Chess tournament shows you really burn a lot of calories while thinking – ZME Science

Technology made its way to the world of chess, and it’s confirming something that we were hoping for a long time: thinking hard really does burn a lot of calories.

Burning calories with chess

The Isle of Man is currently hosting the biggest open chess tournament of the year, attended by some of the world’s greatest players as well as young, up-and-coming prodigies. The tournament has already produced some spectacular games and remarkable upsets (no spoilers), but one of the most interesting things to come out of the tournament is not chess-related at all.

In the tournament, organizers asked some of the players to wear heart and calorie monitors. The players can, of course, decline (some feel that they could give away significant information by revealing their heart rates during a game), but most accepted — and the data looks quite interesting.

For instance, Grandmaster Mikhail Antipov burned 560 calories during two hours of play — the equivalent of running around 8 km (5 miles) or swimming for one hour. Full disclosure: the number of calories you burn in different activities depends on your own physique and although Antipov’s height and weight are not public, he seems to have a fairly normal distribution, so we’ll go with that.

We burn calories all the time, just by breathing, but Antipov’s rate is truly remarkable. It’s like he’s having a brisk walk, or even a light swim, for the duration of the game — but he’s sitting down. As the event’s photographer FM Maria Emelianovva noted, the stress of chess was making Russian GM Mikhail Antipov‘s heart pump, which made him consume more calories — a higher heart rate requires more breathing, which increases the number of calories you burn.

So is chess a sport?

The question is not trivial, as classifying chess as a sport could make a big difference for receiving funding and organizing competitions — it could make a big difference for chess all around the world. Does burning a bunch of calories justify classifying chess as a sport?

If you ask the International Olympic Committee and many countries, the answer is ‘yes’ — though not because of burning calories. But in the UK, for instance, it’s not, as authorities state that it doesn’t have a physical component. Some have expressed hope that the heart monitors could be used to justify re-classification, though that’s mere speculation at this point.

There’s no denying that chess is good for the mind, and as it turns out, it can also burn quite a few calories — but if you want to lose some extra pounds, you’re probably better off simply sticking to a healthier diet and working out once in a while.

Antipov’s opponent, Super GM Hikaru Nakamura, also agreed to wear a heart monitor, and at one point, his heart rate jumped to a remarkable 130 beats/minute. Ultimately, their game ended up in a draw.

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On Chess: International tournament brings strong competition to St. Louis Chess Club – St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis Chess Club hosted an elite field of 20 chess players for the second annual Fall Chess Classic  Oct. 10-18. 

For many players who competed, it was the strongest tournament they ever played. Such invitational events can be quite rare for players ranked outside of the elite group of super grandmasters (those with ratings over 2700).

The Fall Classic is the third event of a quarterly series of tournaments designed to give strong players an opportunity to face formidable competition and reach even higher levels. The event featured two 10-player round robins.

Group A was the highest-rated event in the Classic series to date and exhibited a strong lineup of international chess professionals who are ranked in the top 200 in the world:

  • GM Ray Robson, United States, 2682
  • GM S.P. Sethuraman, India, 2673
  • GM Jon Ludvig Hammer, Norway, 2662
  • GM Dariusz Swiercz, Poland, 2656
  • GM Yuriy Kuzubov, Ukraine, 2655
  • GM Làzaro Bruzòn, Cuba, 2653
  • GM Aleksey Dreev, Russia, 2649
  • GM Varuzhan Akobian, United States, 2641
  • GM Eric Hansen, Canada, 2629
  • GM Aleksandr Lenderman, United States, 2626

With a prize fund of $22,000 in Group A, hard-fought battles were seen in every round. As there was no significantly large rating gap between any two players in the field, each player had the potential to take home first prize.

In the end, grandmaster Aleksey Dreev outclassed the competition. As the oldest player in the field at age 49, he was the only competitor not to lose a single game. He finished the tournament with four wins and five draws to capture clear first place.

In the penultimate round, Dreev took down GM Ray Robson in a highly complex bishop versus knight endgame. Dreev mentioned that he is in the process of writing a book on endgames and plans to include that victory in his book.

