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    Entries in 2018 Isle of Man (10)

    Tuesday
    Oct302018

    Isle of Man, Final Roundup

    (Excuse the delay; it has been a very busy week.)

    I assume most if not all of you already know what happened in the final round, but here goes (anyway). Arkadij Naiditsch and Radoslaw Wojtaszek entered the last round of the Isle of Man International tied for first and paired for all the marbles. The result was a draw, but none of the four players who could have caught up managed to do so. Two of them, Jeffery Xiong and Gawain Jones, were paired with each other, and their game finished in a draw. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave fared even worse, losing (albeit with the black pieces) to Alexander Grischuk, who entered the round a further half a point behind, so he didn't catch the leaders. Wang Hao was the last candidate, but he couldn't beat Viswanathan Anand with the white pieces, so he too finished tied for third.

    Others tying for third with Xiong, Jones, Grischuk, and Wang Hao were Vladimir Kramnik (defeating his old rival Alexei Shirov, 20 years after their infamous Candidates match in Cazorla), Hikaru Nakamura (defeating Pavel Eljanov), and Baskaran Adhiban (defeating Michael Adams, and with Black).

    Below them, 19 players were in the next group, with 6/9, including MVL and Anand, Anish Giri, Sergey Karjakin, and some other 2700s and near-2700s. The lowest-rated player in the tie - by far - was IM Alina Kashlinskaya; more on her achievement later.

    Once all the normal games were finished, Wojtaszek and Naiditsch had a blitz playoff. Wojtaszek had White in the first game and found himself down two pawns for nothing, but when he eventually managed to scare up some play on the kingside Naiditsch played badly and wound up lost. But this was not the end, either: now Naiditsch worked up some counterplay against his opponent's king, and could have won. In time trouble he again went awry, and Wojtaszek finally managed to win the game.

    In game 2 Wojtaszek goofed up the opening, and Naiditsch's excellent play netted him a completely won game. With two ways to cash in and win easily, however, he goofed it up, and then a long ending ensued in which he wasn't always better. But just when it seemed that Wojtaszek was about to escape with a draw, Naiditsch found some nice resources, and reeled in the point to force an Armageddon game.

    Wojtaszek had White and 5 minutes to Naiditsch's 4 minutes and draw odds. Often Black tries to play solidly in such circumstances, but that's not Naiditsch's style. Unfortunately, his attempt to play sharply resulted in positional suicide, and Wojtaszek won easily and cleanly.

    The players mostly split the prize money (£37,500 each), with Wojtaszek getting the tournament title and a small extra payday (£500) for winning the playoff. He picked up 12 points from the tournament and 22 points for his play in this event and the Olympiad. It was a good month for him. Better still, remember Alina Kashlinskaya, mentioned above? That's his wife. She finished the tournament with wins over two 2600s, Rinat Jumabayev and Sam Sevian - the latter on her 25th birthday. She earned a GM norm in the tournament, gained 30 rating points, and won £7,000 for the best result among the women, too. In addition to her heroics in the last two rounds, she began the tournament by drawing with Giri and Kramnik - what a fantastic result!

    All the Wojtaszek-Naiditsch games, Kashlinskaya's final game, and as a bonus a remarkable game between Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa - Teja Ravi (HT: Jaideep Unudurti), can be replayed here.

    Saturday
    Oct272018

    Saturday Summary: Two Leaders Entering the Final Round of the IOM; Svidler Wins his Match

    The pre-World Championship match festivities are winding down; the match between Peter Svidler and Sam Shankland is over, while there's just one round left to play at the Isle of Man. (But don't fret: there's the Shenzhen Masters starting November 4 with Ding Liren, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Anish Giri, Yu Yangyi, Radoslaw Wojtaszek, and Nikita Vitiugov. There's no getting away from big chess anymore.)

    Starting with what has finished: Svidler had some advantage with White, but not enough to cash in with a win (and probably not a lot of motivation to do so, either). Shankland drew, so Svidler won the match 3.5-2.5. This was pretty close to what one would expect from their ratings, with Svidler gaining two points from the match. The undercard maintained its "perfection", as Vladimir Fedoseev and Jorden Van Foreest drew all six of their games, and thus the match.

