Grand Swiss: Caruana and Wang Hao still perfect

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
10/13/2019 – Fabiano Caruana and Wang Hao won their round three games to maintain a perfect score at the FIDE Grand Swiss. The chasing pack on 2½ out of 3 consists of ten players, nine of whom won on Saturday — only Adhiban, who was one of the co-leaders after round two, drew and stayed close behind the top scorers. World Champion Magnus Carlsen got good winning chances but ended up splitting the point with Rustam Kasimdzhanov. | Photo: Maria Emelianova /

Chess News

Navigating the Ruy Lopez Vol.1-3 Navigating the Ruy Lopez Vol.1-3

The Ruy Lopez is one of the oldest openings which continues to enjoy high popularity from club level to the absolute world top. In this video series, American super GM Fabiano Caruana, talking to IM Oliver Reeh, presents a complete repertoire for White.


Tactical battles

The FIDE Grand Swiss is an eleven-round event that serves as qualifier to the 2020 Candidates Tournament. It takes place from the 10th to the 21st of October, with a rest day on the 16th. You can find more info here. 

The top two pairings of round three had a 2664-rated player facing the latest challenger for the world crown on board one, and two compatriots of similar strength sitting close by on second board, their Elo ratings barely separated by five points. The encounter of board two was the one to finish first though, as Wang Hao needed no more than twenty-six moves to get the better of Bu Xiangzhi. At that point, Alexei Shirov and Fabiano Caruana were in the midst of a doubled-edged skirmish out of a Sicilian Defence. 

Fabiano Caruana, Rustam Kasimdzhanov

Fabiano Caruana sharing a laugh with his second Rustam Kasimdzhanov | Photo: Maria Emelianova /

Shirov, who also was world number two some twenty years ago, went for the throat against his famed opponent. Opposite-side castling led to a fight for the initiative which required deep calculation. Caruana, who constantly takes part in elite events, handled his clock better, leaving Shirov at some point with less than a minute to make ten moves. 

Caruana had allowed his opponent to get two pieces for a rook, but in return got a dangerous passer on the f-file and better chances against the opposite king:


Shirov's previous 30.g3 was a mistake, as it allowed 30...e6 with alarming threats against the white king. The idea was to continue with 31.d3, when 31...axb5 or 31...♜e1+ would have increased Black's advantage. Instead, Caruana went for 31...e3, defending what he apparently considered to be his biggest asset, the f-file passer. 

The position was sharply balanced according to the engines, but extreme precision was needed to avoid all pitfalls and Caruana was the one with a stronger initiative. The American kept finding ways to increase the pressure, until Shirov finally erred decisively:


Putting more hopes than they merited on his chances of finding counterplay on the kingside, Shirov played 48.g6, when 48.♕d7 is the only way to keep things under control. After the text, Caruana had 48...d2 49.f7 e2, combining threats of promoting the pawn with potential mating ideas on b2. Three moves later, Shirov resigned.

In the diagrammed position, 48.♕d7 is better, as the white queen frees the diagonal for his bishop to relocate on b3, keeping an eye on d1 while blocking the b-file — the bishop thus becomes an effective defensive piece.

Alexei Shirov

Alexei Shirov put up a great fight | Photo: Maria Emelianova /

Returning to the aforementioned Chinese duel, the proceedings in the very beginning of the game did not indicate this would be such a short affair...until Bu Xiangzhi opted for the strange-looking 9...f6, used in the recent past only by players rated around the 2100 mark. Wang Hao knew this move, but later confessed that he had forgotten his analysis — after spending close to half an hour, he played 10.d4.

The position seemed balanced enough, but suddenly Bu chose the wrong plan with 14...e5. A couple of moves later, Black was in deep trouble:


Wang's 17.c4 is a strong push. If Black captures twice the white rook goes to c1 with decisive effect, while the continuation of the game is quite forcing as well: 17...d6 18.g5, attacking the rook and the bishop. Bu found nothing better than 18...f5 19.xf7 xf7, but not long afterwards his king fell prey to a white invasion on the kingside. Two more pawn advances decided the game:


In the previous diagram, attacking the queen with 17.c4 was the killer blow. Now came 24.b4 e5 and 25.f4, harassing the queen once more. Bu resigned after 25...xe4 26.ae1.

When asked about his motivations in this tournament, Wang Hao clearly stated that he is in no way thinking about the Candidates Tournament, but instead simply looking forward to having "a good tournament". A sobering attitude from a seasoned professional.

