John Saunders reports: We're now just ten days away from the first round of the 2017 Chess.com Isle of Man Masters and the top end of the starting field is beginning to firm up.
As readers might already be aware, there is a slight overlap with the FIDE World Cup currently in progress in Tbilisi, Georgia, with many of the leading contenders in the FIDE world championship qualifying event also scheduled to be playing here in Douglas, Isle of Man. However, given that the FIDE competition is a knock-out, it should only affect those players who make it through to the final match in Tbilisi. So, if you look at the Masters line-up as listed on the website, you will see the words "subject to progress in World Cup" to the right of the relevant competitors' details. We're updating these details on a daily basis and you will note that it now only applies to four competitors, namely Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Wesley So, Maxim Rodshtein and Richard Rapport. Good luck to all four of those gentlemen in what has been an uncommonly bloodthirsty, though at the same time I hope they won't take it the wrong way if I express the hope to see them in ten days' time in Douglas.
This effectively confirms the participation in the Isle of Man Masters of the following big names: former world champions Vladimir Kramnik and Vishy Anand, plus Fabiano Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura, Mickey Adams, Boris Gelfand... and I've not even exhausted the names of players who have played matches for the world title or have ratings currently in excess of 2700.
Now that we're into the final countdown to the tournament start, please check on this blog regularly for further updates. As a little taster, I've been having a look-back to Isle of Man chess events of yesteryear. In the process I've set up an Isle of Man chess page at my BritBase website, with all the games recorded from the old and much-loved Monarch Assurance tournament which ran from 1992 to 2007 in Port Erin, plus some of my own contemporary reports on the last seven of those tournaments. Enjoy.