    The Isle of Man International finishes tomorrow (Sunday), and the trends were reversed in today's penultimate round. The number of leaders had been increasing every round; now it has shrunk to two. The nine super-GMs had been performing well, with at least eight of the nine enjoying great chances to win the tournament. Now only one of the big nine is within half a point of the lead, and he's not one of the two leaders. Here's the run-down:

    Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Wang Hao were among the co-leaders, but after their (clean) draw they're half a point back. The next two games involving co-leaders were decisive, however. Arkadij Naiditsch defeated Hikaru Nakamura, first obtaining a positional advantage and then surviving the up-and-down tactical play that resulted from Nakamura's objectively dubious piece sac on move 26. Naiditsch was short of time though and it wasn't a bad practical chance. Nakamura managed to equalize, but then was worse before having one brief chance to be better with 35...Nf4. After 35...Re5? White was (again) winning, and didn't give Black any more opportunities.

    Radoslaw Wojtaszek was the other winner, defeating Michael Adams thanks mostly to Adams' blunder on move 15. It cost him the exchange, and Wojtaszek duly converted his advantage.

    Jeffery Xiong was the last co-leader, but in his long game with Vladimir Kramnik he was always playing defense. He was in trouble shortly after the first time control, but when Kramnik played 46.Bxf2 instead of 46.Kg1 Xiong was able to escape.

    All the games featuring players half a point out of first finished in a draw except for Gawain Jones vs. Levon Aronian. Jones won pretty convincingly, as if he was the former world's #2 rather than a consistent mid-to-upper 2600-level player. Congrats to Jones!

    Here are the leading pairings for the final round:

    1. Naiditsch (6.5) - Wojtaszek (6.5)
    2. Xiong (6) - Jones (6)
    3. Grischuk (5.5) - Vachier-Lagrave (6)
    4. Wang Hao (6) - Anand (5.5)

    The next eight boards are all 5.5 vs. 5.5 pairings, but they are of course outside of the race for first.

    Friday
    Oct262018

    Seven Lead at the Isle of Man; Status Quo Everywhere Else

    1. There were lots of draws at the top in round 7 (of 9) at the 2018 Isle of Man International. The six leaders drew their three games, and only one of the nine players entering the round half a point out of first managed to win. Thus Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Arkadij Naiditsch, Hikaru Nakamura, Jeffery Xiong, Wang Hao and Radoslaw Wojtaszek remain tied for first, now with 5.5 points apiece, and thanks to Michael Adams' win over Abhijeet Gupta he too shares the lead.

    Of the leaders, only Vachier-Lagrave had anything like serious winning chances, but the board was such a mess he preferred the safety of a speedy perpetual. On move 21, it was better to be greedy and recapture with the king, and even after that it wasn't necessary to repeat. That's easy to say with a computer running, but that it's easy doesn't make it false.

    In the next score group, both Vladimir Kramnik (against Vladislav Artemiev) and Richard Rapport (against Gawain Jones) should have won, but they didn't. They're still very much in the hunt with two rounds to go; here are the pairings for round 8:

     

    1. Vachier-Lagrave (5.5) - Wang Hao (5.5)
    2. Naiditsch (5.5) - Nakamura (5.5)
    3. Wojtaszek (5.5) - Adams (5.5)
    4. Kramnik (5) - Xiong (5.5)
    5. Jones (5) - Aronian (5)
    6. Giri (5) - Rapport (5)
    7. Anand (5) - Artemiev (5)
    8. Parligras (5) - Grischuk (5)
    9. Karjakin (5) - Sethuraman (5)
    10. So (4.5) - Shirov (5)

     

    For those who occasionally ask how the top players would do in open tournaments, and if their ratings are protected by their playing mostly amongst themselves, see for yourselves. Except for So, the nine super-GMs are all no more than half a point out of first, and even So, who is having a relatively poor event - the worst of the bunch - is only down 7 rating points for the event.

    2. Game five of the Svidler-Shankland match was drawn. Shankland got nothing from his last white game, and will have to win the last game with Black to tie the match. Game five of the Fedoseev - J. Van Foreest was drawn, just like the first four.

    3. TCEC Superfinal: 26 games are finished, and Stockfish leads 3-0 with 23 draws against Komodo. Only 74 games remain.

    4. Chess.com Computer Chess Championship, Blitz edition. It has been a while since we updated this one. As suggested in the post's title, though, there's nothing new to report, except that more games have been played and we've all aged. Stockfish leads with 92.5/102, five points ahead of Houdini. Lc0 has played one more game, and has 79.5/103, while Komodo is battling with Ethereal and Fire for fourth, not far behind Lc0. All three engines have played 102 games, and Ethereal has 77.5 points while Fire and Komodo have 77. This is just stage 1, with the top 10 engines making it to stage 2 and then the top 4 from stage 2 playing in the third and final stage. So...it'll be a while before it's all over.