An abundance of exciting and fighting games were also seen in Group B. The field included:

  • GM Hovhannes Gabuzyan, Armenia, 2592
  • GM Sergey Azarov, Bulgaria, 2565
  • GM Conrad Holt, United States, 2561
  • GM Elshan Moradiabadi, United States 2534
  • GM Steven Zierk, United States, 2506
  • GM Ashwin Jayaram, India, 2494
  • GM Akshat Chandra, United States, 2471
  • GM Denes Boros, Hungary, 2439
  • IM Brandon Jacobson, United States, 2412
  • FM Christopher Yoo, United States, 2410

The top seed, GM Hovhannes Gabuzyan, proved to be the most dominant player. He started with an astonishing 4.5/5 points and appeared to be unstoppable. Despite losing his round 8 game to GM Akshat Chandra, Gabuzyan had a large enough lead to clinch first place. He understandably had mixed emotions after losing the game, but winning the tournament.

Although the tournament winner of Group B was decided before the final round, the drama was not over. In round 9, Gabuzyan faced off against the youngest player in the competition, FIDE master Christopher Yoo. 

If Yoo had defeated Gabuzyan, he would have become the youngest international master in U.S. history at 11 years old.

With the black pieces, Yoo put up a very tough fight. He secured a pleasant advantage out of the opening, but Gabuzyan found strong counterplay later in the middlegame. Towards the end of the game, Yoo blundered in time pressure and Gabuzyan scored yet another win to finish the tournament with 7/9 points.

Even though Yoo missed his chance at getting a norm in this event, he clearly has a very bright future ahead. Such an event provides invaluable experience and facilitates further growth for players of Yoo’s caliber. He still has time to break the record for youngest IM in U.S. history, which is currently held by Sam Sevian who was awarded the title at age 12.

Over the course of the event, games were broadcast daily on Chess fans may find the archived daily broadcasts of the event on the St. Louis Chess Club YouTube Channel and catch the Winter Chess Classic, starting Nov. 5.

Eric Rosen is an international master, chess instructor and digital freelancer. Having received a bachelor’s degree in interactive digital media from Webster University in 2017, Rosen spends his time coaching, producing online educational content, building websites, taking photos and traveling. Isle Of Man: Xiong, Gupta Join Leaders –

Grab your saddle. The fifth round of the 2018 Isle of Man International was all about knights versus pawns. The final verdict? A draw.

Jeffery Xiong’s three pawns overcame Richard Rapport’s knight for the American to join the lead. But Sergey Karjakin’s two knights, his final two pieces, were enough to checkmate Sam Sevian precisely because of the American’s remaining pawn. And finally, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave offered his knight for three pawns, but had to settle for a perpetual in an all-knights ending!

horses isle of man

The Isle of Man…and horses. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

On the top board, Wang Hao and Arkadij Naiditsch, the two perfect scores, drew to move to 4.5/5. But that allowed two others to catch up—Xiong and Abhijeet Gupta (who beat the heretofore dominant Vidit Gujrathi). 

Xiong wasn’t that thrilled with his pairing and said, “I consider Richard Rapport to be the most creative player in the world, actually.” But it was the teenager who produced the unique idea that formed a rare diamond formation of pawns. 

Xiong and Danny Rensch

Jeffery Xiong participated in the game of the day video with Daniel Rensch. You can see it tomorrow during the live show on Twitch. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Of course, that came after Xiong’s scouting report proved correct. Rapport’s offbeat 1. d4 Nc6 2. c3 got even more obscure with an early pawn sac on e4 (a novelty). Soon after, the teenager simply left his knight en prise to collect two more center pawns, bringing the total haul to three pawns for the horse.

Once his king scampered to safety, it still looked like the impressive formation was stuck, until Rapport went pawn grabbing. That released the dam and the passers came rolling quite quickly.

Dejan Bojkov

So score one for the pawns, but how about the knights? Get ready for some extreme endgame minutiae.

Karjakin’s two knights versus one knight ending slowly became devoid of pawns. Sevian decided to offer his lone knight for White’s last pawn, leaving the Russian with only two knights. But there was a problem: Sevian still had one pawn remaining. Otherwise, the game would be a relatively easy draw since two knights can’t force mate against a lone king.

Enter famous chess composer Alexey Troitsky. Despite being born a year after the U.S. Civil War ended, his contributions were relevant today.

Troitsky’s pre-computer-era analysis of where the pawn must be for the knights to win was “astonishingly accurate,” according to John Nunn. Here’s the “Troitsky Line,” which holds that if White has the two knights and Black the lone pawn, then the pawn must be on the red squares or behind them for the knights to have enough time to release the blockade and mate the king (the line is independent of the 50-move rule).

Troitsky Line

Now let’s see the position arising from Karjakin’s game with Sevian, right after Black gave up his last knight:


Karjakin-Sevian, position after 58. Nxb2.

