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12-Year-Old Praggnanandhaa Defeats 2700-GM David Howell In Isle Of Man
Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa concentrating against GM David Howell. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com

12-Year-Old Praggnanandhaa Defeats 2700-GM David Howell In Isle Of Man

Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa is the youngest IM in history, earning the title at only 10 years of age. Last year at the Chess.com Isle of Man International, he made headlines by defeating GM Axel Bachmann as Black in only 18 moves. This year, he achieved another milestone, defeating his first 2700 grandmaster, David Howell, in a rook endgame.

Praggnandhaa hopes to become the youngest grandmaster in history, besting Sergey Karjakin's record of 12 years and 7 months. He has already earned the required rating of 2500, but he still needs three norms by March 10, 2018. His win here puts him in good shape so far. Norway's premier chess reporter estimates that he likely needs 2.5/4 to conclude the tournament.

Returning to the larger scope of round six at the Isle of Man, the pairings have become easy, at least on the premier board.

Both GM Magnus Carlsen and returning champion GM Pavel Eljanov won today, so their paths necessarily intersect tomorrow. They are the only players on 4.5/5 since board three didn't produce a winner.

Luckily Eljanov is so affable -- when asked after his game by Chess.com his career record against Carlsen, which this reporter had yet to research, Eljanov didn't feel like he was being trolled.

He answered honestly: it isn't great. Tomorrow Eljanov will try to reverse the five losses in five games that the world champion has inflicted in their head-to-head series.

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The unconventional openings from Black continued today, as GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov (left) played the Alekhine against GM Pavel Eljanov. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Carlsen will stay on board one, where he's been all event, thanks to one of his better games. After a Petroff by GM Julio Granda Zuniga, the Norwegian accepted a typical isolated queen pawn position, but had to decide which piece to put at the front of the light-square missile.

Recall that in a different IQP game earlier in the event, GM Nils Grandelius blew his opponent away by switching from the norm and placing his queen in front. Today Carlsen went for the quicker but less venomous version -- bishop first, which ultimately did not impress him.

Speaking to Chess.com, he said that 19...Nf6 was Granda's critical mistake. 

"I think I overestimated my position early on," Carlsen said. "Maybe I should have stuck to the standard plan of Bc2 then Qd3, because what I went for with the bishop on h7 was perhaps not quite as promising as I thought. Then he quite quickly went astray."

"I like the underdog story and everything," Carlsen said about GM James Tarjan's win over GM Vladimir Kramnik earlier in the event (which the world champion characterized as more of a loss for Kramnik due to his blunder.)

But he doesn't like the underdog story that much. He prefers his current predicament: "I did that when I was young. I'm happy to play the role of the favorite most of the time."

Chess.com spoke with Carlsen after the game:

Eljanov kept pace by calmly taking out GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov, who tried to be the one to surprise this time. A day after Carlsen trotted out the unexpected Nimzowitsch Defense against him, today the most decorated Uzbek GM of all time opened with his other knight. 

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GM Pavel Eljanov told Chess.com he's never won the same tournament two years in a row. That could all change Sunday. | Photo: John Saunders/Chess.com Isle of Man International.

The ancient name of Uzbekistan's capital, Tashkent, is "Chach" but neither grandmaster played a check today. Last year's champion played against the hypomodern opening in a classical style, keeping pieces on the board to accentuate his space advantage. Black went pawn grabbing, then got repulsed by Eljanov who used a series of about half a dozen pawn advances to rule the board.

With White's first check devastating and looming, Kasimdzhanov gave up the fight.

"It was a huge surprise, I don't know if Rustam [Kasimdzhanov] played it before," Eljanov said about the Alekhine Defense. The Ukrainian enjoyed his treatment against it and said, "It's not so easy to suggest something concrete [for improvement for Black]."


After the win, Eljanov spoke to Chess.com about the game and his early World Cup exit. Make sure you also listen until the end to hear who he thinks is the next rising young star in Ukraine:

Neither player on board three could make headway. GM Vidit Santosh Gujrathi's extra space couldn't find a useful weakness against GM Alex Lenderman, so they both fell a half-point off the pace with their draw.

Unlike yesterday, many decisive games occurred on the lower board numbers (10 of the top 15 boards were 1-0 or 0-1). A few Americans led this secondary charge. First GM Fabiano Caruana beat countryman GM Jeffery Xiong, then much later GM Hikaru Nakamura outmaneuvered GM Gabriel Sargissian as Black.

"Gabriel overestimated his chances," Nakamura said. "I don't know what he was thinking. He started getting very aggressive."

Nakamura came on the broadcast to talk about his game. Here's his full analysis below:

"I'm satisfied with my last two games," Nakamura said. "My first couple were just terrible."

Some things are out of his control, including the stormy skies that have pervaded the last few days. "I wish the weather was a little bit nicer."

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GM Hikaru Nakamura has won many open events around the world, and he's still in the hunt for his first title on Isle of Man. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

He also offered one final critique on the randomization of the first-round pairings: "I think it's just stupid. Keep it simple."

Meanwhile, GM Vladimir Kramnik just can't get on track. Today IM Lawrence Trent couldn't earn the full upset like his round-three predecessor, GM James Tarjan, but he navigated a new wrinkle on an old opening to split the point.

"I actually wanted to win," Trent said about his willingness to play for a draw against the legendary former world champ. "He's on zero out of two with Black so he's obviously not [in] the best shape...I really felt like I let something slip."

