4 Leaders Draw In Isle Of Man; 3 Others Catch Up
"The principal mark of genius is not perfection but originality, the opening of new frontiers," the writer Arthur Koestler once opined.
In round four of the 2017 Chess.com Isle of Man International, the four leading GMs all lost their perfection, although at least one showed originality right from the first move.
Despite the game ending in a draw, GM Magnus Carlsen opened with the Nimzowitsch Defense. No, not the "Nimzo" that is more commonly played -- here we are talking about 1. e4 Nc6! GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov told Chess.com that he was not expecting to be able to guess Carlsen's opening in their first-ever classical matchup, but he likely didn't expect the novel approach to come on move one.
GM Magnus Carlsen "fakes" a center pawn move. He's been unpredictable so far as Black. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Even board two offered a bit of a new approach, at least for the man who played it. While GM Aleksandr Lenderman went 2-0 against GM Pavel Eljanov a few weeks ago at the World Cup, today the Ukrainian ditched his Dutch (he was no longer in a "must-win" game) but he did play an opening he'd only played once before, the Queen's Gambit Accepted.
Despite the new frontiers on the top boards, the twin draws meant that no player remains with a perfect score. Of the 19 other players on 2.5/3, only three managed to win to ascend to the top score group: GM Laurent Fressinet, GM Julio Granda Zuniga, and GM Vidit Santosh Gujrathi.
For one GM, you might say that not winning was just fine. GM Nigel Short was one of the many on 2.5 who drew. As he explained, this leaves him in a nice "sweet spot" of score groups between Carlsen's big score and GM Vladimir Kramnik's underperforming score. That's quite the wily veteran move!
GM Nigel Short, perhaps showing that there's a middle ground of score groups he's aiming for! | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Moving back to board one to open the action, Carlsen again arrived late for the second round in a row. Kasimdzhanov opened with his king's pawn and waited. About four minutes into the round, Carlsen rushed in and quickly apologized to Kasimdzhanov. Then, as GM Richard Rapport did
GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov had never played Carlsen in classical, and for the first few minutes, it wasn't certain he'd get his chance. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Kasimdzhanov spoke with Chess.com after the game about his first-ever experience playing Carlsen, and his relationship and preparation with GM Fabiano Caruana.
The draw keeps Kasimdzhanov out of the same score group as his famous student, who also drew today, but not before a quick security check...
"I dub thee, 'world champion candidate'?" IM and FA Jack Rudd
On board two, Lenderman tried to beat a man 150-plus points higher for the third time in the same month. He did achieve a better position against Eljanov, and after some
Chess.com spoke with Lenderman after the game about his fantastic month of chess:
With those top four all failing to win, that meant the giant
After an early innovation and pawn offering in the Cambridge Springs Variation, GM Hikaru Nakamura tried for more than six hours to
GM Hikaru Nakamura looks away from the board as he tries to conjure winning chances. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Nakamura told Chess.com afterward that his eighth move he'd played before.
Three players on 2.5/3 broke the trend, with two of them taking out leading ladies. Vidit beat GM Benjamin Bok, Fressinet beat GM Harika Dronavalli, and Grand Zuniga beat IM Jovanka Houska.
Of those three winners, the Frenchman's game stood out. Why? He had to break down nearly the exact same pawn and piece structure as Carlsen did against GM Jeffery Xiong yesterday. Recall that in round three Xiong had the pitiful formation of Be6 surrounded by pawns on d5, f5, and f7. Today, Dronavalli suffered the same. The pawns form a sort of
GM Laurent Fressinet, now on 3.5/4. Is he on pace to play his sometimes boss, GM Magnus Carlsen? Not this round -- the Frenchman took a bye. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Here's Vidit's win, which was rich with lines but almost became a snoozer. Bok at first seemed to want to repeat with Ng5 and Nf3, in the way that many Closed Spanish early draws have occurred in history. Luckily for chess fans, that didn't happen. Unlucky for Bok though.
As for Kramnik, his two tournament losses earlier severely handicap his chances of qualifying for the Candidates' Tournament on
GM Vladimir Kramnik on board 50!? No, the picture was not Photoshopped -- there are not any wires coming out of his board. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
When the game ended, he automatically placed the two kings on e4 and d5, signifying a White win.
For Kramnik, old habits die hard. | Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com.
There was just one problem: he wasn't on a DGT board! One trusts he will be back there soon, and even if not, he is paired against IM Lawrence Trent in round five, who will surely Tweet the recap of the entire game.
Next up for GM Vladimir Kramnik: the Sith Lord, IM Lawrence Trent. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
GM Hou Yifan's string of female opponents will come to an end in round five. The world's best female chess player took matters into her own hands. After playing her fourth consecutive woman on Tuesday (a win against WGM Yuliya Schvayger), Hou elected to take a half-point bye in round five.
With all the discussion circulating about the unlikely pattern, two
"It's a pretty wild thing to happen," Smerdon said. But not impossible. To put the
A question for GM David Smerdon (left): Were the odds of you drawing GM Magnus Carlsen at the Olympiad greater or less than the other odds you calculated? | Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com.
The two big underdogs that made headlines in round three had a bit of synchronicity the following round. After GM James Tarjan and IM Nino Batsiashvilli both beat former world champions (Kramnik and Hou, respectively), both went back a few decades in their opening choice. A pair of Two Knights Defenses came from the duo!
IM Nino Batsiashvilli (right) seems to play her best against top-flight opposition. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Batsiashvilli rose to the challenge again, drawing 2700+ GM Francisco Vallejo. Tarjan almost made it another day to
Unfortunately for Chessbrahs fans, IM Aman Hambleton hasn't been able to crack the DGT boards during any of his games. Today he drew an IM, but with a lackluster tournament thus far, that doesn't mean Hambleton and GM Eric Hansen don't have a lot to say. Chess.com caught up with the streamers in the skittles room.
You can find the full round five pairings here.
2017 Chess.com Isle of Man International | Round 4 Standings, Top 35
|12||GM||Vidit Santosh Gujrathi||2702||3,5|
|27||GM||Granda Zuniga Julio E||2653||3,5|
|14||GM||Short Nigel D||2698||3|
|23||GM||Jones Gawain C B||2668||3|
|55||GM||Swapnil S. Dhopade||2532||3|
The Chess.com 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 Chess.com/TV with commentators GM Simon Williams and WIM Fiona Steil-Antoni.
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