Isle of Man Open: Nothing is written

by Albert Silver
9/30/2017 – With so many great players, it is little wonder the tournament has had so many great clashes, and rounds six and seven were that in the spades. The sole leader is now Magnus Carlsen, after smashing Pavel Eljanov in round six, but only by the thinnest of margins, and will meet Fabiano Caruana in round eight. After Hou Yifan returned to action, she scored two convincing wins. Enjoy this report plush with GM analysis and great photos! | Analysis: Elshan Moradiabadi; Photo: / Maria Emelianova

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King Carlsen

The first and foremost game in round six was between the two leaders Pavel Eljanov and Magnus Carlsen, both on 4½/5. There was a sense that this could be a make or break game for either of them, since no fewer than nine players stood at 4.0/5, and a single slip, or draw by the leaders could allow a number of others to catch up, and potentially outscore them in the final sprint.

No surprise, the game between the leaders Pavel Eljanov and Magnus Carlsen was the center of attention | Photo: / Maria Emelianova

Magnus Carlsen caught Pavel Eljanov quite unawares as he replied to 1.Nf3 with 1…b6!? and 28 moves later it was all over with Carlsen in sole lead.

Pavel Eljanov vs Magnus Carlsen (annotated by Elshan Moradiabadi)

[Event " Isle of Man"] [Site "Isle of Man, England"] [Date "2017.09.28"] [Round "6"] [White "Eljanov, Pavel"] [Black "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B00"] [Annotator "GM Elshan Moradiabadi"] [PlyCount "58"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] 1. Nf3 b6 $5 {when I became a GM, 1...b6 was considered a dubious move against almost all of White's decent choices (1.e4, 1.d4, 1.Nf3, 1.c4). So far, I have eliminated the last two from the list of good choices to prevent 1..b6 as Black is just fine playing it! We now see in the last decade or so what modern theory tells us about 1.e4 b6 and 1.d4 b6 !} 2. e4 Bb7 3. Nc3 e6 4. d4 Bb4 { I have played this positions *hundreds* of times!.... in bullet and 3+0 internet blitz! That is why most of the reference games here are from blitz or internet games!} 5. Bd3 Nf6 (5... d5 6. e5 {is a horrible French with an already 'dead' French bishop on b7.}) 6. Qe2 (6. e5 $6 Ne4 7. Bd2 Nxd2 8. Qxd2 Bxf3 9. gxf3 Qh4 {looks actually very promising for Black!}) 6... d5 7. exd5 { This is the best according to ChessBase 14 online reference.} (7. e5 Ne4 8. O-O {Not the soundest pawn sacrifice. Nakamura got himself into some trouble against the flamboyant master of blindfold Timur Gareev!} (8. Bd2 Bxc3 9. bxc3 c5 10. dxc5 Nxc5 11. h4 Nbd7 12. Rh3 Qc7 13. Kf1 Ne4 14. Re1 {and Black is actually better! Donchekno however lost this game! So it seems that our 1...b6 is pretty justifiable at least to the extend we covered!} Nxe5 15. Nxe5 Qxe5 16. Bb5+ Kf8 17. Bc1 Rc8 18. Bd3 f6 19. c4 Kf7 20. Kg1 Qd6 21. cxd5 exd5 22. Re3 Rhe8 23. Ba3 Qd7 24. c4 f5 25. cxd5 Qxd5 26. f3 Nc3 27. Re7+ Rxe7 28. Qxe7+ Kg8 29. Re5 Qd4+ 30. Kh1 h6 31. Bxf5 Nd5 32. Qe6+ Kh8 33. Qe8+ {1-0 (33) Bachmann,A (2646)-Donchenko,A (2563) Chartres 2017}) 8... Nxc3 9. bxc3 Bxc3 10. Rb1 Nc6 11. Qe3 Bb4 {And Timur got his bishop back to his camp safe and sound!} 12. Qf4 h6 13. Bb5 Be7 14. Qg4 g6 15. c3 Qd7 16. Ne1 a6 17. Ba4 b5 18. Bd1 Na5 19. Nd3 Qc6 20. Qe2 Qxc3 {This is a draw offer. Black could keep on playing with Nc4.} 21. Bd2 Qa3 22. Bc1 Qc3 23. Bd2 Qa3 24. Bc1 {1/2-1/2 (24) Nakamura, H (2798)-Gareev,T (2604) Saint Louis 2015}) 7... Qxd5 $1 {I guess Carlsen had some deep preparation here! This moves follows with a series of forced moves and definitely Carlsen had thoroughly reviewed them before!} (7... Nxd5 8. Bd2 Nxc3 9. bxc3 Be7 10. O-O {with a lot of initiative for White. This would not have made Carlsen happy at all!}) 8. O-O Bxc3 9. bxc3 Nbd7 $1 {My engine says the most accurate again!} 10. c4 Qh5 11. Bf4 Rc8 (11... c5 {1/2-1/2 (11) Vukovic,Z (2410)-Velimirovic,D (2530) Niksic 1994} 12. d5 {and White is slightly better.}) 12. a4 (12. Ne5 $1 {seems like the right move to me in terms of tournament plans. With a healthy +4 score at this point, playing with a little less ambition against Carlsen could not be a bad idea, especially when you are caught in the opening. Don't you think? Additionally, Ne5 does not mean that you are making a draw right away. White still has a pair of bishops and a little bit more space, which offers him tangible chances to outplay his opponent.} Nxe5 13. Bxe5 Qg5 $2 (13... Qxe2 14. Bxe2 Nd7 15. Bg3 $14) 14. f4) 12... a5 13. Rab1 $6 (13. Ne5 {I still prefer this move!}) 13... O-O 14. Rb5 c5 15. dxc5 {Eljanov counts too much on his dark-squared bishop and he voluntarily shatters his pawn structure. Carlsen's provocative strategy is paying off.} Rxc5 16. Bd6 Rxb5 17. cxb5 $2 (17. axb5 {makes a lot more sense. It is extremeley important to restrict Black's piece activity. Now, Black will soon land a monsterous knight on d5.}) 17... Rc8 18. c4 Nc5 {a4 is a target now. White controlled d5 but there are too many good squares that Black can use.} 19. Bc2 Nce4 20. Bf4 $2 { [#] White should have put his bishop on g3 and avoid exposing himself to the coming nasty tactics. After this tactical mistake White is doomed.} Nc3 $1 { And Carlsen does not miss it.} 21. Qd3 Qg4 $6 {This was not the point!} (21... Bxf3 $1 22. gxf3 {[#]} (22. Qxf3 Qxf3 23. gxf3 Ne2+) (22. Qxc3 Nd5 23. Qd2 Qg4 24. Bg3 Qxc4 25. Bd3 (25. Bb1 Be4 $19) 25... Qc3 26. Qxc3 Rxc3 $19 27. Bb1 Be2 28. Re1 Bd3) 22... Qg6+ 23. Kh1 (23. Qxg6 hxg6 24. Be3 Rxc4 25. Bd3 Rxa4 26. Bxb6 Nxb5 27. Bxb5 Rb4 28. Bxa5 Rxb5 29. Bd2 Nd5 $17) 23... Qxd3 24. Bxd3 Nxa4 $17) 22. Be5 $2 {This loses at once!} (22. Qxc3 Qxf4 23. Nd2 Ng4 24. g3 Qe5 $1 25. Qxe5 Nxe5 26. Rd1 g5 27. Bb3 {looks terrible but was Eljanov's last chance. At least the queen's are off the board and he is not down on material!}) 22... Qxc4 23. Qxc4 Rxc4 24. Bd3 Rc8 {The rest is a piece of cake no matter if it is a Carlsen in shape or a Carlsen out of shape!} 25. Ra1 Nfd5 26. Nd2 f6 27. Bd6 Nb4 28. Bc4 Bd5 29. Bf1 Nba2 $1 {Greedy and without any mercy. Black's pieces are dominating the board and soon both the a and b-pawns will fall. An important victory for Carlsen who is on his way to win his first classical tournament of the year!} 0-1

