Eljanov Wins; Vidit, Caruana, Rodshtein All Circling Like Sharks
GM Alexei Shirov came back to the board today after his round-five rest, but the break ended his mojo. After winning four straight to start the Chess.com Isle of Man International, yesterday's bye didn't help him stay on form against GM Pavel Eljanov.
Eljanov's clean win on board one put him all alone on 5.5/6 with three rounds to go. Now the heavyweights are about to face off.
It took almost one week, but there's finally one sole leader in Isle of Man—GM Pavel Eljanov.
GM Fabiano Caruana continued his creep back to board one, but he still didn't quite get there for tomorrow's game. After unexpected draws in rounds three and four, Caruana won for the second day in a row with a clever queen sacrifice after which his lone remaining piece would rule the board.
Still, they won't face off Friday afternoon as many expected (including Caruana) from the pairings program. Instead GM Santosh Vidit gets Eljanov, while Caruana takes GM Maxim Rodshtein on board two. Those two boards will go a long way to deciding who will win the £12,000 first prize. Keeping a keen eye on the marquee matchups will be everyone else, most especially the octet that is a further half-point back.
GM Santosh Vidit (right) is back leading the Indian delegation after beating GM Max Illingworth.
Eljanov turned the tables today on his own history. The system with 1.Nf3, 2 g3, 3.Bg2, 4.h3 was used against him by GM Anish Giri this year in Shamkir, Azerbaijan. Today he decided to use the understated weapon himself by reversing the colors.
"Maybe Alexei wasn't really that prepared in this line," Eljanov said, explaining that he struggled in that previous game.
"Today, I wanted to check it as White!"
Unlike Eljanov against Giri, Shirov ceded the bishop pair after being kicked, but then Black made a more grievous error according to Eljanov. The lost tempo that came with 6...e6 and then 10...e5 was nearly unrecoverable.
GM Alexei Shirov lost a tempo, and that was all his opponent needed.
Eljanov went further by saying that by move 18 he was just winning after his the simple play.
"I have two bishops, and Black has a lot of weaknesses. From a practical point of view, it's very hard to defend such positions."
Games via TWIC.
"Maybe it wasn't the best day from Alexei's point of view," Eljanov concluded.
Caruana could have trailed by a full point and not met the leader in round seven, but for a far-from-obvious mis-step by the women's world champion. GM Hou Yifan's errant queen placement allowed for a winsome win by the field's only 2800.
Nearly everyone has a nemesis, and the loss puts Hou Yifan's career record against Caruana at 0-6 in decisive games.
Here's a few more thoughts by Caruana on his event.
Two more players go to sleep tonight knowing that they only trail by one half-point—Rodshtein and Vidit.
The young Indian player contested quite an original game against Australia's newest grandmaster, Max Illingworth, who Chess.com interviewed yesterday after his win.
Today Illingworth wasn't as fortunate. Black's mobile center pawns needed to infiltrate White's king before his collapsed queenside proved fatal, and Vidit did just that.
Yesterday's hero, GM Jorden van Foreest, who is being universally praised (by among others, Caruana), played an unorthodox double-finachetto setup but could not survive the multi-pronged attack by Rodshtein. The open c- and g-files provided too many invasion squares for Black to cover them all.
In the only other game between those with four points, GM Benjamin Bok continued to impress by holding a draw against GM Wesley So in a mostly-correct game.
GM Wesley So was back in the sidesaddle today.
Chess.com caught up with Bok after the game:
Among the other games, the most impressive came from GM David Howell.
England's Olympiad captain, IM Malcolm Pein, (right) showed up today and got great delight seeing GM David Howell's game, as he was likely telling GM Nils Grandelius here.
Does it count as a miniature if you win in 21 moves, but you toggled randomly for two of them? Whether 19 or 21 moves, it was certainly a crush.
Getting back on track was IM Lawrence Trent, who forced resignation in the first time control and continued the hard day for the Dutch team (GM Erwin l'Ami also went down). We will present the game without comment, then allow you to tell Trent how you feel about his effort.
As he has been doing all event, Trent invited his followers to comment on his play with first-and-last-letter-parameters.
The move 12.Ne5 in my game today can best be described as a pile of something beginning with g and ending in e— Lawrence Trent ( @LawrenceTrentIM) October 6, 2016
Now that you've seen his game, feel free to join in the banter. GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave went with an avocado theme.
Finally, GM Hikaru Nakamura kept his slim title hopes alive by beating IM Elisabeth Paehtz. It has probably been quite some time since he was to be found on board 15.
IM Elisabeth Paehtz and GM Hou Yifan are also thinking about nabbing the top female prize. Here Paehtz steals a peek of her rival's game. Both women lost today to the world's elite.
Chess.com Isle of Man | Round 6 Standings
|4||9||GM||Vidit Santosh Gujrathi||2686||5||7,9|
|9||16||GM||Salem, A.R. Saleh||2650||4,5||4,3|
|10||21||GM||Howell, David W L||2644||4,5||3,9|
|21||24||GM||Van Foreest, Jorden||2615||4||9|
|24||32||GM||Aravindh Chithambaram Vr.||2564||4||-6,4|
|26||35||GM||Sunilduth Lyna Narayanan||2536||4||8,5|
|30||71||Hemant, Sharma (del)||2371||4||28,8|
|31||74||IM||Wallace, John Paul||2355||4||21,1|