Iceland Trip 2013: Yaacov in Iceland

by Mikhail
on 11 June 2013

by: Mike Murray and Mikhail Kruglyak

Hitting that magic age of thirty, I have concerns about my role in chess, my chosen profession. Many consider me a blitz specialist, not a top competitor in professional chess. I am a USCF Life Master, and my rating recently crossed the 2600 mark, but I lacked the IM and GM credentials. I could see the absence of international titles limiting my access to interesting invitational's with opportunities to play the world's best players.

 

But gaining the titles of IM or GM requires playing in the right tournaments, and that is a problem for an Orthodox Jew.

The Jewish holy day, Shabbos (or Sabbath), lasts roughly 25 hours, starting fifteen minutes before sundown on every Friday, and ending about 45 minutes after sundown on Saturday. Most tournaments typically span all or part of Shabbos, making participation problematic for an Orthodox Jew.

Shabbos rules are strict. We cannot cook, carry money, or use electronic devices. This means no electronic chess clocks, phones, computers, or internet.  Even hotel rooms with electronic door locks present problems. We can’t write, and thus cannot keep score. (I've always wished for a nice tournament with a single round per day from Sunday to Thursday.)

Success in Norm tournaments under these conditions would be daunting.

I discussed my career problem with the local Rabbi who concluded I could play chess on the Shabbos if I kept all the halachos (laws for Shabbos).  Playing the actual game of chess was allowed, but some of the ancillary activities were forbidden. I couldn't write down my moves, or punch an electronic clock. If the arbiters agreed to these conditions, I could play.

I made my first two norms at the 2012 World Open and the 2012 Bermuda International, and needed one more to earn my International Master (IM) title. I decided to try for it at the 2013 Reykjavik Open, a prestigious classic tournament in Iceland.

This year, it pulled in two hundred and forty competitors, including thirty seven GMs, twenty-five IMs, and an abundance of FMs, NMs, CMs, and WGMs. The tough competition gave ample chance for a norm, and some blitz side events intrigued me. After some extra travel preparation, I would head to Iceland with my childhood friend, fellow chess player, and de facto manager, Mikhail Kruglyak.

The preparation began weeks before we left for Iceland. For us, it was more than stuffing clothes into suitcases, printing e-tickets, and heading out the door. A Jew can eat only kosher food and the availability of such food in a country such as Iceland (a nation with only about one hundred Jews,) would be problematic. There’s just no market demand for kosher food there.  So, in addition to the usual suitcases of clothes and personal effects, we loaded two trunks of cookware and kosher food, including what we came to call "The Emergency Rations," -- dried food that can survive anything.

Mikhail spoke with the Tournament Director for the Reykjavik Open, Gunnar Björnsson,

and he assured us they could accommodate Shabbos playing requirements. A third party would be allowed to punch my clock, and I wouldn't have to write down the moves. There were some downsides. Lacking a score sheet, I couldn’t claim such things as draws by repetitions, and if my clock surrogate were slow, I'd have to just accept the loss of time.

Five hours or two and a half movies into an enjoyable flight on an Icelandair 757, we touched down in Keflavik, Iceland.

My friend, Fridgeir Holm, greeted us at the airport. I'd given him some lessons over the internet, but we’d never actually met. Fortunately, there was no confusion as he stood holding a sign bearing my ICC (Internet Chess Club) handle: "YaacovN." After a warm greeting, he spared us a bus trip by loading our many bags, and our two backpacks into his car for a thirty minute drive to the Hotel Marina, in Reykjavik.

Once at the Marina, we connected with another friend and internet student of mine, Mike Murray, from the Seattle area. Mike, hoping to recover from jet lag before the tournament, had arrived a couple days earlier.

Icelandic hotel accommodations are more Spartan than those in the States. The Marina, while modern, trendy, and serviceable, was no exception. It had been newly reincarnated from a prior life as a paint factory and mixed martial art club. Above the bed in our room, a painting of a boy holding a headless herring greeted us. We love herring and considered it an auspicious sign.

Fridgier had a little surprise for us. We had been invited to the weekly blitz tournament at his local club. The four of us, two of us jetlagged but still game, piled into Fridgier's car and headed off for an evening of blitz. The tournament was very well organized, with the results of each game visible on a large screen seconds after they were reported. The TD rang a real bell to initiate each round. By the eighth round, Mikhail and I were reeling from exhaustion and withdrew reluctantly, resolving that the next year we would fly in a few days earlier and request a rematch.

