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Eljanov Wins Isle Of Man, Beats Caruana On Tiebreak

Eljanov Wins Isle Of Man, Beats Caruana On Tiebreak

Two very different final rounds produced the same ending score. When the day's play ceased, GMs Pavel Eljanov and Fabiano Caruana tied for first place in the 2016 Chess.com Isle of Man International.

Due to progressive tiebreaks, Eljanov won the first place trophy and the title. The two men each take home £9,000.

GM Pavel Eljanov holding the winner's cup.

Eljanov, who's had at least a share of the lead for the final week, didn't have to work much at all today. GM Wesley So, celebrating his 23rd birthday, couldn't make any headway on board one. Eljanov used less than eight minutes, even when accounting for increment.

Just as he had done for much of event, he celebrated afterward at dinner with GMs Peter Leko and Salem Saleh, but his inspiration may have been his star teammate from the Olympiad, who gave him the kind of malady all chess players want:

The half-point for the Ukrainian prevented a handful of players from reaching his total of 7.5/9. Only one player still had hope. That was Caruana.

In this case, "hope" only meant he could reach that score, not that his position looked promising. But true to his manager's speculation, Caruana pulled out the full point from a position where he mostly tried to avoid losing.

GM Fabiano Caruana is closing the ratings distance between him and GM Magnus Carlsen.

"I didn't expect the Berlin," Caruana said (unlike many round-robins, the oft-reviled opening was a rarity in Isle of Man).

"He's so resilient," manager IM Lawrence Trent said. "He's so hard to beat."

"I don't seem to be losing many games, despite the horrible positions I seem to be getting in most games," Caruana said.

GM Fabiano Caruana and manager IM Lawrence Trent discuss where GM Michael Adams could have improved his play.

Unlike other large open events, like the Gibraltar Chess Festival, there is no playoff here in Isle of Man. You might think with all monies split players may not care, but not so.

"I think a playoff is by far the best," Caruana said. "I don't understand why a tournament would not have a playoff. It's the most fair ... I would love to play a playoff."

In some ways, his loss on tiebreaks is the chess universe leveling things. Less than one month ago, nail-biting tiebreaks narrowly gave Caruana's U.S.A. squad gold over Eljanov's Ukrainian team.

Caruana's 2900+ performance rating added 10 points to his rating—not an easy thing to do in an open event as a 2810. Eljanov reached #16 in the live ratings, and he's more than halved the margin between his current rating and his peak, set last year.

In sole third is GM Arkadij Naiditsch, who definitely went for it as Black. He played the King's Indian Defense and faced the early-h3 system, which has made numerous appearances here.

"He doesn't like being attacked; he doesn't want tactical positions," said commentator GM Simon Williams of the choice. "The is a brave decision by Arkadij."

The on-again, off-again Super-GM is back on! GM Arkadij Naiditsch's 15-point gain puts him over 2700 again.

White's king never found shelter, and after GM Maxim Rodshtein missed an in-between move, it was all over.

White didn't want to face two consecutive double-checks:

So ended in a tie for fourth with GMs Alexei Shirov, Salem Saleh, and David Howell. Shirov held a "good knight vs bad bishop" ending, but more impressive was the study-like draw he found at the end:

The most sparkling game of the round was unmistakable. The world's youngest-ever IM, R. Praggnanandhaa, tore apart a 2600 as Black in fewer than 20 moves. This is the one that puts the kid on the world stage:

"Double Anand" has a little more than one year to break GM Sergey Karjakin's all-time record for becoming the youngest GM in history.

IM R. Praggnanandhaa's calculation was on full display today.

Who would step up and win the woman's top prize of £3,500? Three women sat on 5.0/8 going into the round, but only GM Harika Dronavalli was able to add to that. She needed only 30 minutes to find a repetition against GM Sergei Movsesian.

The two women tied with her both lost; one of these was GM Hou Yifan.

GM Harika Dronavalli (left) had nothing like the day that GM Hou Yifan had.

The lack of scoring amongst the top group of women allowed three others to win to also get to 5.5/9 and share the top honors: GM Anna Ushenina, and IMs Nino Batsiashvili, and Tania Sachdev. There are also some rating-category prizes in play, so their final paydays are still being determined.

One woman who went all-out to join the massive tie was WIM Yuliya Schvayger. She didn't quite get there, but it wasn't for a lack of trying. Check out her decision making early on—She was not content with a peaceful game!

Schvayger's husband is Naiditsch. While they won't both be taking home large paychecks, she did get something special in its place, an IM norm (actually earned before the round even began). That's her third, and she's 2400, so while he got the money, she got the title!