According to Troitsky, with “normal” king positions (which this game has) the game would be winning, but only if White had the next move! He wants to play Ng5 and stonewall the pawn as far up the board as possible. Instead, it was Black’s move, and Sevian correctly played 58…g5. The farther down the board the pawn gets, the fewer moves White will have after releasing the pawn.


Although he is called the “minister of defense”, Karjakin knows how to demolish his opponent! | Photo: Maria Emelianova/ 

Readers that want to be ultra-particular will note that there’s even a catch to the last paragraph. If it were White’s move in the above diagram, endgame tablebases concur that Ng5 is the right move, but it’s a mate in 51 with perfect play! That’s one move more than the rules allow.

Of course all of this is academic. Actual chess has to be played, and despite the theoretical draw, and Sevian even getting his pawn one more square down the board, Karjakin found a way to win.

Want to try it out yourself? Luckily, has this exact drill for you to try to be like Karjakin.

With the score: Knights 1 – Pawns 1, now let’s look at detente between the warring factions. That would be MVL’s effort against another “man with three names”—Mircea-Emilian Parligras of Romania.


The Romanian Parligras is having a great tournament in the Isle of Man. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

But it wasn’t three names Vachier-Lagrave was after; it was three pawns:

The two pre-round leaders couldn’t find ways to improve their respective positions, so the last two perfect scores went by the wayside after this handshake between Wang Hao and Naiditsch:

Hikaru Nakamura continued his move back up the standings with his second win in a row. Against Alexey Shirov, he said he blitzed out preparation that he’d looked at before the game.

Shirov Nakamura

After the handshake, the smoke is still settling. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/ 

With the proclivities of the two players, it was pretty clear something dynamic would happen. It came mostly from Shirov, but a little more restraint was called for. Shirov’s exchange sac was perhaps playable but he followed it up by immediately opening lines, which could only benefit Nakamura’s extra rook.

“I felt it was difficult to play under the circumstances,” Nakamura said about the critical move and Shirov’s time deficit.


After a bit of a slow start, Hikaru took down the first 2600 player in an interesting fight. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Even after that, Giri, commenting on the game in the studio, said there were “ways for Black to go wrong” but ultimately Nakamura didn’t:

Nakamura called today’s pairing “lucky” and explained that it is because “it’s good to play against someone who’s going to try to win, who’s going to play interesting chess.”

He continued: “When you play someone like Alexey, a 2600 who you know is going to try, it makes it a lot easier because you can just play natural chess as opposed to kind of just having to make some stuff up at the board and hope that it works.”


Gupta only looks calm. His heart rate monitor has been showing activity close to an active workout today, but the joint lead in such event doesn’t come easy. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Gupta joined Naiditsch, Wang Hao, and Xiong on the lead with 4.5/5 by beating Vidit. His countryman had been slicing up the field until today, which also happened to be Vidit’s birthday.

Many of the other notable players on boards 5-8 could only draw today against lower-rated opposition, including Levon Aronian, Anish Giri, Wesley So, and Alexander Grischuk.

Boris Gelfand wasn’t even that fortunate, as he went down to the young German national team member Rasmus Svane.

We’re not quite done with technical endings yet. Unlike yesterday’s report where we saw David Howell squeeze a win in rook+bishop-vs.-rook against a teenage Indian GM, today another teenage Indian GM was able to hold it against Georg Meier. (Robert Hess: “There’s too many youngsters to keep track of!”)

Praggnanandhaa mom

Long days for Pragg’s mom: She is always waiting for her bright son in the playing hall, sometimes up to seven hours! | Photo: Maria Emelianova/ 

Maybe Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa read yesterday’s report in detail, or maybe he took the advice to practice that drill.

Finally, the live show hosted someone you don’t get to hear from often:’s head of cheat detection, Gerard Le-Marechal. If you’d like to hear all about how it works behind the scenes, check out his interview and Q&A session:

Watch Fair Play Q and A with Danny Rensch and Gerard Le-Marechal: 2018 Isle of Man International from Chess on

2018 Isle of Man International | Standings After Rd. 5 (Top 20)

Rk. Title Name FED Rtg TB1
1 GM Wang Hao 2722 4,5
1 GM Naiditsch Arkadij 2721 4,5
1 GM Xiong Jeffery 2656 4,5
1 GM Gupta Abhijeet 2588 4,5
5 GM Vachier-Lagrave Maxime 2780 4,0
5 GM Nakamura Hikaru 2763 4,0
5 GM Karjakin Sergey 2760 4,0
5 GM Wojtaszek Radoslaw 2727 4,0
5 GM Parligras Mircea-Emilian 2623 4,0
5 GM Jumabayev Rinat 2605 4,0
5 GM Svane Rasmus 2595 4,0
12 GM Aronian Levon 2780 3,5
12 GM Giri Anish 2780 3,5
12 GM Kramnik Vladimir 2779 3,5
12 GM So Wesley 2776 3,5
12 GM Anand Viswanathan 2771 3,5
12 GM Grischuk Alexander 2769 3,5
12 GM Rapport Richard 2725 3,5
12 GM Adams Michael 2712 3,5
12 GM Vidit Santosh Gujrathi 2711 3,5

Full standings here and round five pairings here.

