Rounds 5 & 6 – Bragi and Hedinn in the lead

Over the weekend, rounds 5 and 6 were played in the Icelandic Chess Championship. While the story of the tournament is that Bragi Thorfinnsson and Hedinn Steingrimsson are leading with 4,5 out of 6, the story of the weekend was the impressive uprising of Gudmundur Gislason who has come back from the “dead” on 0 out of 3 to win 3 games in a row against some of the to players in the tournaments, including two GM’s!

His 4th round win chanced the landscape of the tournament after starting quietly…

Early on things looked out of sorts when Steingrimsson had to maneuver his knight to b7, an ugly square for the knight and in the way of the other pieces.

Hedinn was already on the ropes before move 20 and despite Gudmundur Gislason not finding the immediate death blow on some occasions he always had a winning position and didn’t falter and brough home the nice victory.

In the 5th round, he took on another GM in Hjorvar Steinn Gretarsson. In short, Hjorvar is playing one of the worst tournaments of his career and has looked mentally drained in this tournament with his recent match against GM Short and his busy schoolwork with exams because of his law studies.

To be fair, things looked ok for Hjorvar out of the opening, he was slightly better but not much.

Here Hjorvar made a blunder with 22.Nb5? after 22…b5 23.Ne4 then 23…Nc2! was played.

Since the check on e3 is brutal especially if white takes on c2, white is forced to give up the exchange. Hjorvar fought on but in vain and Gudmundur won again!

In the 5th round, the Thorfinnsson brothers played an epic fighting game. Many would have tought they might agree to a draw but since the tournament has a 30 move draw rule that was going to be tough. After some fighting it looked like they might repeat the position 3 times at one point but instead the older Bjorn made his younger brother Bragi suffer till move 84 when the draw was finally agreed!

Note all pgn’s have clock times after each move!

 

Another interesting scuffle deciding potentially defining the top of the leaderboard was Jon Viktor Gunnarsson on 3/4 against Johann Hjartarson on 3 points as well.

This game also turned out to be long and interesting. The material balanced of two minor pieces vs a rook and pawn provided for an interesting middlegame and it looked like Gunnarsson was on his way to trick his veteran opponent. Johann however skillfully defended the exchange down ending and showed his GM endgame knowledge.

 

The 6th round got an early result as GM Hjorvar Steinn Gretarsson had to forfeit his game against FM David Kjartansson. Fortunately for the tournament this was the only game that Hjorvar is to miss and he will be back for the 7th round. Had he been unable to finish some of the hopeful IM’s would have lost out on their chances for a GM norm.

While Hjorvar for sure wasn’t present at the table, it could be debated if IM Bjorn Thorfinnsson indeed was? Perhaps underestimating his opponent Bjorn went….as we like to call it “down in flames” with the white pieces and had to resign before move 20!

Legendary GM Fridrik Olafsson overlooks the tragedy in Bjorn vs Orn Leo
Legendary GM Fridrik Olafsson overlooks the tragedy in Bjorn vs Orn Leo

His opening play was way too wild an anti positional with the g4 and h4 pushes and insult was added to injury when after …Qxd5 Bjorn thought he might be able to castle and fight on in the position. This idea was quickly crushed though when Bjorn realized he had already moves his h1-rook and therefore didn’t still have castling rights.

For most of the round, all eyes were on the GM clash between Johann Hjartarson and Hedinn Steingrimsson.

Rd6_pic3The above picture is from the audience room where the position was being analyzed. Hedinn grabbed a pawn early and while he defended nicely to most spectators the white initiative looked very very dangerous indeed!

Johann perhaps went a little too far in his winning attempts and was simply down a piece with vague threats at one point. That was when Hedinn finally faltered and blundered quite badly allowing Johann to enter a rook endgame which looked and felt completely winning for him. Hedinn felt the same but kept on fighting and somehow he found a way to ground the advance of the white connected passers and Johann agreed to a draw.

Sunday being the official celebration of fishermen around the country it felt fitting that Gudmundur Gislason or “the talented fisherman” as he has been called on more occasions than one kept on his onslaught and turnaround winning his 3rd consecutive game.

Finally of note was the Bragi Thorfinnsson vs Jon Viktor Gunnarsson game. Both are at the top of the table and this game important for both of them. Despite white holding an edge he wasn’t able to find any openings in the black armoury and a draw was agreed in the late middlegame.

Lets have a look at the weekend results:

Round 5:

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Round 6:

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In the 7th round, the leaders will face of! Hedinn Steingrimsson will have white against Bragi Thorfinnsson.

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Jon Viktor Gunnarsson against Bjorn Thorfinnsson is also a pivotal game for both players. A win there keeps either of them in contention.

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