GM Simon Williams (a.k.a. GingerGM) added yet another candidate for Game of the Year in his round-two game at the Reykjavik Open 2023 on Wednesday.
The English grandmaster has long been known for his daring, sacrificial, and “YOLO” style of play. His 20-move miniature win over Ukrainian WIM Anastasiya Rakhmangulova showcases a powerful opening choice and, after his opponent grabbed a pawn sacrifice, an avalanche-style attack culminating with a queen sacrifice followed by several beautiful checkmating themes.
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The Exchange Variation of the Slav Defense has, perhaps wrongfully so, a deceptive reputation for being “solid,” unambitious, or even “boring,” as Williams jokingly tweeted after the game. The grandmaster and streamer put this reputation in doubt as he played the interesting 5.f3, disrupting the symmetrical pawn structures and preparing an ideal pawn center.
By move 11, Williams sacrificed a pawn for a powerful initiative. His opponent was unable to withstand the attack that followed, and it certainly didn’t help her that he played a nearly perfect game through and through according to Chess.com’s Game Review feature.
It doesn’t take long to go through this game as it’s just 20 moves long. By reviewing the attack that follows the queen sacrifice, you’ll also see a few beautiful checkmating patterns and instructive attacking themes.
After the game, Williams quipped about the “boring” nature of his opening.
I started the @ReykjavikOpen with an Exchange French and now a boring Exchange Slav.
Hopefully I will get an exciting game soon.
Blair and friends are streaming all my games over at https://t.co/zyIc4ZWI2z so make sure you tune in! 🥳 pic.twitter.com/nuhoOqcIip
— Simon Williams (@ginger_gm) March 30, 2023
Iceland, A Home For Chess
Reykjavik is most famous for hosting the 1972 World Chess Championship in which GM Bobby Fischer defeated GM Boris Spassky, a historic match that has been covered in dozens of books as well as in film adaptations.
The Reykjavik Open, however, dates back to 1964 (then, it was just called “Reykjavik 1964”). The Latvian-born World Champion Mikhail Tal won the inaugural event with an immense score of 12.5/13. Tal reportedly said: “I didn’t come all the way from Riga to Reykjavik to make a short draw!”
Back then it was a round-robin tournament, and since 1980 it has been an open tournament bringing together hundreds of players. There are 150 players from around the world registered in this year’s edition. Popular streamers such as WGM Dina Belenkaya, WFM Alexandra Botez, WFM Anna Cramling, and Williams himself—who are all playing—have brought more publicity to this annual event.
I hope you enjoyed going through the game as much as I did!
Would you vote for this game as the Game of the Year? Why or why not?