Games via TWIC.

Watch Isle of Man Day 5 Starting Soon! from Chess on

The 2018 Isle of Man International is a nine-round Swiss from October 20-28 beginning at 2:30 p.m. local time daily (GMT+1), except for round nine, which begins at 1:00 p.m.. The host site is the Villa Marina and the tournament is generously sponsored by the Scheinberg Family. Live coverage can be found at either or

Previous reports: Isle Of Man: Naiditsch, Wang Hao Lead –

Well, tomorrow’s pairings just got easy. Of the six players with perfect scores entering the the fourth day of play at the 2018 Isle of Man International, only Wang Hao and Arkadij Naiditsch won. They’ll face off on the premier board next round.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave’s blistering pace finally slowed with a draw to Jeffery Xiong. They were the only other two matching up with perfect scores but the American didn’t venture into his opponent’s Najdorf waters, where the Frenchman has been fishing for years. Instead their Moscow Variation of the Sicilian produced a queenless middlegame and a placid draw. They both now sit as part of the chase group of 3.5/4, which comprises a half-dozen players.

Boards four through seven all drew in the most peaceful round so far. Even the heart-rate monitors that several players wore lacked any big spikes, which seems to be a pity for those wanting to lose weight.

villa marina isle of man

Plenty of beauty around the island, including Villa Marina, where the tournament is taking place. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

The French Defense finally had its comeuppance. Naiditsch dispatched Pavel Tregubov’s treatment and Hikaru Nakamura got back in the winners’ column by also beating it (although it can hardly be said it was a result of his opening play).

“I think it was a very complex game,” Naiditsch said of his own win. “I got a little better out of the opening.” He said he regretted playing the tempting 21. b5 and should have played 21. h3 first (see below for more on that move).

“Somehow Black should be perfectly fine but Pavel did not find a way to get his Rh5 into the game…In the time trouble he made it much easier to me than it should have been,” he said. 

Here’s tournament veteran Naiditsch moving to 4-0 in his fourth consecutive year playing the event:

“I’m very happy with my score,” Naiditsch said. “In the case of 100 percent, you must be always happy!”

Arkady Naiditsch Isle of Man

Arkady Naiditsch answering questions during the live show on Twitch. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

His tournament almost began disastrously. Naiditsch said he missed his plane connection in London and that he only made it to the first round with 10 minutes to spare!

Wang Hao avoided a draw when he drew something from nothing against Erwin L’ami.

wang hao defeats erwin l'ami isle of man

Wang Hao, right, punished Erwin L’ami’s passive defense. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

From a series of small improvements with his king, rook, and pawns, Wang eventually forced the Dutchman to make enough concessions to cost him the game.

Nakamura had begun with a win but yielded two draws after that. Things were beginning to mimic his Olympiad, which also began with an opening-round win and then no more that followed. But the American reversed course today with a charging king and a little fortune.

Danny Rensch Hikaru Nakamura studio

Today Hikaru Nakamura joined IM Daniel Rensch in the studio of’s production team. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Today would have been the day to strap the heart-rate monitor to him!

There’s already been numerous, perhaps even dozens of all-Indian clashes so far, and today was no exception. Queen-sac superstar Vidit Gujrathi had to face one of his country’s many teenage talents on the Isle of Man: Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa. It was the third straight countryman Vidit has been matched against.

Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa

Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa and his heart-rate monitor—just trying to spell his name gives this writer heart palpitations. | Photo: John Saunders/Isle of Man Chess.

The slight-of-frame “Pragg” might be pound-for-pound the best chess player on the island. In a moment captured during his big last-round win over the 2016 champion, digital artist Pia Sprong showed her take on the young man’s physique:

Today Vidit mundanely traded his queen instead of sacrificing it, but in doing so, he isolated a pawn and that’s pretty much all it took. That made him smarter than the average bear, Rameshbabu.

“After that it was just suffering for him,” Vidit said. “I’m used to screwing up this position but today I didn’t!”


