The Isle of Man Masters finished last Sunday. This year Suffolk’s Alan Merry (IM) took part to compete in what’s considered to be the strongest open tournament in the world. The event comprised many stars from the past and present, including Vladimir Kramnik (GM), Vishwanathan Anand (GM), Alexei Shirov (GM), Nigel Short (GM), Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa (GM) and Vincent Kaymer (IM); the list goes on and on. Alan didn’t perform as well as he did in some of the previous events held at the prestigious Villa Marina venue in the island’s capital of Douglas, however this time he did end up with some amazing pairings, most notably in round 1 against three times World Blitz Champion, Alexander Grischuk (GM) from Russia, and in round 3 where he got another bite at the cherry against England number 1, Michael Adams (GM).
|Alexander Grischuk v Alan Merry – Isle of Man Masters – Round 1, 20th October 2018 1|
Unfortunately both games ended up in losses for Alan, who was perhaps slightly unlucky to end up being drawn Black against all of his higher rated opponents. Alan’s final total was 4 points from 9 games. The eventual joint winners were Poland’s Radoslaw Wojtaszek (GM) and Azerbaijan’s Arkadij Naiditsch (GM), who scored 7½/9, with both players taking half point byes during the middle of the tournament, presumably to save energy! The final standings are available from the Chess Results website.
The position below is from Alan’s round 4 game, playing White against Bjarke Sahl (IM). White is on the verge of winning anyway, but here Black made a fatal blunder by playing 53…Rxb7?? – can you spot how Alan then forced Black to resign?
There is a shed load of videos featuring interviews and analysis of some of the top Isle of Man Masters games available for free on YouTube. For example, Sicilian Najdorf fans might be particularly interested in GM Maxime Vachier Lagrave’s very smooth game in round 2.
1Photo by John Saunders: https://www.flickr.com/photos/johnchess2/44539536155/in/photostream/