Pavel Eljanov wins Isle of Man

by Albert Silver
10/10/2016 – Two words really summarize the last round of the Isle of Man International: brilliancies and tragedies, and there were plenty of both to go around. Pavel Eljanov concluded his brilliant campaign with a final draw against Wesley So, securing first place. Fabiano Caruana managed to level with him after beating Michael Adams in a big game, but came second on tiebreak. Read the tales of joy and woe with GM analysis.

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Isle of Man - Final round

Photos by Harry Gielen

The last round saw that the fate of the event in the hands of four Super-GMs. On board one, GM Wesley So from the US, faced leader GM Pavel Eljanov from Ukraine, where only a win could help So catch Eljanov who stood a full point ahead. Although it was So's birthday, Eljanov was not in a giving mood and his superb opening preparation gave him an easy draw.

Pavel Eljanov showed flawless preparation and easily neutralized any ambitions Wesley So might have harbored

This put Caruana in a must-win situation against Adams to join Eljanov in the first place. Adams who had half a point less than Caruana, is known for not being an easy nut to crack in super-GM tournaments, however, in a close encounter in the Berlin Defense, it was the experienced British champion who made the last mistake.

It was an all-out war between Michael Adams and Fabiano Caruana

Fabiano Caruana - Michael Adams (Annotations by GM Elshan Moradiabadi)

Adams and Caruana go over their game as IM Lawrence Trent, Caruana's manager, listens in

In spite of the heroic effort, Fabiano Caruana was still denied first place, though he expressed the regret there was no playoff for first. This reporter can only agree that when deciding first, a battle over the board is always preferable over a mathematical equation. The tiebreak system that decided it was accumulated score, which favored the Ukrainian as he got out of the gates faster. On the flip side, Fabiano’s efforts will send him to a very lofty 2823, which will secure a clear world no.2 spot, just 30 shy of Magnus Carlsen.

Third place was decided by Azeri player Arkadij Naiditsch, who really went out of his comfort zone to decide his fate.

Playing Black against another top player is always tough, since their preparation will certainly be of the very highest standard. Arkadij Naiditsch not only chose to play the Classical King's Indian with black, hardly his usual fare, but walked right into a pet line of his Israeli opponent, Maxim Rodshtein. To be fair, this was not by any choice, since one of the caveats of the King's Indian is that it is basically White who decides what line will be played. Naiditsch's decision was not done in half measures and he not only prepared the opening to death, but took all the appropriate risks to justify his decision. There would be no olive branch today.

