Looking back at the Isle of Man (1/2)

by Alina l'Ami
10/22/2016 – The recently finished Isle of Man tournament was one more piece of evidence of how much the professional chess landscape has changed. No longer can one describe Opens as events a top player will shun, and the Isle of Man was one of those 'super' opens where one might find the world's elite playing just a table or two away, toiling at the board no different than the rest of us. Bringing us this retrospective is Alina L'Ami with her photos and comments.

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“Please explain to me: how come the top chess players manage keeping their rating so high? I mean I get the part where they plow when the time is right. Unlike you my dear friend, working on chess just when you feel like… but still, it is quite remarkable, don't you think?”

“No doubt they are owners of machines with hundreds of cores, super talented and are workaholics too. I can agree with that. However, just because you asked so nicely, my take on this is simpler. They are chess gods and gods don't mix with us, mere mortals. They shuffle around in top events, keeping the rating within closed doors. Trust me, it is bloody difficult to enter such an elitist community. But if the top players would descend from their skies, I bet touching the mother earth wouldn't be a soft experience. If they would play Open events, with ambitious, young and tough players, their almighties would start thinking about using a freezer, to prevent their rating from melting down.”

“So that's the real chess world, where making a draw with an inferior opponent brings nothing but another loss...” Or so they thought.

The venue of one of the strongest Opens in the world: The chess.com Isle of Man International tournament

It isn’t everyday that one sees three of the Olympiad winners on the starting list

Facts don't lie. They may not be telling the whole truth but one cannot deny that the trend is changing. More and more top Grandmasters are beginning to take part in Opens and the very same players win those events, too. Carlsen triumphed in Qatar, Nakamura won Gibraltar twice in a row in and now, in the chess.com Isle of Man tournament, Eljanov swept the field with his 7.5/9.

Besides, the second highest rated player in the world, Olympic champion and the top player in the IOM didn't disappoint either. Caruana shared first place with the same 7.5/9 and added 10(!) rating points to his already impressive 2813.

Undefeated, 1st place, £9000 and 16 rating points for Eljanov!

Fabiano had a 'slow' start with two draws in rounds three and four, but finished at full strength and shared first place with 7.5/9

True, preserving a high rating in an Open could be challenging if one is out of shape. Accidents are bound to happen. But overall, the top players will perform well, as they are at the top for a reason. Or more.

Adams had a good tournament overall but losing the last round is never pleasant

Ranked ninth at the starting list, Vidit Santosh Gujrathi finished on a shared eighth place and won the 'Indian' IOM Championship

Alexei Shirov had his share of nail-biting moments and yet he shared fourth place and gained 10 rating points

For the Chinese players though...

...the tournament could have been better. After a far from ideal start, Wang Hao came back in the second half but it was not enough to avoid a 20 point rating loss.

Minimizing damage is more difficult than winning sometimes. Nakamura succeeded in doing just that, after an early loss against Benjamin Bok.

For Leko the stars were not well aligned

One of the first things that experienced chess players do, even before checking the repertoire base, is to look at the birth year of their opponent. Facing a player born in 1999 and rated 2615 sounds like a hard day’s work in the office.

A top player remains around the top: fourth place for Wesley

Continued in part two...


You can use ChessBase 13 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs to replay the games in PGN. You can also download our free Playchess client, which will in addition give you immediate access to the chess server Playchess.com.

Alina is an International Master and a very enthusiastic person in everything she does. She loves travelling to the world's most remote places in order to play chess tournaments and report about them here on ChessBase! As chance would have it Alina is also an excellent photographer.


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