News Isle Of Man: Wojtaszek Beats Naiditsch In Armageddon For Title
A highly successful chess couple in Isle of Man: Radek Wojtaszek and his wife Alina Kashlinskaya. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/ Isle Of Man: Wojtaszek Beats Naiditsch In Armageddon For Title

| 75 | Chess Event Coverage

The arc of justice is not so long, and it bends toward Poland. After being the hard-luck non-medalists earlier this month at the Chess Olympiad, only a few weeks later the top Polish couple took home everything in Isle of Man.

While Arkadij Naiditsch got five Whites and only three Blacks in the classical portion of the 2018 Isle of Man InternationalRadoslaw Wojtaszek made the most of the final White when it really counted in Armageddon to win the title. He even earned a little extra pocket money by taking it to extra games.

His wife, IM Alina Kashlinskaya, who represents Russia, also won the top women's prize.


Lots of smiles for Kashlinskaya and Wojtaszek. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

After drawing their head-to-head game in round nine, Wojtaszek and Naiditsch both ended on 7.0/9 and waited for other boards to clear out. They then played a two-game blitz match. The winner would earn the championship trophy and an extra £500. Although they played rife with errors, especially in the second game, both combatants won with White to take the game into Armageddon.

"I think that the playoff has nothing to do actually with your skills, or at least I hope so!" Wojtaszek said about the messy tiebreak. "The level was a disaster. I felt even quite ashamed to play like that!"


The start of the regular game between Naiditsch and Wojtaszek. | Photo: John Saunders.

Wojtaszek landed with White in the Armageddon, needing to win, and he did so convincingly to etch his name on the hardware. Not counting the small bonus, the two share the top two prizes, meaning they both earned £37,500.

Enjoyably for the fans, both also agreed to wear heart-rate monitors for the extra session. In the opening game, clocks ticked down below 20 seconds while each player peaked at more than 160 beats per minute.

Wojtaszek even came within a whisker of 170 beats per minute, which according to the Mayo Clinic, is getting close the maximum safe heart rate. Most formulas suggest that 220 minus 31 (his age), or 189 beats per minute, is the threshold he should not cross.

It would have been interesting to also put a monitor on his wife, IM Alina Kashlinskaya, who was standing only a few feet away observing. Of course, she may have had her rate artificially high, on account of beating a 2600, scoring her GM norm, winning the top women's prize outright, and celebrating her birthday, all on the same day!


Kashlinksaya interviewed after she beat Sevian. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

It's been quite a month for Wojtaszek. It ends with him padding his rating by 22 points, nearly getting to 2750, and even surpassing such chess luminaries as Hikaru Nakamura, Veselin Topalov, and Peter Svidler.

Here was tiebreak game number one (played at a time control of 5+2), where the Pole either gambited, or more likely blundered, his c5 pawn. Then his pieces all seemed to signal a retreat en masse, and he later also lost his h-pawn. With nothing going right, White ripped open the f-file to completely reverse the evaluation. 

But then more wayward moves and Naiditsch was again completely winning until he got a little too adventurous with his king, meaning Wojtaszek has indeed made the "second-to-last error," as the chess euphemism goes.

Here's the commentators calling the wild game. You might be just as much drawn to the rising heart rates as the dwindling clocks. The two numbers were inversely proportional:

Watch 2018 Ches.scom Isle of Man International Tiebreak Game 1: A "Normal" Blitz Chess Game from Chess on

After a very short break, colors were reversed and this time White took control from the start. Naiditsch made a correct knight sacrifice to open the e-file, then traded two minors for a rook to keep up the pressure.

The weird imbalance of rook and two pawns for three minors didn't tell the whole story. White's passers were barreling down the board, and Wojtaszek had almost no development and a weak king. But then Naiditsch didn't finish off his helpless opponent, and the game became as wild as you'll see two 2700s play.

Buster Douglas was 41-1 in the odds to beat Mike Tyson, and this nearly became an even more unlikely win for a sporting Douglas. The Polish player almost saved his absolutely abysmal position.

Danny King could hardly keep up with all the unexpected moves:

Watch 2018 Isle of Man International Tiebreak Game 2: A Sicilian Sacrifice from Chess on

The two then went to Armageddon, where a coin flip determined Wojtaszek would receive White and five minutes against Naiditsch's Black, four minutes, and draw odds (no increment for either player until after move 60). There was no time like the present for the eventual winner to play his best game of the day.

"The final game was fine I think," Wojtaszek said, comparing it to the low level of the first two.

"In the playoff, it matters who wants it more," the winner said. "And I think I was simply the guy."

"I matched the level of Alina, so there were no other options!" he said. 

Here's the Armageddon game and Wojtaszek's winner's interview:

Watch 2018 Isle of Man International Tiebreak: Armageddon from Chess on

Previous to all of the drama of the extra session, the same two players had a relatively uneventful draw on board one. Naiditsch's piece sac was merely a means to an end since the repetition that followed was forced.

There were three others on 6.0/8 to begin the day, but none could win to attempt to make his way into a playoff. Jeffery Xiong and Gawain Jones on board two had to be decisive, which it wasn't, and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave needed to beat Alexander Grischuk as Black, and he even lost in the attempt.

Amazingly, Grischuk pointed out that despite all of their games together, this was the first decisive result they've ever had! But that's not all. Perhaps even more unlikely was another stat he offered: Of all the top-10 players here, this was the first and only game between two of them!


Alexander Grischuk, giving a candid interview to Fiona Steil-Antoni. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

As for the decisive result, it helped that they both fancied a win so much. MVL needed one for a chance at first, but Grischuk also needed a full point for real money.

