John Saunders reports: The prizegiving for the 2017 Chess.com Isle of Man tournament was held in the Villa Marina on Sunday 1 October at 9pm. Guest of honour was the tournament sponsor Isai Scheinberg who made the presentation of the Masters trophy and cheque for £50,000 to the winner of the open section, Magnus Carlsen.
Magnus Carlsen receives the Isle of Man Masters trophy and cheque for £50,000 from the sponsor Isai Scheinberg
"Hi old friend, fancy meeting you here!" Joint second Hikaru Nakamura and Vishy Anand greeted each other like they hadn't seen each other for years.
Tournament director Alan Ormsby looks on
As formidable an array of chess talent as you could wish to see, yet none of them managed a podium place. 4th= still pretty good, of course.
Dhopade Swapnil of India, second from left, was the stand-out achievement as the only sub-2600 player amongst the super-GMs
The prizegiving was preceded by a buffet dinner laid on for all the competitors and their guests. Knowing the players' favourite activity for when they are not playing tournament chess – namely, playing blitz chess – boards, sets and tables were provided, and a good time had by all. Those not playing could tease those who were – an activity known to the chess world as 'kibitzing' – while we photographers and press people could mill around getting a final few snaps of the star players before they departed.
US youngster Christopher Yoo gets to play some blitz with English GM David Howell and both are clearing enjoying themselves
A few significant points arose during the prizegiving. One was the matter of the round one random pairings. Tournament director Alan Ormsby decided to conduct a very unscientific (his words) survey of opinion of the first-round random pairing experiment (or 'Brandom' as I have nicknamed it, a la 'Brexit') on a simple show of hands. The result? A substantial majority in favour of random pairings. This elicited a cheer from those in favour, particularly from me. In my case it was a matter of relief as I feared that, if it had gone the other way, I might have suffered a public lynching. Amongst those who voted in favour I noted were David Howell, Emil Sutovsky and (heaven be praised) Magnus Carlsen.
Here are photos to prove it.
"All those in favour of the round one random pairings, hands up" ... now look closer...
... and you can see the world champion favours random pairings. His girlfriend abstained.
Of course, cynics may say that Carlsen only voted pro-Brandom because it gave him such an easy pairing in round one while two of his main rivals received a stinker (against each other). You may say that – I couldn't possibly comment. I will say that Magnus had a broad smile on his face as he voted. But anyway. I don't propose to say any more about it, having already aired my views at colossal length.
The prizegiving was also notable for the presence of Magnus Carlsen's girlfriend Synne Christin Larsen. I think she had also been present at the pairing ceremony at the beginning of the tournament but, largely unrecognised, she evaded most of the chess paparazzi.
"When are you going to stop looking at your trophies and give me some attention!" Synne Christin Larsen turns aside as Magnus admires the silverware. Trouble in paradise?
Not this time, because of a selfie of the couple published by them on Instagram which went viral in Norway. I vaguely wondered whether she might be related to the great Bent Larsen, but given that about half of Scandinavia also has that surname it seems a fruitless line of enquiry. Joking aside, it was good to see the champ in a relaxed, smiling mood after his endeavours in the event. As his only classical chess victory of the year, it would have settled his own doubts about his form in longplay chess, not that he admitted to any. He did confess to being a bit nervous when it came down to the sharp end of the tournament, though that was just normal for a tournament. By that stage he said he had lost the sense of it being an open tournament as opposed to a conventional super-GM elite all-play-all, since he was playing against the usual suspects and was not focused on what was going on around him. In one of his interviews on the final day he also thought having his girlfriend present helped to stop him concentrating on chess all day long and actually contributed to relaxing him for the next game. He had no travelling chess expert with him but he consulted with Peter Heine Nielsen online.
Gentleman Jim Tarjan's stellar performance was the heart-warming story of the tournament and he received the longest, warmest applause of all the prizewinners
Other awards were more routine, the sense of which is best conveyed via photography. The highlight in terms of length and warmth of applause was definitely the ovation for Jim Tarjan, whose remarkable performance in returning to chess after decades away and seemingly regaining his former strength and then some. His TPR of 2671 is way ahead of anything that he might have achieved in the 1970s, when it was would have been the preserve of those Soviet and ex-Soviet guys whose names began with 'K' plus Bobby Fischer. The warmth of feeling for the elderly prodigal son and his return proves that there is still a lot of sentiment to be found in chess.
