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FIDE Grand Swiss: Round 10 Report

John Saunders reports: round 10, the penultimate round of the 2023 FIDE Grand Swiss and Women’s Grand Swiss, was a remarkable feast of chess as the top seven boards in the open tournament ended decisively, while six of the ten top boards in the Women’s Grand Swiss ended similarly. At the end of the round, Hikaru Nakamura, Vidit Gujrathi and Andrey Esipenko lead the FIDE Grand Swiss on 7½/10, while three further players, Arjun Erigaisi, Alexandr Predke and Vincent Keymer are tucked in behind the leaders on 7, with everything to play for in the final round. In the FIDE Women’s Grand Swiss, Rameshbabu Vaishali remains the sole leader on 8/10, Anna Muzychuk is on 7½, and Batkhuyag Munguntuul is on 7. The fact that Anna Muzychuk is already qualified for the 2024 Women’s Candidates’ Tournament in Toronto next April means that Rameshbabu Vaishali knows she too is now certain of one of the two qualification spots for the same event as only one player can now reach her score.

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The Four Knights Defence wasn't the most promising opening for the Nakamura-Caruana game but we were in for a surprise.

The much-anticipated all-American clash between Hikaru Nakamura and Fabiano Caruana produced a fascinating game. Later Nakamura played down the opening, the Four Knights’ Defence, Scotch variation, as “cheesy” and “lame” in the post-game interview, and also downplayed his prospects of qualifying for the Candidates’ – “for me it’s just another tournament” – but for the fans this was heady stuff. Caruana doesn’t lower his flag easily but Nakamura seemed to be channelling the late, great Bobby Fischer in the way he employed a deceptively innocuous opening to outplay one of the world’s very best players. Nakamura also gives a great interview, so don’t miss it.

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Andrey Esipenko and Parham Maghsoodloo started the game with a friendly smile and chat but then got down to some serious business

Andrey Esipenko versus Parham Maghsoodloo was a Catalan, with Black risking too much by adopting a strategy which involved giving up the two bishops and weakening his kingside dark squares. By move 25 White has established a firm grip on those squares. There were a couple of junctures where Black might have been able to get back into the game had he played the most precise but the general direction of travel of his position was downwards, with the dark squares finally being his downfall as envisaged earlier.

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Bogdan-Daniel Deac needs to check Vidit Gujrathi's name card for how to spell his name

Vidit Gujrathi made it a triumvirate of leaders going into the final round by defeating Bogdan-Daniel Deac from the black side of a Moscow Sicilian. White was caught out by a bold g-pawn advance in front of Black’s king, followed by a pawn capture on e4 underpinned by some clever tactics. Black’s extra pawn persisted and was consolidated by further accurate play, and Vidit gradually ground down Deac.

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Vincent Keymer's all-out approach was enough to dispatch Vladimir Fedoseev

Vincent Keymer joined the group of three just behind the leaders by beating Vladimir Fedoseev. The opening was a Queen’s Indian and Keymer launched a bold pawn storm in front of his castled king – not unlike Vidit’s in this round of barnstorming chess – which worked like a dream, with White establishing a murderous knight on g6. Black had some counter-threats against the white king but they were easily parried and White’s more potent attack inevitably broke through to win.

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Some creative play from Arjun Erigaisi ended the challenge of Samuel Sevian (photo: Anna Shtourman)

Samuel Sevian played the white side of a Semi-Slav, Noteboom variation, against Arjun Erigaisi. White built up what looked like a healthy kingside initiative with queen and minor pieces, and also had an extra pawn, but closer examination revealed that the quality of Black’s one passed pawn, a move away from queening, was a more important factor in assessing the position than White’s greater quantity of lesser value pawns. White hastily pushed through a passed pawn of his own to create threats but its arrival on the seventh was too late compared to Black’s imminent coronation at the other end of the board. This was a most imaginative effort from Erigaisi.

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Alexandr Predke exploited a serious miscalculation made by Yuriy Kuzubov (photo: Anna Shtourman)

Alexandr Predke became the third member of the second score group when he defeated Yuriy Kuzubov in a Queen’s Gambit Declined, Exchange variation. Black seemed to be doing fine until he played a careless 22...Qg5 allowing White to take the c6-pawn, possibly because Black had overlooked the fact that, after his retaliation with 23...Bxh3, White had the devastating intermezzo 24 R7f5! after which Black never recovered.

