FIDE Chess.com Grand Swiss 2019
Douglas, Isle of Man
Oct. 10-21, 2019
Final Top Standings (GM all)
1-2. Wang Hao CHN 2726, Fabiano Caruana USA 2812, 8.0/11
3-8. Kirill Alekseenko RUS 2674, Levon Aronian ARM 2758, David Anton Guijarro ESP 2674, Magnus Carlsen NOR 2876, Hikaru Nakamura USA 2745, Nikita Vitiugov RUS 2732, 7.5/11
9-13. Alexander Grischuk RUS 2759, David Paravyan RUS 2602, David Howell ENG 2694, Vidit Santosh Gujrathi IND 2718, Le Quang Liem VIE 2708, 7.0/11
Total of 154 participants: 133 GM, 2 WGM, 16 IM
Time Control: 100 minutes for the first 40 moves, then 50 minutes for the next 20 moves, followed by 15 minutes play-to-finish with 30 seconds added to your clock after every move starting move 1.
The former Deputy Prime Minister of Russia in Dmitry Medvedev’s cabinet from 2012-2018, Arkady Dvorkovich, is a chess enthusiast. He must have inherited this from his father, Vladimir, who was an international chess arbiter. When Dvorkovich was elected president of FIDE in October 2018 he instituted several changes, and one of these was the tie-up with the Isle of Man organizers to establish the FIDE Grand Swiss. Starting this year the winner of the Isle of Man Open was to be seeded into the Candidates tournament, the event which will determine the challenger to the world championship.
The Candidates’ has eight players who will play a double round-robin. The eligible players so far are:
Runner-up from World Championship 2018 – Fabiano Caruana
2019 World Cup Champion — Teimour Radjabov
2019 World Cup Runner-up — Ding Liren
Winner of FIDE Grand Swiss — Wang Hao
2019 FIDE Grand Prix champion — (not yet determined, so far Shakhriyar Mamedyarov is leading)
2019 FIDE Grand Prix runner-up — (not yet determined, so far Alexander Grischuk is in 2nd position)
Highest rated player not otherwise qualified — (not yet determined, so far Anish Giri is the highest)
Wild Card — player to be nominated by the organizer.
Speaking about no. 8 above, the wild card nomination, the organizers cannot just put forth anybody’s name, there is a list of also-rans to choose from. Currently, there are around seven players who are eligible for the nomination but naturally the organizers of the Candidates, the Yekaterinburg Chess Federation, would prefer to nominate a Russian and, by virtue of finishing third in this event, the St. Petersburg player Kirill Alekseenko has put himself into strong contention.
You know, the top players usually decide who they are going to try to beat and against whom they will be content with a draw before the game, and when you are an up-and-comer most of them will try to beat you and take some risks to do so. If you are lucky you might catch them when they go beyond the bounds of acceptable risk. That is why you have the occasional flash-in-the-pans who you never hear from again. Alekseenko on the other hand after his World Cup performance is no longer considered an outsider and, to coin a Star Trek expression, his opponents will have their “shields up” when facing him. It thus becomes harder to get a win — you won’t be getting much opportunity to spring some tactical surprise in the opening. Here is his crucial penultimate round win against the “Minister of Defense” Sergey Karjakin.
Karjakin, Sergey (2760) — Alekseenko, Kirill (2674) [D02]
FIDE Chess.com Grand Swiss Isle of Man (10.5), 20.10.2019
1.Nf3 d5 2.g3 Nd7 3.d4 Nb6 4.Bg2 Bf5 5.0–0 e6 6.Ne5 c6 7.c4
Karjakin took 40 minutes over this move. It was only after Black’s next move that I realized what he was thinking about — a piece sacrifice for 3 pawns.
Alekseenko accepts the challenge. Not to be outdone he had by this 7th move already consumed more than an hour.
More or less forced, otherwise he loses a pawn for no compensation.
8…fxe5 9.dxc6 e4 10.cxb7 Rb8 11.Nc3 Nf6 12.Bg5
[12.f3 should be considered]
12…Be7 13.Bxf6 Bxf6 14.Nxe4 Bxe4 15.Bxe4 Qxd4 16.Qc2 Qc4 17.Qxc4 Nxc4
Despite the exchange of queens the game is quite interesting. White wants to put his rook on the 7th rank and decides on the Rfd1, Bc6+, and Rd7 maneuver.
18.Rfd1 Nxb2 19.Bc6+ Kf8 20.Rd7 Nd3!
[20…Nc4 21.Rc1 Ne5 22.Rc7 does not force the white rook out of the 7th rank]
21.Rd1 Nc5 22.R7d2
[22.Rc7?! Be5 23.Rc8+ Ke7 Black is already on his way to untangling his pieces and making his extra piece count]
22…Kf7 23.Rc2 Be7 24.Rb1 Rhd8 25.Rb5 Na6 26.Bf3 Nb4 27.Rc4 Nd5
Black has already consolidated.
28.Rc6 Rd7 29.Bg4 Nc7 30.Rb3 Bd6 31.Bf3?! Nd5 32.Kg2 Ke7 33.Bxd5 exd5 34.Re3+ Kf7 35.Rf3+ Ke7 36.Re3+ Kf6 37.Rf3+ Ke6 38.Re3+ Kf6 39.Rf3+ Ke5 40.Re3+ Kf5 41.Rf3+ Ke6 42.Re3+ Kf7 43.Rf3+ Kg8 44.Rc8+ Rd8 45.Rfc3 Kf7 46.R3c6 Ke7 47.Ra6 Rdxc8 48.bxc8Q Rxc8 49.Rxa7+ Rc7
With the passed pawn on the 7th rank destroyed it is now Black who is playing for the win. White’s plan of course is to exchange off all the pawns as KR vs KRB with no pawns is a draw.