Pavel Eljanov suffered a tough loss in round six to Magnus Carlsen, but showed excellent resilience as he won in round seven to keep himself in contention | Photo: Alina L'Ami

The players trailing with 4.0/5 all drew but one, with Vidit Santosh Gujrathi striking down his IM compatriot Harsha Bharathakot, who came with a 300 Elo disadvantage.

Vishy Anand has been on the comeback trail as he conceded more draws than he would have liked, and smashed his compatriot S.P. Sethuraman in impressive fashion | Photo: Alina L'Ami

Missing golden opportunities

One player who would be kicking himself in round six was the prodigy 12-year-old IM R. Praggnanadhaa, who had completely dominated his game against Swedish GM Nils Grandelius, yet somehow failed to find the path to victory.

It was a disappointing result for young IM R. Praggnanandhaa as he failed to put away Nils Grandelius | Photo: John Saunders


Though hardly the only opportunity, this is an example of how Black should have proceeded: the key was to bring the queen into the kingside, to force the king into the open. Black could accomplish this here with 40...Qf4! 41.Re2 Qh2! 42.Qd4+ Kh7 43. Re8 Qxh3+ 44. Ke1 Qh1+ 45. Ke2 Qf3+ 46. Kf1 g5 and resistance is futile.

Nils Grandelius on the other hand, will no doubt need to sacrifice many more goats or livestock to whatever gods are protecting him as he gets away once again from imminent death, having escaped that fate in round four against Fabiano Caruana.

