Father-Daughter Dance In Isle Of Man Opener

Father-Daughter Dance In Isle Of Man Opener

| 14 | Chess Event Coverage

Here's a surprising stat: The Isle of Man International began with as many top-10 players (three) as the Tal Memorial did.

There are 25 GMs who've cleared 2600, prompting tournament organizer Alan Ormsby to say that the tournament is catching up to Open tournaments like Gibraltar and Aeroflot in depth of field.

The top three superstars that flew to the spit of land in the Irish Sea had little trouble at the opener in this third edition of the tournament. Gold-medalist-teammates-turned-competitors Fabiano Caruana, Wesley So, and Hikaru Nakamura all won on the top three board. They also each played a female opponent.

The top three boards were 50 percent female. From bottom to top: GM Hikaru Nakamura vs. GM Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant; GM Fabiano Caruana vs. IM Jovanka Houska; WGM Marina Brunello vs. GM Wesley So.

While the women are well represented, one conspicuous absence are the Russians. There are non-present. Instead, here's the top players that boarded tiny planes into the island's only airstrip. All but two of these players began with a win.

No. Fed Title Name Rtg
1 GM Caruana, Fabiano 2813
2 GM So, Wesley 2794
3 GM Nakamura, Hikaru 2787
4 GM Adams, Michael 2745
5 GM Eljanov, Pavel 2741
6 GM Leko, Peter 2709
7 GM Wang Hao 2701
8 GM Rodshtein, Maxim 2687
9 GM Vidit Santosh Gujrathi 2686
10 GM Naiditsch, Arkadij 2684
11 GM Shirov, Alexei 2679
12 GM Movsesian, Sergei 2677
13 GM Fressinet, Laurent 2676
14 GM Sargissian, Gabriel 2670
15 GM Melkumyan, Hrant 2653
16 GM Salem, A.R. Saleh 2650
17 GM Hou Yifan 2649
18 GM Granda Zuniga, Julio E 2648
19 GM Meier, Georg 2648
20 GM Bachmann, Axel 2645
21 GM Howell, David W L 2644
22 GM Grandelius, Nils 2642
23 GM Gupta, Abhijeet 2626
24 GM Van Foreest, Jorden 2615
25 GM L'Ami, Erwin 2605

"I'm really just looking forward to the Americans beating each other," commentator GM Simon Williams said. He will have to wait a few rounds for that.

Today GM Peter Leko drew untitled 2300 Harsha Barathakoti (one of the 25+ strong Indian contingent). That looked to be the only eye-opener of the day, if you can forgot for a second Leko's proclivity toward that result.

But as the sixth hour of play came to close, German GM Thomas Paehtz survived his cramped position long enough to engineer a stunning counterattack against 2700-GM Wang Hao.

Games via TWIC.

That proved to be the exclamation mark on a good day for the family. Longtime German number-one woman IM Elisabeth Paehtz, the daughter of Thomas who out-rates him by 100 points, won her own marathon game. It actually lasted longer than her fathers.

Elisabeth kept walking over to her father's board so she was apprised of the pressure he was under. When he finished, she was still playing and couldn't believe the news.

"I was so surprised that he won," she said. Elisabeth though Wang Hao was playing too quickly and trying to win on the clock and the board against his older opponent.

"If you stick a finger in a old lion's mouth, he's still a lion," GM Mihail Marin joked.

GM Wang Hao overpressed against the elder of the Paehtz duo and paid the price.

IM Elisabeth Paehtz, together with her father, makes up the "rare" father-daughter combo, as opposed to the plentiful couples playing in Isle of Man. | Photo: Harry Gielen.

Besides the Paehtz checkmates, another woman made a mark today. OK, it wasn't just any woman, it is the woman in the chess world, and she played an actual mate.

GM Hou Yifan intentionally severed the connection between her queen+bishop battery and her knight. Then, without equalizing the material, she offered a second, then a third piece! Despite the 0-3 result for the ladies on the featured boards, it's safe to say that Hou Yifan's electric game made up for that.

GM Hou Yifan noticed that all of her opponent's pieces were on the wrong side of the board to defend the king.

Surely queen sacrifices are more common than three-minor-piece offerings.

Back to the top trio, a rare tactic was performed in an already-winning position by Nakamura. Despite Wikipedia claiming most of Isle of Man's windmills are defunct, the third seed (when was the last time Nakamura was ranked third in an open?) played a mini-windmill to help close things out.

Just wait until he finds out that the island hosts the world's largest waterwheel

Scotland tried to get its U.K. revenge one board lower, as another surprising result could have been turned in by FM Alan Tate. After flying to neutral territory, he almost drew the top English player, GM Michael Adams.

GM Michael Adams: Can I calculate long king-and-pawn endings? Why yes, yes I can.

But instead of playing out a long but equal queen ending, Tate voted to Brexit a little too early and mistakenly entered a complicated but losing king-and-pawn ending.

We close with a nifty desperado. GM Laurent Fressinet, part of the small two-player French delegation at IOM, made three straight captures with a mighty bishop. It was en prise the whole time, yet it survived to team up for a mating attack.

Several of the top seeds remarked today that they don't remember the last woman they played who was not named Hou Yifan. Well, So will play his second in two days as he faces world number-10 GM Harika Dronavalli. That's just one of seven all-GM matchups on the top seven boards.

Here's some interviews with players about their experiences thus far. There's also one with a leading opponent of the decision to host the Women's World Championship in Iran.

You can follow all the action at the tournament's first-ever live show on Coverage begins at 1:30 p.m. local time each day (8:30 a.m. New York; 3:30 p.m. Moscow) for the next eight days. Commentators GM Simon Williams and WIM Fiona Steil-Antoni will banter for five to seven hours each day. The time control is a leisurely 40/100, 20/50, SD/15 with 30-second increment from move one.

For those that took the "over" on the over/under of 20 minutes before the "Ginger GM" Simon Williams mentioned "Harry the h-pawn," you lost money today.

Here's the full pairings for round two.

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