Vidit wore the heart-rate monitor today, which he said made him nervous just by itself (a reminder that wearing one is voluntary).

“Someone is watching my heart rate continuously—that was bothering me before the game,” he said.

“After that I got used to it,” said Vidit. “I’m very curious. How many calories did I burn? Do I need to exercise any more or no? I need to know this!”

Praggnanandhaa vidit isle of man

Vidit Gujrathi, right, said he’s used to playing young Indian prodigies since he plays in the Indian championship every year, although he’s never won it.  | Photo:: Maria Emelianova/

IM Danny Rensch’s off-day interview with Georg Meier revealed that the German GM requested a bye yesterday not just because of his lengthy second round game, but also because he began with Black and playing only eight games instead of nine would equalize his color distribution! While that may be the case, the saved energy did not help him hold what should have been a drawn ending against Richard Rapport.

Anish Giri is sneaking his way back up the standings. Like Xiong, he also trotted out the Moscow Variation today and after a dozen moves it was clear that Black’s complete lack of development would not hold up against one of the top three seeds.

The perseverance award goes to David Howell. After botching a winning endgame, he had to try his luck with the infamous rook+bishop vs. rook.


With his long games, David rarely makes it to dinner even with the broadcast team! | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

After more than seven hours of total play and more than halfway to the 50-move rule, his teenage opponent faltered.

Want plenty more on this common ending? Make sure you try the drill on it, or you can even see more about the “kings lining up” idea on this recent ChessKid video on “Pawnless Endings”!

On tomorrow’s broadcast, Danny Rensch will interview’s head of cheat detection, Gerard Le-Marechal. Want to have a question answered by Le-Marechal? Leave it in the comments to this news report, or Tweet it using the hashtag #iomchess.

2018 Isle of Man International | Standings After Rd. 4 (Top 20)

Rk. Title Name FED Rtg TB1
1 GM Wang Hao 2722 4,0
1 GM Naiditsch Arkadij 2721 4,0
3 GM Vachier-Lagrave Maxime 2780 3,5
3 GM Wojtaszek Radoslaw 2727 3,5
3 GM Rapport Richard 2725 3,5
3 GM Vidit Santosh Gujrathi 2711 3,5
3 GM Xiong Jeffery 2656 3,5
3 GM Parligras Mircea-Emilian 2623 3,5
3 GM Gupta Abhijeet 2588 3,5
10 GM Aronian Levon 2780 3,0
10 GM Giri Anish 2780 3,0
10 GM Kramnik Vladimir 2779 3,0
10 GM So Wesley 2776 3,0
10 GM Anand Viswanathan 2771 3,0
10 GM Grischuk Alexander 2769 3,0
10 GM Nakamura Hikaru 2763 3,0
10 GM Karjakin Sergey 2760 3,0
10 GM Artemiev Vladislav 2706 3,0
10 GM Gelfand Boris 2701 3,0
10 GM Howell David W L 2689 3,0

Full standings here and round five pairings here.

Games via TWIC.

Watch REBROADCAST: Isle of Man, Day 3, Live Coverage starts at 9:30am PST from Chess on

The 2018 Isle of Man International is a nine-round Swiss from October 20-28 beginning at 2:30 p.m. local time daily (GMT+1), except for round nine, which begins at 1:00 p.m.. The host site is the Villa Marina and the tournament is generously sponsored by the Scheinberg Family. Live coverage can be found at either or

Previous reports: Isle Of Man: MVL In Lead Group With Perfect Score –

While other world top-10s have had their struggles at the 2018 Isle of Man International, GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave keeps making it look easy through three rounds. Even a birthday celebration couldn’t stop his lucid play. He’s faring just as well as a 28-year-old as he did at 27. 

The top French player of all time leads the pack of a half-dozen GMs on 3.0/3. He was also the first to get to that score by switching to 1.d4, as he expected a Grunfeld, where he has no shortage of knowledge. When that didn’t come, he said he borrowed an idea that GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov played against him in blitz in St. Louis this year.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave Isle of Man 2018

A smooth win for the 28-year-old Frenchman. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

“I got in big trouble that day, so I repeated it,” Vachier-Lagrave said.

Also continuing today was the resurrection of the French Defense. A day after GM Robert Hess nearly won with it against GM Viswanathan Anand, today on the top board, GM Sam Sevian, a frequent practitioner, had no troubles at all holding with it against fellow Armenian-blooded GM Levon Aronian.

