After the dust had settled on Round five of the 2017 Chess.com Isle of Man Masters, played at the Villa Marina on 27 September, two joint leaders emerged from the smoke. One was world champion Magnus Carlsen, who beat Julio Granda Zuñiga of Peru, and the second was world ranked no.27 Pavel Eljanov of Ukraine, who defeated Rustam Kasimdzhanov of Uzbekistan. Carlsen and Eljanov are tied on 4½/5, with a further 11 players on 4 points.
Magnus Carlsen faces the 50-year-old Peruvian GM Julio Granda Zuniga
Granda Zuñiga defended a Petroff Defence, which used to be the super-GMs favourite way of blocking their opponents' 1.e4 opening until Vlad Kramnik built the Berlin Wall in 2000 to shut out Garry Kasparov in their London title match. Carlsen proceeded down fairly conventional lines but later wondered whether he might have placed his light-squared bishop and queen on the b1-h7 diagonal the other way round. But the way he did it worked well since the Peruvian failed to find the right moves and allowed a combination that netted a pawn and hoovered off enough pieces to ensure what looked like it would develop as a technical endgame win. The only reason it didn't happen was because Granda Zuñiga decided to fold rather than gamble another few hours of precious energy on the outside chance that Carlsen's endgame technique might suffer a rare breakdown. Even so we have to mark it down as a premature resignation.
Kasimdzhanov sips a coffee while pondering his reply to 1.e4 - which turned out to be 1...Nf6
Pavel Eljanov went one better than Carlsen in the previous round by beating Rustam Kasimdzhanov, though of course he had the considerable advantage of the white pieces. Kasimdzhanov further handicapped himself by trying an Alekhine's Defence, and I could find only three examples of him going in for that previously. He came out of the opening with a small minus but Eljanov built on these small foundations to reach a clear edge. Kasimdzhanov tried a queenside diversion but it only served to make his position worse. Eljanov's mopping-up operation was clinical and should give him confidence for his forthcoming close encounter of the Norwegian kind.
There were just three draws all told on the top ten boards, so it made for an exciting day's chess. Fabiano Caruana handed out a severe lesson to his youthful compatriot Jeffery Xiong, while Hikaru Nakamura was the only one on the black side of the top boards to score the full point, steadily outplaying Gabriel Sargissian. Renowned chessboard pyromaniac Alexei Shirov tried to pile a little fire on board (on the f3 square, to be specific) but the equally experienced fireman Mickey Adams managed to douse the flames with the minimum of fuss. Boris Gelfand seemed to have a advantage in development against Sethuraman but inexplicably failed to defend a pawn on move 27 and soon found himself a pawn down in a hopeless endgame.
Tough lesson for Jeffery Xiong at the hands of his higher rated compatriot Fabiano Caruana
I recommend you play through Sokolov-Rodshtein in the game viewer on the website. It was a very entertaining game, covered in detail by the commentators yesterday. I've not had the time to look at it in detail. Instead let's look at Sutovsky-Huschenbeth, which was another crowd-pleaser of a game though somewhat shorter. It baffles me why players go in for sharp variations like this but I'm pleased they do as it provides a lot of entertainment for the onlooker.
I've already covered the games Trent-Kramnik and Praggnanandhaa-Howell in short reports posted on the website last night. These provided a lot of fun for British and Indian audiences respectively. Lawrence Trent was still on a high when I chatted to him briefly this morning. Hopefully this draw with one of the game's all-time greats will have boosted his confidence and ambition to go for the GM title.
Battle of the bananas: IM Lawrence Trent drew a memorable game with former world champion Vlad Kramnik
As for that small boy with the big name: we're probably going to be hearing a lot about Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa in the future.
The year 2017: David Howell faces a 12-year-old Praggnanandhaa
The year 2001: also in the Isle of Man, 10-year-old David Howell defeats Rudy van Kemenade (photo: John Saunders)
Incidentally, it seems like only yesterday that his opponent David Howell was a little boy with a big future himself (not that he still doesn't have a big future now, you understand). I well remember taking this photo of him at the Monarch Assurance tournament in the Isle of Man in 2001. I'm not sure Zurab Azmaiparashvili would approve of the short trousers, but maybe it is OK if you're only ten years old, as David was then. At the time I didn't know whether to be more impressed by David's amazing chess ability or his courage in dressing like that despite the windy and inclement Isle of Man weather.
Leading Results in Round 5
|1||1||GM||Carlsen Magnus||2827||3½||1 - 0||3½||GM||Granda Zuniga Julio E||2653||27|
|2||8||GM||Eljanov Pavel||2734||3½||1 - 0||3½||GM||Kasimdzhanov Rustam||2676||18|
|3||12||GM||Vidit Santosh Gujrathi||2702||3½||½ - ½||3½||GM||Lenderman Aleksandr||2565||46|
|4||3||GM||Caruana Fabiano||2799||3||1 - 0||3||GM||Xiong Jeffery||2633||30|
|5||4||GM||Anand Viswanathan||2794||3||½ - ½||3||GM||Grandelius Nils||2653||28|
|6||29||GM||Sargissian Gabriel||2652||3||0 - 1||3||GM||Nakamura Hikaru||2781||5|
|7||6||GM||Adams Michael||2738||3||1 - 0||3||GM||Shirov Alexei||2630||31|
|8||33||GM||Sethuraman S.P.||2617||3||1 - 0||3||GM||Gelfand Boris||2737||7|
|9||14||GM||Short Nigel D||2698||3||½ - ½||3||GM||L'ami Erwin||2611||34|
|10||35||GM||Sokolov Ivan||2603||3||1 - 0||3||GM||Rodshtein Maxim||2695||15|
|11||16||GM||Sutovsky Emil||2683||3||1 - 0||3||GM||Huschenbeth Niclas||2596||38|
|12||41||GM||Tari Aryan||2588||3||½ - ½||3||GM||Leko Peter||2679||17|
|13||47||GM||Pichot Alan||2565||3||0 - 1||3||GM||Rapport Richard||2675||19|
|14||20||GM||Movsesian Sergei||2671||3||½ - ½||3||GM||Deac Bogdan-Daniel||2559||49|
|15||21||GM||Adhiban B.||2670||3||0 - 1||3||IM||Harsha Bharathakoti||2394||97|
|16||23||GM||Jones Gawain C B||2668||3||½ - ½||3||GM||Swapnil S. Dhopade||2532||55|
|17||68||IM||Batsiashvili Nino||2472||3||½ - ½||3||GM||Riazantsev Alexander||2666||24|
Top of the Leader Board after Round 5
|12||GM||Vidit Santosh Gujrathi||IND||2702||4,0||2790||5||4||3,49||0,51||10||5,1|