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The loneliness of the long-distance grandmaster: Hans Niemann was ground down in 94 moves by Anish Giri

Anish Giri, having won in round nine after six straight draws, obviously regained the taste for winning games, or else was infected by the sudden outbreak of DCS (Decisive Chess Syndrome) which was going on around him. He played Hans Niemann and the opening was an English/Grünfeld with Giri playing Black, and nothing much happened until Black infiltrated the opposite camp with a rook around move 25. That yielded only a slight edge, but by manoeuvring Black gradually increased his advantage until Niemann cracked around move 50 and Black went two pawns ahead. It still took a long time to win but Giri did so on move 94.

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Shreyas Royal drew against Sandro Mareco and will have a second shot at a GM norm in the final round - but he needs to win

Nikita Vitiugov moved into the third score group by beating Manuel Petrosyan, while Shreyas Royal drew his game with Sandro Mareco, which means he requires a win in the last round to achieve an 11-round GM result. Manxman Li Wu drew with Black against Vahap Sanal – I think he may also need a win for an IM norm. Dietmar Kolbus lost to secure his spot at the bottom of the table, though I’m sure he has thoroughly enjoyed his tournament nonetheless.

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Abhimanyu Mishra, aged 14, played some imaginative chess to beat the legendary Vasyl Ivanchuk, aged 54

The strength in depth of the FIDE Grand Swiss, and its gruelling nature, finally took its toll of two of the oldest and most distinguished competitors in the field. Alexei Shirov lost to Vladislav Artemiev, while Vasyl Ivanchuk was beaten by the world’s youngest grandmaster, Abhimanyu Mishra, in a style which might have reminded Ivanchuk of his own younger self.

FIDE Women’s Grand Swiss

Going into the last round Rameshbabu Vaishali has 8/10, Anna Muzychuk 7½, and Batkhuyag Munguntuul is on 7. Also with a chance of qualifying for the candidates and major prizes are four players on 6½: Pia Cramling, Tan Zhongyi, Antoaneta Stefanova and Leya Garifullina.

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Rameshbabu Vaishali looks pleased to have beaten Tan Zhongyi and qualified for the 2024 Women's Candidates in Toronto

Rameshbabu Vaishalis form in this event has been a revelation. Today she reeled off her third win in four games against one of the competition’s toughest competitors, former women’s world champion Tan Zhongyi. The opening was a Richter Sicilian in which Black failed to find a safe haven for her king. Things started to go wrong around move 25 when the white queen had various threats to Black’s vulnerable queenside, having stymied Black’s kingside counterplay. White won a queenside pawn whilst beating off the remains of Black’s kingside play. A second and then a third pawn disappeared and it was all over. Once other results came in it was clear that Rameshbabu Vaishali had secured one of the two coveted Women’s Candidates’ tournament slots with a round to spare by virtue of her nearest challenger Anna Muzychuk already being qualified and only one other player left who could reach her score. She is also within a couple of rating points of completing her qualification for the GM title. It was pleasant to see her younger brother watching her game from time to time during the afternoon, to see if his elder sister would be accompanying him to the Toronto Candidates for which he too is qualified.

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Anna Muzychuk kept up her pursuit of first prize in the FIDE Women's Grand Swiss with a win against Deysi Cori Tello

Anna Muzychuk’s pursuit of first place also continued in style as she defeated Deysi Cori Tello. Playing White against a Pirc/Hedgehog, Anna Muzychuk’s opening looked a little risky as she gave up a pawn for what seemed nebulous compensation. However, Black’s further play was rather weak and White climbed back into the game, winning back the pawn, and exploiting Black’s collapse in time trouble.

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Frustration for Leya Garifullina as she missed a great chance to defeat Antoaneta Stefanova

Antoaneta Stefanova also looked to have collapsed in time pressure, against Leya Garifullina, losing a pawn and looking to be destroyed on the black squares around her king, but Garifullina made a mess of it, was forced to swap queens and then found her dark-squared bishop trapped after which she was somewhat fortunate to be able to draw.