Titles maybe mean less than ratings in the chess world these days, but they still symbolise status and it is a big moment in a player's career when they get a norm. So congratulations to all those who achieved their norms. There were GM norms for Nino Batsiashvili (Georgia), Bharathakoti Harsha (India) and Michael William Brown (USA). The first two named had already wrapped up their norms with brilliant performances in previous rounds but Michael William Brown looked particularly delighted, having achieved his first norm at the last gasp after a really gutsy pressure win in round nine against the formidable 2700+ rated Zoltan Almasi.
Nino Batsiashvili of Georgia receives her GM norm certificate from chief arbiter Peter Purland
Lovely smile from Bharathakoti Harsha of India as he gets his GM norm certificate from chief arbiter Peter Purland
Mr Brown, you've got a beautiful GM certificate... Michael William Brown achieved his objective not long before the prizegiving
Well done to all three of them, and additional congratulations to Nino as I understand she already has two other norms and the rating qualification, so that should be the title. IM norm certificates were presented to Jan Woellerman (Germany) and Kalyan Arjun (India), congratulations to them. Finally, International Arbiter norms were recorded by David Clayton and Alan Atkinson, both of England. Well done to them. Dave now only needs to win two more pie-eating contests to get his final IA norm. Sorry, that was just my usual, unoriginal, unfunny arbiter joke wrapped up in second-hand clothing. Do other countries tease their chess arbiters about their alleged gargantuan appetites for food, or is it just us in the UK? I would be interested to know. Seriously, well done to Dave and Alan and all the other arbiters at the tournament who did a marvellous job - I take my hat off to all of them.
David Clayton (left) and Alan Atkinson get their International Arbiter norm certificates from chief arbiter Peter Purland
A reminder of the Masters' leading places...
Final Ranking after 9 Rounds
|4-12||GM||Vidit Santosh Gujrathi||IND||2702||2764||9||6,5||5,68||0,82||10||8,2|
|4-12||GM||Swapnil S. Dhopade||IND||2532||2768||9||6,5||3,65||2,85||10||28,5|
Just one surprise there, namely Sunil Dhopade Swapnil, the only sub-2600 player in the top positions, who gains 28 rating points. In terms of gaining points, Alexei Shirov and the winner Magnus Carlsen were the next in order, while Vladimir Kramnik never quite recovered from those two early losses but still minimised his loss of rating points by going on a long run of wins.
As with the open, the top women's prize went to the rating favourite - Hou Yifan of China
Here are the leading women players in the Masters...
Amongst the women the biggest gains were made by Anna Rudolf, Altan-Ulzii Enkhtuul and Nino Batsiashvili, with the latter gaining her final GM norm.
Anna Rudolf played way above her rating in the Isle of Man
Altan-Ulzii Enkhtuul of Mongolia had the bonus of a one-to-one with Vladimir Kramnik in the tournament
MAJOR AND MINOR SECTIONS
Maria Emelianova of Chess.com has done a good job of getting photos of these sections and you can find them in the photo gallery on this website.
Here is the Major final table:
Final Ranking after 7 Rounds
|2||18||Mai Alexander Oliver||ISL||1875||5,5|
|7||Gostelow David W||ENG||1961||4,0|
|24||Nandi Robin J||ENG||1818||4,0|
|17||5||Ireland David J||ENG||1972||3,5|
|17||Murray Jim G.||IRL||1876||3,5|
|23||22||Carr Jay A||USA||1839||3,0|
|26||23||Clavero Alarcon Jose Miguel||ESP||1824||2,5|
|31||Livesey R Nigel||ENG||1789||2,5|
|28||Ford Clifton P||USA||1794||2,0|
|36||2||Gill Neville B K||ENG||2075||IOM||0,5|
|11||Moller Agnar T||ISL||1920||0,0|
Here's the Minor final table:
Final Ranking after 7 Rounds
|8||1||WCM||Norman Dinah M||ENG||1724||4,0|
|19||Bynnersley Ag (tony)||ENG||1544||4,0|
|15||Egan William J||ENG||1571||3,5|
|23||Jackson Paul R||ENG||1492||3,5|
|24||De Santos Andrew||ENG||1450||3,0|
|14||Blackburn Sandra G||WLS||1585||2,5|
|18||Beadle John R||ENG||1558||2,5|
|25||13||Walker Gordon J||SCO||1611||2,0|
NEXT YEAR'S TOURNAMENT
Good news - there will be a Chess.com Isle of Man tournament next year. The provisional dates are 20-28 October 2018. Put those dates in your diary now.
"Hey, kid, reckon you're gonna beat me one day?" Magnus Carlsen and Nihal Sarin at the prizegiving
Bye for now,
John Saunders (@johnchess)