Shirov Wins, Takes Day Off, Leads Isle Of Man
GM Alexei Shirov has gone from "Fire on Board" to "Smoldering on Board" at the Chess.com Isle of Man International. Despite the lower temperatures, the veteran still can't be stopped, but his games have taken on a more subdued tone than his past.
In a battle of the only two remaining perfect scores, he won again yesterday against GM Santosh Vidit, a man less than half his age. Shirov's play was more clinical than cluster bomb.
At 4-0, he would need only one more win to match his famous 5-0 start at Wijk aan Zee in 2010. Today he won't even get the chance, but it's his own doing. Shirov requested a half-point bye and therefore gets the day off instead of possibly taking Black against one of the 2700s.
No coat and tie for GM Alexei Shirov today. He took the day off and will have at least a share of the lead going into round six.
According to the announced rules, byes must be immediately after a game for the next day's play. The Isle of Man International doesn't have any rest days, so the 44-year-old might also just want to enjoy the (intermittent) sun.
In his game with Vidit, Shirov got his second White in a row, and faced his second straight Caro-Kann. Vidit must have seen something he liked in Shirov's round three game with GM Sabino Brunello, but Shirov was not worried. Again the Latvian used the same "Short System" with Nf3 and Be2.
Unlike his Italian predecessor, Vidit didn't suffer from development issues, but he did cede some weak pawns. Shirov piled up on the isolated c-pawn, then labored at the board to calculate exactly how to win with his surplus pawn.
Games via TWIC.
The win earned Shirov sole first, and today's half-point bye pushed his lead to one point temporarily, but means he can also be caught by five different players on 3.5/4.
Winning yesterday to get back close to the top tables were GMs Wesley So, Maxim Rodshtein, Pavel Eljanov, Arkadij Naiditsch, and Sergei Movsesian.
GM Sergei Movsesian didn't get a chance to play in the Olympiad, but so far has saved his strength for this event. He'll be tested today as Black against Caruana.
The perspicacious reader will note that GMs Fabiano Caruana and Hikaru Nakamura are not on that list. Both yielded draws for the second day in a row. Or, more accurately, Caruana's opponent GM Salem Saleh yielded a draw to the now-joint-world number three.
The near-upset of GM Fabiano Caruana was turned in by...
...GM Salem Saleh, who drops all the way to board 10 today despite drawing a 2800!
The U.S. Champion spent more than 30 minutes on his 18th move, and proved the maxim, "Long think, wrong think."
Nakamura didn't have the same issues. While he usually looks for more even as Black, GM Nils Grandelius traded off into a drawn rook ending and the two agreed to terms in exactly two hours.
Naiditsch won a very long opposite-colored bishop ending against GM Abhijeet Gupta, though he missed a remarkable win much earlier as his clock faded in the first time control.
So won over Peruvian legend GM Julio Granda, who GM Gregory Kaidanov once said never read a chess book. One the live show, GMs Simon Williams and WIM Fiona Steil-Antoni remarked he doesn't use computers.
GM Julio Granda: "Lo Natural" of the chess world?
If true, that's as much of a chess autodidact as there is, and it brought him to within a whisker of 2700 earlier this year.
Fans of the Sicilian Dragon got a treat when IM Lawrence Trent played it against GM Peter Leko. As you might guess, no draws here!
Leko played the 9. 0-0-0 line and had success in shutting down any Black counterplay on the queenside. After the queens traded, it was easy for the Hungarian.
The two had a long post-morterm afterward. Trent came away so impressed with Leko's knowledge of the 10. Qe1 line that he remarked to GM Simon Williams that Leko had "refuted the Dragon!"
GM Michael Adams couldn't get to the 3.5 score group as he could only draw GM Hou Yifan. Here's some of his thoughts on the tournament and the state of English chess:
As for the others that we mentioned on 3.5/4, Movsesian ground down GM Aleksandr Lenderman, while Rodshtein avoided a funny but obvious stalemate trick to beat GM David Howell.
Lastly, Eljanov put continuous pressure on one of the heroes of our previous reports, IM Elisabeth Paehtz.
You couldn't tell by this picture, but IM Elisabeth Paehtz was under duress for many hours in her game.
She looked completely lost, then battled back to get most of the pawns off the board. It seems like possibly her rook+bishop vs. rook defensive skills would be tested until she blundered very late in the game.
The top three boards for round five will be So-Rodshtein; Eljanov-Naiditsch; and Caruana-Movsesian. All have 3.5/4 except for Caruana who has 3.0/4.
GM Georg Meier was upset at himself for messing about and losing the thread vs. "Double Anand" but the early draw did give him a chance to play in Chess.com's Titled Tuesday, where he's one of the most decorated players! Caruana and Trent were among several other Isle of Man competitors who also played.
Here he is discussing his game:
Top active Japanese player IM Shinya Kojima may win the "farthest to travel award" along with the Aussie contingent.
Chess.com Isle of Man | Round 4 Standings
|11||9||GM||Vidit Santosh Gujrathi||2686||3||2,1|
|14||16||GM||Salem, A.R. Saleh||2650||3||2,1|
|18||24||GM||Van Foreest, Jorden||2615||3||6,7|
|21||28||GM||Lalith, Babu M R||2586||3||-0,9|
|22||35||GM||Sunilduth Lyna Narayanan||2536||3||5|
|25||71||Hemant, Sharma (del)||2371||3||17|