Samuel Sevian

Samuel Sevian, of Armenian descent, got half a point from the top-seed. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Joining MVL with three points are GM Wang Hao, GM Arkadij Naiditsch, GM Jeffery Xiong, GM Erwin L’Ami, and GM Pavel Tregubov.

Often the game of the day is crazy, chaotic, or double-edged, but Vachier-Lagrave is getting the job done with clean, powerful chess. While three players rated exactly 2780 began the event, only MVL has been able to keep his nose clean.

Chess Game of the Day

“I thought I’d be a little less predictable for once,” Vachier-Lagrave said about opening with d4. Maybe turning 28 did make him a new man! “It worked tremendously well today,” he said. 

Vachier-Lagrave will face his second straight former world junior champion tomorrow, Xiong. Of course, Vachier-Lagrave once won the title himself. There are many more former world junior champions in the field. Besides Tari, Xiong, and MVL, you can find GM Mikhail Antipov, GM Emil Sutovsky, GM Abhijeet Gupta, and of course Aronian and Anand!

Today was also a day that Isle of Man tried out heart-rate monitors for the first time. There’s only a limited supply, and their use is completely voluntary, but players like GM Hikaru Nakamura agreed to wear one. The live broadcast experienced some hiccups but eventually was able to display them on the screen (while not an exhaustive analysis, at one point Nakamura’s rate jumped to 130 beats/minute).

Hikaru Nakamura

According to his heart rate monitor, the American grandmaster burned more than 1,000 calories during this game. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

There’s at least one player in the field who has experience wearing one. In 2016 Sevian played a match with one against GM Nils Grandelius. In the second game of that match, both players’ rates spiked after Sevian’s 1. b4!

Vachier-Lagrave was observed to be in the 80s most of the day, and he said he thinks his normal resting rate is not lower than 70.

“Well I was not in time trouble today, probably that helped!” Vachier-Lagrave said.

Isle of Man Chess Tournament 2018

With a big playing hall provided by Villa Marina in the capital of Isle of Man, players have a plenty of space for walking around before they reach time-scramble. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Before showcasing some of the other leaders today, there’s no sense delaying the beautiful idea turned in by GM Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa. Today he took out former Isle of Man winner GM Pavel Eljanov with the tournament’s most common theme: a queen sacrifice!

Pavel Eljanov

Exhausted after this game, Pavel took a “bye” in round four. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Fittingly, in round four, Praggnanandhaa will face his third straight 2700 (well, if you “round up” for 2690 Peter Leko). And that opponent will be GM Vidit Gujrathi, who has himself been sacrificing his queen like she’s just another piece (although today he only played a 17-move draw and didn’t get the chance).

Another queen offering wasn’t really a sacrifice since it netted two rooks right away, but it was just as powerful. In fact, the very first move after GM Vladislav Artemiev traded her for two rooks is when another super-talent went astray. 

Vincent Keymer

Vincent Keymer reviewing his game vs Artemiev together with his famous coach and fellow participant here, Peter Leko. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

IM Vincent Keymer, winner of this year’s Grenke Open despite being the 99th seed, will play next year’s round-robin in Germany but the lessons against 2700s have already begun.

Xiong will get to play on board one tomorrow thanks to his ability to attack his opponent’s king from both angles. A simple pushing of the queen away from the defense doomed Black.

Xiong is the surprise leader of the American contingent (GM Wesley So is on 2.5/3 and Nakamura is on 2.0/3). He said he was out of his opening knowledge early, but that he thinks he’s played “clean” chess to get to 3.0/3.

“It’s already an improvement over last year, because in round three, I was Black against Magnus, which isn’t ideal,” Xiong said.

Alexander Donchenko vs Wang Hao

Alexander Donchenko vs Wang Hao appeared to be the longest game of all in round three. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

While Hess achieved the famously not-winning rook plus f- and g-pawns ending yesterday and indeed couldn’t beat Anand, today Wang Hao showed that one extra pawn can make the difference!

Tregubov spotlighted the error 34…b6 and eventually made a nice transition from a better ending into a trivially-winning ending. His simplification made his day easier, and is a good lesson in winning without counterplay.

Tregubov’s win also keep his family unbeaten; his wife GM Alexandra Kosteniuk is on a more modest 1.5/3 score from playing down every round, but it comes from three draws.

Fiona Steil-Antoni

This year the live show on Twitch offers live interviews on site with Fiona Steil-Antoni, while commentators can ask their questions! Here Fiona is talking to Pavel Tregubov about his game, coaching and married chess life.| Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Tregubov said that the split between coaching and studying for himself is 90-10 in favor of his students. “I don’t have time for myself,” he said.