Now, the Marina room included a wonderful buffet breakfast, but it wasn’t kosher; we could only drink coffee and take in the aroma of all the fine food.  We had to fix breakfast in our room. The first morning, when we connected our power adapter to the hotplate we’d packed, alarmingly the adapter began heating up. We fretted about melting the room's circuitry, and decided we needed an Icelandic hotplate. Mikhail and Mike went in search of one, and I hit the ICC.

Mike was somewhat familiar with the city, having played in the 2012 Reykjavik Open, and had already scouted around for kosher opportunities. It may seem incongruous for an Irish agnostic from Washington State's Olympic Peninsula to scour a predominantly Lutheran Nordic City for kosher food so two New Jersey Jews could eat something that hadn't spent days in a suitcase, but that's chess fellowship for you. With a tip from a Chabad Rabbi back home, and Mike's trusty scouting, we discovered some convenience stores scattered around Reykjavik carried kosher smoked salmon. It tasted fresh and delicious. As the tournament progressed, we consumed over ten pounds of the stuff. Mike also found some kosher protein bars and protein drinks: less gourmet, but sustenance in a pinch.

Most name tournaments involve travel from a hotel to the planning venue. Here the distance was walkable. Exiting the building presented a small problem. Because Harpa is equipped with electronic doors, we needed to wait until someone else entered or exited, then tail-gate them through. The locals probably thought us a bit strange.

First Round games in the big open tournaments are usually mismatches, but they do provide opportunities for the lower rated to dream of big upsets.  Mike actually got a good game against Polish GM Socko, but spoiled it with a ill-advised pawn sac that Socko charitably termed “optimistic”.  My opponent’s dreams were cut short.

[Event "Reykjavik Open"]

[Date "2013.02.19"]

[Round "1"]

[White "Norowitz, Yaacov"]

[Black "Fivelstad, Jon Olav"]

[Result "1-0"]

[ECO "E60"]

[WhiteElo "2432"]

[BlackElo "1888"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. c4 c5 4. Nc3 cxd4 5. Nxd4 Bg7 6. g3 O-O 7. Bg2 Nc6 8.

O-O a6 9. Nc2 d6 10. b3 Rb8 11. Bb2 Bd7 12. Ne3 Ne5 13. Qd2 Bh6 14. f4 Nfg4 15. Ncd5 Nxe3 16. Qxe3 Nc6 17. Qc3 f6 18. Rad1 Rc8 19. Qe3 Ne5 20. Qa7 Ra8 21. Qxb7 Nxc4 22. Nxf6+ exf6 23. Bd5+ Kh8 24. Bxc4 Qe8 25. Rxd6 Qe3+ 26. Rf2 Ra7 27. Qd5 Bh3 28. Rxf6 1-0

Wednesday was the only day with two rounds. It makes sense to have the multi-round day early in the event.   Unfortunately for us, Wednesday was Shabbos.  Entrants were allowed a single half point bye for the tournament.  Mikhail took advantage of this with a half point bye for round two, and he took a zero point bye for round three.  FIDE regulations precluded me making a norm if I did that.

Unfortunately for me, the FM I played in Round Two was stronger than I expected.  A lack of creativity on my part, jet lag and some good play by my opponent netted me my only loss in the event. I tanked the game with my 22nd. 22 … Nc4 keeps some edge.  After White’s cute 25 Rc5!, there was nothing to do but resign.

[Event "Reykjavik Open"]

[Date "2013.02.20"]

[Round "2"]

[White "Bjerke, Richard"]

[Black "Norowitz, Yaacov"]

[Result "1-0"]

[ECO "B14"]

[WhiteElo "2131"]

[BlackElo "2432"]

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 cxd5 4. c4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e6 6. Nf3 Be7 7. cxd5 Nxd5 8.