Nils Grandelius has proven to be a very hard person to beat | Photo: Alina L'Ami

On the other hand, if Praggnanandhaa squandered a valuable opportunity against Grandelius, Fabiano Caruana had to be wondering what Momentary Lapse of Reason led him to blow a dead won game against Emil Sutovsky after having so brilliantly toiled to outplay the Israeli.

Fabiano Caruana has had a superb tournament with 5.0/7 and a 2873 performance. His biggest test lies ahead though, as he will face Magnus Carlsen in round eight | Photo: Alina L'Ami

Emil Sutovsky vs Fabiano Caruana (annotated by Elshan Moradiabadi)

[Event " Isle of Man Open"] [Site "Isle of Man, England"] [Date "2017.09.28"] [Round "6"] [White "Sutovsky, Emil"] [Black "Caruana, Fabiano"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B19"] [Annotator "GM Elshan Moradiabadi "] [PlyCount "110"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] 1. e4 c6 {Caruana tries the Caro-Kann against the ACP president, Israeli GM Emil Sutovsky.} 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Bf5 5. Ng3 Bg6 6. h4 h6 7. Nf3 { The classical line also known as the mainline.} e6 $5 {A provocative move. This move had a dubious reputation in the past but now is considered perfectly playable.} 8. Ne5 Bh7 9. Bd3 Bxd3 (9... Qxd4 $4 10. Nxf7 {and White is winning.}) 10. Qxd3 Nd7 11. Bf4 {the solid mainline.} Qa5+ 12. c3 Ngf6 $5 (12... Nxe5 {maybe an equalizer but it is only White who can play for win.} 13. Bxe5 O-O-O 14. Qe2 Nf6 15. Ne4 Nxe4 16. Qxe4 Qd5 17. Qxd5 cxd5 18. h5 $1 {White fixes the pawn structure and Black can only dream of a minority attack. Nakamura was lucky not to lose this game.} f6 19. Bf4 Be7 20. Ke2 Rhe8 21. Kd3 Kd7 22. a4 Rc8 23. g4 Rc6 24. Rhe1 Rb6 25. Re2 a5 26. f3 Rc8 27. Bg3 Rf8 28. Rg1 Rc8 29. Ra1 Rf8 30. Rg1 Rc6 31. Rge1 Bd8 32. Bh2 Re8 33. Bg3 Rc4 34. b3 Rc6 35. c4 dxc4+ 36. bxc4 Rb6 37. Rc1 Rb4 38. Ra2 Rb3+ 39. Rc3 Rb1 40. Rcc2 Rb3+ 41. Rc3 Rb6 42. Rcc2 e5 43. d5 e4+ 44. fxe4 Rb3+ 45. Rc3 Rxc3+ 46. Kxc3 Rxe4 47. Bf2 Rxg4 48. Rb2 Kc8 49. Re2 Rg2 50. Kd3 Rh2 51. Bc5 Rxh5 52. Re8 Kd7 53. Rf8 b6 54. Rf7+ Kc8 55. Bd6 Rh3+ 56. Kd4 Rh4+ 57. Kd3 g5 58. c5 bxc5 59. Bxc5 Rxa4 60. Rf8 Kd7 61. Rf7+ Kc8 62. Rf8 Kd7 63. Rf7+ Kc8 64. Rf8 {1/2-1/2 (64) Leko,P (2693)-Nakamura,H (2779) Doha 2016}) 13. O-O Be7 14. Nc4 (14. Rfe1 O-O 15. Nf5 {A typical continuation in this line.} exf5 (15... Qd8) (15... Bd8 $4 16. Nxh6+ gxh6 17. Bxh6 {loses on spot.}) 16. Nxd7 Rfe8 17. Ne5 Ne4 18. Qh3 Nd6 19. Re3 Bf8 20. h5 Re6 21. Nd7 Qd5 22. Rxe6 Qxe6 23. Nc5 Qc8 24. Qg3 {and despite a long torment Bareev managed to hold 'Chucky'.} Ne8 25. Bxh6 Nf6 26. Qh4 Bxc5 27. dxc5 Qe6 28. Be3 Re8 29. Bd4 Ng4 30. f3 Nh6 31. Bf2 f6 32. Re1 Qf7 33. Rxe8+ Qxe8 34. Qa4 a6 35. Qb3+ Qf7 36. Be3 Qxb3 37. axb3 Nf7 38. Kf2 Nd8 39. Ke2 Ne6 40. Kd3 Kf7 41. Kc4 Nc7 42. Bd2 Nd5 43. Kd4 g6 44. hxg6+ Kxg6 45. c4 Nc7 46. Kc3 a5 47. Bf4 Ne6 48. Bd6 Kf7 49. b4 axb4+ 50. Kxb4 Ke8 51. Ka5 Kd7 52. Kb6 Kc8 53. b4 {1-0 (53) Ivanchuk,V (2740)-Bareev,E (2675) Elista 1998}) 14... Qd5 15. Ne3 Qb5 $6 {Another typical provocative move. Caruana is almost certain that Sutovksy won't take on b5. But White should not anyway!} 16. c4 (16. Qxb5 cxb5 17. b3 O-O 18. a4 {is equal.