L’Ami didn’t need elementary ending knowledge for his perfect score. Instead, he needed another beginner concept: back-rank tactics.

Nakamura tried to get in on the fun by parting with his own queen, but agreed to a draw when it became clear that White could disconnect his rooks by planting a knight on f6.

2018 Isle of Man International | Standings After Rd. 3

Rk. Title Name FED Rtg TB1
1 GM Vachier-Lagrave Maxime 2780 3,0
1 GM Wang Hao 2722 3,0
1 GM Naiditsch Arkadij 2721 3,0
1 GM Xiong Jeffery 2656 3,0
1 GM L’ami Erwin 2639 3,0
1 GM Tregubov Pavel V. 2588 3,0
7 GM Aronian Levon 2780 2,5
7 GM So Wesley 2776 2,5
7 GM Grischuk Alexander 2769 2,5
7 GM Karjakin Sergey 2760 2,5
7 GM Wojtaszek Radoslaw 2727 2,5
7 GM Rapport Richard 2725 2,5
7 GM Le Quang Liem 2715 2,5
7 GM Vidit Santosh Gujrathi 2711 2,5
7 GM Artemiev Vladislav 2706 2,5
7 GM Almasi Zoltan 2702 2,5
7 GM Gelfand Boris 2701 2,5
7 GM Adhiban B. 2668 2,5
7 GM Kovalev Vladislav 2664 2,5
7 GM Short Nigel D 2652 2,5
7 GM Meier Georg 2639 2,5
7 GM Sevian Samuel 2634 2,5
7 GM Parligras Mircea-Emilian 2623 2,5
7 GM Vaibhav Suri 2597 2,5
7 GM Gupta Abhijeet 2588 2,5
7 GM Praggnanandhaa R 2519 2,5

Full standings here and round three pairings here.

Games via TWIC.

The 2018 Isle of Man International is a nine-round Swiss from October 20-28 beginning at 2:30 p.m. local time daily (GMT+1), except for round nine, which begins at 1:00 p.m.. The host site is the Villa Marina and the tournament is generously sponsored by the Scheinberg Family. Live coverage can be found at either or

Previous reports: Isle of Man: Aronian 'Bluffs' While Vidit Sacrifices Queen Again –

It’s been several years since the Isle of Man International was a combination chess and poker event, but GM Levon Aronian showed in today’s round two that there’s still room for bluffing. On top board, he played a calculated risk that worked to move him to 2.0/2, where he was joined one board lower by a birthday boy. GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave gave himself the best 28th birthday gift — a winning rook ending.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave seems to have been given a polo shirt for his birthday, but he gave himself a win. | Photo: John Saunders/Isle of Man Chess.

Boards 3-5 weren’t so lucky. Whereas yesterday GM Anish Giri led the list of elite players ceding a draw, today three more household names followed suit. GMs Viswanathan Anand, Alexander Grischuk, and Sergey Karjakin all yielded half points on those next three boards, unable to keep pace with their usual colleagues.

For Anand in particular, it was another struggle today, as he had to defend a worse rook ending. Instead of playing against an underrated kid, today he faced off against the nearly-retired GM Robert Hess, who doesn’t play many international events these days. 

Things went far better for other members of the Indian contingent, even if they were feasting on their own. GM Vidit Gujrathi annihilated his countryman’s king in a Romantic-era style by offering his queen for the second day in a row, while teenager IM Harsha Bharathakoti showed no respect for his country’s elders by taking out GM S.P. Sethuraman by giving away his own queen for a mate that was arguably more impressive.

This report is not Shakespearean, so there’s no sense in more rising action. Bharathakoti’s climax was one for the tactics books:

Bharathakoti is the only IM out of the 19 players currently on 2.0/2.

Aronian’s game became nearly as adventurous, but he was playing an opera instead of a play. Well, maybe not, but he was playing “Wagner.”

He sacrificed an exchange, but despite the crescendo the game remained roughly balanced. That’s when Aronian “bluffed” (as our analyzer guessed) with a further sacrifice against the white king. There were two refutations, but GM Dennis Wagner found neither and the game ended rather quickly after that.


Vidit took out countryman GM Das Debashis in only 25 moves. There’s a chapter in FM Sunil Weeramantry’s book “Best Lessons of a Chess Coach” called “Playing With a Full Deck.” And that’s exactly what White did — just look out the array of forces he amassed after move 22.

Not surprisingly, Black lasted a mere three more moves. And if you are counting, yes, Vidit has now sacrificed his queen twice in two days, winning both!