Bd3 O-O 9. O-O Nc6 10. Re1 Nf6 11. a3 Qd6 12. Bg5 Rd8 13. Ne4 Nxe4 14. Rxe4 Bxg5 15. Nxg5 h6 16. Nf3 b6 17. Qe2 Bb7 18. Ba6 Bxa6 19. Qxa6 Qd5 20. Qe2 Rac8 21. Re1 Na5 22. h3 Rc4 23. Re5 Qc6 24. Rxa5 Rc2 25. Rc5 1-0

This loss was doubly depressing since it meant I’d get lower rated opponents for the next couple rounds even if I won, thus hurting my chances for a norm.  But, there was nothing to do but hunker down and try to play some solid chess. I won my next game, and looked forward at least to the rest of the tournament being one game per day.

[Event "Reykjavik Open"]

[Date "2013.02.20"]

[Round "3"]

[White "Norowitz, Yaacov"]

[Black "Palmqvist, Frederik"]

[Result "1-0"]

[ECO "A46"]

[WhiteElo "2432"]

[BlackElo "2050"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 e6 3. Bg5 h6 4. Bh4 c5 5. c3 b6 6. Nbd2 Bb7 7. e3 Be7 8. Bd3

d6 9. Qe2 Nc6 10. Ba6 Bxa6 11. Qxa6 O-O 12. dxc5 dxc5 13. O-O-O Nd5 14. Bg3 Qc8 15. Qe2 Qb7 16. e4 Nf6 17. e5 Nd5 18. c4 Nc7 19. Ne4 Rfd8 20. Nd6 Qa6 21. Kb1 Qa4 22. Rd2 a6 23. Qd1 Qxd1+ 24. Rhxd1 Rd7 25. h4 Rad8 26. h5 Kf8 27. Ne4 Rxd2 28. Rxd2 Rxd2 29. Nexd2 Ke8 30. Bf4 Kd7 31. b3 b5 32. Kb2 bxc4 33. bxc4 f6 34. exf6 Bxf6+ 35. Kc2 e5 36. Be3 Nd4+ 37. Kd3 Nce6 38. Nh2 Nf5 39. Ng4 Nxe3 40. fxe3 Ng5 41. Ne4 Nxe4 42. Kxe4 Ke6 43. Nxf6 Kxf6 44. Kd5 1-0

Reviewing the rounds that evening, I noticed that several of the strong players, among them Sokolov and the legendary Frederic Olaffson, had taken half point byes in Round Two in order to “normalize” the second day. In retrospect, I probably should have done that.

Mike and Mikhail kept bucking me up, pointing out that anything could happen with seven rounds to go and that my chances for a norm were still viable.

The Thursday round was back to its customary start time 16:30, i.e., 4:30 PM, perfect for me as I could sleep in. Criticize my play if you will, but no one should ever doubt my sleeping skills!

We settled into a comfortable routine. While Mikhail made coffee, I’d head down the hall to Mike’s room, and we’d spend some time on the Internet researching my opponent. About 4:00 PM, the three of us would stroll over to Harpa. The fifteen minute walk was pleasant and invigorating with views of the Harbor and its boats and the coast guard vessels you could almost touch.  While there was minimal sun, we didn’t get any snow, just a misty drizzle. Heavier rain fell during the night with some regularity. Mike said it reminded him of Seattle.

Round Four was uneventful, a reasonably easy win despite my opponent’s resilient struggle. 

[Event "Reykjavik Open"]

[Date "2013.02.21"]

[Round "4"]

[White "Ornolfsson, Magnus P"]

[Black "Norowitz, Yaacov"]

[Result "0-1"]

[ECO "B13"]

[WhiteElo "2169"]

[BlackElo "2432"]

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 cxd5 4. Nf3 Nf6 5. Ne5 g6 6. Bd3 Nc6 7. c3 Bg7 8. Qe2

Nxe5 9. dxe5 Nd7 10. f4 O-O 11. Be3 b6 12. Nd2 Nc5 13. O-O a5 14. Bb5 a4 15. b4 axb3 16. axb3 Rxa1 17. Rxa1 f6 18. b4 Ne6 19. Nf3 Qc7 20. Qd3 fxe5 21. fxe5 Bb7 22. Ra7 Ra8 23. Rxa8+ Bxa8 24. Bd4 Bh6 25. g3 Nxd4 26. Qxd4 Bc1 27. c4 e6 28. Qc3 Bh6 29. Qa3 Qd8 30. c5 bxc5 31. bxc5 Qf8 32. Nd4 Bb7 33. Nxe6 Qe7 34. Nf4 Bf8 35. Qc3 Qxc5+ 36. Qxc5 Bxc5+ 37. Kf1 Kf7 38. Nd3 Bd4 39. Bd7 Ba6 40. e6+ Kf6 41. Ke2 Bc3 42. Ba4 Kxe6 43. Bc2 Kf6 44. Kf3 Bb7 45. Kf2 g5 46. Ke2 h6 47. Kf2 Bc8 48. Ke3 Ba5 49. Bb3 Bb6+ 50. Kf3 Be6 51. g4 Ke7 52. h3 Kd6 53. Ba2 Bf7 54. Bb3 Bg6 55. Ne1 Be4+ 56. Ke2 Ke5 57. Nd3+ Kd4 58. Bc2 Kc3 59. Bb1 Bd4 60. h4 Bb6 61. hxg5 hxg5 62. Ne5 Bxb1 0-1

