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

by Alina l'Ami
10/25/2016 – Observing the top players, our intrepid photographer/report/player Alina L'Ami began to ponder how it was they managed to deal with the stress of performing at the highest level and manage the great stress this can put on the players. After all, it is a constant fight to play as well as possible and bring home the bacon. How do they do it? These were some of the questions asked and speculated upon in this photographic essay with games and positions.

ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024 ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024

It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it. Start your personal success story with ChessBase and enjoy the game even more.


I've seen all these strong GMs up close in several tournaments but somehow until this edition of the IOM it didn't really occur to me that I can actually learn something. Or at least observe. The most striking part was to realize how much:

“into the game” they are.

They don't just relax their eyes and brain when not sitting at the board, but really dig and think about chess whenever an interesting opportunity arises, be it a dazzling game in close vicinity or a puzzle told over breakfast.

So that's how you keep your friends close...

For a long time I was envious. Envious of how tireless they always seemed; but mostly of how well they keep their nerves stretched to bearable levels, to the point of emanating relaxation behind the board.

Or...is there something in the tea?!

The players seem to enjoy their lives

But where's the pressure?!

It is right there, in all the players' hearts and heads, no matter the strength. The major difference is that some perform better with lots of pressure (money at stake, the team depending on your result etc.) and others with less pressure, for example in nothing-to-lose-situations when the tournament is already won with a round to spare. There's no such thing as a zero pressure category, unless one expects to win a game just by showing up. And we all know the great results such an attitude brings.

Tried that – didn't work. (photo by Harry Gielen)

Obviously pressure is subjective, but the embarrassment of not getting the results you wanted is universal. Nobody wants to feel that. How come the top GMs succeed in being mentally sharp during both stressful and 'boring' games? That's subjective too. We can't all be Einsteins but we can let ourselves be inspired.

Naiditsch wrapped things up in style, with a win and third place (photo by Harry Gielen)

However, the strong line-up is not the only reason for the popularity of the Isle of Man tournament. The Open encourages the participation of ambitious players, and with the rather long time control, the emphasis is set on quality as well.

11 years old, IM and 2442 FIDE, Praggnanandhaa has already made the headlines. We will surely hear more from him.

The love for chess starts early and it never ends

But to me, a female player, the high prizes in this category is another attraction, just like the general conditions for the invited participants. You just want to be there!

The crucial chess debate in the women section

Harika's trademarks: determination, positivism, topped with a great smile. First place in the women's final standings.

In shared first place with Harika: her compatriot, the camera magnet, Tania Sachdev

The shared first place for women. Probably Alan Ormsby, the tournament director, is happy that he can finally go to rest. (or because he had a successful tournament)

The only challenge the organizers could be facing in the future is the tournament hall which accommodates only a limited amount of players. But rumour has it that for the next year, expansion plans will be set in place. If that means an even stronger line-up, a larger venue or both, we will find out in 2017.

Until then, here is a 'small' calculation exercise for you:

Sargissian – Shirov

Many chess 'distractions' but the island's beauty...

… was there to comfort all of us.


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.


Rules for reader comments


Not registered yet? Register