}) 16... Qa5 17. b4 $5 {Black has procrastinated so much that this pawn sacrifice is completely ok now!} Qd8 (17... Qxb4 18. Rab1) (17... Bxb4 18. c5 {is not fun at all.}) 18. d5 {Intuitively correct!} Nf8 $2 {Caruana plays with fire.} 19. h5 exd5 20. Nef5 $2 {hasty.} ( 20. Rad1 Ne6 21. Be5 O-O 22. Ngf5 Bxb4 23. cxd5 Nxd5 (23... cxd5 24. Bxf6 $18) 24. Qb3 a5 25. a3 Bc5 26. Nxd5 cxd5 27. Rxd5 $16 {And White is dominating the center.}) 20... Ne6 21. Be5 O-O 22. Nxh6+ $2 {practical but it does not work!} (22. Rad1 Nd7 (22... Bxb4 23. Qf3 Nd7 24. Bb2 Nb6 25. cxd5 Nxd5 26. Ne4 { gives White a very strong attack. Maybe even decisive for a practical game!}) 23. Bxg7 Nxg7 24. Nxh6+ Kh8 25. cxd5 {and White has a strong attack and more material!}) 22... gxh6 23. Nf5 Ng7 (23... dxc4 $5 24. Qc2 (24. Nxh6+ Kg7 25. Nf5+ Kh7 26. Qb1 Qd3 27. Nxe7 Qxb1 28. Raxb1 Nd5 29. Nf5 f6) 24... Ng4 25. Rad1 Qe8 26. Ba1 Bg5 27. Qe2 {and no one wants to be Black in this position although it may be perfectly fine!}) 24. Nxh6+ Kh8 25. Nf5 dxc4 26. Qf3 Qd3 27. Qxd3 cxd3 28. Nxe7 Nfxh5 29. g4 Rfe8 30. Rae1 (30. Rfe1 Kh7 31. Bxg7 Kxg7 32. gxh5 Kf6 33. Nxc6 {should be a draw.}) 30... Kh7 $1 {A strong move. Now Caruana has some chances in the endgame.} 31. Bxg7 Kxg7 32. gxh5 Kf6 33. Re3 $6 (33. Nxc6 bxc6 34. Rxe8 Rxe8 35. Rd1 Rd8 36. Kf1 Kg5 37. Ke1 Kxh5 38. Kd2 Kg4 39. Re1 {and it is very close to a draw.}) 33... Rxe7 34. Rxd3 Re5 35. Rf3+ Ke6 36. Rh3 Rh8 37. h6 Rg5+ $1 {An important check that puts White's king in the corner where it is much needed!} 38. Kh2 Rg6 39. Re1+ Kd7 40. Rd1+ Kc7 41. h7 Rg7 42. Rdd3 b5 $6 {I'm not sure if this move is necessary!} (42... Rgxh7 43. Rxh7 Rxh7+ 44. Kg3 Rh6 45. Rf3 Rg6+ 46. Kh4 Rg7 {and Black's king can start to march on the queenside. Black has good winning chances here.}) 43. Rdf3 Rgxh7 44. Rxh7 Rxh7+ 45. Kg3 Kb6 46. Rf6 $1 {Active defense is the best way to maintain balance in the absence of material balance.} Rh1 47. Rxf7 (47. f4 Rg1+ 48. Kf3 Rb1 {is not any better.}) 47... Rg1+ 48. Kh4 Ra1 49. f4 Rxa2 50. f5 a5 (50... Rb2 $1 {Greedy is the best!} 51. Kg5 Rxb4 52. Rh7 Rb1 53. Rh4 Rg1+ 54. Rg4 Rf1 55. Rf4 (55. f6 Kc7 56. Kg6 a5 57. Rg5 a4 58. Rf5 Rg1+ $1 59. Rg5 Rh1 60. Rh5 Rd1 61. f7 Rd6+ 62. Kg7 Rd7 63. Kg8 Rd8+ 64. f8=Q Rxf8+ 65. Kxf8 a3 {and the pawns are unstoppable!}) 55... Rxf4 56. Kxf4 Kc7 $19) 51. bxa5+ Rxa5 52. Rf8 b4 53. Kg4 Kc7 $4 {You can't go this way!} ({most elegant is:} 53... Ra7 54. f6 c5 55. f7 Rb7 56. Kg5 b3 $19) 54. f6 Kd7 55. Rc8 $1 {Sutovsky can't help it! It is fun to mess with your opponent when you know you were going to lose two moves ago!} (55. f7 Ke6 56. Rc8 {was good enough too!}) 55... Ke6 {A sad result for Caruana who has had a great tournament so far. That said, things are far from clear for the American since Magnus has a one point lead with only three games to go! Let us see what happens next!} 1/2-1/2

Emil Sutovsky has had that rare combination: great luck (surviving Caruana) and excellent play, and is now in the leading pack with 5½/7 | Photo: Alina L'Ami

Striking gold

Another big surprise in round six was the abrupt turnaround in the game between Boris Gelfand and Anna Zatonskih. Gelfand seemed to be in control, but somehow let it slip away and then disaster struck.