Round Five, on Friday, started slightly before Shabbos.  My opponent, GM Oleksienko Mikhailo, in an admirable display of sportsmanship, agreed to punch my clock as well as his own. I was excused from keeping score and his score sheet was definitive. The hard-fought game could have gone either way.  In time pressure, my opponent missed the winning 37 Nxe6+ fxe6, 38 Qxe6 Be5+, 39 Kf1 Qb5+, 40 Ke1 Qb4ch, 41 Rd2, and his 39th was inferior to Nd4 Qa2 (where Black has a big edge but nothing immediate) and his 40th lost immediately, but the better 40 Nd5 Be4+, 41 Kf1 Bxd5 was also hopeless.  So, in the end, I notched the point.

[Event "Reykjavik Open"]

[Date "2013.02.22"]

[Round "5"]

[White "Oleksienko, Michailo"]

[Black "Norowitz, Yaacov"]

[Result "0-1"]

[ECO "B12"]

[WhiteElo "2568"]

[BlackElo "2432"]

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 Bf5 4. Nd2 e6 5. Nb3 Nd7 6. Nf3 Ne7 7. Be2 a6 8. O-O

Qc7 9. Bd2 Bg6 10. Rc1 b5 11. Ba5 Qa7 12. Bb4 Nc8 13. c3 Ncb6 14. Bxf8 Kxf8 15. Na5 c5 16. dxc5 Nxc5 17. b3 Qc7 18. a4 bxa4 19. b4 Nb7 20. c4 Nxa5 21. cxd5 Qd7 22. bxa5 Nxd5 23. Nd4 Be4 24. Nc6 g5 25. Qxa4 Bg6 26. Qd1 Rc8 27. Qa4 Ra8 28. Qa3+ Kg7 29. Qd6 Qb7 30. Bf3 Nf4 31. Nd4 Qb8 32. Bxa8 Qxa8 33. Qc6 Qd8 34. Rfd1 Qxa5 35. g3 Nh3+ 36. Kg2 g4 37. Qc5 Qa2 38. Nc2 Qb3 39. Ne3 Qb7+ 40. Kf1 Qh1+ 41. Ke2 Qf3+ 42. Kd2 Nxf2 0-1

In Saturday’s Round Six, I faced GM Dziuba Marcin. This time, Fridgeir was able to dragoon one of his business partners into punching my clock for me. The game was exhausting. In itself, a draw against a 2602 GM is fine, but the way it was drawn? How could I have missed winning this game?  In the post-mortem, I told my opponent that I played the first part of the game like a 2700 and the last part like a 1100.  He commented dryly, “Yes, that seems about right.”

[Event "Reykjavik Open"]

[Date "2013.02.23"]

[Round "6"]

[White "Norowitz, Yaacov"]

[Black "Dziuba, Marcin"]

[Result "1/2-1/2"]

[ECO "E60"]

[WhiteElo "2432"]

[BlackElo "2602"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. c4 Bg7 4. Nc3 d6 5. Bf4 O-O 6. e3 c6 7. Be2 a6 8. h3 b5