Maxim Roshtein - Arkadij Naiditsch

[Event "Isle of Man International 2016"] [Site "Douglas/Isle of Man"] [Date "2016.10.09"] [Round "9"] [White "Rodshtein, Maxim"] [Black "Naiditsch, Arkadij"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E90"] [WhiteElo "2687"] [BlackElo "2684"] [Annotator ""] [PlyCount "62"] [EventDate "2016.??.??"] [EventType "swiss"] [EventCountry "GBR"] [SourceTitle "playchess.com"] [Source "ChessBase"] [TimeControl "40/6000+30:20/3000+30:900+30"] 1. c4 {0} Nf6 {330} 2. Nc3 {4} g6 {123} 3. e4 {72} d6 {31} 4. d4 {16} Bg7 {6} 5. Nf3 {92} O-O {38} 6. h3 {11} e5 {65} 7. d5 {14} a5 {10} 8. g4 {96} Na6 { 35 It is absolutely remarkable that Naiditsch chose to enter this win-at-all-cost line, since it is highly risky, and could easily cost him heavily.} 9. Be3 {15 This is a pet line of Rodshtein, and one he played at the Olympiad just recently, defeating GM Saric.} Nc5 {27} (9... Nd7 10. a3 Nb6 11. Rg1 Bd7 12. h4 Nc5 13. b3 Kh8 14. g5 f6 15. Be2 fxg5 16. Nxg5 h6 17. Nf3 Kh7 18. h5 gxh5 19. Rxg7+ Kxg7 20. Nxe5 dxe5 21. Bxc5 Qh4 22. Kd2 a4 23. f3 axb3 24. Qxb3 Rf6 25. a4 Qh2 26. Bg1 Qh1 27. Qa3 Qg2 28. Qe7+ Rf7 29. Qxe5+ Kg8 30. Qxc7 Nxa4 31. Bd4 Qg5+ 32. Kc2 Rc8 33. Qd6 Nxc3 34. Kxc3 Bh3 35. Rg1 Bg2 36. Qe5 Kh7 37. Qxg5 hxg5 38. Rxg2 Kh6 39. e5 h4 40. Be3 Rf5 41. Kd4 Re8 42. e6 { 1-0 (42) Rodshtein,M (2687)-Saric,I (2668) Baku 2016}) 10. Nd2 {26} c6 {9} 11. Be2 {143} Bd7 {12 A major crossroads here. Black has played successfully, and almost with equal frequency, 11...a4, 11...Bd7 as in the game, as well as ... cxd5 and ...Nfd7, or ...Ne8.} 12. g5 {456} Ne8 {147} 13. Nb3 {1275 Had White forgotten his theory here? It isn't that 13.Nb3 is not played, but it is almost never chosen in grandmaster play. Rodshtein spent over 21 minutes before playing this. Normal is 13.h4. Perhaps he felt this was the time to step out of the main lines, fearing Naiditsch's preparation.} cxd5 {1241} 14. exd5 {765} Na4 {321} 15. Nd2 {45} Nxc3 {75} 16. bxc3 {4 [#]} f5 $1 {90 With White's king still in the center, and both his queenside and kingside badly weakened, it is tome to start the counterattack.} 17. gxf6 {54} Bxf6 {835} 18. Bg4 {1028} Bf5 {419} 19. Bxf5 {693} gxf5 {15} 20. Rb1 {31} Rf7 {149} 21. Rg1+ { 70} Kh8 {287} 22. Qh5 {623} Qd7 {73} 23. Bg5 {334} e4 {583} 24. Bxf6+ {231} Nxf6 {155} 25. Qh6 {4} Re8 {374 "My what a big rook you have grandma!" "All the better to skewer you my dear."} 26. Qf4 {49} Qa4 {495} 27. Rg5 {530} e3 $2 {190 A mistake in move order that could have cost the win, but Black's aggressive and enterprising play will be rewarded. Correct was ...Qc2 first and only then ...e3.} 28. fxe3 {6} Qc2 {12} 29. Qd4 {132} f4 {232} 30. Rxb7 $2 {48 White hallucinates and it is over. The move was Qxf4 plain and simple.} fxe3 {58} 31. Ne4 {30} e2 {111} 0-1

On the other hand, not all were as pleased. Shirov was certainly breathing a sigh of relief, since he had nearly lost after a catastrophic blunder on move 61. Armenian Gabriel Sargissian could not look him in the eye after after the game. The look of purest sympathy in Alexei Shirov's face shows he understands perfectly...

The final position on the board and at the board

Another tale of woe came with Vidit Gujrathi's game against Julio Granda Zuniga. Had he won, he would have been in the top eight players, and won he was except he was extremely short of time, and allowed his Peruvian opponent to repeat the position, letting him off scott free.

Naturally, it was hardly all tales of tragedy. Consider IM John Paul Wallace (above) from Australia, 40 years old and rated 2355 FIDE, who had the event of his life as he had locked the GM norm a round in advance! In fact, no doubt due to nerves, he ruined a winning game against GM Salem, and lost, but it changed nothing and his 2639 performance easily exceeded the requirements.

No more is needed to say of 11-year-old Praggnanandhaa's superb final result as he steamrolled his much higher rated GM opponent, Axel Bachmann. Here the very-soft spoken boy is being interviewed by Fiona Steil-Antoni.

Another lovely final game was played below between two IMs, one of whom was particularly inspired.

Lou Yiping - Das Arghyadip

Another surprise was Hou Yifan's defeat to Sabino Brunello in the last round. Hou Yifan had started very strongly with 4.0/5, but a 1.0/4 in the latter half really ended that good work.

