Magnus Carlsen Is the 2017 Isle of Man Champion

Magnus Carlsen with his prize check and trophy at the closing ceremony. Photo: John Sanders
Magnus Carlsen captured clear 1st at the Isle of Man Masters with 7.5 points out of 9 games. Surprisingly, this is Carlsen's first classical tournament victory in over a year. In the penultimate round, Carlsen nearly sealed the tournament win after defeating Fabiano Caruana with the black pieces. Facing a novelty (15. g4!?) in the Ruy Lopez, Carlsen built up a strong counterattack. Can you find the tactic he used to defeat one of his biggest rivals of the tournament?

Puzzle #1

Fabiano Caruana vs. Magnus Carlsen

Black to move.
Show Solution
[pgn][Event "Isle of Man Open"]
[Site "Douglas IMN"]
[Date "2017.09.30"]
[Round "8"]
[White "Fabiano Caruana"]
[Black "Magnus Carlsen"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "C78"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "1b1q2k1/1n3pp1/p1r1b2p/1p3Bn1/2PB2P1/4Q1NP/3N1P2/4R1K1 b - - 0 35"]
[PlyCount "5"]
[EventDate "2017.09.23"]35... Bf4 $1 {and Caruana resigned. White loses material because of the
possible knight forks on h3 and f3. For example,} 36. Qc3 (36. Qxf4 Nxh3+)
36... Bxd2 37. Qxd2 Nf3+ 0-1[/pgn]
Here is the full game:
[pgn][Event "Isle of Man Open"]
[Site "Douglas IMN"]
[Date "2017.09.30"]
[EventDate "2017.09.23"]
[Round "8"]
[Result "0-1"]
[White "Fabiano Caruana"]
[Black "Magnus Carlsen"]
[ECO "C78"]
[WhiteElo "?"]
[BlackElo "?"]
[PlyCount "70"]1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O b5 6.Bb3 Bc5 7.c3
d6 8.a4 Rb8 9.d4 Bb6 10.a5 Ba7 11.h3 O-O 12.Be3 Ra8 13.Re1 h6
14.Nbd2 Re8 15.g4 Qe7 16.Nf1 Nd8 17.Ng3 c5 18.Qd2 c4 19.Bc2
Nh7 20.b4 cxb3 21.Bxb3 Be6 22.Bc2 Rc8 23.Bd3 Nb7 24.Rec1 Qd8
25.Qb2 Nxa5 26.Nd2 d5 27.Re1 Bb8 28.exd5 Bxd5 29.Bf5 Rc6
30.Qa3 Nb7 31.Rad1 exd4 32.Bxd4 Ng5 33.c4 Rxe1+ 34.Rxe1 Be6
35.Qe3 Bf4 0-1[/pgn]
In the final round, Hikaru Nakamura was still in contention, trailing Carlsen by only half a point. However, Nakamura faced Carlsen with the black pieces, and Carlsen forced a repetition at the first opportunity, clinching the tournament.
[pgn][Event "Isle of Man Open"]
[Site "Douglas IMN"]
[Date "2017.10.01"]
[Round "9"]
[White "Magnus Carlsen"]
[Black "Hikaru Nakamura"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "D37"]
[PlyCount "36"]
[EventDate "2017.09.23"]1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 e6 3. c4 d5 4. Nc3 Be7 5. Bf4 O-O 6. e3 c5 7. dxc5 Bxc5 8. a3
Nc6 9. Qc2 Qa5 10. Rd1 Re8 11. Nd2 e5 12. Bg5 Nd4 13. Qc1 Bf5 14. Bxf6 Nc2+ 15.
Ke2 Nd4+ 16. Ke1 Nc2+ 17. Ke2 Nd4+ 18. Ke1 Nc2+ 1/2-1/2[/pgn]
Hikaru Nakamura and Viswanathan Anand at the closing ceremony. Photo: John Sanders
Nakamura ultimately scored 7 points, tying for 2nd place with the 15th World Champion, Viswanathan Anand.
The 9-way tie for 4th place (left to right): Vidit Gujrathi, Swapnil Dhopade, Richard Rapport, Alexei Shirov , Michael Adams, Emil Sutovsky, Vladimir Kramnik, Fabiano Caruana, and Pavel Eljanov. Photo: John Sanders
Fabiano Caruana recovered from his loss with a victory over fellow American grandmaster, Varuzhan Akobian. This gave Caruana 6.5 points and a tie for 4th place with the 14th World Champion, Vladimir Kramnik, and seven more GMs.

Puzzle #2

Varuzhan Akobian vs. Fabiano Caruana

How did Caruana create a strong attack?
Black to move.
Show Solution
[pgn][Event "Isle of Man Open"][Site "Douglas IMN"][Date "2017.10.01"]
[Round "9.6"]
[White "Varuzhan Akobian"]
[Black "Fabiano Caruana"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "A46"]
[WhiteElo "2662"]
[BlackElo "2799"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "4q1k1/5pb1/3p3p/2nP1QpP/1B4P1/1P3PN1/8/1K6 b - - 0 36"]
[PlyCount "15"]
[EventDate "2017.09.23"]36... Qb8 $1 37. Bxc5 dxc5 $1 {A clever discovered attack: White can't hold
both the knight on g3 and his king's pawn cover on b3.} 38. Ne4 Qxb3+ $17 {The
game finished quickly with:} 39. Kc1 Bd4 40. Kd2 $2 (40. Nd2 {gave White
better chances to hold the game.}) 40... c4 41. Qc8+ Kg7 42. d6 Qd3+ 43. Kc1
Be3+ 0-1[/pgn]
Stay tuned for IM Kostya Kavutskiy’s upcoming in-depth account from the event! For more information, visit:
About the Author
Vanessa West is a regular writer and digital assistant for US Chess News. She won the 2017 Chess Journalist of the Year award. You can follow her on Twitter: @Vanessa__West    

Add new comment

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.

Plain Text Comments