A former World Champion went down in 1st round of IOM while Carlsen scored

The highest-rated woman player starts with a draw

Round one of the FIDE Chess.com Grand Swiss opened with a big surprise: Vishy Anand, one of the favourites for the first place at this event, suffered a loss to Evgeniy Najer in only 30 moves. World Champion Magnus Carlsen and No 2 Fabiano Caruana won their games and confirmed their lead starting positions in the tournament, while the fifth-seated Yu Yangyi is now third after securing a victory in the opening round. Altogether, 30 out of 154 players have won their first game at the Grand Swiss.

The first day of the Isle of Man tournament was marked by a surprising defeat of India’s Viswanathan Anand in just 30 moves. Following a strong attack in which Russian GM Evgeniy Najer sacrificed a piece, Anand was struggling and eventually conceded defeat. After the game Najer said that he wasn’t fully sure how his move choices would play out, adding that he followed his intuition more. “The first moment I knew I was winning was just after the handshake”, Najer said after the game.

There was almost another upset of Round 1, on the first board where the World Champion Magnus Carlsen, who was playing white, struggled against Ukrainian GM Yuriy Kuzubov. Although after the opening Carlsen had a more comfortable position, however, as the game developed it got worse. In a very direct game, Kuzubov managed to advance his pawn all the way to d2 and at one point had strong prospects of winning. The Ukrainian, however, ended in time trouble as he couldn’t find the right approach to breach Carlsen’s blockade. In the end, the World Champion got the better of the Ukrainian and won.


[photo: Maria Emelianova]

The top 20 boards: 10 decisive games and 10 draws

On the second board, World No 2 Fabiano Caruana (who has already qualified for the Candidates’) played China’s Zhang Zhong. Caruana secured an extra pawn early in the opening and went on to win. What is interesting about this game is that until move 16 Caruana had seven of his pawns which did not move from their original position.

One of the last games to finish among the elite was that of Sergey Karjakin who tried to edge a victory over Nijat Abasov of Azerbaijan. Abasov, however, managed to withstand the pressure from the Russian and after 90 moves the game ended in a draw. Fifth seated Yu Yangyi, who is now marking a decade since becoming a GM, defeated the Argentinian GM Sandro Mareco, after securing an extra pawn in a rook ending. Current European champion and 10th seated at the Isle of Man, Vladislav Artemiev won against Venezuela’s Eduardo Iturrizaga.

Round One saw a slow start for last year’s Isle of Man winner, Radosław Wojtaszek (2748), who – after more than six hours and 79 moves, drew with 120-points lower-rated Axel Bachmann (2629). Also, among the other top dogs, a slower start for Welsey So, Alexander Grischuk, Levon Aronian and Hikaru Nakamura who all drew their games.

Overall, on the top 20 boards, ten games ended in a draw, while white was victorious in seven, and black in three games.


[photo: David Llada]

A day of firsts for Jobava and Howell

Interestingly, day one on the Isle of Man was a round of firsts for Baadur Jobava and David Howell (who – when asked to describe himself as a player in one word, said: “trixter”). It was the first time the two played against one another, which is hard to believe given their place in the chess elite! The game between them ended in a victory for the Georgian but had a very unusual start, with Jobava opening with b3, followed by h3 in move four, which was met by Howell’s h6. At one point in the middle-game Howell refused to repeat moves as he had a better position, but almost instantly he blundered afterwards which led to Jobava securing two pawns on his Kingside, forcing Howell to throw in the towel on move 54.


[photo: David Llada]

The highest-rated woman player starts with a draw

In one of the last games of Round One, the highest-rated woman player, Harika Dronavali(2495), drew with Hungarian GM Ferenc Berkes, after 95 moves.

The World’s Senior champion and Czech chess legend, Vlastimil Jansa, lost to the young Russian GM Alexey Sarana. Somewhat surprisingly, the Under-20 World Champion, Parham Maghsoodloo (2664) drew with German IM, Elisabeth Patz (2489) who is rated lower by almost 200 points.

Narrowing the gap

Overall, Round one of the Isle of Man Grand Swiss has shown that having about 100 rating points or more above your opponent does not guarantee a victory, with many of the top players conceding to a draw with the rating-underdogs. This could be a sign that the quality gap at the top 100+ in the chess world is narrowing and the Isle of Man Grand Swiss thus might be one of the toughest challenges for the world’s chess elite in history.

The hero of the day: Evgeniy Najer

“When you are playing with such a great GM as Anand, you can’t relax at any moment”

Evgeniy Najer’s victory over Vishy Anand in Round One was the most interesting event on the opening day of the Isle of Man Grands Swiss. In an interview for chess.com after the game, Najer said that he realised the game was won “just when he [Anand] shook my hand. Not before”!

When asked by FIDE was he expecting Anand to offer his hand at the point when he did, or carry on, Najer had this to say: “Honestly, at the final stage I didn’t see any good moves for Vishy. But, when you are playing with such a great GM as Anand, you can’t relax at any moment”.

In his analysis of the game, Najer said that when he entered into the attacking combination which led to his victory, he followed his intuition more instead of having calculated everything clearly. 

“This was a tiring day for me because it was a very complicated game. When you play such a strong player like Vishy, you have other feelings, especially the feeling of big tension about the game. But after the big tension and the big win, comes time to relax”, Najer concluded.


[photo: Maria Emelianova]


[photo: David Llada]

Official website: www.iominternationalchess.com

report provided by FIDE

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