Gelfand missed a trick when he played 35.Rf2? and paid a heavy price for his oversight:


Black pounced with 35...Rc5!! 36.Qe2 (the knight on b5 is hanging after all) Qc6+ 37. Rg2 Rxb5 and White resigned.

IM Anna Zatonskih, four-time US Women's Champion, has had a great event, having scored wins over Alexandra Kosteniuk and Boris Gelfand, she has 4½/7 and a 2628 performance | Photo: Alina L'Ami

Alexander Lenderman is another American grandmaster having a great event, with 5.0/7 and a near 2800 performance, and he remains undefeated even after crossing swords with the likes of Hikarua Nakamura and Vishy Anand | Photo: Alina L'Ami

No doubt he would need all his experience to forget this missed chance, a second in fact (remember Grandelius from round four?). However, it was precisely in round seven that he not only got his chance, but showed what splendid form he has been in, since the fact is that these opportunities were the result of fine play just waiting for a chance to be crowned with their deserving glory. This came in round seven, when he trounced British GM Gawain Jones, in a powerful display.

Fabiano Caruana vs Gawain Jones (annotated by Elshan Moradiabadi)

[Event " Isle of Man Open"] [Site "Isle of Man, England"] [Date "2017.09.29"] [Round "7"] [White "Caruana, F."] [Black "Jones, G."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C78"] [Annotator "GM Elshan Moradiabadi"] [PlyCount "63"] [SourceDate "2017.09.30"] [SourceVersionDate "2017.09.30"] {Today I feel very 'American', and it turns out that it was a good day for American players too!} 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O { I have not seen Gawain Jones playing this line before but I am sure it is part of his, in general, narrow repertoire. I think, given his recent games in the Spanish, we should expect an 'Arkhangelski'!} b5 6. Bb3 Bc5 $5 {Here it comes: The modern form or 'Arkhangelski', which was popularized by Shirov and Onischuk in the late 90s and early 2000s.} 7. c3 {Caruana goes for the mainline.} d6 8. a4 Rb8 9. d4 Bb6 10. a5 $5 {A difficult sideline. Jones had two successful attempts in the mainline, axb5 against McShane.} (10. axb5 axb5 11. Qd3 Bd7 12. Be3 h6 (12... O-O 13. Nbd2 h6 14. h3 Re8 15. Rfe1 Qc8 16. Rac1 Na5 17. Ba2 c5 18. Qb1 c4 19. b3 Qa6 20. bxc4 Nxc4 21. Bxc4 bxc4 22. Qc2 exd4 23. Bxd4 Bxd4 24. Nxd4 Qc8 25. Nf1 Qb7 26. Ng3 Qb2 27. Qd1 Ra8 28. Qf3 Qd2 29. Rcd1 Qb2 30. Ndf5 Bxf5 31. Nxf5 Ra3 32. Qg3 Nh5 33. Qg4 Ra2 34. Rf1 Qe2 35. Nxd6 Re6 36. Nf5 Qxg4 37. hxg4 Nf4 38. Rd8+ Kh7 39. Rd7 Rxe4 40. Rxf7 Ne2+ 41. Kh2 Rxg4 42. Rd1 Nf4 43. Ne3 Rxf2 44. Rd4 Nd3 45. Rxg4 Rxf7 46. Rxc4 Re7 47. Nf5 Re5 48. g4 Rc5 49. Rxc5 Nxc5 50. Kh3 Kg6 51. Kh4 h5 52. Ne7+ Kf7 53. Nd5 hxg4 54. Kxg4 Ke6 {1/2-1/2 (54) McShane,L (2644)-Jones,G (2660) Llandudno 2017} ) 13. dxe5 Nxe5 14. Nxe5 dxe5 15. Nd2 O-O 16. Rfe1 {1/2-1/2 (16) McShane,L (2644)-Jones,G (2660) Llandudno 2017}) 10... Ba7 11. h3 O-O 12. Be3 Ra8 13. Re1 h6 14. Nbd2 exd4 15. cxd4 Nb4 {Jones might have entered this position comfortably, as he had successfully held Grandelius not long before this game.