Collage of Reykjavik Open participants

Anniken Vestby / Ismael Nieto / via Nurgyul Salimova / Vandœuvre Open / Lennart Ootes / via Anna Cramling / via Alexandra Botez / Reykjavik Open

Reykjavik Open Preview

ChessOver the boardTournament
Brrr, Iceland!

It’s time to return to the volcanic winter wonderland that is Iceland! Post Bobby Fischer, the tiny lowly-populated country of Iceland is known for one thing in the chess world: the Reykjavik Open, one of the most beloved premier open tournaments in the world!

The Reykjavik Open has established itself as a haven for streamers and strong players alike. Last year’s edition featured one of the best games of the year in which popular streamer Dina Belenkaya defeated Gukesh’s current second, Grzegorz Gajewski (portrayed as Levy beating Magnus in GothamChess’s April Fools YouTube video). Over the past decade or so, the tournament can proudly name Fabi, Wesley, Anish, Pragg, and Adhiban as some of its recent winners. But for the first time in many years, this month’s upcoming edition of the Reykjavik Open also features an impressive lineup of the top women’s chess players as well, enough to consider it the first major women’s classical tournament of the year.

Official tournament promo image (of the venue). Credit: Reykjavik Open.

Featured players

Six players in the FIDE Women’s Top 50 will partake in the tournament, all of whom are in the 2400s (and four of whom also appear in my WCC Top 25 rankings). That includes the most recent woman to receive the GM title, 21-year-old Zhu Jiner, and two of my Top 5 Women’s Rising Stars, Nurgyul Salimova and Teodora Injac.

Nurgyul Salimova is playing the Candidates next month, but still hasn’t played a classical tournament yet this year. Reykjavik will likely be her only chance to make sure she’s in form. Meanwhile, Zhu Jiner slipped in rating at the end of last year, hurting her chances at qualifying for the upcoming 2024-25 FIDE Women’s Grand Prix. The rating qualifiers are decided at the end of this month, and she may need to gain a whole +15 or even +23 Elo to have a chance at one of the spots. For 23-year-old Teodora Injac, she just made her first GM norm at the end of last year. Reykjavik is a decent opportunity for another one.

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Women’s lineup (top 10) for the Reykjavik Open. Throw in a few more GMs and this would make a great GM norm invitational!

The rest of the IMs above or around 2400 could be going for GM norms as well, but it might not be so easy. Last year’s edition of the Reykjavik Open required about a top 12 finish for a GM norm, and this year’s field may be a bit weaker. One of the more interesting names among the norm hunters is Lu Miaoyi, who just qualified for the IM title right after turning 14. She would have a chance to break Hou Yifan’s record for the youngest girl to become a GM if she achieves it by August. It’s a long shot, but it’s not impossible. (Abhimanyu Mishra was at a similar rating in March exactly three years ago. He also had until August to break the youngest GM record, and was successful.)

Among the other top players, Tania Sachdev, the two-time reigning Commentator of the Year, is back to OTB for just the second time since the start of last year. She’s here to remind everyone she’s just as good at playing as she is at commentating. And among the other girls in the tournament, Miaoyi is joined by Bodhana Sivanandan as well.

Top women’s players featuring in Reykjavik. Credit: A Vestby; I Nieto; via N Salimova; Vandœuvre Open; L Ootes; M Emelianova; P Textoris; Reykjavik Open.

Streamers galore

I count not one, not two, not three, but no less than nine Twitch streamers will be taking part in the tournament. I believe most if not all of them will be streaming their games. That’s Anna Cramling! Anna-Maja Kazarian! Dina Belenkaya! Alexandra Botez! Andrea Botez! Alexandra Prado! Julesgambit! Lularobs! And Zach thechessnerd!

Anna Cramling
Anna Cramling at the Reykjavik Open last year! Credit: via Anna Cramling.

