China’s Wang Hao scored an unlikely but deserved victory in the $430,000 Fide/ Isle of Man tournament this week as the 30-year-old from Harbin won first prize on tie-break. Wang and the world No2 Fabiano Caruana scored 8/11, half a point ahead of the world champion Magnus Carlsen and others.

It was the performance of Wang’s life, and owed little to luck as he drew twice in winning positions. He now qualifies for the eight-man 2020 candidates which will decide Carlsen’s next title challenger.

Wang Hao has been out of favour with Chinese chess officials and has been omitted from the national team. He had no trainer with him in Douglas, and prepared for his games alone with his computer.

Carlsen went through the 11 rounds unbeaten, set a record of 101 consecutive games without loss against elite opposition, but was still dissatisfied: “The streak was nice, but the performance was mediocre at best”.

England’s David Howell, who began slowly then had a run of wins, could have reached the candidates with a final round win against Wang Hao, but blundered and lost.


White mates in four, with just a single sequence needed for White. Black is down to the pawn moves b7-b6 and g6-g5. However his king is snug in the white camp at g1 and if White discovers check with Nd3/c2+ then Kxg2 and there is no mate.Can you find White’s hidden four-move sequence?

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