} 16. e5 $146 (16. d5 Bxe3 17. Rxe3 c5 18. dxc6 Nxc6 19. e5 Nxe5 20. Nxe5 dxe5 21. Rxe5 Ra7 22. Qe2 Rd7 23. Ne4 Nxe4 24. Qxe4 Rd4 25. Qc6 Qd6 26. Qxd6 Rxd6 27. Rae1 Bb7 28. R1e3 Bc6 29. Re7 Bd5 30. Bxd5 Rxd5 31. Ra7 Rd6 32. Rf3 h5 33. g3 g6 34. Kg2 Kg7 35. g4 hxg4 36. hxg4 g5 37. Rf5 Kg6 38. Rb7 f6 39. Rc5 Rf7 40. Rb6 Rd4 41. Kg3 Rd3+ 42. f3 Rb3 43. Rc2 Ra7 44. Rcc6 Rf7 45. Rxa6 Rxb2 46. Rab6 b4 47. a6 b3 48. a7 Ra2 49. Ra6 Rxa6 50. Rxa6 b2 51. a8=Q b1=Q 52. Ra1 Rf8 53. Qxf8 Qxa1 54. Qg8+ Kh6 55. Qh8+ Kg6 56. Qg8+ Kh6 57. Qh8+ {1/2-1/2 (57) Grandelius,N (2644)-Jones,G (2660) Linares 2017}) (16. Nf1 Nxe4 17. Bxh6 Bf5 18. Ne3 Bg6 19. Nd5 Nxf2 20. Qd2 Nxd5 21. Bxd5 Nxh3+ 22. gxh3 gxh6 23. Qxh6 Qf6 24. Re4 c6 25. Rf4 Qg7 26. Qxg7+ Kxg7 27. Bxc6 Rac8 28. Be4 Rc4 29. Bd5 Rc2 30. b3 Re8 31. Rf1 Ree2 32. Nh4 f5 33. Rd1 Kf6 34. Bf3 Red2 35. Rxd2 Rxd2 36. Kf1 Bxd4 37. Be2 Be5 38. Nxg6 Kxg6 39. Rf2 Rb2 40. Rg2+ Kf6 41. Rg8 Rxb3 42. h4 Rh3 43. h5 Bc3 44. Kg2 Rh4 45. Ra8 Bxa5 46. Rxa6 Bb4 47. Rb6 Re4 48. Bxb5 Kg5 49. Bd3 Rd4 50. Be2 Re4 51. Bf3 Rc4 52. Be2 Rc2 53. Kf1 Bc5 54. Rb8 f4 55. Rg8+ Kh4 56. Rf8 Kh3 57. Ke1 Rc1+ 58. Kd2 Be3+ 59. Kd3 Kg3 60. Ke4 Rc2 61. Rg8+ Kf2 62. Bg4 f3 63. Kd3 Rd2+ 64. Kc3 Ke2 65. Rf8 Rd3+ 66. Kc2 Bh6 67. Rf6 Bg7 68. Rf7 Rc3+ 69. Kb1 Be5 70. h6 Kf2 71. h7 Kg3 72. Bh5 f2 73. Be2 Re3 74. Ba6 Kg2 75. Kc2 Ra3 76. Bb5 Rh3 77. Kd2 Bc3+ 78. Kc2 Bd4 79. Bd3 d5 80. Rf5 Ba1 81. Rf8 Rxd3 82. Kxd3 f1=Q+ 83. Rxf1 Kxf1 84. Ke3 Bh8 {0-1 (84) Bodnaruk,A (2459) -Kosteniuk,A (2495) Nizhnij Novgorod 2013}) 16... Nfd5 17. Ne4 Nxe3 18. Rxe3 Bb7 19. e6 {all these moves are computer verified.} Nd5 (19... fxe6 $2 20. Nfg5 $1 Bd5 21. Nxe6 Bxe6 22. Bxe6+ Kh8 23. Qd2 $14) 20. exf7+ Kh8 {This could be already decisive. I really do not know what mark should I assign to this move.} (20... Rxf7 21. Nfg5 hxg5 $1 (21... Rf5 22. Qh5 Bxd4 23. Qg4 {is what Komodo suggests. I honestly have no clue what is going on here!} Qc8 24. Nxd6 cxd6 25. Qxd4 Rxg5 26. f4 Rf5 27. Re7 Qc5 28. Rxg7+ Kh8 29. Qxc5 dxc5 30. Rxb7 Nxf4 31. Kh1 {And Black has a long way to claim equality if he can achieve it at all!}) 22. Qh5 Bxd4 {[#]} 23. Rd3 $3 {in the middle of such chaos this is just 'inconceivable'!} c5 (23... Bxf2+ 24. Nxf2 Rf5 25. Ng4 Qe8 26. Qxe8+ Rxe8 27. Ne3 $18) 24. Nxg5 g6 25. Qxg6+ Rg7 26. Qe6+ Kf8 27. Bxd5 Bxd5 28. Qf5+ Bf6 29. Nh7+ Rxh7 30. Qxh7 {[#]} Qe7 $3 {Jones needs to knew all of these and a lot more!} 31. Qxe7+ Kxe7 32. Rxd5 Bxb2 {Black has good chances to hold this endgame!}) 21. Re1 Rxf7 22. Rc1 Rc8 23. Nfg5 Rf5 $4 { blunder in a very difficult position.} (23... Re7 24. Qg4 Qf8 25. Ne6 Qe8 ( 25... Rxe6 26. Qxe6 Nf4 27. Qf7 Qxf7 28. Bxf7 Nd3 29. Nxd6 $18) 26. Ng3 Bxd4 27. Qxd4 Rxe6 28. Rxe6 Qxe6 29. Qa7 Ba8 30. Rd1 (30. Qxa6 Qd7 31. Bxd5 Bxd5 32. Qa7 {is another safe option.}) 30... Qe5 31. Bxd5 $1 {eliminating the best piece in black's camp.} (31. Qxa6 $2 Ne7 $13) 31... Bxd5 32. Qxa6 Rb8 33. Qa7 { This position should be advantageous for White, though the silicon minds disagree with me.}) 24. Ne6 {Now Black is dead lost.} Qd7 25. Qg4 $1 {Black's bishop only looks nice but it is White's knights' tango that decides the game.} Qf7 ( 25... Qxe6 26. Ng3 {loses an exchange to begin with!}) 26. Rxc7 {The most elegant finish among a handful of choices!} Rxc7 27. Nxd6 {[#] Just this position deserves a diagram!} Rxf2 28. Nxc7 {The human way of winning a 'winning' position!} Qf6 29. Nxd5 Qxd4 30. Qxd4 Bxd4 31. Re4 Ba7 (31... Rd2+ 32. Rxd4 Rxd4 33. Nxb7 $18) 32. Nb6 {A painful loss for Jones who was caught off-guard in a line he had played not long before this game. I find this entire line a bit dubious, at least practically speaking. Black is walking on a tightrope where disaster is but a step away.} 1-0