"[In order to get] some prize position, I needed to win today," Grischuk said, adding that many of his decisions he regarded as aggressive. 

Dejan Bojkov


Grischuk and MVL analyzing their game—the nice and old habit of post-mortems is still quite common at this event. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Grischuk lamented the tournament ending, explaining that many of his battles were short and he felt like things were just getting going.

"I feel very strange that the tournament has finished," he said, adding that he's played the equivalent of only about three games and the top players mostly never faced off.

"It's like making 100 meters distance in cycling, or in Formula 1, one kilometer," he said.

Grischuk also revealed that he's not current with technology, so we won't be seeing him stream any time soon. He explained that having both Viber and Whatsapp on his phone was already a new experience for him, and came reluctantly.

Here's Kashlinskaya's brilliant end to her brilliant tournament. She didn't need to score at all today against Sam Sevian for her norm, but she won anyway on her 25th birthday.

It's her first GM norm. You'd think she would be carefully checking, but no. She explained that others had to tell her she'd earned it yesterday.

Today she admitted to a devil-may-care attitude after he piece sac since it was her birthday. No matter, that sort of serenity worked out just fine:


Kashlinskaya vs Sevian in the final round. | Photo: John Saunders.

Kashlinskaya earned £7,000 for the top women's prize. That means her family's net haul was a clean £45,000. She said it was "definitely" the best family result they've had as a couple.

"I have no explanation what happened here to me, honestly," Kashlinskaya said. "I have this feeling that some strong guys here are playing weaker against me!"

Alexandra Kosteniuk finished second among all of the ladies.

In other action, Vladimir Kramnik and Hikaru Nakamura both finished well despite being mathematically eliminated from first place before the day began. They both became a part of the seven-way tie for second place on 6.5/9.

Kramnik beat Alexey Shirov in a Berlin, despite the Spaniard having the board's lone passed pawn. It was the 57th classical game in their career, and Kramnik made the score 16 to 12 with 29 draws.

null Another meeting between two giants of chess in the autumn of their careers. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Nakamura played one of the longest games of the day but eventually converted his extra piece against 2016 champion Pavel Eljanov.

2018 Isle of Man International | Final Standings (6.0 or more points)

Rk. Title Name FED Rtg TB1
1 GM Wojtaszek Radoslaw* 2727 7,0
1 GM Naiditsch Arkadij 2721 7,0
3 GM Kramnik Vladimir 2779 6,5
3 GM Grischuk Alexander 2769 6,5
3 GM Nakamura Hikaru 2763 6,5
3 GM Wang Hao 2722 6,5
3 GM Jones Gawain C B 2677 6,5
3 GM Adhiban B. 2668 6,5
3 GM Xiong Jeffery 2656 6,5
10 GM Giri Anish 2780 6,0
10 GM Vachier-Lagrave Maxime 2780 6,0
10 GM Anand Viswanathan 2771 6,0
10 GM Karjakin Sergey 2760 6,0
10 GM Rapport Richard 2725 6,0
10 GM Le Quang Liem 2715 6,0
10 GM Vidit Santosh Gujrathi 2711 6,0
10 GM Artemiev Vladislav 2706 6,0
10 GM Almasi Zoltan 2702 6,0
10 GM Leko Peter 2690 6,0
10 GM Howell David W L 2689 6,0
10 GM Sethuraman S.P. 2673 6,0
10 GM Kovalev Vladislav 2664 6,0
10 GM Melkumyan Hrant 2660 6,0
10 GM Sutovsky Emil 2633 6,0
10 GM Parligras Mircea-Emilian 2623 6,0
10 GM Ganguly Surya Shekhar 2622 6,0
10 GM Fridman Daniel 2600 6,0
10 IM Kashlinskaya Alina** 2447 6,0

*Won in playoff.
**Top female.

Full standings here.

Watch Isle of Man, Final Round from Chess on

The 2018 Isle of Man International was a nine-round Swiss from October 20-28. The host site was the Villa Marina and the tournament was generously sponsored by the Scheinberg Family. Live coverage was shown at and

Radek Wojtaszek Alina Kashlinskaya Isle of Man

A great payday for Radek Wojtaszek and Alina Kashlinskaya in Isle of Man. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/


Wojtaszek's name added to the Isle of Man cup. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Radek Wojtaszek Isle of Man prize giving

In his winner's speech, Wojtaszek thanked his wife for her support, and promised he would defend his title next year. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Arkadij Naiditsch Isle of Man

Arkadij Naiditsch, the runner-up after losing the playoff. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/


Places 3-10 together (left-right): Vladimir Kramnik, Hikaru Nakamura, Wang Hao, Baskaran Adhiban, Jeffery Xiong, Gawain Jones, Alexander Grischuk and organizer Alan Ormsby. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/


Places 11-28 together: too many to mention! | Photo: Maria Emelianova/


Alina Kashlinskaya receiving the top women's prize... | Photo: Maria Emelianova/


...and winning a GM norm! | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Alexandra Kosteniuk Isle of Man

Alexandra Kosteniuk was the runner-up among the women. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/


Alan Ormsby with the women's third-prize winners (tied): Soumya Swaminathan (IM norm!), Nino Batsiashvili,  Munguntuul Batkhuyag, Jovi Houska, Elisabeth Paehtz, Irina Bulmaga. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/


Karjakin and Kramnik, and a funny photo moment for Giri. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/


The winning couple was among several masters who signed a chessboard for Isai Scheinberg, the main sponsor of the event. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

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