The World Champions tournament got underway tonight in Hotel Selfoss in Iceland. The tournament is part of a chess festival in the city of Selfoss and the concept is probably quite unique. All the competitors in the 10 player round-robin where at some time a World Champion in one age category.

The playing hall in Hotel Selfoss….the player’s flags in the back.

The players list is quite varied with players coming from both near and far although mostly far! Iran, Kazaksthan, Brasil, Egypt, Russia (two players) and Belarus.

The World Under 16 Junior Champion from  1977, Jón L. Árnason opened the tournament by making the first move in the game between Dinara Saduakassova og Mikhail Antipov.

The first game to finish was the one between local GM Hedinn Steingrimsson and Brazilian GM Rafael Leitao. Leitao has for a long time been Brazil’s top player and has an impressive resume as you can read in his interview here.

Steingrimsson had the white pieces and decided to test Leitao in the Sicilian as he is perhaps easier to prepare for in that opening. A typical hedgehog was reached.

Unfortunately the game never got fully out of the muck and a draw was agreed in a quite but very dynamic position on move 22. As often happens, the fireworks are somewhat beneath the surface in such games and this one had a very nice such moment.

While analyzing after the game the players looked at the move 19…d5!? which Leitao didn’t play but preferred over the move 19…Ba8 which he played in the game.  After 20.Qd4 which is a bad move the Queen trap after 20…Nxf3 21.Qxf6 Qa8! is quite spectacular!

Unfortunately, nothing of this sort happened and a draw was agreed.

Semyon had everything under control in his game vs Stefansson

Hannes Stefansson  and the Russian IM Semyon Lomasov played an open Spanish and followed a Vachier Lagrave vs Anand game from earlier this year. The first deviation was on move 17. where Stefansson played 17.a4 whereas MVL played 17.a3. Lomasov proved to be very well prepared and played his moves quite quickly. White reached a pawn up ending but had virtually no chances to press it home and a draw was agreed after a repetition.

Antipov first one to get a decisive result

Russian GM Mikhail Antipov had the black pieces against an aggressive Dinara Saduakassova from Kazakhstan who attacked Antipov’s Grunfeld right away with 5.h4

Things looked more aggressive after 12.Nxh7

But Antipov had everything under control after 12…Kxh7 13.g4 Nd4! and won in what seemed like convincing fashion from there.

Zhigalko and Sara

Some early complications where on the board in the game between Sergei Zhigalko frin Belarus andegn Sara Khadem from Iran.

Here Sergei showed he was ready to fight with 15.Qxb8 instead of a perpetual with 15.Qa6 Ra8 16.Qb7 Rb8 17.Qa6 etc.

The decision proved justified as he never let the foot off the gas and won a nice game.

Gretarsson super concentrated

Egyptian GM Ahmed Adly caught GM Helgi Gretarsson in his home preparation as evidenced by Adly having 1:35 on his clock early in the game only increasing his starting 1:30. The first move out of preparation was as often happens….a mistake!

Here Adly played 19.Rfd1?! after a 12 minute thought and seemingly forgetting his preparation. White has a big advantage if he played 19.Nxb5! Helgi gathered his forces and defended all threats until it was his turn to make his opponent defend in a worse ending and soon a pawn down ending.

Adly managed to switch from pressing to defending and found a draw in the rook endgame.

1st Round Results

2nd Round pairings:

1st round games