The playing hall in the last hours of round six | Photo: Alina L'Ami

He was not the only player with 4½/6 to win, and among the 18 players on that score in round seven, wins were also notched by Hikaru Nakamura, Pavel Eljanov, and Emil Sutovksy.

Hikaru Nakamura showed that he is still fighting for top honors as he defeated 20-year-old GM Dennis Wagner from Germany in round seven | Photo: / Maria Emelianova

Dennis Wagner vs Hikaru Nakamura (annotated by Elshan Moradiabadi)

[Event " Isle of Man Open"] [Site "Isle of Man, England"] [Date "2017.09.29"] [Round "7"] [White "Wagner, D."] [Black "Nakamura, H."] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A11"] [Annotator "GM Elshan Moradiabadi"] [PlyCount "80"] [SourceDate "2017.09.30"] [SourceVersionDate "2017.09.30"] 1. Nf3 d5 2. g3 Bg4 3. Bg2 c6 4. c4 e6 5. O-O Nd7 6. cxd5 cxd5 $5 {This might have come as a surprise to Wagner due to its drawish tendency, although in my opinion this is Black's best choice and the position's dynamism would not dry up that fast. At least that is what Nakamura masterfully showed.} 7. Nc3 Ngf6 8. d3 Bc5 9. h3 Bh5 10. e4 $6 {Black intends to dominate the dark squares and White just walks into what Black is trying to prevent. Although, this move is not wrong in essence, it does not appeal to me because it plays into Black's plans.} (10. Bf4 {is dry but at least is a good waiting move.}) 10... dxe4 11. dxe4 O-O 12. Qe2 Bxf3 $1 {If White's pawns start rolling, then that bishop on h5 will be very uncomfortable. Now Nakamura dominates the dark squares.} 13. Bxf3 Ne5 14. Rd1 (14. Bf4 {There was time for White to offer a draw before things got dire.}) 14... Qb6 (14... Nxf3+ 15. Qxf3 Qb6 16. b3 {is very drawish. Black has no need to go for this.}) 15. Bg2 Bd4 16. Bd2 Rfd8 17. Be1 Nc6 18. Kh2 e5 $6 {Black is in complete control on dark squares. The position is still balanced but is much easier to play with Black. However, the last move is a bit reckless, giving up the d5 square.} 19. f4 (19. Nd5 {might have given White some edge.} Nxd5 20. exd5 Ne7 (20... Nb4 21. Qc4) 21. Rxd4 Qxd4 $1 22. Bc3 Qc5 23. Qxe5 f6 24. Qe6+ Kh8 25. Rd1 {and White is better.}) 19... Re8 20. Nb5 exf4 21. gxf4 Be3 22. Bd2 Nd5 $1 {The position is still balanced but this move, which might have come as a shock for Wagner, alters his self-control and causes him to make a number of mistakes.} 23. Nd6 Bxf4+ 24. Bxf4 Nxf4 25. Qf3 $6 (25. Qg4 Nxg2 26. Nxe8 Rxe8 27. Qxg2 Qe3 { is only balanced.}) 25... g5 26. Nxe8 Rxe8 27. Qg3 $6 {Another waste of time.} h6 28. Rd2 Ne5 29. Rad1 $2 {but this is just a huge blunder:} (29. Rf1 Qg6 30. Rxf4 gxf4 31. Qxf4 Qg5 32. Qg3 {should be possible to defend but it would a long-term agony for White.}) 29... Nc4 30. Rd7 Qxb2 31. Rf1 Ne5 32. Rd6 Neg6 33. Rf2 { Now material is balanced and Black dominates the dark squares. White is doomed. } Qe5 34. Rd7 Rc8 35. Rxb7 h5 (35... Rc3 36. Rf3 Rc2 {was winning immediately.} ) 36. Kh1 Rc3 37. Rf3 Rc2 38. Rf2 Rc3 39. Rf3 h4 40. Qe1 Rc2 {A fine classical victory for Nakamura who moved into a healthy +4 right behind the world champion!} 0-1

