6 out of 6!). His win yesterday against bottom seed Johann Ingvason secured for him an International Master norm. This is his final norm so his only requirement would be rating, reaching 2400. We await confirmation for that. His highest published rating is 2382 but he was very close to 2400 in the middle of some tournament at the time so it’s possible he has already reached all the requirements.

Rounding off the round, Hjorvar Gretarsson and Jon Viktor Gunnarsson had a fighting draw where it looked like Jon Viktor had some chances in the middlegame but in the endgame the doubling of rooks on the 7th seemed dangerous and almost cost Jon Viktor the game. He however managed to fight hard enough to earn the draw. The last game to finish was a nice win for Orn Leo Johannsson who is quitely having a very nice tournament. He beat David Kjartansson in a nice attacking game. Orn will potentially play a pivotal role in deciding the tournament since he has to face two of the leading players in the last two rounds.

The 10th round starts at 15:00 local time but the last round is at 13:00 on Saturday.

The excitement will surely continue. Bragi Thorfinnsson plays for a GM norm in his game against Gudmundur Kjartansson today.

Results of 9th round – Crosstable – Pairings for 10th round: