Michael Adams won in round seven at the 2018 Chess.com Isle of Man International to join yesterday’s six leaders. Adams was the only one of the round’s winners to join the lead group.
His victory over Abhijeet “Superman” Gupta was a great bishop endgame win that seems sure to appear in the endgame textbooks. Interestingly, before the bishop endgame was reached, both players missed an opportunity for …h5! that could equally go in the tactics textbooks.
The “Delayed Exchange French” does not initially strike one as a winning attempt. | Photo: John Saunders.
While Adams won the most instructive game of the day, it was another top-five player from the 1990s who won the overall game of the day as Alexei Shirov collected another victory worthy of his future games collection “Fire on Board Part III: 2005-Infinity!” As Shirov described it, “It was a complicated game as it should be.”
Shirov’s game against Le Quang Liem featured amusing king play from both players as Le castled on move 36 (!) while Shirov marched his king fearlessly through the wilds of the queenside.
Although the round’s six leaders drew their games, the games were not without life. The most interesting was Maxime Vachier-Lagrave against Arkadij Naiditsch. Vachier-Lagrave came prepared with a topical and innovative line and seemed close to victory right out of the opening. However, Naiditsch would be a candidate to win the moniker “Least Likely to Roll Over and Resign” in an Isle of Man vote. He sacrificed a piece for two pawns and drummed up enough counterplay to intimidate Vachier-Lagrave into a repetition.
Vachier-Lagrave in a fateful moment. Should he have captured with the king? | Photo: John Saunders.
Radek Wojtaszek and Wang Hao also saw their game fizzle after a sharp opening (Sicilian Dragon) and middlegame in which both players declined to make any critical errors.
Most but not all of the drama between Hikaru Nakamura and Jeffery Xiong occurred off the board as Nakamura had commented yesterday that Xiong’s opposition on the Isle was “soft.” Xiong proved that he was more than up to the challenge of playing Black against a perennial top-10 opponent like Nakamura. He even could have pushed for a win with slightly more accurate rook play late in the game.
Current and future U.S. Olympiad team members? | Photo: John Saunders.
Another convincing victor who joined the chasers was Levon Aronian who destroyed Nigel Short’s advanced kingside, handing FIDE’s new vice presidential appointee his first loss after he ran undefeated a gauntlet that included Grischuk, Karjakin, and So.
Short’s opening was divisive as some liked Black’s grip on f3 while others liked Aronian’s central play, knight on f4, and bishop on b2. As a Dutch player myself, I hated Short’s position! I’ve lost too many games in such positions where I lacked pawn breaks as Black. Short’s eventual collapse recalled vivid nightmares of my own similar counterplay-less defeats.
Both Short and Aronian have been mixing up their openings. Did either anticipate this one today? | Photo: John Saunders.
With seven leaders, 10 chasers, and two rounds to go, there’s sure to be plenty of drama in our concluding weekend at the 2018 Chess.com Isle of Man International. Don’t miss the action live on twitch.tv/chess!
2018 Chess.com Isle of Man International | Standings After Rd. 7 (Top 20)
|8||24||Jones, Gawain C B||2677||5|
Full standings here and round-seven pairings here.
Games via TWIC.
Watch Chess.com Isle of Man, Round 7 from Chess on www.twitch.tv
The 2018 Chess.com 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 Twitch.tv/Chess or Chess.com/TV.