GM Oleg Romanishin might have felt like he was playing GM Mikhail Tal instead of WIM Yuliya Schvayger. But wait, Romanishin was 7-3 against Tal and could only draw this game!

Others hunting for norms:

  • IM John Paul Wallace lost today, but he had already clinched his GM norm last round.
  • Sharma Hemant of India earned a second IM norm last round as well.
  • WGM Altan-Ulzii Enkhtuul, FM Kostya Kavutskiy, and FM Alan Merry all needed a draw for an IM norm, but all three lost.

Also today GM Peter Leko came on the live show and told many stories about his event. He explained that this was his first open with a classical time control since 1992 in Australia when he was 13! Back then, he met Wallace, who he remembered to be a "very serious player."

Well, yesterday it was Wallace's masterful defense and eventual draw that clinched his GM norm against Leko!

Leko (5.5/9) said he wants to play more after his relative inactivity over the last two years. He said he has to figure out a style that will work in opens.

"When I saw the way Anand played in Gibraltar, I felt sorry for him, but now I know how he felt!" Leko said.

GM Hikaru Nakamura could only draw for the second day in a row. He ended in a tie for eighth.

Chess.com Isle of Man | Final Standings

Rk. SNo Fed Title Name Rtg TB1 Rp rtg+/-
1 1 GM Caruana, Fabiano 2813 7,5 2908 10,4
2 5 GM Eljanov, Pavel 2741 7,5 2880 15,5
3 10 GM Naiditsch, Arkadij 2684 7 2834 14,9
4 2 GM So, Wesley 2794 6,5 2767 -0,4
5 11 GM Shirov, Alexei 2679 6,5 2766 9,5
6 16 GM Salem, A.R. Saleh 2650 6,5 2673 6,4
7 21 GM Howell, David W L 2644 6,5 2723 11
8 3 GM Nakamura, Hikaru 2787 6 2695 -8,3
9 4 GM Adams, Michael 2745 6 2723 -1,5
10 8 GM Rodshtein, Maxim 2687 6 2759 9,4
11 9 GM Vidit, Santosh Gujrathi 2686 6 2700 2,6
12 13 GM Fressinet, Laurent 2676 6 2635 -4
13 14 GM Sargissian, Gabriel 2670 6 2639 -2,6
14 18 GM Granda Zuniga, Julio E 2648 6 2619 -2,1
15 22 GM Grandelius, Nils 2642 6 2730 11,6
16 25 GM L'ami, Erwin 2605 6 2616 2,7
17 27 GM Lenderman, Aleksandr 2593 6 2567 -1,6
18 31 GM Brunello, Sabino 2566 6 2621 8,2
19 32 GM Aravindh, Chithambaram Vr. 2564 6 2562 0,8
20 6 GM Leko, Peter 2709 5,5 2545 -16,2
21 7 GM Wang Hao 2701 5,5 2381 -20,8
22 12 GM Movsesian, Sergei 2677 5,5 2629 -4,6
23 15 GM Melkumyan, Hrant 2653 5,5 2536 -10,9
24 19 GM Meier, Georg 2648 5,5 2506 -15,1
25 23 GM Gupta, Abhijeet 2626 5,5 2574 -4,6
26 24 GM Van Foreest, Jorden 2615 5,5 2630 3,3
27 26 GM Bok, Benjamin 2594 5,5 2668 9,9
28 28 GM Lalith, Babu M R 2586 5,5 2467 -11,4
29 29 GM Donchenko, Alexander 2581 5,5 2520 -5,8
30 35 GM Sunilduth, Lyna Narayanan 2536 5,5 2650 14,7
31 36 GM Harika Dronavalli 2528 5,5 2650 15,4
32 37 GM Vishnu, Prasanna. V 2522 5,5 2548 3,8
33 38 GM Schroeder, Jan-Christian 2514 5,5 2566 7
34 44 IM Batsiashvili, Nino 2480 5,5 2549 9,1
35 45 IM Puranik, Abhimanyu 2471 5,5 2500 4,9
36 48 GM Ushenina, Anna 2459 5,5 2384 -6,1
37 50 IM Lou Yiping 2458 5,5 2555 12,6
38 54 IM Praggnanandhaa, R 2442 5,5 2529 12
39 55 GM Sundararajan, Kidambi 2429 5,5 2503 10,4
40 62 IM Tania, Sachdev 2414 5,5 2533 16,9
41 74 IM Wallace, John Paul 2355 5,5 2639 31,9

(Full final standings here.)

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