    Thursday
    Oct252018

    Six Lead the Isle of Man; Svidler Beat Shankland to Take the Lead

    There were four leaders coming into round 6 of the Isle of Man International, and now there are six. Three were among yesterday's co-leaders, and three are new. The inherited leaders are Jeffery Xiong, Wang Hao, and Arkadij Naiditsch. Naiditsch took the day off, while Xiong made Wang Hao suffer for a long time before acquiescing in a draw.

    The fourth pre-round co-leader, Abhijeet Gupta, had a tougher time, losing quickly to Hikaru Nakamura. Gupta played an interesting pawn sacrifice for play, but in the tactical flurry that followed he was outcalculated by Nakamura and resigned rather than surrendering the exchange. Nakamura thus joined the leaders, as did Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Radoslaw Wojtaszek. MVL sacrificed two pawns for tons of play, although his opponent (Rinat Jumabayev) was objectively okay it was the sort of position where the mistakes are waiting to be made. He "found" one of them with 33.f4, and four moves later it was over. Not all "equal" positions are equal for mere mortals. Wojtaszek's win came mostly due to a blunder. He had some advantage against Rasmus Svane, but nothing near decisive until 21...Nfd7?? 22.Qxf7+! Qxf7 23.Nxf7, when Black can't take on f4 due to 24.Nd6+. From there Wojtaszek had an easy time converting his advantage.

    Mircea Parligras nearly made it a septet, as he was much better-to-winning against Sergey Karjakin for a long time. It came down to a rook ending, and when Parligras missed the subtle 81.Rd4, preferring instead 81.Rd3, Karjakin managed to sneak out with a draw.

    Here are the top pairings for round 7:

    1. Vachier-Lagrave (5) - Naiditsch (5)
    2. Nakamura (5) - Xiong (5)
    3. Wang Hao (5) - Wojtaszek (5)
    4. Artemiev (4.5) - Kramnik (4.5)
    5. Sethuraman (4.5) - Anand (4.5)
    6. Rapport (4.5) - Jones (4.5)
    7. Adams (4.5) - Gupta (4.5)
    8. Antipov (4.5) - Giri (4)

    Also in the 4-point score group are Levon Aronian, Wesley So, and Alexander Grischuk.

    In the match between Peter Svidler and Sam Shankland, Svidler took his first lead of the match with a crushing win in game 4; (up to?) two games remain. Shankland was doing fine with Black, but 18...h4 was a bad idea. Technically, it wasn't a mistake; after 19.Bg5 he could have played 19...Be7!, threatening ...e5, and only after White's queen quits the d-file would he take on g3. But instead he played the natural 19...hxg3, winning a pawn but coming under a crushing attack after 20.Bxf6 gxf6 21.Qh6. Svidler finished in style, but for the most part it was pretty straightforward (though attractive). My guess is that Shankland missed either 19.Bg5, 19...Be7, or Svidler's terrific 25.Kh1, with the idea to meet 25...gxh2 with 26.Rg1+! with a speedy mate. (The undercard match between Vladimir Fedoseev and Jorden Van Foreest had another draw: 4 for 4.)

    Selected games (mostly annotated) from the two events, here.

    Wednesday
    Oct242018

    Isle of Man: Four Lead After Five Rounds

    The perfect scores are no more at the Isle of Man International after today's draw between Wang Hao and Arkadij Naiditsch. There were a lot of draws on the top boards, but two players caught up: Jeffery Xiong, who defeated Richard Rapport with Black in a very interesting game; and Abhijeet Gupta, who outplayed his younger and higher-rated compatriot (and birthday boy) Vidit Gujrathi with White. They lead a group of seven four-pointers including Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Hikaru Nakamura, and Sergey Karjakin - the latter winning the very rare two knights vs. pawn ending against Sam Sevian. 27 players are another half a point behind, including 11 players rated over 2700. In fact, the top seven seeds, excluding third-seed MVL, are in that score group.

    Here are the leading pairings for round 6:

    1. Xiong (4.5) - Wang Hao (4.5)
    2. Nakamura (4) - Gupta (4.5)
    3. Jumabayev (4) - Vachier-Lagrave (4)
    4. Parligras (4) - Karjakin (4)
    5. Wojtaszek (4) - Svane (4)

    Apparently Naiditsch is taking a bye. Here are the three games mentioned above.