When Anna Cramling and Alexandra Botez played here last year, they were commanding 10K+ views each, at the same time! The way things have gone with their tournaments this year, I can only expect those numbers to be even higher this time around. Andrea and Dina both just had great tournaments in Prague. Dina got back some of the rating she’s been losing to US kids in the US. And Andrea was farming higher-rated 1900s in Prague like it was nothing even though she was sick and stuck playing in a red Adidas tracksuit. We could see an even more rejuvenated Andrea in Reykjavik now that Air France has finally returned her luggage.

For Anna-Maja, the Reykjavik Open will be the first in a series of three tournaments she’ll be competing in over the next month. At the end of last year, Anna-Maja finally accomplished her long-term goal of getting back to 2200 for the first time in five years. Reykjavik will mark the start of a new pursuit as she embarks to get back to 2300 for the first time in eight years. And today, she just announced a pursuit for the WGM title as well.

Lula is finally making it back to Reykjavik, where she played her first rated tournament two years ago. She had great success here over the board and also brought to light incidents of harassment at the event. That was even before similar kinds of public statements became more common and accepted last year. Lula took a long break from OTB chess for much of 2023 in the later part, but recently returned to the tournament scene.

Anna-Maja's schedule
Anna-Maja’s upcoming tournament schedule. Credit: Anna-Maja Kazarian / photo by Lennart Ootes.

Top contenders

The tournament is basically Bogdan-Daniel Deac’s to lose. Deac was 2700 recently, and even at 2690 now, he still out-rates the rest of the field by more than 60 Elo. But keep in mind, winning a tournament where you are the top seed by such a wide margin is not as easy as it sounds. The third seed Xu Xiangyu just played the Shenzhen Masters with a bunch of super-GMs and finished fourth out of eight, ahead of Anish, Dubov, and Artemiev. On the other hand, the only other two 2600s in the field, Vasyl Ivanchuk and Jules Moussard, have both been dropping rating lately, but Ivanchuk is a legend so don’t count him out.

Just by number of players, Turkey sports a good chance with four 2500+ GMs in the field, the most of any country, led by Vahap Şanal. Adhiban is the only former winner in the field, but he would need a real resurgence to win again. Two other young prodigy IMs besides Miaoyi who probably won’t win the whole thing, but are still looking for a top 10 finish to secure a GM norm are Singapore’s Jagadeesh Siddharth and England’s Shreyas Royal.

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The top seeds in this year’s Reykjavik Open.


The Reykjavik Open is nine rounds over seven days, from Friday the 15th to the 21st of March. That’s two sets of double rounds (2 & 3, and 5 & 6) and no rest days. The double rounds can be tough because the time control isn’t just 90+30, but also has 30 minutes added after 40 moves.

The tournament uses accelerated pairings (the top half starts out with a “bonus point” that slowly gets shed off by the middle of the tournament), so that the top half and bottom half of the participants are sort of split into separate sections by rating. The cutoff for the split is in the low-to-mid 1900s. The whole tournament is just one section with no rating cutoff. There are 425 players currently registered, including 1400s (i.e. 1000s before the rating compression) and a bunch of unrated players.

There are three women’s prizes up for grabs. The top 10 overall get prizes, so the target for a GM norm or one of the overall prizes is about the same. If you want a €1000+ prize, you need to medal. (UPDATE: They just added a fourth women's prize, and the new women's top prize is also €1000+!)

Last year’s three women’s prize winners (!), and Chessable Geert. Popular chess jack-of-all-trades Irene Sukandar was the top women’s prize winner. Credit: Þorsteinn Magnússon.

And PS, it will be cold. Before you say I’m just stereotyping Iceland, check out the weather forecast. All the best to the participants! ;-)

It’s a rarity that the top women players and the top women streamers compete in the same tournament. Most of the biggest OTB tournament streams with regular 10K+ views, mainly by Anna Cramling and BotezLive (and including the Reykjavik Open last year), were at tournaments without any top women players. All in all, this upcoming edition of the Reykjavik Open is a great opportunity to see the top streamers play alongside the top women.

The Reykjavik Open starts on Friday, and the opening ceremony kicks off the tournament the day before. There will be many live streams by the streamers. And I suspect there will be general commentary too. You don’t want to miss it!

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