Harikrishna Wins On Tibreaks At Isle Of Man

Harikrishna Wins On Tibreaks At Isle Of Man

| 11 | Chess Event Coverage

Indian GM Pentala Harikrishna's mantra at the 2015 PokerStars Isle of Man International was simple: just win. Like any good chant, he repeated it early and often until drawing his final two to close with 7.0/9 and the title on tiebreaks.

[Update: GM Bojkov analysis added]

He beat out a field comprising 36 GMs last week (on an island only 33 miles wide!). Also on 7.0/9 and earning the same £6,000 were French GM Laurent Fressinet and Armenian GM Gabriel Sargissian.

The key win from Harikrishna came in round seven when he took out GM Arkadij Naiditsch. The win allowed him to cruise into the title.

GM Pentala Harikrishna, winner of the 2015 Isle of Man Tournament, also proved he's not bad at poker (all photos courtesy official site and Mickey May).

The new Azeri GM looked to be doing well, having survived the assault on his king and getting ready to advance his protected passers. That's when Harikrishna caught White's knight in a vice and it curiously could not escape.

Analysis by GM Dejan Bojkov:

In the final round, GM Nigel Short had a chance to get into the winner's circle but couldn't get passed Harikrishna even with the white pieces. His draw finished him a half-point back in a tie for fourth with countryman GM David Howell.

Earlier in the tournament, Harikrishna beat several other GMs, kicked off by this one over his countryman in round two. See if you can find how he went from a pawn deficit to a pawn advantage:

Not to pour salt in a man's wounds, but Naiditsch lost another important game in the final round. As Short was falling short in his comeback attempt, Fressinet needed to win as Black to catch Harikrishna.

One of the many side events: Your material odds against WGM Jennifer Shahade depended on where the roulette wheel landed!

The frequent Magnus Carlsen helper did just that by simple yet elegant methods: White's pieces had entirely abandoned the kingside, so Black naturally threw all of his pieces there, offering two of them to force mate.

Of Sargissian's five victories (all men on 7.0 had five wins and four draws), one included a game versus a player that became a grandmaster seven years before the Armenian was born! The man thirty years the junior got the best of this one:

Simply an enjoyable effort was's frequent contributor GM Simon Williams, who clearly still had energy on the final day. His final game featured six queens! Although he came out on the short end, it's highly likely we'll see this one in a future "Spicey Games" video on

WGM/IM Jovanka Houska took top female honors with 5.5/9.

Finishing in a large tie for sixth included young talents IM Jorden Foreest and GM Francesco Rombaldi

Curiously, many players mentioned in this report flew immediately to Malta for a ten-player round-robin tournament being filmed for television ( is on site and will give a report later). Naiditsch, Short, and Houska all flew to the Mediterranean island nation immediately afterward, as did two other players from Isle of Man: GM Tiger Hillarp-Persson and WGM/IM Elisabeth Paetz. (Short got off to a fast start, even allowing him to sneak back into the top 50 at age 50!).

(Left to right) WGM/IM Jovanka Houska, GM Tiger Hillarp-Persson and GM Nigel Short prepare for their games in Malta. There's no reliable internet in the rooms, so the pool deck is also the study hall!

The tournament also included some poker of course. Prior to the chess event, GM Michael Adams pocketed £1,165 by finishing second out of 34 in a chess and poker combo event (Harikrishna also finished in the money in fifth place). Players earned chips with their chess acument, which surely helped the main event's top-seed.

2015 PokerStars Isle of Man International | Final Standings (Top 16)

Rank Name Score Fed. Rating TPR
1 GM Harikrishna, P. 7 IND 2737 2811
2 GM Fressinet, Laurent 7 FRA 2702 2815
3 GM Sargissian, Gabriel 7 ARM 2679 2808
4 GM Howell, David W L 6.5 ENG 2705 2720
5 GM Short, Nigel D 6.5 ENG 2678 2759
6 GM Adams, Michael 6 ENG 2742 2658
7 GM Naiditsch, Arkadij 6 AZE 2682 2717
8 GM Granda Zuniga, Julio E 6 PER 2667 2700
9 GM Movsesian, Sergei 6 ARM 2658 2715
10 GM L'Ami, Erwin 6 NED 2619 2641
11 GM Donchenko, Alexander 6 GER 2577 2616
12 GM Brunello, Sabino 6 ITA 2553 2573
13 IM Van Foreest, Jorden 6 NED 2548 2604
14 GM Rambaldi, Francesco 6 ITA 2547 2620
15 GM Hillarp Persson, Tiger 6 SWE 2546 2603
16 IM Swayams, Mishra 6 IND 2444 2607
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