Nakamura, Caruana Still Perfect At Isle Of Man

Nakamura, Caruana Still Perfect At Isle Of Man

Yesterday the ladies played on the top three boards. Today in round two, they scored.

Instead of three females as underdogs on boards 1-3 of the Isle of Man International, today three Indians took their place.

One was also a female, and she held her own while her two other countrymen went down. GM Harika Dronavalli was never worse against second-seeded GM Wesley So. In actuality, she was the one worried afterward that she had more than a draw.

A crowd of spectators gathered to see if GM Wesley So would offer his queen just to avoid a forced draw. He did not.

So moved his king's knight four times in the first 10 moves, but it was Black who's knight had the last laugh. Dronavalli had the pleasant decision of which way to move her knight for a perpetual, and how torturous she wanted to be. (Dronavalli's quite polite and, true to her nature, she didn't play any exotic knight moves in the end.)

GM Harika Dronavalli against So was one of three USA vs India clashes on the top three boards. She was the only one to score.

Here's Harika explaining her game, during our live broadcast:

Meanwhile So's Olympiad teammates each found themselves making strange maneuvers. GM Hikaru Nakamura had exactly one piece off the back row and was uncastled on move 14, while GM Fabiano Caruana played the Dutch and had even less development. By move 18, he too was uncastled and nary a piece remained on the eighth rank.

The manager, IM Lawrence Trent, takes time out of his game (against GM Alexei Shirov) to watch his charge, GM Fabiano Caruana. Trent lost an equal ending, causing him to chastise himself on social media (not family friendly!).

Caruana did just fine after his heavies came to life, but curiously he forced resignation without moving his king or one of the two rooks supposedly meant to battle White's queen.

Why did Nakamura fall behind in development? Whereas mere mortals would have developed the king's bishop and castled, he undeveloped a centralized piece! The uncommon idea paid off in spades, if by spades you mean control of all the squares on the fourth rank.

Here's Nakamura explaining his win, taken from our live broadcast:

You don't have to move down in the rankings far before seeing more unexpected play. GM Michael Adams, playing board four, ran into some home cooking from GM Jan-Christian Schroeder. The teenager needed almost no time on his clock to get to the salient positions, while Adams labored much more.

Despite looking like he was "in the tank," GM Jan-Christian Schroeder (right) moved nearly instantly for the first 15 moves or so against GM Michael Adams.

The German cooking didn't net a full point, but a painless draw as Black against a world elite is still quit satiating.

If the move 8.a4 looks familiar, that's because Caruana used it to beat GM Alex Onischuk at this year's U.S. Championship, finishing the game with an electric tactic. Coincidentally, Caruana told back then that he was saving his ideas for a game with Adams that never happened. Today Adams tried to win with the exact same idea!

We need to move only one more meter to board five to see another favorite struggle. GM Pavel Eljanov was vacillating between a little better and a little more better when he allowed a simplifying tactic that ended all his chances.

Olympiad silver-medalist GM Pavel Eljanov could not quite finish off his promising position today.

Like So and Adams, the Ukrainian also ceded a draw.

By now you are likely hungry for some wins. GM Maxim Rodshtein played the ...h3 variation against the King's Indian Defense to beat GM Tiger Hillarp Persson. The opening has been a huge weapon thus far, as GM Abhijeet Gupta won the quickest game of the tournament yesterday with the same.

Women's World Champion GM Hou Yifan beat the world's youngest-ever IM. R Praggnanandhaa has more letters in his last name than years he's been alive. He eventually fell to his Chinese opponent in yet another queen-versus-two-rooks game (maybe he's still young enough to watch my recent ChessKid video on the subject?!).

Despite the loss, he did gain one thing from today's game. GM Simon Williams attempted to say his tongue-twisting name on air, and roughly landed on a malapropism. Williams ended with "Double Anand" and perhaps that nickname will stick!

Three world champions in one game? GM Hou Yifan faced "Double Anand"!

Getting back on track was GM Peter Leko, who very simply loaded up to play f5, and then forced it through. Chess isn't always rocket science.

And if yesterday's report didn't highlight the importance of king-and-pawn endings, today's surely will. The Italian IM playing Black had defended fine, but then he had a position with only two reasonable candidate moves. As you might have guessed, he didn't chose the right one.

Thus GM Jordan van Foreest's youth and good fortune allowed him to become one of two Dutchmen still perfect (along with GM Benjamin Bok). Of India's 26 players, only GM Santosh Vidit has two wins. As covered, two of the three top Americans are through, as is their Olympiad coach, GM Alex Lenderman.

GM Arkadij Naiditsch won with the King's Indian Attack by transposition against the French setup. Was he channeling Bobby Fischer? No, he said he had studied the games of GM Ian Nepomniachtchi, who is doing pretty well these days too.

The only other country with multiple players on 2-0 is Armenia, whose trio is very tightly packed in seeds 12, 14 and 15. GM Gabriel Sargissian won a rook-and-four vs rook-and-three ending to get his second win, while GM Sergei Movsesian got there too by also winning a long ending against one-time giant-slayer IM Nino Batsiashvili.

For those in need of an underdog to root for, there are no IMs on 2-0, but there is one FM. Alan Merry is the leading Englishman at the moment! Isle of Man | Round 2 Standings (Top 30)

Rk. SNo Fed Title Name Rtg Pts rtg+/-
1 1 GM Caruana, Fabiano 2813 2 2,5
2 3 GM Nakamura, Hikaru 2787 2 2,6
3 8 GM Rodshtein, Maxim 2687 2 3,9
4 9 GM Vidit Santosh Gujrathi 2686 2 3,5
5 10 GM Naiditsch, Arkadij 2684 2 3,6
6 11 GM Shirov, Alexei 2679 2 3,3
7 12 GM Movsesian, Sergei 2677 2 3,6
8 14 GM Sargissian, Gabriel 2670 2 3,5
9 17 GM Hou Yifan 2649 2 3,5
10 21 GM Howell, David W L 2644 2 3,2
11 22 GM Grandelius, Nils 2642 2 3,3
12 24 GM Van Foreest, Jorden 2615 2 3,6
13 26 GM Bok, Benjamin 2594 2 3,8
14 27 GM Lenderman, Aleksandr 2593 2 3,6
15 31 GM Brunello, Sabino 2566 2 2,3
16 66 FM Merry, Alan B 2388 2 16,2
17 2 GM So, Wesley 2794 1,5 -2,4
18 4 GM Adams, Michael 2745 1,5 -1,9
19 5 GM Eljanov, Pavel 2741 1,5 -2,1
20 6 GM Leko, Peter 2709 1,5 -3,1
21 13 GM Fressinet, Laurent 2676 1,5 -1,7
22 15 GM Melkumyan, Hrant 2653 1,5 -1,3
23 16 GM Salem, A.R. Saleh 2650 1,5 -3
24 18 GM Granda Zuniga, Julio E 2648 1,5 -1,4
25 19 GM Meier, Georg 2648 1,5 -1,7
26 20 GM Bachmann, Axel 2645 1,5 -1,4
27 23 GM Gupta, Abhijeet 2626 1,5 -1,6
28 25 GM L'Ami, Erwin 2605 1,5 -1,7
29 28 GM Lalith, Babu M R 2586 1,5 -1,3
30 29 GM Donchenko, Alexander 2581 1,5 -1,3
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