As predicted, the players saved their best for last and treated us to a final round filled with high quality fighting chess.
The top 3 boards
The first title contender to draw blood was Sargissian, who saw off the young GM-elect Rambaldi in convincing fashion, thus ending the Italian's excellent run. While the board 4 encounter between Movsesian and Adams was a rather uneventful draw, Fressinet took advantage of Naiditsch's overambitious play on board 2 to inflict a costly defeat on him with the black pieces. Howell's demolition of Kuzubov on board 5 was catching everyone's attention in the playing hall as the players faced off in a crazy time scramble. This game is well-worth replaying and this win also propelled England's number 2 into joint 4th place.
The board 1 clash between Nigel Short and Pentala Harikrishna was the last of the top encounters to finish, keeping everyone in suspense as to the outcome of not just the game but the tournament as a whole. The game first seemed to be heading to a rather balanced draw, but after a few inaccuracies Harikrishna suddenly found himself under a lot of pressure in the endgame. However, the Indian played defended tenaciously and eventually saved the much-coveted draw. With this result, Harikrishna joined Fressinet and Sargissian on 7/9 (since the prizes were shared, all three players won £6000), but he soon turned out to have the best tiebreak and was thus declared the winner of the 2015 PokerStars Isle of Man International Chess Tournament! Short meanwhile had to content himself with shared 4th place - alongside David Howell - which was still good enough for £1750 each.
The last round in full swing
You can find both the details of all prize winners and the complete final standings on the official website. You will also find the final video report of the tournament (including interviews with Harikrishna, Fressinet, Houska and many others) on our YouTube Channel.
On a different note, a total of 7 norms were achieved during the tournament. Van Foreest, Swayams and Zumsande scored GM norms, while Merry, Basso and Koop earned IM norms, and Shvayger got a WGM norm.
Just like last year, the closing ceremony was a relaxed and informal affair, which was thoroughly enjoyed by all participants. After all the prizes had been awarded, Tournament Director Alan Ormsby earned himself another round of applause by announcing there would definitely be a 3rd edition of the tournament in 2016!
Alan Ormsby getting a well-deserved round of applause
Winner of the Minor: Zahed Miah (Isle of Man)
Winner of the Major: Valentin Gaudeau (France)
Winner of the Ladies’ prize: Jovanka Houska (England)
10 players in joint 6th place (Rambaldi is missing because he won a rating prize)
In joint 4th place: Howell and Short (both from England)
In joint first place: Sargissian (Armenia), Fressinet (France) and Harikrishna (India)
Tournament winner Pentala Harikrishna
Many congratulations to all the winners and see you all next year!