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Eljanov Still Leads Isle Of Man, Chased By 3 Americans

Eljanov Still Leads Isle Of Man, Chased By 3 Americans

While more quick kills than normal took place in round eight of the Chess.com Isle of Man International, the leaders didn't appear in the Tarantino script.

Several grandmasters on lower boards won their showdowns in the penultimate round in two hours or less. The top four players didn't rumble much longer, but when their guns had emptied, no one was hit.

That's just fine with GM Pavel Eljanov, who must feel he is being hunted by the Americans. Today he retained his half-point lead over GM Fabiano Caruana by drawing with him. GM Wesley So also didn't make up any ground. His draw with GM Hikaru Nakamura eliminated the four-time U.S. Champion from the title hunt.

The American Olympiad team reforms at Isle of Man. Board two plays White against board three while board one watches.

What does So get for his troubles on Sunday? A battle with Eljanov on the American's birthday.

Love first-place speculation and scenarios? We've got you covered:

  • Eljanov wins clear first with a win in round nine.
  • Eljanov wins first with a draw. The only person that could catch him would be Caruana, but Eljanov would be assured a win on tiebreaks. The first tiebreak is head-to-head (they drew so that is equal) and the second is progressive, which values faster starts. Eljanov's 6.5/7 beginning would assure him the better the better tiebreak there.
  • If Eljanov loses and Caruana wins, Caruana wins clear first.
  • If Eljanov loses and Caruana loses, the person who beats Eljanov (So) would win since head-to-head is the first tiebreak. That only applies if no more than these two people get to seven points.
  • If Eljanov loses and Caruana draws, it's a mess. There would be at least three players tied for the lead (Eljanov, So, Caruana), but they have NOT all played each other. "The results between the players involved in the tie" is the language of the rules, so a three-way head-to-head tiebreak is only possible if all three have had mutual games. In the scenario here, So did not play Caruana. Presumably the tiebreaks would default to progressive, which would give Eljanov the win again.

Got all that? Of course it's more fun to tune in tomorrow to see which scenario unfolds (full pairings are here). A quick programming and scheduling note: The final round is one hour earlier on Sunday. Live coverage at Chess.com/TV begins at 12:30 p.m. local time. That is 4:30 a.m. Pacific, 7:30 a.m. New York and 1:30 p.m. CEST.

Isle of Man: The usually wind-swept island is serene outside, but today it won't be serene inside.

Today Eljanov happily traded, traded, and traded some more. Yes, he could have clinched the tournament by winning with White, but he also had to quash his demons from this year. Until today, he had scored 0-3 against Caruana in 2016.

Call it unambitious, or call it savvy tournament management, we will know in 24 hours if the strategy was the right one.

Games via TWIC.

What did Caruana think about the game? Listen to his thoughts below:

Nakamura repeated the Anti-Grunfeld line that resulted in his shock loss in round five to GM Benjamin Bok. He had found an improvement, but in round eight, the game soon ventured into new waters. Nakamura went for the endgame but got nothing. Instead, he wondered afterward if 18.Qh4 was the antidote to Black's play.

Here's what Nakamura had to say about the game and his busy 2016 schedule. You'll want to hear which two players flummox him with their relentless tournament participation.

On board three, GM Michael Adams kept alive his slim hopes for his first title in Isle of Man. He beat Bok to get to six points, but his "reward" is Black in the final round against Caruana.

Adams said Bok was "moving instantly" for the first 20 moves.

"It started out as a Najdorf but looks more like a Pelikan," Adams said. "My big problem is that I really didn't know how to get my rooks in the game."

When you've been 2700 for nearly every rating supplement for 18 years, "problems" are relative.

Full thoughts and analysis by Adams is below.

"The tournament has massively increased in strength and prestige," Adams said.

GM Michael Adams (right) looks to do better than his second-place finish from last year (in the poker tournament!).

Also winning in round eight and getting to 6.0/7 with a puncher's chance at first were GMs Alexei Shirov, Maxim Rodshtein, and Arkadij Naiditsch.

As for those quick wins we promised, you can thank the Armenians.

First, GM Sergei Movsesian bombarded GM Max Illingworth with a surprise kingside attack.

Not long afterward, and still inside of two hours, GM Gabriel Sargissian beat WIM Yuliya Shvayger by going after the queen instead of the king.

WIM Yuliya Shvayger was one of the leaders for the female prizes until round eight's loss to GM Gabriel Sargissian.

Checking in on a few other situations, IM John Paul Wallace continued his improbable run. In round eight, he drew GM Peter Leko as Black. After an opening-round loss, Wallace now has 5.5 out of his last seven, and he's the only IM with 5.5 points or more. He is virtually assured a GM norm regardless of today's game.

IM John Paul Wallace, who turns 40 next month. Who knew beating grandmasters was one of the skills of the "Middle Aged Man"?

In the race for the five women's prizes, three ladies lead with 5.0/8: GMs Hou Yifan, and Harika Dronavalli, and WGM Altan-Ulzii Enkhtuul.

IM Elisabeth Paehtz (left) and IM Tania Sachdev. Paehtz's loss to Hou Yifan in round eight means she is out of the running for a GM norm according to her own calculations.

Chess.com Isle of Man | Round 8 Standings

Rk. SNo Fed Title Name Rtg TB1 Rp rtg+/-
1 5 GM Eljanov, Pavel 2741 7 2919 14,8
2 1 GM Caruana, Fabiano 2813 6,5 2872 6,3
3 2 GM So, Wesley 2794 6 2776 0,3
4 4 GM Adams, Michael 2745 6 2765 2,6
5 8 GM Rodshtein, Maxim 2687 6 2821 14,4
6 10 GM Naiditsch, Arkadij 2684 6 2798 9,9
7 11 GM Shirov, Alexei 2679 6 2789 9,6
8 3 GM Nakamura, Hikaru 2787 5,5 2712 -5,5
9 9 GM Vidit Santosh Gujrathi 2686 5,5 2707 3,1
10 14 GM Sargissian, Gabriel 2670 5,5 2635 -2,7
11 15 GM Melkumyan, Hrant 2653 5,5 2574 -5,8
12 16 GM Salem, A.R. Saleh 2650 5,5 2667 4,9
13 18 GM Granda Zuniga, Julio E 2648 5,5 2611 -2,6
14 21 GM Howell, David W L 2644 5,5 2686 5,9
15 29 GM Donchenko, Alexander 2581 5,5 2551 -2,1
16 32 GM Aravindh, Chithambaram Vr. 2564 5,5 2534 -2
17 74 IM Wallace, John Paul 2355 5,5 2689 33,4
18 6 GM Leko, Peter 2709 5 2551 -13,9
19 12 GM Movsesian, Sergei 2677 5 2646 -2,6
20 13 GM Fressinet, Laurent 2676 5 2596 -7,7
21 17 GM Hou Yifan 2649 5 2640 0,1
22 22 GM Grandelius, Nils 2642 5 2707 7,8
23 23 GM Gupta, Abhijeet 2626 5 2587 -3,1
24 24 GM Van Foreest, Jorden 2615 5 2649 4,6
25 25 GM l'Ami, Erwin 2605 5 2588 -0,6
**Note that tomorrow's final round is one hour earlier.
Make sure you join the action at Chess.com/TV on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. local time (that is 4:30 a.m. Pacific, 7:30 a.m. New York and 1:30 p.m. CEST) for live commentary with GM Simon Williams and WIM Fiona Steil-Antoni.

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