The four top female players receive their prizes: IM Tania Sachdev, GM Anna Ushenina, IM Nino Batsiashvili, and GM Harika Dronavalli (best woman)

Pavel Eljanov raises his trophy, and will have earned 15 Elo in the process too

Top pairings and results of Round 9

No.
Ti.
Name
Rtg
Pts
Res.
Pts
Ti.
Name
Rtg
No.
2
GM
So Wesley
2794
6
½ - ½
7
GM
Eljanov Pavel
2741
5
1
GM
Caruana Fabiano
2813
1 - 0
6
GM
Adams Michael
2745
4
8
GM
Rodshtein Maxim
2687
6
0 - 1
6
GM
Naiditsch Arkadij
2684
10
14
GM
Sargissian Gabriel
2670
½ - ½
6
GM
Shirov Alexei
2679
11
32
GM
Aravindh Chithambaram
2564
½ - ½
GM
Nakamura Hikaru
2787
3
9
GM
Vidit Gujrathi
2686
½ - ½
GM
Granda Zuniga Julio
2648
18
15
GM
Melkumyan Hrant
2653
0 - 1
GM
Howell David W L
2644
21
74
IM
Wallace John Paul
2355
0 - 1
GM
Salem A.R. Saleh
2650
16
13
GM
Fressinet Laurent
2676
5
1 - 0
GM
Donchenko Alexander
2581
29
35
GM
Sunilduth Narayanan
2536
5
½ - ½
5
GM
Leko Peter
2709
6
36
GM
Harika Dronavalli
2528
5
½ - ½
5
GM
Movsesian Sergei
2677
12
17
GM
Hou Yifan
2649
5
0 - 1
5
GM
Brunello Sabino
2566
31
22
GM
Grandelius Nils
2642
5
1 - 0
5
GM
Shyam Sundar M.
2552
33
23
GM
Gupta Abhijeet
2626
5
½ - ½
5
GM
Schroeder Jan-Christian
2514
38
24
GM
Van Foreest Jorden
2615
5
½ - ½
5
GM
Vishnu Prasanna. V
2522
37
25
GM
L'ami Erwin
2605
5
1 - 0
5
GM
Gagare Shardul
2480
43
26
GM
Bok Benjamin
2594
5
½ - ½
5
IM
Puranik Abhimanyu
2471
45
27
GM
Lenderman Aleksandr
2593
5
1 - 0
5
WGM
Enkhtuul Altan-Ulzii
2302
86
42
IM
Zumsande Martin
2490
5
0 - 1
GM
Wang Hao
2701
7
19
GM
Meier Georg
2648
1 - 0
IM
Kiewra Keaton F
2454
53

Full results of all 68 games

Final standings

Rk.
SNo
Ti.
Name
FED
Rtg
Pts
Perf
rtg+/-
1
1
GM
Caruana Fabiano
2813
7,5
2908
10,4
 