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Batkhuyag Munguntuul, still unbeaten, defeated Mai Narva and takes on Rameshbabu Vaishali in the last round

Mai Narva, after a fine run of form scoring 3½/4 against four GMs, came down to earth with a bump against Batkhuyag Munguntuul. Playing White against a Caro-Kann, Narva tried a rather optimistic sacrifice which left with nothing special apart from being two bishops for a rook down. She also two pawns but they were no match for the two bishops working in tandem. Eventually the endgame morphed into queen versus rook and pawn, but Munguntuul made steady and impressive progress to win.

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Eline Roebers pulled off a fine sacrificial win against Elina Danielian

Two players with similar forenames, Eline Roebers and Elina Danielian, went head to head in a sharp struggle. The opening was a Pirc Defence, Austrian Attack, with Roebers first pushing Black back on the queenside and then opening up the kingside with an attractive two-pawn sacrifice.

The final round starts tomorrow at the earlier time of 14.00 GMT.
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FIDE Grand Swiss: Round 11 report
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John Saunders reports: a pulsating last round of the 2023 FIDE Grand Swiss at the Villa Marina, Douglas, Isle of Man, saw a remarkable victory for Vidit Gujrathi, who defeated Alexandr Predke to score 8½ out of 11 and take first place despite a first-round loss. This stunning result qualifies the 29-year-old Indian grandmaster for the 2024 World Championship Candidates tournament in Toronto, Canada, next April. The second qualifying place in the Candidates went to Hikaru Nakamura who drew his game with Arjun Erigaisi to finish second in the tournament with 8 points. Indian chess celebrated a double success as first place in the FIDE Women’s Grand Swiss was taken by Rameshbabu Vaishali who drew with Batkhuyag Munguntuul to score 8½ out of 11, ahead of Anna Muzychuk in second place on 8 and Tan Zhongyi in third place on 7½. Vaishali had secured her place in the 2024 Women’s Candidates with a round to spare, and Tan Zhongyi took the second place since Anna Muzychuk had already qualified for the FIDE Women’s Candidates from the FIDE Women’s World Cup.


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FIDE Grand Swiss: Round 10 Report
Published: 05 Nov 2023

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John Saunders reports: round 10, the penultimate round of the 2023 FIDE Grand Swiss and Women’s Grand Swiss, was a remarkable feast of chess as the top seven boards in the open tournament ended decisively, while six of the ten top boards in the Women’s Grand Swiss ended similarly. At the end of the round, Hikaru Nakamura, Vidit Gujrathi and Andrey Esipenko lead the FIDE Grand Swiss on 7½/10, while three further players, Arjun Erigaisi, Alexandr Predke and Vincent Keymer are tucked in behind the leaders on 7, with everything to play for in the final round. In the FIDE Women’s Grand Swiss, Rameshbabu Vaishali remains the sole leader on 8/10, Anna Muzychuk is on 7½, and Batkhuyag Munguntuul is on 7. The fact that Anna Muzychuk is already qualified for the 2024 Women’s Candidates’ Tournament in Toronto next April means that Rameshbabu Vaishali knows she too is now certain of one of the two qualification spots for the same event as only one player can now reach her score.


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FIDE Grand Swiss: Round 9 Report
Published: 04 Nov 2023

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John Saunders reports: Round nine of the FIDE Grand Swiss, played at the Villa Marina, Douglas, Isle of Man on 3 November 2023, saw the group of leaders increase from four to six. Those six are Fabiano Caruana, Bogdan-Daniel Deac, Vidit Gujrathi, Andrey Esipenko, Hikaru Nakamura (who beat Ivan Cheparinov) and Parham Maghsoodloo (who beat Alexey Sarana). They have 6½/9, with a further six players half a point behind them: Alexandr Predke, Yuriy Kuzubov, Arjun Erigaisi, Vincent Keymer, Samuel Sevian and Vladimir Fedoseev on 6. The FIDE Women’s Grand Swiss now has a sole leader, Rameshbabu Vaishali, who beat Antoaneta Stefanova, and leads on 7/9, with Tan Zhongyi and Anna Muzychuk trailing her on 6½. Two rounds remain. Round 10 is scheduled for the normal time of 1430 GMT on Saturday 4 November.


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