9. a3 bxc4 10. Bxc4 Nbd7 11. O-O Nb6 12. Ba2 Nbd5 13. Nxd5 cxd5 14. Bg5 Rb8 15. Bxf6 Bxf6 16. Qd2 e6 17. b4 Bd7 18. Rfc1 Qb6 19. Bb1 Qa7 20. Bd3 Rb6 21. Bf1 Rfb8 22. Qc3 Bd8 23. Nd2 a5 24. Nb3 Rc6 25. Qxc6 Bxc6 26. Rxc6 Qd7 27. b5 a4 28. Nd2 Bb6 29. Nf3 Kg7 30. Rb1 Qd8 31. Rb4 Ra8 32. Bd3 Ra7 33. Bc2 Ba5 34. Rxa4 Rc7 35. Ra6 Rxc2 36. R4xa5 h6 37. Ra4 Qc8 38. Rb4 Qc3 39. Rb1 Qc4 40. a4 Qe2 41. Rf1 Ra2 42. Rxd6 Rxa4 43. Rd7 Qxb5 44. Ne5 Kg8 45. Rxf7 Qe8 46. Rf6 Ra7 47. Rc1 Kg7 48. Rxg6+ Kh7 49. Rc6 Qxc6 50. Rxh6+ Kxh6 51. Nxc6 Ra2 52. g4 Kg5 53. Kg2 Rc2 54. Ne5 Rc1 55. Nf3+ Kf6 56. Kg3 Rh1 57. h4 Rf1 58. h5 Rh1 59. Kg2 Rc1 60. Ne5 Kg5 61. f4+ Kh6 62. Kf2 Rc2+ 63. Kf3 Rc1 64. Nd7 Rc7 65. Nc5 Rc6 66. Kg3 Rb6 67. Kh4 Kg7 68. g5 Kf7 69. h6 Rb1 70. Nd3 Kg6 71. Ne5+ Kh7 72. Kg3 Rb2 73. Kf3 Ra2 74. Nd7 Kg6 75. Ne5+ Kh7 76. Nd3 Kg6 77. Nc5 Kf5 78. g6 Kxg6 79. Nxe6 Rh2 80. Nc7 Rh3+ 81. Kf2 Rh5 82. Ke2 Kxh6 83. Kd3 Rf5 84. Kc3 Kh5 85. Kd3 Kg4 86. Ne6 Rh5 87. Nc7 Kf3 1/2-1/2

While the play itself didn’t go exactly as I’d have preferred, I got some exciting and welcome news during the game.  Mikhail said GM Yuri Shulman's father had learned I would be invited to the 2013 U.S. Championship! I had to verify it personally before I could make myself believe it.

The tough draw didn’t end the day. The day was Purim a Jewish holiday. That is the only time of the year where observant Jews are not supposed to know the difference between the evil Haman, royal vizier to King Ahasuerus, who planned to kill all the Jews in the Persian Empire, and Mordecai who foiled his plans. How to become oblivious to the difference? Get drunk! So, we set about fulfilling our obligations.

It gets better. This was the evening of the odds Blitz tournament. The organizers returned all entry fees to the prize fund and it was winner take all -- First Place the only prize. Ten minutes (with 1 second increment) for the game, just like normal blitz, the catch being the ten minutes gets divvied up based on rating. Each side got five minutes only if the players were rated within a hundred points of each other. With a big rating gap, the stronger side could wind up giving 9 to 1 odds on the clock.  For most of my games, I was the one giving 9 to 1 odds.

Sobriety may sometimes be over-rated. The night of beer and blitz went well and I won the tournament, snagging about six hundred bucks and a trophy – a welcome morale boost, since I was still smarting over my second round loss.

Round 7, on Sunday, started a bit early at 1:00 PM.  I faced off against Canadian FM Aman Hambleton and the game ended in a draw.  His 37Rg1 should have lost.  Correct was 37 Qg3, but after 37 … Ng4+, 38 Kg2! Ne3+, 39 Rxe3 Qxe3, 40 Qxe3 Rxe3,, 41 Nd1 Rxa3, that’s a lot of pawns for one knight to wrestle.  I returned the favor with 40 … Rg6, missing 40 … Nf1+, 41 Rxf1 Qxf1 and Black wins since White can’t protect both rook and knight.

[Event "Reykjavik Open"]

[Date "2013.02.24"]

[EventDate "?"]

[Round "7.6"]

[Result "1/2-1/2"]

[White "Aman Hambleton"]

[Black "Yaacov Norowitz"]

[ECO "D31"]

[WhiteElo "2472"]

[BlackElo "2432"]

1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Be7 4. cxd5 exd5 5. Bf4 c6 6. e3 Bf5

7. Nge2 Bg6 8. Ng3 Nf6 9. h4 Qb6 10. Qd2 h5 11. Be2 Nbd7

12. Rc1 Nf8 13. a3 Qd8 14. Qd1 Bd6 15. Be5 Bxe5 16. dxe5 N6d7

17. f4 Qb6 18. Qd2 Nc5 19. Rd1 Qc7 20. b4 Nce6 21. Kf2 Nd7

22. f5 Nxe5 23. fxg6 fxg6 24. Bf3 Rf8 25. Nge2 O-O-O 26. Nd4

Rde8 27. Rde1 g5 28. Nxe6 Rxe6 29. hxg5 Ng4+ 30. Kf1 Qg3

31. Re2 Rxf3+ 32. gxf3 Qxf3+ 33. Kg1 Nxe3 34. Qe1 d4 35. Qf2

Qg4+ 36. Kh2 Qxg5 37. Rg1 Qe5+ 38. Kh3 Rf6 39. Qg3 Qf5+

40. Kh2 Rg6 41. Qxg6 Nf1+ 42. Rxf1 Qxg6 43. Ne4 Qe6 44. Rf3 h4

45. Kg1 g5 46. Rf7 Kd8 47. Rxb7 Qg4+ 48. Kf1 h3 49. Nc5 Qf5+

50. Kg1 Qg4+ 51. Kf1 Qf5+ 52. Kg1 Qg4+ 53. Kf1 1/2-1/2

The rest of the day was spent relaxing.

Round 8, I faced Chinese GM Xiu Deshun: another exciting draw. It was probably enjoyable for the spectators. Down the Exchange, my resourceful opponent built a fortress and hunkered down. I tried, but was unable to break through.

[Event "Reykjavik Open"]

 [Date "2013.02.25"]

[Round "8"]

[White "Norowitz, Yaacov"]

[Black "Xiu, Deshun"]

[Result "1/2-1/2"]

[ECO "D02"]

[WhiteElo "2432"]

[BlackElo "2530"]

1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 e6 3. Bf4 Bd6 4. Bg3 Nf6 5. e3 c5 6. c4 cxd4 7. exd4 dxc4 8.

Bxc4 Nc6 9. Nc3 O-O 10. a3 Ne7 11. Be5 Ng6 12. O-O a6 13. Ba2 b5 14. Bxf6 Qxf6 15. d5 Rd8 16. Qe1 e5 17. Qe3 Qe7 18. Ne4 Bb7 19. Rad1 Rac8 20. Rfe1 h6 21. g3 Rc2 22. Qb3 Rcc8 23. h4 f6 24. h5 Nf8 25. Nh4 Qf7 26. Nf5 Bb8 27. Ne7+ Qxe7 28. d6+ Qe6 29. Qxe6+ Nxe6 30. Bxe6+ Kf8 31. Bxc8 Bxc8 32. f3 f5 33. Nc5 Rxd6 34. Rxd6 Bxd6 35. b4 Ke7 36. Kf2 a5 37. Rc1 axb4 38. axb4 Be6 39. Nxe6 Kxe6 40. Rc6 Ke7 41. Rb6 Bxb4 42. Rxb5 Bd6 43. Ke3 Kf7 44. g4 fxg4 45. fxg4 Kg8 46. Ke4 Kh7 47. Rb7 Bc5 48. Rd7 Bd4 49. Kf5 Be3 50. Kxe5 Bc1 51. Kf5 Be3 52. Ke6 Bc1 53. Kf7 Be3 54. Rd6 Bc1 55. Rc6 Bb2 56. Rg6 Bc3 57. g5 hxg5 58. Rxg5 Bd4 59. Rg6 Bc3 60. Ke6 Bd4 61. Kf5 Be3 62. Ke5 Bc1 63. Ke6 Bb2 64. Kf5 Bc1 65. Rb6 Bd2 66. Rc6 Be3 67. Rg6 Bd2 68. Rg2 Be3 69. Rg3 Bc1 70. Rg2 Be3 71. Ke6 Bd4 72. h6 gxh6 73. Kf5 Be3 74. Re2 Bg5 75. Rc2 Kg7 76. Rc7+ Kf8 77. Rh7 Kg8 78. Kg6 Kf8 79. Kf5 Kg8 80. Rb7 Kf8 81. Ke6 Kg8 82. Rf7 Be3 83. Kf6 1/2-1/2

My earlier discouragement was giving way to determination. By this time, we calculated I had an excellent shot at a norm as well as a decent final placing. So Round Nine was all business, the coffee, the chat and the walk right on queue. I faced one of the older experienced GMs, an Icelandic GM Danielsen Henrik. The game drifted into what I call "Jungle-Dacha" and I ultimately won. His 23rd was a lemon; better was 23 Nf4 Nxf4+, 24 Bxf4 Nd5, although I still had a nice plus.

[Event "Reykjavik Open"]

 [Date "2013.02.26"]

[Round "9"]

[White "Danielsen, Henrik"]

[Black "Norowitz, Yaacov"]

[Result "0-1"]

[ECO "A13"]

[WhiteElo "2507"]

[BlackElo "2432"]

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 d5 4. Bg2 Nbd7 5. O-O dxc4 6. Qa4 a6 7. Qxc4 b5 8.

Qc2 Bb7 9. d3 c5 10. a4 Be7 11. Ng5 Bxg2 12. Kxg2 O-O 13. Nc3 Nd5 14. h4 Nb4 15. Qd1 c4 16. d4 Nb6 17. e4 h6 18. Nf3 Nd3 19. Qc2 b4 20. Ne2 b3 21. Qd1 f5 22. exf5 Rxf5 23. Ne1 Qd5+ 24. f3 Raf8 25. Nc3 Qxd4 26. Qe2 Re5 27. Ne4 Nd5 28. Bd2 Nxb2 29. Rc1 Ba3 30. Rf2 Bc5 0-1

In Round Ten, I defeated the strong Ukrainian GM Kuzubov, giving me a total of 7.5 out of 10, a more than satisfactory result in my first European tourney.  And more importantly, it gave me my third IM Norm.

[Event "Reykjavik Open"]

[Date "2013.02.27"]

[Round "10"]

[White "Norowitz, Yaacov"]

[Black "Kuzubov, Yuriy"]

[Result "1-0"]

[ECO "A40"]

[WhiteElo "2432"]

[BlackElo "2622"]

1. d4 g6 2. Nf3 Bg7 3. c3 Nf6 4. Bg5 b6 5. Nbd2 Bb7 6. Qc2 O-O 7. e4 d6 8. Bc4

Qe8 9. O-O e5 10. dxe5 dxe5 11. a4 a6 12. Bxf6 Bxf6 13. Rad1 Nd7 14. Bd5 Bxd5 15. exd5 Bg7 16. Rfe1 Qd8 17. Nc4 Re8 18. h4 f5 19. d6 e4 20. dxc7 Qxc7 21. Nd6 Nc5 22. Nxe8 Rxe8 23. Nd4 Qf7 24. Rf1 Bf6 25. h5 Kg7 26. b3 Rc8 27. c4 Nd3 28. Ne2 Qe6 29. Qd2 Be5 30. h6+ Kf7 31. f3 Qe7 32. g3 Qc5+ 33. Kh2 Qe7 34. Kg2 Rd8 35. Qe3 f4 36. fxe4 Kg8 37. gxf4 Bxf4 38. Nxf4 Qg5+ 39. Kh2 Qxh6+ 40. Qh3 1-0

After the round, we were off for a twenty minute walk to City Hall for a nice closing ceremony. I was called to the stage to be recognized for making my norm and fourth place tie. That tempting forbidden food was everywhere. Oh, well, Mikhail and I feasted on Club Soda, while Mike chowed down sausage, cheese, wine and other gourmet items.

We took the long way back around the lake next to City Hall, absorbing the local ambience, watching the swans and snapping some pictures. It was dark and starting to drizzle so the three of us headed back, lingering at a local book store / coffee shop for a nostalgic review of the tournament, some coffee and phone calls home.

In the end, lessons were learned, resolutions made, fun was had and more fun we will have next year in 2014 when the 50th Anniversary of the Reykjavik Open promises to be even larger and more spectacular.

On the recreation side, we didn’t indulge in any of the formal tours, although Fridgier let us sample the Blue Lagoon on the return trip to the airport. Maybe next year. On the business side, with my final IM Norm and a tie for Fourth, I’m reasonably well satisfied. Next step is the U.S. Championship Tournament, and down the road, hopefully, some GM norms.

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