News Isle Of Man: Naiditsch, Wang Hao Lead
No drug testing in Isle of Man—Co-leader Wang Hao is getting fitted for a heart-rate monitor. | Photo: John Saunders/Isle of Man Chess. Isle Of Man: Naiditsch, Wang Hao Lead

| 37 | Chess Event Coverage

Well, tomorrow's pairings just got easy. Of the six players with perfect scores entering the the fourth day of play at the 2018 Isle of Man International, only Wang Hao and Arkadij Naiditsch won. They'll face off on the premier board next round.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave's blistering pace finally slowed with a draw to Jeffery Xiong. They were the only other two matching up with perfect scores but the American didn't venture into his opponent's Najdorf waters, where the Frenchman has been fishing for years. Instead their Moscow Variation of the Sicilian produced a queenless middlegame and a placid draw. They both now sit as part of the chase group of 3.5/4, which comprises a half-dozen players.

Boards four through seven all drew in the most peaceful round so far. Even the heart-rate monitors that several players wore lacked any big spikes, which seems to be a pity for those wanting to lose weight.

villa marina isle of man

Plenty of beauty around the island, including Villa Marina, where the tournament is taking place. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

The French Defense finally had its comeuppance. Naiditsch dispatched Pavel Tregubov's treatment and Hikaru Nakamura got back in the winners' column by also beating it (although it can hardly be said it was a result of his opening play).

"I think it was a very complex game," Naiditsch said of his own win. "I got a little better out of the opening." He said he regretted playing the tempting 21. b5 and should have played 21. h3 first (see below for more on that move).

"Somehow Black should be perfectly fine but Pavel did not find a way to get his Rh5 into the game...In the time trouble he made it much easier to me than it should have been," he said. 

Here's tournament veteran Naiditsch moving to 4-0 in his fourth consecutive year playing the event:

"I'm very happy with my score," Naiditsch said. "In the case of 100 percent, you must be always happy!"

Arkady Naiditsch Isle of Man

Arkady Naiditsch answering questions during the live show on Twitch. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

His tournament almost began disastrously. Naiditsch said he missed his plane connection in London and that he only made it to the first round with 10 minutes to spare!

Wang Hao avoided a draw when he drew something from nothing against Erwin L'ami.

wang hao defeats erwin l'ami isle of man

Wang Hao, right, punished Erwin L'ami's passive defense. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

From a series of small improvements with his king, rook, and pawns, Wang eventually forced the Dutchman to make enough concessions to cost him the game.

Nakamura had begun with a win but yielded two draws after that. Things were beginning to mimic his Olympiad, which also began with an opening-round win and then no more that followed. But the American reversed course today with a charging king and a little fortune.

Danny Rensch Hikaru Nakamura studio

Today Hikaru Nakamura joined IM Daniel Rensch in the studio of's production team. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Today would have been the day to strap the heart-rate monitor to him!

There's already been numerous, perhaps even dozens of all-Indian clashes so far, and today was no exception. Queen-sac superstar Vidit Gujrathi had to face one of his country's many teenage talents on the Isle of Man: Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa. It was the third straight countryman Vidit has been matched against.

Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa

Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa and his heart-rate monitor—just trying to spell his name gives this writer heart palpitations. | Photo: John Saunders/Isle of Man Chess.

The slight-of-frame "Pragg" might be pound-for-pound the best chess player on the island. In a moment captured during his big last-round win over the 2016 champion, digital artist Pia Sprong showed her take on the young man's physique:

Today Vidit mundanely traded his queen instead of sacrificing it, but in doing so, he isolated a pawn and that's pretty much all it took. That made him smarter than the average bear, Rameshbabu.

"After that it was just suffering for him," Vidit said. "I'm used to screwing up this position but today I didn't!"


Vidit wore the heart-rate monitor today, which he said made him nervous just by itself (a reminder that wearing one is voluntary).

"Someone is watching my heart rate continuously—that was bothering me before the game," he said.

"After that I got used to it," said Vidit. "I'm very curious. How many calories did I burn? Do I need to exercise any more or no? I need to know this!"

Praggnanandhaa vidit isle of man

Vidit Gujrathi, right, said he's used to playing young Indian prodigies since he plays in the Indian championship every year, although he's never won it.  | Photo:: Maria Emelianova/

IM Danny Rensch's off-day interview with Georg Meier revealed that the German GM requested a bye yesterday not just because of his lengthy second round game, but also because he began with Black and playing only eight games instead of nine would equalize his color distribution! While that may be the case, the saved energy did not help him hold what should have been a drawn ending against Richard Rapport.

Anish Giri is sneaking his way back up the standings. Like Xiong, he also trotted out the Moscow Variation today and after a dozen moves it was clear that Black's complete lack of development would not hold up against one of the top three seeds.

The perseverance award goes to David Howell. After botching a winning endgame, he had to try his luck with the infamous rook+bishop vs. rook.


With his long games, David rarely makes it to dinner even with the broadcast team! | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

After more than seven hours of total play and more than halfway to the 50-move rule, his teenage opponent faltered.

Want plenty more on this common ending? Make sure you try the drill on it, or you can even see more about the "kings lining up" idea on this recent ChessKid video on "Pawnless Endings"!

On tomorrow's broadcast, Danny Rensch will interview's head of cheat detection, Gerard Le-Marechal. Want to have a question answered by Le-Marechal? Leave it in the comments to this news report, or Tweet it using the hashtag #iomchess.

2018 Isle of Man International | Standings After Rd. 4 (Top 20)

Rk. Title Name FED Rtg TB1
1 GM Wang Hao 2722 4,0
1 GM Naiditsch Arkadij 2721 4,0
3 GM Vachier-Lagrave Maxime 2780 3,5
3 GM Wojtaszek Radoslaw 2727 3,5
3 GM Rapport Richard 2725 3,5
3 GM Vidit Santosh Gujrathi 2711 3,5
3 GM Xiong Jeffery 2656 3,5
3 GM Parligras Mircea-Emilian 2623 3,5
3 GM Gupta Abhijeet 2588 3,5
10 GM Aronian Levon 2780 3,0
10 GM Giri Anish 2780 3,0
10 GM Kramnik Vladimir 2779 3,0
10 GM So Wesley 2776 3,0
10 GM Anand Viswanathan 2771 3,0
10 GM Grischuk Alexander 2769 3,0
10 GM Nakamura Hikaru 2763 3,0
10 GM Karjakin Sergey 2760 3,0
10 GM Artemiev Vladislav 2706 3,0
10 GM Gelfand Boris 2701 3,0
10 GM Howell David W L 2689 3,0

Full standings here and round five pairings here.

Games via TWIC.

Watch REBROADCAST: Isle of Man, Day 3, Live Coverage starts at 9:30am PST from Chess on

The 2018 Isle of Man International is a nine-round Swiss from October 20-28 beginning at 2:30 p.m. local time daily (GMT+1), except for round nine, which begins at 1:00 p.m.. The host site is the Villa Marina and the tournament is generously sponsored by the Scheinberg Family. Live coverage can be found at either or

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