News Isle Of Man, By The Numbers Isle Of Man, By The Numbers

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The Isle of Man is not big, but it will be plenty big enough to capture the chess world's attention as it expands its annual world-class open tournament.

From September 23 to October 1, the Isle of Man International revisits the crown dependency. Some ambitious growth is in the works for this fourth edition, which is the second under the auspices of How does the isolated land mass stack up with the tournament that continues to out-punch its weight?

Let's preview the tournament by having a look at Isle of Man, by the numbers. Although an oft-cited stat, this may be the strongest open ever. Here's some numbers that are even more certain.

Make sure you read until the end, where a recent surprise awaits.

50,000 -- First prize, in pounds, in 2017.

50,000 -- Total prize fund, in pounds, last year.


The winner will get to see a much younger Queen Elizabeth II 50,000 times.

166 -- Percent increase of total prize fund (£50,000 to £133,000).

1,038 -- Years that the island's parliament purportedly has been in continuous existence.

80 -- Percent of the 170 players in the "Masters" field that are titled.

4 -- Number of American Olympiad gold medalists that played last year.


After the "obvious" Caruana, So, and Nakamura, who was the fourth American gold medalist in 2016? Retired librarian GM James Tarjan, board four of the gold-medalist 1976 team.

0 -- Open spaces available, although up to four players may get in from the wait list depending on who makes the semifinals of the World Cup.

0 -- People that speak the Manx language natively, although about 2,000 have learned it as an additional language.

1 -- Qualifying spot available for the 2018 British Championship.

1 -- Number of players that sat "side-saddle" last year.


GM Wesley So played the unorthodox "90 degree gambit" last year with his seating position. Still not as strange as Dzindzichashvili-Miles, Tilburg, 1985, where neither player used a chair at all.

69 -- Number of grandmasters. That's about one for every three square miles on the island, or about five percent of the world's supply of living GMs. [Update: 70. Read on for an explanation.]

24 -- Number of female players competing for the £6,000 first prize for ladies (up from £3,500 last year).


By winning June's Titled Tuesday, these two players got their airfare and entry fee paid. GM Alexandra Kosteniuk will be the third-seeded woman, behind the top two Chinese women.

6 -- Number of players in the world top 10. [Update: 7. Keep reading!]

6 -- Number of kingdoms locals claim are viewable on a clear day from Snaefell, the island's highest peak (Manx people are religious with the term "kingdom" and include "Heaven"!).


To climb Snaefell, you can hike, or take the train but risk the derision of GM Hikaru Nakamura. The American grandmaster is an amateur mountaineer. (Photo:

14 -- Number of airports serving Isle of Man with at least one direct flight.

29 -- The all-time record high temperature in Celsius. 

104 -- Age of the host venue, Villa Marina.

32 -- Number of miles the island is long.


The Isle of Man's history museum claims the British Isles are an extension of the Appalachian Mountains, before they broke off from modern-day Canada.

36 -- Number of federations represented.

37 -- Number of players in the largest federation's contingent (India).

5,742 -- Number of times Isle of Man could fit inside India.


2700+ GM Santosh Vidit may lead the Indian federation, unless he or GM Viswanathan Anand, who is also signed up, make a deep run at the World Cup.

11 -- Minimum number of Indian restaurants counted in the island's capital, Douglas.

4 -- Maximum number of ingredients allowed by island's purity laws in locally-made beers (The "Pure Beer Act of 1874" only allows for water, sugar, hops and malt).

38 -- Number of grandmasters above 2600, up from 25 last year.

2 -- Number of "Anands" you need for a "Double Anand," GM Simon Williams's nickname he gave IM R. Praggnanandhaa in 2016.


The 12-year-old Praggnanandhaa's first name is Rameshbabu, and he's smarter than the average bear.

18 -- Number of moves it took Double Anand to beat a 2600 as Black in last year's event.

38 -- Length, in miles, of the Isle of Man TT motorbike race.

102 -- Length, in miles, of the coastal footpath Raad ny Foillan, which tournament participant IM Jovanka Houska plans to hike before the tournament.


IM Jovanka Houska had a tall challenge in her opening game last year. This year her physical efforts will be challenged before her mental faculties.


A southern section of the Raad ny Foillan, with lead hiker and reporter Peter Doggers in front.

100 -- Percent chance that commentator GM Simon Williams will switch the broadcast's featured game to the first player to advance h4.


GM Simon Williams will be happy to revisit some of the nearly dozen Indian restaurants near the venue. After all, ginger is a staple in Indian cooking.

1 -- Unexpected, last-minute entries by world champions (also the number of writers burying the lede).


Magnus is coming! Magnus is coming! Tbilisi's loss is Isle of Man's gain. 

"Quite simply I went against my instinct several times, both in terms of match strategy and also pure chess terms," GM Magnus Carlsen told about his exit from the World Cup at the hands of GM Bu Xiangzhi. "It has to be said that my opponent used his chances very well, but still my loss felt both shocking and unnecessary."

Like a playground basketball game, Carlsen just wanted to "run it back" right after his loss. He therefore made last-minute plans to play.

"Most of all I wanted to play against the best in the world again as soon as possible," he said. "I just want to play chess again!"

Make sure you log on to for round one on September 23 at 1:30 p.m. local time (2:30 p.m. Central Europe; 8:30 Eastern U.S.) to see if Williams makes good on the prediction. "Harry the h-pawn" can almost certainly be seen on following days too, at the same time.

The Isle of Man International is an elite nine-round open tournament from September 23-October 1. The time control is 40/100, 20/50, SD/15 with a 30-second increment from move one. The total prize fund is £133,000 with a £50,000 first prize (~$65,000 USD). All rounds will be at 1:30 p.m. local time (GMT+1) except the final round, which will be at 12 p.m. All of the action can be found live at with commentators GM Simon Williams and WIM Fiona Steil-Antoni.

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FM Mike Klein

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Mike Klein began playing chess at the age of four in Charlotte, NC. In 1986, he lost to Josh Waitzkin at the National Championship featured in the movie "Searching for Bobby Fischer." A year later, Mike became the youngest member of the very first All-America Chess Team, and was on the team a total of eight times. In 1988, he won the K-3 National Championship, and eventually became North Carolina's youngest-ever master. In 1996, he won clear first for under-2250 players in the top section of the World Open. Mike has taught chess full-time for a dozen years in New York City and Charlotte, with his students and teams winning many national championships. He now works at as a Senior Journalist and at as the Chief Chess Officer. In 2012, 2015, and 2018, he was awarded Chess Journalist of the Year by the Chess Journalists of America. He has also previously won other awards from the CJA such as Best Tournament Report, and also several writing awards for mainstream newspapers. His chess writing and personal travels have now brought him to more than 85 countries.

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