    Tuesday
    Oct232018

    Tuesday Roundup: Shankland-Svidler, TCEC 13 Superfinal, IOM (Updated)

    A quick recap, especially since many of my readers will be watching game 1 of the World Series tonight and/or the HBO special mentioned in the previous post.

    Let's start with the TCEC 13 Superfinal. It's already 4-2 in Stockfish's favor against Komodo (only 94 games to go). The reason I'm mentioning the match again is that games 7 and 8 are (and will be) King's Gambit Accepteds, to coin a word, so they should be entertaining.

    Game 3 of the match between Sam Shankland and Peter Svidler was drawn, making it 1.5-1.5 at the halfway point. Svidler has White in game 4. On the undercard between Vladimir Fedoseev and Jorden Van Foreest, game 3 was also draw--that's three for three so far.

    Finally, the round 4 results at the Isle of Man tournament were pretty conventional. Among the perfect scores, Jeffery Xiong drew with White against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, while in the other two games the higher-rated player had White and won: Wang Hao against Erwin L'Ami and Arkadij Naiditisch against Pavel Tregubov.

    The highest-rated players in the 2.5 point score group - Levon Aronian, Wesley So, Alexander Grischuk, and Sergey Karjakin - all drew, but plenty of other 2.5 pointers won. And the top players who were on 2 points all won: Anish Giri, Vladimir Kramnik, Viswanathan Anand, and Hikaru Nakamura, in each case with White.

    Here are the top round 5 pairings:

     

    1. Wang Hao (4) - Naiditsch (4)
    2. Vachier-Lagrave (3.5) - Parligras (3.5)
    3. Rapport (3.5) - Xiong (3.5)
    4. Gupta (3.5) - Vidit (3.5)
    5. Aronian (3) - Kovalev (3)
    6. L'Ami (3) - Giri (3)
    7. So (3) - Melkumyan (3)
    8. Grischuk (3) - Short (3)
    9. Shirov (3) - Nakamura (3)
    10. Karjakin (3) - Sevian (3)

     

    There are six more boards with 3-pointers, but we'll leave further 3-pointers to the NBA and call it a post.

    UPDATE: The correction has already been made above, which is that all three games of the Fedoseev-Van Foreest match have been drawn.

    Monday
    Oct222018

    Monday Recap: TCEC 13 Superfinal Underway, Svidler Catches Shankland, IOM Continues

    Time for a quick look at the landscape. First, the TCEC Season 13 Superfinal is underway. Stockfish beat Komodo in game 1, with White, and the game 2 rematch with Black will be drawn sooner or later, even if it takes the 50-move rule to put the game out of its misery. Only 98 games to go, after this one.

    Sam Shankland won game 1 of his six-game match with Peter Svidler yesterday; today, Svidler returned the favor; both players won with White. Svidler had a small edge out of the opening, but Shankland's errors on move 20 and especially move 21 landed him in a lost position. A bit of carelessness by Svidler no move 30 gave Shankland a brief chance to survive, maybe, but his 31st-33rd moves put an end to Black's hopes.

    At the Isle of Man, once again the very top players went undefeated, but - once again - didn't win all their games. (I believe that one and only one 2700 lost in round 3 - see below.) Now, after three rounds, only six players still have perfect scores. Here are the top pairings for round 4:

    1. Jeffery Xiong (!) - Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (who had his birthday today; he's 28)

    2. Wang Hao - Erwin L'ami

    3. Arkadij Naiditsch - Pavel Tregubov

    Lots of great players have 2.5, including Boris Gelfand and Levon Aronian, who are paired on board 4. Other stars with 2.5 points are Wesley So, Alexander Grischuk, and Sergey Karjakin. The lowest-rated player in that scoregroup is young superstar Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa, who drew Peter Leko in round 2 and beat Pavel Eljanov (2703) in round 3. (He'll have Vidit in round 4.)

    How tough is the tournament? Anish Giri, Vladimir Kramnik, Viswanathan Anand, and Hikaru Nakamura are all stuck on 2 points apiece.

    Sunday
    Oct212018

    Sunday Summary: TCEC Cup, Shankland-Svidler, Isle of Man Int'l

    One event came to an end today, another one started, one is ongoing and another one begins tomorrow. All the chess action a fan can stand, and then some.

