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Between 1990 and 2007, the annual Monarch Assurance Open tournament in the time-warped Isle of Man – situated in the Irish Sea, between the UK mainland and Ireland, which always feels as if it is 30 years out of time – was the strongest Open to be held in the British Isles apart from the hugely popular and extremely strong series of Lloyds Bank Masters tournaments in London, which sadly ceased to exist after 1994.

After a hiatus of a few years, now the Isle of Man has again been playing host to a really big International Open, with sponsorship in 2014 coming from the top Internet site PokerStars, and now, the latest backers being the top chess-playing site, Chess.com. The re-christened Chess.com Isle of Man latest edition, a nine-round Swiss, with a lucrative top prize on offer of £50,000 ($65,000), runs from 20-28 October in the Villa Marina and Gaiety Theatre in Douglas, the capital and largest town on the historic island.

The lure of the lucre has also attracted a truly cosmopolitan field of 165 players from 35 different countries in the Open itself, with the list headed by three 2780 elite-level players, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (France), Anish Giri (Netherlands) and Levon Aronian (Armenia), and also including two ex-world champions in Viswanathan Anand (India) and Vladimir Kramnik (Russia); the top US grandmasters being Wesley So, Hikaru Nakamura, Jeffrey Xiong, Sam Sevian and Robert Hess.

The earlier rounds proved something of a challenge for many of the top-seeded elite-level 2700+ players in the shark-infested environs of a major international Swiss Open with a number of young guns looking to make a name for themselves, and almost half failing to win. Things have settled somewhat, but the top seeds are still off the pace as the tournament reaches its midpoint, with Wang Hao (China), Arkadij Naiditsch (Azerbaijan), Jeffrey Xiong (USA) and Abhijeet Gupta (India) in the clubhouse with a four-way tie on 4.5/5.

In our previous column, we saw ex-champion Anand surviving a scare against a rising 13-year-old Indian star. Another game that caught my eye comes from another 13-year-old rising star, Vincent Keymer, who earlier this year scored a surprise breakthrough win at the Grenke Open. But the German teenager was the one who came unstuck, when he fell into a wicked tactical trap set by the young Russian GM, Vladislav Artemiev, in today’s highlighted game.

Photo: Yes, 21.Nxb6!! comes as a bit of a shock, Mr Keymer! | © John Saunders / Official site

GM Vladislav Artemiev – IM Vincent Keymer
Chess.com IoM Masters, (3)
Sicilian Defence, Basman Deferred
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.c3 Nf6 4.Be2!? A simple, yet interesting offbeat line against the Sicilian that was championed in the early 1970s by the eccentric English leading player of the day, IM Michael Basman, the idea behind it being that the e4 pawn can’t be captured due to omnipresent threat of Qa4+. And this is also a line I experimented with as a teenager, thanks to one of Basman’s Audio Chess cassette tapes he produced on it – and I was heavily influenced by one of Basman’s most famous games with this system, Basman-Stean, Hastings 1973/74. 4…g6 5.0-0 Bg7 6.Re1 0-0 Now the e4-pawn is under threat. 7.Bf1 Nc6 8.d3 Back in the day, Basman would have no qualms in recommending 8.d4 with central play. But rather than that, Artemiev opts for a quieter, non-commital option that more resembles a reversed Old Indian set-up. 8…e5 9.Nbd2 Re8 10.a4 h6 11.Nc4 d5 12.exd5 Nxd5 13.a5 Bf5 This is a waste of a move. I would have gone for 13…Qc7 first, and delay the development of the light-squared bishop for a more useful square, such as e6. 14.Nfd2 Be6 A ready admission from Keymer that his …Bf5 was wrong. 15.Qa4 Qc7 16.Ne4 Bf8? Another bad move that just set’s up a winning tactic. Black has wasted a couple of moves in the opening, and White has emerged with a little edge – but now Keymer gets over-worried about a knight invasion on d6, not realising that danger lurked. Instead, he had to play 16…b6 and take his chances here. As it is, he hasn’t realised he’s walking into a big trap. 17.Be3 b6 18.axb6 axb6 19.Qxa8! In this position, the two rooks are worth more than the queen for White. 19…Rxa8 20.Rxa8 g5? According to the engines – that see through all the tricks – the only hope of staying in the game came with what looked like the embarrassing back-to-the-wall retreat of 20…Bc8! even although it allows the game to open up after 21.d4 – but with careful play, Black should be OK after 21…cxd4 22.cxd4 Qb7 23.Rea1 Na5! 24.Nxb6! Nxe3 25.Nf6+ Kg7 26.dxe5 (Dangerous is 26.Rxc8 Kxf6 27.fxe3 Qxb6 28.Ra8! Qxb2 29.R1xa5 Bb4!) 26…Nxf1 27.Rxc8 Ne3! 28.Ne8+ Kh8 29.fxe3 Qxb6 30.Nf6 Qxe3+ 31.Kh1 Kg7 32.Ne8+ which is just going to fizzle out to a draw. Of course, we all saw what the playing engine saw, right? 21.Nxb6!! [see diagram] BOOM! Now all the tricks work in White’s favour. 21…Qxb6 The point of the tactic was that Black can’t play 21…Nxb6? due to 22.Nf6+ Kg7 (No better was 22…Kh8 23.Rxf8+ Kg7 24.Ne8+ also winning.) 23.Ne8+! Kg8 24.Nxc7 and, as the dust settles, White has emerged with a big material advantage. 22.Bxc5 Qxb2 23.Bxf8 Kh7 24.Ra6! Nb8 There’s no hope now. If 24…Qb7 25.d4! and all of White’s pieces are rallying for the attack on the Black king. 25.Raa1 Nd7 Better was 25…Nxc3 but after 26.Ba3 Qb3 27.Nc5 Qd5 28.Nxe6 Qxe6 29.d4 Black’s game is in tatters. 26.Ba3 Qb6 27.c4 Nf4 28.Bc1 Bf5 29.Be3 White’s active pieces now decide the game. 29…Qc6 30.Ra7 Kg7 31.c5 Nd5 32.Nd6 Be6 33.d4! There’s one final tactical twist from White. 33…Nxe3 34.Rxe3 exd4 35.Rxe6! fxe6 36.Rc7 Qd5 There’s no defence. If 36…Qa4 37.c6 soon wins. And, of course, taking the rook falls into another knight fork after 36…Qxc7 37.Ne8+ winning. 37.Rxd7+ Kf8 38.Rf7+ Kg8 If Black can easily remove the c-pawn, then it is hard to see how White can win here. But there’s a final sting in the tail. 39.Rf5!! Qb3 If 39…exf5 40.Bc4! soon wins. 40.Rf3 Qd5 41.Rf5 Qb3 42.Re5 White just repeated a couple of moves to safely get through the time control at move 40. 42…Qc2 If 42…d3 43.Re3 Qd5 44.Bxd3 Qxc5 45.Rxe6 White’s pieces will soon win. 43.Nc4 d3 44.Ne3 Qb3 45.c6 d2 46.Rc5 Qb6 47.Rc4 1-0

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