Bu Xiangzhi, Wang Hao

Bu Xiangzhi versus Wang Hao | Photo: John Saunders

The chasing pack

Besides Adhiban, all those on 2½ out of 3 won their games in round three. Out of the nine encounters that left the winner a half point behind the leaders, perhaps the most exciting was Luke McShane's victory over Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son. 

The Englishman tried his hand against the elite at the 2009 and 2010 London Classic, when he took the best game prize for his win over Hikaru Nakamura — he has also defeated Carlsen, Morozevich and Kramnik in the past. Known as the strongest amateur player in the world, he confessed that he is actually playing quite often this year. 

Against the Vietnamese, McShane went all in for a kingside attack with the black pieces. By move 17, White was already far from comfortable:


Nguyen played 17.gxh3, when it seemed necessary to block Black's light-squared bishop with 17.f5. When McShane got to play 21...f5 himself, the outcome was no longer in doubt:


Any pawn capture would lead to the rooks doubling up on the f-file, thus bringing all black pieces to the attack. In the game, White kept on fighting, but the task of preventing mate simply led to McShane simplifying into a winning endgame.

Luke McShane, Fiona Steil-Antoni

Luke McShane showing his game to Fiona Steil-Antoni | Photo: John Saunders

Some other well-known names are vying to join the leaders in the coming rounds after starting the tournament with two wins and a draw. Three Russians and two Indians are in the mix: Nikita Vitiugov, Vidit Gujrathi, Alexander Grischuk, Ivan Cheparinov, Gabriel Sargissian, Vladimir Fedoseev, Kirill Alekseenko and Parham Maghsoodloo. You can replay their round three games in the viewer below.


Click or tap any game in the list to switch 

Vidit Gujrathi, Adhiban Baskaran, Radoslaw Wojtaszek

Vidit kibitzing Adhiban v Radoslaw Wojtaszek | Photo: Maria Emelianova /

Update on the top guns

After getting inferior positions and one and a half points in the first two rounds, Magnus Carlsen could not convert from a position of strength against former FIDE World Champion Rustam Kasimdzhanov. Kasimdzhanov 'only' has a 2657 Elo rating, but is well-versed in the world of top-notch opening preparation, as he is currently Caruana's main assistant — he has also helped Vishy Anand and Sergey Karjakin in the past.

Four other players from the top ten are on 2 out of 3, like Carlsen, and three of them got wins on Saturday: Levon Aronian played a remarkable game with Black to beat Andrey Esipenko, Pentala Harikrishna outplayed Erwin l'Ami in a long rook endgame, and Sergey Karjakin got lucky against Rinat Jumabayev — the Kazakh grandmaster rejected a triple repetition while in a superior position, but blundered afterwards and did not even get a half point.

Pentala Harikrishna

Pentala Harikrishna | Photo: Maria Emelianova /

Meanwhile, Vishy Anand and Wesley So, the top rated players competing for the Candidates spot, are sitting on an even 1½ out of 3 score. So will be playing Black against Norwegian champion Aryan Tari in round four, while Anand will have the white pieces against Romanian grandmaster Mircea-Emilian Parligras. 

Commentary webcast

Commentary by GM Daniel King and IM Anna Rudolf

Pairings for Round 4 (top 20 boards)

Name Pts. Result Pts. Name
Caruana Fabiano 3   3 Wang Hao
Alekseenko Kirill   Grischuk Alexander
Cheparinov Ivan   Vitiugov Nikita
Maghsoodloo Parham   Vidit Santosh Gujrathi
Sargissian Gabriel   Fedoseev Vladimir
Mcshane Luke J   Adhiban B.
Kovalev Vladislav 2   2 Carlsen Magnus
Ganguly Surya Shekhar 2   2 Yu Yangyi
Karjakin Sergey 2   2 Demchenko Anton
Aronian Levon 2   2 Sevian Samuel
Kasimdzhanov Rustam 2   2 Harikrishna Pentala
Wojtaszek Radoslaw 2   2 Melkumyan Hrant
Sarana Alexey 2   2 Artemiev Vladislav
Nakamura Hikaru 2   2 Mamedov Rauf
Svidler Peter 2   2 Riazantsev Alexander
Bu Xiangzhi 2   2 Papaioannou Ioannis
Matlakov Maxim 2   2 Lupulescu Constantin
Amin Bassem 2   2 Bluebaum Matthias
Howell David W L 2   2 Akopian Vladimir
Gelfand Boris 2   2 Adly Ahmed

...77 boards

All games of Round 3


All games available at


Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.


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