A busy calendar as the world title chess match looms

– The Washington Times – Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Just because there’s this big showdown next month doesn’t mean the rest of the world is on hold until a winner is declared.

No, we (thankfully) aren’t talking politics. As Norwegian world champion Magnus Carlsen and Russian challenger Sergey Karjakin are holed up with their seconds prepping for their title match in Manhattan kicking off a month from Tuesday, their grandmaster peers have not been sitting on their hands, with two major international events this month and a strong open tournament wrapped up right here in suburban Washington over the Columbus Day weekend.

• It’s hard to imagine being rated 2740 and still being seeded ninth in a 10-player tournament, but Russian GM Ian Nepomniachtchi overcame his “handicap” to win the 10th Tal Memorial tournament in Moscow, a field that included ex-world champs Vladimir Kramnik and Viswanathan Anand, Dutch star Anish Giri (who finished second) and Armenian GM Levon Aronian.

• Ukrainian GM Pavel Eljanov held off virtually the entire gold medal-winning American Olympiad team to take the Isle of Man Masters 2016 in the middle of the Irish Sea. Eljanov, having one of the best years of his career, edged U.S. Board 1 GM Fabiano Caruana on tiebreaks in the nine-round open event, while Board 3 Wesley So tied for fourth and Board 2 Hikaru Nakamura finished in a tie for eighth.

The great attacking GM Alexei Shirov, now playing again for his native Latvia after a long sojourn in Spain, turned in a strong performance at the event, leading early in the tournament before a loss to Eljanov and finishing in a tie with So for fourth. The 44-year-old Shirov played several fine games, topped by his defeat of Indian GM Dronavalli Harika in a back-and-forth struggle.

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