In March I played in my first (and hopefully not last!) international tournament: the Reykjavik Open in Iceland. I strongly recommend this tournament to chess players of any strength. With this series of posts I hope to convince you that Reykjavik is well worth a visit in addition to covering my tournament experience at the board.
The day after the gruelling double round day had a late start. This was not just to give the players a long rest, but because some of the players would be spending the day on the Golden Circle Tour. This is a guided coach trip around some of Iceland’s most fascinating landmarks. It was the only opportunity to do some proper sightseeing during the entire tournament so I hopped on board!
The weather was generally pleasant during my week and a half stay. Unfortunately the day of the tour was the only real exception. Throughout the day we experienced every form of precipitation possible, including heavy rain, snow, and hail, along with a constant bone-chilling wind. The first stop was the Þingvellir National Park , which features the boundary between two tectonic plates and Iceland’s largest natural lake.
The second stop was the Geysir hot springs, where we ate lunch and saw some explosive geysers. Following that, we travelled to the Gullfoss waterfall, pictured below. We were not allowed to traverse the lower paths that would present us with a closer view due to the unsafe conditions. The final two stops were special treats for the throng of chess players: Bobby Fischer’s final resting place and the Fischer museum. The museum is small but jam-packed with pictures, chess sets, and old newspaper articles detailing Fischer’s life and his famous 1972 world championship match against Boris Spassky.
We arrived back in Reykjavik with just over an hour to spare until the start of round 4. Enough time to grab a quick shower and get changed. My next opponent was WGM Lenka Ptacnikova, who played top board for the Icelandic women’s team at the recent Olympiad in Baku.
I was soundly defeated, but I was reasonably happy with my play. In round 5 I had the white pieces against a local youngster.
The ping-pong nature of chess tournaments continues as my round 5 victory puts me across the board from another stronger player: Anton Darnell from Sweden.
Things were looking up. I had won two games in a row, including my first win against a stronger player.
Report by Chris Bak