Lovers of the French Defense, let’s try some balance in the reporting. While it didn’t turn out well at all for Debashis, the opening did just fine for Hess. Having just come from coaching the U.S. Women’s Olympiad Team, where one prominent member is a full-fledged French aficionado, he might have felt comfortable from all the study.

Viswanathan Anand Robert Hess

Robert Hess, left, was actually the one pushing against Viswanathan Anand today. | Photo: John Saunders/Isle of Man Chess.

He told that he did “minimal prep” because he wanted to be fully rested for the game.

Hess and Anand spoke about the game afterward, but the American doesn’t think he missed a win. He also doesn’t remember the last time he played overseas (he thinks it was 2012). Hess said this is exactly the kind of game he hoped for when signing up for this tournament.

“I came to play Isle of Man because of exactly this — I wanted to compete against some of the best of all time,” Hess said. He added more about his choice of opening:

It was an honor to play Vishy, as I’ve long been a huge admirer of Vishy as a person and a player. I greatly respect his chess, but I never was afraid of him. I chose the French because he knows everything, and I figured my best bet was to catch him off guard. I was fortunate that he was a bit out of shape in the game, but I’m immensely proud of the way I played. I pressed for hours and ultimately he held a tough ending. Sure, I probably missed some chances but I gave it my all and played what I consider an excellent game of chess.

As for Grischuk, he contented himself with an age-old repetition in the Closed Spanish, while IM Elisabeth Paehtz was never in danger while making a solid draw with Karjakin.

Elisabeth Paehtz

Elisabeth Paehtz, norm hunter. | Photo: John Saunders/Isle of Man Chess.

Paehtz is looking to rebound. After catapulting into the world’s top 10 women with her recent peak rating of 2513, she lost more than 20 points at the Olympiad and European Club Cup. She seems to be one of the next top female candidates to earn the GM title, but it’s still far too early for norm-watching at Isle of Man.

Vachier-Lagrave used several small advantages to cobble together a winning ending. His control of the open file, advanced king, and the loose target at a5 all combined together for the full point. HIs birthday present was a passed both a passed b-pawn…

…and a dinner with friends:

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave’s birthday dinner. He’s seated on the right, fourth from the bottom, and is joined by fellow players, and staff from, the tournament, and Twitch. | Photo: Danny Rensch/

As for full upsets on the top boards, they’ve been hard to come by as of yet, but on board 12 GM Vishnu Prassana’s nearly 200-point gap with GM Tamir Nabaty didn’t deter him. The Indian GM’s calm pin was weirdly impossible to defend, despite Black having a completely free move.

For all the chess teachers out there who need a great position to show forks, make sure you bookmark this game:

Lastly, the “Wild West” award goes to 21-year-old GM Ori Kobo and 20-year-old GM Vladislav Artemiev. They have a lot of years ahead of them, unless they keep playing with complete disregard for their own safety.


Ori Kobo (right) vs. Vladislav Artemiev. The pawn on h4 tells you all you need to know about what was to come. | Photo: John Saunders/Isle of Man Chess.

Make sure you also brush up on your geometry for the finish:

2018 Isle of Man International | Top 19 (All those on 2.0/2)

Title Name FED Rtg TB1
GM Aronian Levon 2780 2,0
GM Vachier-Lagrave Maxime 2780 2,0
GM Wang Hao 2722 2,0
GM Naiditsch Arkadij 2721 2,0
GM Vidit Santosh Gujrathi 2711 2,0
GM Gelfand Boris 2701 2,0
GM Melkumyan Hrant 2660 2,0
GM Xiong Jeffery 2656 2,0
GM L’ami Erwin 2639 2,0
GM Meier Georg 2639 2,0
GM Sevian Samuel 2634 2,0
GM Tari Aryan 2618 2,0
GM Donchenko Alexander 2610 2,0
GM Jumabayev Rinat 2605 2,0
GM Vaibhav Suri 2597 2,0
GM Gupta Abhijeet 2588 2,0
GM Tregubov Pavel V. 2588 2,0
GM Vishnu Prasanna. V 2504 2,0
IM Harsha Bharathakoti 2492 2,0

Full standings here and round three pairings here.

Games via TWIC.

Watch Isle of Man International Round 2 from Chess on

The 2018 Isle of Man International is a nine-round Swiss from October 20-28 beginning at 2:30 p.m. local time daily (GMT+1), except for round nine, which begins at 1:00 p.m.. The host site is the Villa Marina and the tournament is generously sponsored by the Scheinberg Family. Live coverage can be found at either or

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