    1. TCEC Cup. The 8-game finale between Stockfish and Houdini was close. The first six games were drawn, and then Stockfish won a miniature. Houdini didn't manage anything serious in the rematch (the openings are in pairs, giving each engine a chance to have White in the same line), and when it finished in a draw Stockfish once again proved the strongest "pound-for-pound" program. (I'm excluding Alpha Zero, which used hardware that vastly exceeded anything Stockfish had in their match last December.)

    Right now they're playing some nonsense games on the site, making Stockfish play 1.e4 e5 2.Ke2 against other top engines, but at some point tomorrow (Monday) the TCEC 13 Final between Stockfish and Komodo will get underway.

    2. Shankland-Svidler. Sam Shankland won a nice game in the opener of his six-game match with Peter Svidler. About a week ago Svidler looked like a significant favorite, but after his mostly disastrous European Club Cup and his loss in this game, it's hard to say who's the favorite. And as it turns out, Shankland has just passed Svidler on the live rating list. (Regardless of what happens in this match, it's still too soon to think that Shankland has surpassed Svidler as a chess player, but he's still an impressive player on the way up. At 27, he's a bit older than the usual rising star, but if we focus on his trajectory instead of his age there's reason to think he could still move quite a ways up the rating list.) On the undercard match between Vladimir Fedoseev and Jorden Van Foreest, game 1 ended in a draw.

    3. Isle of Man International. The 2700 crowd had an even tougher day today, though they generally managed to avoid the worst outcome. On board 1 Levon Aronian was losing two moves before the end to the brilliantly named Dennis Wagner, but Wagner's 51.Ka3?? was the wrong way to protect the a-pawn. Moving either rook to g4 would have kept a winning position; instead, he resigned after Black's 52nd move. Viswanathan Anand only managed to draw against Robert Hess with the white pieces - and that was an achievement, as he was worse almost throughout and losing for a while too. Other 2700s were nipped for draws as well, and some high-2600s lost, but as far as I can tell no 2700s lost. However, while most of the 2700s who were nipped for draws in round 1 bounced back with wins today, two didn't: Vladimir Kramnik, who failed to defeat Alina Kashlinskaya (who drew with Anish Giri in round 1!); and Michael Adams, who drew with Irina Bulmaga.

    Click here for Stockfish's win over Houdini and Shankland's win over Svidler, with my light commentary.

    Sunday
    Oct212018

    Saturday Summary, Sans Svidler-Shankland, Starting Sunday

    I guess the supposed starting date for the Svidler-Shankland match was based on the opening ceremony. They'll start playing tomorrow (Sunday).

    There was plenty of action elsewhere though. First, let's get the computer action out of the way: Lc0 is still the chess entity of the future. Stockfish beat it 4.5-2.5 in one final, and in the other semi Houdini beat Komodo 4.5-3.5. Stockfish will beat Houdini tomorrow (Sunday) in the final of the TCEC Cup.

    Now for the main event, round 1 of the Isle of Man International. Of the 82 games in round 1, only one saw the lower-rated player beat the favorite, and that was all the way down on board 68. But when we change the subject and talk about draws, it's a very different story. Despite gaps from nearly 300 points to slightly over 400, 20 players managed to draw their heavily favored opponents. Sticking only to 2700+ players, Anish Giri, Vladimir Kramnik, Wesley So, Hikaru Nakamura, Radoslaw Wojtaszek, Richard Rapport, Le Quang Liem, Michael Adams, and Zoltan Almasi were all held to draws. Some of them were losing or much worse (Kramnik, So, Wojtaszek, Rapport) and had to eke out the draw, while others (Kramnik again, Rapport again, Adams) were winning or at least much better before their opponents saved themselves.

    Worse still for the top players, this was their supposedly easy round. In round 2 the top players are already facing mid-to-high 2500s, and it's only going to get tougher from there. This will be an entertaining event.

    Friday
    Oct192018

    Starting Tomorrow: Isle of Man, Svidler-Shankland

    I hope you're all enjoying your day off after the European Club Cup, because tomorrow not (just) one but two high-level events get underway: the Isle of Man Open and a six-game match between Peter Svidler and Sam Shankland. (The latter is part of a chess festival in Hoogeveen, in the Netherlands.)

    The IoM is an open event, as stated, but at the top the field is strong enough to create a Candidates field: Anish Giri, Vladimir Kramnik, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Sergey Karjakin, Wesley So, Hikaru Nakamura, Levon Aronian, and Viswanathan Anand are the top eight.

    Good times, fellow chess fans!