5
GM
Eljanov Pavel
2741
7,5
2880
15,5
3
10
GM
Naiditsch Arkadij
2684
7,0
2834
14,9
4
2
GM
So Wesley
2794
6,5
2767
-0,4
 
11
GM
Shirov Alexei
2679
6,5
2766
9,5
 
16
GM
Salem A.R. Saleh
2650
6,5
2673
6,4
 
21
GM
Howell David W L
2644
6,5
2723
11,0
8
3
GM
Nakamura Hikaru
2787
6,0
2695
-8,3
 
4
GM
Adams Michael
2745
6,0
2723
-1,5
 
8
GM
Rodshtein Maxim
2687
6,0
2759
9,4
 
9
GM
Vidit Santosh Gujrathi
2686
6,0
2700
2,6
 
13
GM
Fressinet Laurent
2676
6,0
2635
-4,0
 
14
GM
Sargissian Gabriel
2670
6,0
2639
-2,6
 
18
GM
Granda Zuniga Julio E
2648
6,0
2619
-2,1
 
22
GM
Grandelius Nils
2642
6,0
2730
11,6
 
25
GM
L'ami Erwin
2605
6,0
2616
2,7
 
27
GM
Lenderman Aleksandr
2593
6,0
2567
-1,6
 
31
GM
Brunello Sabino
2566
6,0
2621
8,2
 
32
GM
Aravindh Chithambaram
2564
6,0
2562
0,8
20
6
GM
Leko Peter
2709
5,5
2545
-16,2

Click for complete standings

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Topics Isle of Man

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.
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Duckangelito Duckangelito 10/12/2016 10:09
Hello Albert ! In the game Maxim Rodshtein - Arkadij Naiditsch you say 27...e3 is a mistake in move order. How is that, can you explain pls. Not clear to me and can t find a refutation ! Thx
Zmeu Zmeu 10/11/2016 04:38
@Brian Knight, Yes, Salem Saleh was stronger than Nakamura in this event. What you call luck others call form. There is no perfect system, and this includes the rating system. An old rating can be stale, a new rating can be inflated or deflated due to a high K factor or the silly once a month update, etc. I personally see no problem with a shared first place and prize...
Bright Knight Bright Knight 10/11/2016 11:00
@Sutek002
"Therefore it's reasonable to state that Eljanov faced a slightly stronger field than Caruana based on their opponents performance in this tournament (whereas TPR includes their historical performance via ratings)"

Ratings (hence TPR) are precisely more indicative of opponents' strength because of their historical basis. Buchholz and Sonneborn-Berger can be significantly influenced by luck and do not measure strength alone. Would anyone argue that Salem Saleh is currently stronger than Nakamura just because he finished half-point higher in this one event?
ulyssesganesh ulyssesganesh 10/11/2016 08:30
while eljanov is the winner, why caruana is shown at the top????
Sutek002 Sutek002 10/11/2016 05:31
@Bright Knight

Ratings include historical performance, so it is more common to use Buchholz (sum of opponents scores) measures for tournament tiebreaks. Eljanov had Total, Cut 1 and Median Buchholz values of 53.5, 49 and 41.5 respectively, compared to Caruana's 53, 48 and 40.5. Therefore it's reasonable to state that Eljanov faced a slightly stronger field than Caruana based on their opponents performance in this tournament (whereas TPR includes their historical performance via ratings).

The tournament organisers select the tiebreaks, so provided they were published before the tournament commenced then all players were aware of them. While it would be preferable to have a playoff, this isn't always possible given time constraints and the difference between classical and rapid/blitz strength.
Bright Knight Bright Knight 10/11/2016 03:07
@Rational
That is not the case here. Caruana faced 2600+ opponents from Round 3 onwards while Eljanov had the pleasure of playing 2400s up to Round 4. Overall, Eljanov's opponents had an average rating of 2606 against whom he had 2880 TPR. Caruana's opponents averaged 2637 and his TPR was 2908. Clearly, Caruana had stronger opposition and a better performance. He deserved the title.
(All these are available at Chess-Results.)
XChess1971 XChess1971 10/10/2016 05:49
They should play at least a couple of blitz games.
Rational Rational 10/10/2016 04:03
Brilliant Knight in a Swiss you get harder opponents if you score your points early
Bright Knight Bright Knight 10/10/2016 02:26
I don't quite get the logic of the "accumulated score" tiebreak. Why would someone who starts strongly but slows down in the end be better than another who gets off to a slow start but finishes strongly? If at all, finishing strongly would seem to be the mark of a better player. On the other hand, a tiebreak of rapids and blitzes also seems unfair. The event is classical chess, so how could the winner be that who's better at other game formats? I suppose the fairest tiebreak is the simple TPR, you win because you had a better overall performance.
vinniethepooh vinniethepooh 10/10/2016 01:13
Congrats to Eljanov, I think this was deserved after his slump coming from his Amazing World Cup. However, I believe that Caruana is right in criticizing the tiebreak system. According to me, every tournament should have a playoff.
blackdranzer 27 blackdranzer 27 10/10/2016 11:49
I think you very much like to use the word "botched"...!
weerogue weerogue 10/10/2016 11:08
"'My, what a big rook you have Grandma!' 'All the better to skewer you with, my dear'"
^^ This ^^

Brilliant! :D
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