The tournament in Reykjavik is over, and I finished with 5.5/9. After starting with 2.5/5, I won my next two games, and had high hopes to continue to finish well.
In round 7, I had the black pieces against FM Magnus Carlhammar of Sweden. The opening was a Reti, that led to a slightly strange IQP where White had the bishop pair in return for the isolated d-pawn. He missed a chance to play d4-d5 more advantageously earlier, and so after 27…h4 28.g4, he had already relinquished his advantage:
I played 28…Bd6 here, aiming at the f4-square. He should have played 29.Bg5, but he tried to hang onto the dark squares with 29.Ne2. I responded with 29…Re8 30.Re2 Rde7 and now he played 31.Bg5, but it was too late. After 31…Ne4, his position is in shambles. He blundered now in time pressure with 32.Bxe7, when I threw in a little zwischenzug with 32…Bh2+!. On 33.Kf1, 33…Nxd2+ picks up White’s queen, and so he played 33.Kh1 allowing 33…Nxf2 mate!
In round 8, I had the white pieces against IM Miodrag Perunovic of Serbia. The opening was a Catalan, and I steadily outplayed him to achieve a totally winning position after 34…Ba6:
I was in some time trouble, so I played the calmer 35.Qd2, rather than take the exchange with 35.Nxc4. After 35…Rc2, I took a 3rd pawn with 36.Qxd5. My opponent then responded with 36…Rxf4!? – a good practical try, I guess, but the move should lose quite simply. However, I made a bad miscalculation and played 37.gxf4 Nxf4 38.Qa8?? Nxg2 39.Qxc8 Bxc8, and all of a sudden, I realized I had to be careful not to lose! I had planned 40.Rc1, but 40…Nxe1 guards the rook on c2. Meanwhile, my king is completely stuck on h1, so after 40.Rf1 Nh4, I had to deal with the threats of 41…Bh3 (threatening 42…Bg2 mate), 41…Bg4, or 41…Bf5.
Had I played 38.Qf7 instead of 38.Qa8??, the position would have been a simple win. Black doesn’t have enough firepower to justify being down a rook and change.
Luckily, I managed to salvage half a point despite being on the 30-second increment in the following position after 52…b3:
I played 53.Rb7! b2. Now Black is threatening 54…Rh1 55.Rxb2 Rxh2+, skewering the king and rook, so I played 54.Nd4. Now on 54…Rh1, White has 55.Nf3+ and then only 56.Rxb2, as the h2-pawn is safe. The game continued 54…Bd5 55.Rb4, when again if 55…Rh1, 56.Nf3+ and 57.Rxb2 is fine for White. So he got off the 4th rank with 55…Kg5, when I played 56.h4+! – the pawn is taboo because of 57.Nf3+ and 58.Rh4 mate. Thus, Black’s king is forced backwards again and after 56…Kh6, I played 57.Ne2. Now the 2nd rank is blocked so that if the rook leaves b1, White can safely take on b2. Meanwhile, he threatens either 58.Nc3 or 58.Ke3, followed by a king walk to d2. Perunovic played 57…Bc4, but after 58.Rxc4 Rf1+ 59.Kxf1 b1=Q+ 60.Kf2 Qf5+ 61.Rf4 Qxe5 62.Kf1, White has a fortress. He only needs to walk his king between e1 and f1 and Black can’t do anything. A draw was soon agreed.
After this disappointing effort, I had the black pieces against IM Robert Ris of the Netherlands in the last round. He played a rather boring line against the Slav and a draw was agreed. Now I have a few days to recover and hopefully rediscover some form before my next event starts in San Sebastian, Spain.