Chess notes

The Isle of Mann is a speck of land in the Irish Sea, right between England and Northern Ireland. It is all of 221 square miles with a population just over 84,000, and since 2014 it has been the home of one the world’s most popular open chess tournaments. It was originally “The PokerStars Isle of Mann Tournament” but now it’s the “ Isle of Mann International” ( From a single section with a just 80 players, this year’s version has 220 players in three groups, including Magnus Carlsen, with a prize fund of $178,000 which must be the richest in Europe.

One of this year’s most interesting first-round games was the one between veteran Israeli (via Baku, Azerbaijan) Grandmaster, Emil Sutovsky, versus the once youngest US master, 10-year-old Christopher Yoo of California. Local commentators were very much given with the image of the wide-eyed and eager youngster playing the rather rumpled and world weary chess professional.


In any case, hopefully Christopher learned a lot in the game, especially that it’s best to consider very carefully any offered free pawn, as it may not really be free.  

2017 Isle of Man International, Douglas, Isle of Mann

Emil Sutovsky (2683) - Christopher Woojin Yoo (2254)

 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 b5 6.Bb3 Bc5 7.a4 Rb8 8.Nxe5 Nxe5 9.d4 Bxd4 10.Qxd4 d6 The temporary knight sacrifice has given White a plus in the center and the two bishops. Black's now needs to contain White's center pawns, especially after f4 while White has to find a way to make this spatial advantage and two bishops into something concrete. 11.f4 Nc612.Qc3Ne7 Securing d5 for a knight if White plays e5. 13.Qe1 0–0 14.f5 Freeing one of his two bishops. If 14.e5 dxe5 15.fxe5 Nfd5 16.Bg5 h6 17.Bh4 Be6 18.axb5 axb5 19.Nc3 Nxc3 20.Bxe6 fxe6 21.Qxc3 Qd7 22.Qc5 Nd5 23.b3 is more or less equal 14...Bb7 15.axb5 axb5 16.Nc3!? Enterprising. 16...b4 17.Ne2 Bxe4?! The impetuousness of youth.Wiser is to ignore the “free” pawn with 17…Qe8 to avoid any Bg5 pinning ideas, when after 18.Ng3 Nc6 Black can use e5 for defense. Now Black falls under a raging assault 18.Bg5 Nxf5?! Just asking for trouble. Safer was 18...Bxf5 19.Nd4 Bg6 20.Rxf6 gxf6 21.Bxf6 c5 22.Ne6 Qd7 23.Nxf8 Kxf8 24.h3 Nf5 25.g4 Nd4 26.Qe3 Ne6 27.Qh6+ Kg8 28.Re1 Rb7 29.Bd5 Ra7 30.h4 Qc8 31.Qd2 Nc7 32.Bf3 with a pawn and chances to survive. 19.g4! Winning a piece 19...h6 19...Ne7 20.Ng3 Bg6 21.Rxf6 gxf6 22.Bxf6 Re8 23.Qd2 d5 (With the defending idea of 24.Qh6 Nf5!) 24.Nh5! Bxh5 (24...Rb6 25.Qh6 Nf5 26.gxf5 Qxf6 27.Nxf6+)25.Qh6 Nf5 26.gxf5 wins 20.Bxf6 Qxf6 21.gxf5 Rfe8 21...Qxb2 right away is better: 22.Qd2 Bxf5 23.Nd4 Bg6 24.Nc6 Rb5 25.Rab1 Qc3 26.Qxc3 bxc3 Ne7+ (and not the obvious 27.Bxf7+ due to diabolical 27…Rxf7 28.Rxb5 Rxf1+ 29.Kxf1 Bd3+!! A really beautiful move!) with a plus for White but one that will require a lot of technique to win. 22.Qf2 Qxb2 23.f6 Obviously desirable but better was 23.Ng3 not to give Black another pawn 23...Bxc2 24.Nd4 Re4 Attacking the d4 knight buy also threatening Rg4+ 25.Bxc2 Rg4+ 26.Kh1 Qxd4 27.Qf3 With ideas of Ra8. 27...c6? Even though mathematically Black has more than enough for his piece, his king is too exposed and his pieces lack harmony. 27...g6 holds for a while 28.Rad1 Qc4 29.Rc1 (29.Bd3 Qe6 is now playable) 29...Rg5 30.Bxg6 Qg4  28.Rad1 Qc4 29.Bd3 Qd4 29...Qe6 30.Bf5 30.Bh7+; 1–0

Chris Chase can be reached at
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