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GM Vladimir Kramnik (left) tried to get on track as Black, but couldn't against IM Lawrence Trent. | Photo: John Saunders/Chess.com Isle of Man International.

"Everybody and their mother is playing 5. d3 at the moment," Trent said. Instead, he went 5. d4, the main line from many years ago.

He explained that while blocking the check in the Giuoco Piano with 7. Bd2 or 7. Nc3 is more normal (and been played out to exhaustion), there's still room for exploration with the pawn offer 7. Nbd2. Trent said he learned some analysis from GM Jonny Hector.


Trent also explained why he's wearing a hoodie pulled low over his head, similar to a famous poker player. He said the glare of the lights is bothersome, and besides, he analyzes better without real pieces anyway.

"Now I can only calculate in my head," Trent said. "I play so much online chess that I can't work things out over 3D anymore."

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You be the judge on the resemblance. Above is Phil "Unabomber" Laak (Photo: Wikicommons, LasVegasVegas.com)...

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...And now IM Lawrence Trent. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

And now a round five lightning round:

  • IM Nino Batsiashvili did it again, this time holding someone "only" 200 points higher to a draw (GM Alexander Riazantsev). She's surely on the inside track to a GM-norm with her current performance (two wins, three draws, against all GMs).
  • GM Michael Adams is quietly on 4/5 after beating GM Alexei Shirov.
  • GM Richard Rapport played the Nimzowitch Defense for the second time in Isle of Man, this time copying the setup of Carlsen's usage in round four.
  • Relative unknown IM Harsha Barathakoti is simply killing it. He's also played five GMs, scoring 3.5/5 including a win today as Black over countryman GM Baskaran Adhiban (2670). The 17-year-old is sitting on a 2894 performance rating, and may clinch his own norm with one or more rounds to spare.

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He's been given barely a mention in the broadcast so far, but that will all change today for IM Harsha Barathakoti. | Photo: John Saunders/Chess.com Isle of Man International.

Mercifully, GM Hou Yifan's pairing came in late Wednesday night, and she'll play GM Magesh Panchanathan. As a twist on a common American joke, never has someone been so grateful to hang out with someone from New Jersey.

The man having the shortest successful day at the office today was GM Emil Sutovsky. The fearsome attacker didn't go against his usual impulses, crashing through quickly in one of the shortest GM-vs.-GM wins of the tournament.


Looking ahead to the top scorers in round six, there's one forced pairing (Eljanov-Carlsen, the latter getting due color for being higher-rated); one all-American matchup (Nakamura-Lenderman); and one all-Indian matchup (Barathakoti-Vidit). Rounding out the top boards, Sutovsky takes on Caruana and GM Laurent Fressinet, rested after his bye, takes on Adams.

You can find the full round six pairings here.

2017 Chess.com Isle of Man International | Round 5 Standings, Top 39

Rk. SNo Name FED Rtg TB1 Rp
1 1 GM Carlsen Magnus 2827 4,5 2896
8 GM Eljanov Pavel 2734 4,5 2908
3 3 GM Caruana Fabiano 2799 4,0 2869
5 GM Nakamura Hikaru 2781 4,0 2812
6 GM Adams Michael 2738 4,0 2725
12 GM Vidit Santosh Gujrathi 2702 4,0 2790
16 GM Sutovsky Emil 2683 4,0 2692
19 GM Rapport Richard 2675 4,0 2736
26 GM Fressinet Laurent 2657 4,0 2767
33 GM Sethuraman S.P. 2617 4,0 2801
35 GM Sokolov Ivan 2603 4,0 2652
46 GM Lenderman Aleksandr 2565 4,0 2814
97 IM Harsha Bharathakoti 2394 4,0 2894
14 4 GM Anand Viswanathan 2794 3,5 2702
9 GM Vallejo Pons Francisco 2716 3,5 2672
14 GM Short Nigel D 2698 3,5 2637
17 GM Leko Peter 2679 3,5 2631
18 GM Kasimdzhanov Rustam 2676 3,5 2714
20 GM Movsesian Sergei 2671 3,5 2615
23 GM Jones Gawain C B 2668 3,5 2606
24 GM Riazantsev Alexander 2666 3,5 2613
27 GM Granda Zuniga Julio E 2653 3,5 2566
28 GM Grandelius Nils 2653 3,5 2683
34 GM L'ami Erwin 2611 3,5 2682
39 GM Svane Rasmus 2595 3,5 2595
41 GM Tari Aryan 2588 3,5 2681
43 GM Aravindh Chithambaram Vr. 2573 3,5 2559
44 GM Timman Jan H 2573 3,5 2662
48 GM Wagner Dennis 2564 3,5 2587
49 GM Deac Bogdan-Daniel 2559 3,5 2625
50 GM Donchenko Alexander 2559 3,5 2585
53 GM Vishnu Prasanna. V 2543 3,5 2578
55 GM Swapnil S. Dhopade 2532 3,5 2693
61 IM Praggnanandhaa R 2500 3,5 2564
62 IM Brown Michael William 2499 3,5 2637
68 IM Batsiashvili Nino 2472 3,5 2773
85 IM Zatonskih Anna 2424 3,5 2601
116 IM Rathnakaran K. 2326 3,5 2549
123 IM Rudolf Anna 2286 3,5 2561

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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