50.Ra5 Bc5 51.e3 Kd6 52.Ra6+ Kd7 53.Ra4 Ra7 54.Rh4 Rxa2 55.Kf3
[55.Rxh7? Bxe3 is lost for White. 56.Rxg7+ Ke6 the pawn on f2 cannot be saved]
55…h6 56.Rg4 Bf8 57.Rf4 Be7 58.Rf7 g6 59.h4 Ra6
For the next few moves Black tries to force the exchange of rooks.
Of course White should keep the rooks on the board to maximize his drawing chances. No good therefore is 60.Rf4? Rf6.
60…Rf6+ 61.Kg2 h5 62.Rh8 Rf8 63.Rh6 Rg8 64.Rh7 Ke6 65.Kg1 Rf8 66.Rg7 Kf6 67.Rh7 Rf7 68.Rh8 Bf8 69.Rg8 Kf5 70.Kg2 Rf6 71.Rh8 Ke6 72.Rh7 Rf7 73.Rh8 Ke7 74.f4 Kf6 75.Rg8 <D>
POSITION AFTER 75.RG8
Finally Alekseenko hits upon the winning plan — he gives up trying to force the exchange of rooks and goes for the e3–pawn. This would in turn pave the way for pushing his d-pawn down the board.
76.Rd8 Ke6 77.Rg8 Kf5 78.Kf3 Rf8 79.Rg7 Re8 80.Rf7+ Ke6 81.Rb7 Ra8! 82.Rg7
Other moves lose faster:
82.Rb1? Ra3 83.Re1 Rxe3+ 84.Rxe3+ Bxe3 85.Kxe3 Kf5 86.Kf3 d4 and wins.
82…Ra3 83.Rxg6+ Ke7 84.Rg5 Rxe3+ 85.Kg2 Kd6 86.Rxh5 d4 87.Rh8 d3 88.h5 Kd7 89.Rh7+ Kc6 0–1
Surveying the field in the forthcoming Candidates tournament, I still think that Fabiano Caruana has the best chance of advancing into a rematch vs Magnus Carlsen for the world title. He is a universal player, equally strong in the opening, middlegame and endgame, able to attack with the forces of good and evil behind him, very willing and able to grind out for 100+ moves in search of the full point, resourceful in defense, and always with a drop of poison, never failing to spot tactical resources. In the following game he outplays “Fire on Board” himself Alexei Shirov.
Shirov, Alexei (2664) — Caruana, Fabiano (2812) [B90]
FIDE Chess.com Grand Swiss Isle of Man (3.1), 12.10.2019
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be3 Ng4 7.Bc1 Nf6 8.Be3 e5 9.Nb3 Be7 10.f3
The English Attack in the Sicilian Najdorf. Both players have a lot of experience with the line.
10…Be6 11.Qd2 Nbd7 12.g4 0–0 13.g5 Nh5 14.Rg1 b5 15.Nd5 Bxd5 16.exd5 f5 17.h4
Black was of course threatening to take the g5–pawn by …f4 followed by …Bxg5, but I believe a younger Shirov would have tried 17.0–0–0! f4 18.Bf2 Bxg5 19.Qb4 followed by Nb3–a5–c6 and Bh6 with a lot of play on the White squares.
Caruana regroups his pieces and winds up controlling more real estate than Shirov.
18.0–0–0 Bd8 19.Na5 Bb6 20.Nc6 Nf4 21.Bxb6 Nxb6 22.Qb4 Qd7 23.c4 Kh8 24.Kb1
[24.cxb5 Nbxd5 25.Qb3 axb5 26.Bxb5 Rac8! 27.Rxd5 Rxc6+ 28.Kb1 Nxd5 29.Qxd5 Qa7! this move, attacking the undefended g1 rook, ensures that Black stays on top]
24…Rae8 25.cxb5 Nbxd5 26.Qb3 e4 27.Rxd5 Nxd5 28.Qxd5 exf3 29.Qd2 Re4
Here time trouble causes both sides to make mistakes. In the next move, for example, Shirov should not have abandoned the back rank. 30.Bd3 would have been better.
30.Rg3? Qe6 31.Bd3 Re3?
And here 31…Re1+ 32.Kc2 axb5 followed by …Rc8 wins.
32.Rg1 f2 33.Rc1 axb5 34.Nb4 Rf3 35.Bxb5 Qe4+ 36.Nc2 Rc8 37.Ba6 d5 38.a3?
[38.Rf1 only move]
38…d4 39.Bxc8 f1Q 40.Rxf1 Rxf1+ 41.Ka2 d3 42.Ne3 Rf3 43.Bxf5 Qxe3 44.Qa5 Qe8 45.Qd5 Qg8 46.Be6 Qf8 47.h5 Re3 48.g6 d2 49.Bf7
49…Re2 50.Qd3 Rh2 51.Qf3?? Rg2!
The winning move.
52…Qb8 Targeting mate on b2. 0–1
Bobby Ang is a founding member of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) and its first Executive Director. A Certified Public Accountant (CPA), he taught accounting in the University of Santo Tomas (UST) for 25 years and is currently Chief Audit Executive of the Equicom Group of Companies.