With Magnus Carlsen drawing his top board game against Vidit Santosh Gujrathi, the round eight pairings promise a series of fantastic battles to decide it. Nothing is written.

Results for round seven (top 30)

Name Pts. Result Pts. Name
Carlsen Magnus ½ - ½ 5 Vidit Santosh Gujrathi
Caruana Fabiano 1 - 0 Jones Gawain C B
Lenderman Aleksandr ½ - ½ Anand Viswanathan
Wagner Dennis 0 - 1 Nakamura Hikaru
Adams Michael ½ - ½ L'ami Erwin
Batsiashvili Nino 0 - 1 Eljanov Pavel
Zatonskih Anna 0 - 1 Sutovsky Emil
Kasimdzhanov Rustam ½ - ½ Fressinet Laurent
Rapport Richard ½ - ½ Swapnil S. Dhopade
Movsesian Sergei ½ - ½ Sokolov Ivan
Sethuraman S.P. 4 ½ - ½ 4 Vallejo Pons Francisco
Almasi Zoltan 4 0 - 1 4 Bindrich Falko
Bogner Sebastian 4 1 - 0 4 Naiditsch Arkadij
Short Nigel D 4 ½ - ½ 4 Sunilduth Lyna Narayanan
Timman Jan H 4 ½ - ½ 4 Leko Peter
Aravindh Chithambaram Vr. 4 0 - 1 4 Hou Yifan
Riazantsev Alexander 4 ½ - ½ 4 Donchenko Alexander
Praggnanandhaa R 4 0 - 1 4 Akobian Varuzhan
Deac Bogdan-Daniel 4 0 - 1 4 Grandelius Nils
Sargissian Gabriel 4 ½ - ½ 4 Harsha Bharathakoti
Harika Dronavalli 0 - 1 Kramnik Vladimir
Perelshteyn Eugene 0 - 1 Howell David W L
Lampert Jonas 0 - 1 Rodshtein Maxim
Olafsson Helgi ½ - ½ Granda Zuniga Julio E
Brown Michael William 0 - 1 Xiong Jeffery
Shirov Alexei 1 - 0 Visakh N R
Salomon Johan ½ - ½ Bok Benjamin
Tarjan James ½ - ½ Svane Rasmus
Tari Aryan 1 - 0 Arjun Kalyan
Pichot Alan 1 - 0 Rathnakaran K.

Top pairings for round eight

Name Pts. Pts. Name
Caruana Fabiano 6 Carlsen Magnus
Nakamura Hikaru Sutovsky Emil
Vidit Santosh Gujrathi Eljanov Pavel
Fressinet Laurent 5 5 Anand Viswanathan
Grandelius Nils 5 5 Adams Michael
L'ami Erwin 5 5 Kasimdzhanov Rustam
Sokolov Ivan 5 5 Rapport Richard
Bindrich Falko 5 5 Movsesian Sergei
Hou Yifan 5 5 Bogner Sebastian
Akobian Varuzhan 5 5 Lenderman Aleksandr
Swapnil S. Dhopade 5 Short Nigel D
Kramnik Vladimir Sethuraman S.P.
Vallejo Pons Francisco Tari Aryan
Howell David W L Timman Jan H
Rodshtein Maxim Wagner Dennis
Leko Peter Pichot Alan
Jones Gawain C B Batsiashvili Nino
Sunilduth Lyna Narayanan Riazantsev Alexander
Donchenko Alexander Sargissian Gabriel
Xiong Jeffery Zatonskih Anna


Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications, and the content creator of the YouTube channel, Chess & Tech.


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