Grand Swiss: Duda wins stunner, Goryachkina escapes

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
10/26/2023 – As expected, hard-fought, exciting games were the norm on the opening day at the Grand Swiss tournaments on the Isle of Man. In the open, 32 players started with wins, including top seed Fabiano Caruana, Richard Rapport (pictured) and Levon Aronian. In the women’s event, meanwhile, 15 participants scored full points, with none of the top three seeds getting more than a draw. | Photo: Anna Shtourman

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The fun begins

With 114 participants in the open section and 50 participants in the women’s section, the FIDE Grand Swiss tournaments kicked off on Wednesday. The ever-active ChessBase India team has travelled to the Isle of Man and is uploading great content to their YouTube channel almost constantly. Sagar Shah began by taking a tour around the playing hall before it got filled with grandmasters and the like.

Round 1 did not see a major surprise on the top boards, albeit 6 out of the 10 top seeds only grabbed half points. This should not dazzle anybody, though, given the strength of the field — out of the 114 participants, 89 are rated above 2600, and the 90th seed is Abhimanyu Mishra, who recently had a great performance at the U.S. Championship in Saint Louis!

Rating-wise, the biggest surprise was given by Erwin l’Ami, who got the better of Vidit Gujrathi after the latter first gave away his advantage and then blundered in an endgame with rooks and knights.

Players get 100 minutes for the first 40 moves in this event, but if the battle gets complicated early on, it is still hard to completely avoid getting in time trouble. When Vidit blundered with 40...Nxb2, a miscalculation, he and L’Ami both had less than a minute on the clock.

Vidit’s move fails to the forcing 41.Nf5+ Kh8 42.Rxd4 Nxd1 43.Rh4+, and Black cannot do anything to avoid White from gaining the exchange with another knight fork: 43...Kg8

Surely not the easiest line to see from afar with little time on the clock. L’Ami, the 72nd seed in the field, will play black against Vladimir Fedoseev in the second round.

Vidit Gujrathi

Vidit Gujrathi | Photo: Anna Shtourman

Meanwhile, Hikaru Nakamura, Alireza Firouzja and Anish Giri were all held to draws by Rasmus Svane, Ruslan Ponomariov and Raunak Sadhwani respectively.

Rating favourite Fabiano Caruana, on the other hand, did get off to a winning, as he played provocatively and saw Ivan Saric overplaying his attacking chances to suffer a 30-move defeat. Notably, Caruana is set to face Hans Niemann in round 2 — Niemann obtained a nice victory over Elham Amar on Wednesday (find here expert analysis of the game by IM Robert Ris).

Hikaru Nakamura

Hikaru Nakamura having a look at Alexei Shirov’s game — Shirov beat Adham Fawzy with the white pieces | Photo: Anna Shtourman

In terms of excitement, though, it was Jan-Krzysztof Duda who showed astounding tactical ability to beat Pouya Idani on board 10. The Polish star kept pushing his queenside pawns, while his opponent continued to create dangerous-looking threats around the white king on the other side of the board.

To play 29.a7 (and to enter this line even earlier), you need to be perfectly sure that you will not be mated on g2.

Duda knew what he was doing, as there followed 29...Nf3+ 30.Bxf3 gxf3 31.Qb8 (the point) Bxf1 32.a8Q

Idani resigned, since the queen on b8 is ready to block the threatened check from g3. A great way to start the tournament for Duda — with two queens on the board standing side by side!

Grand Swiss 2023

The playing hall | Photo: Anna Shtourman

Playing black against Max Warmerdam, Levon Aronian boldly played the Stafford Gambit and won. As good-humoured as ever, Aronian told Sagar Shah that he was paying an homage to well-known streamer Eric Rosen.

Standings after round 1

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Caruana, Fabiano 1 0
Rapport, Richard 1 0
Aronian, Levon 1 0
Duda, Jan-Krzysztof 1 0
Yu, Yangyi 1 0
Abdusattorov, Nodirbek 1 0
Erigaisi, Arjun 1 0
Maghsoodloo, Parham 1 0
Sevian, Samuel 1 0
Martirosyan, Haik M. 1 0
Fedoseev, Vladimir 1 0
Sargissian, Gabriel 1 0
Tabatabaei, M. Amin 1 0
Esipenko, Andrey 1 0
Sarana, Alexey 1 0
Amin, Bassem 1 0
Bacrot, Etienne 1 0
Niemann, Hans Moke 1 0
Cheparinov, Ivan 1 0
Predke, Alexandr 1 0

...114 players

All games - Round 1

Goryachkina escapes, Paehtz finds mating net

There are no easy pairings in the women’s tournament either. The top three players were held to draws in the first round, with rating favourite Aleksandra Goryachkina first losing a big advantage and then escaping from a lost position against Spanish IM Ann Matnadze.

Black’s b-pawn is too far advanced, and gives Goryachkina more than enough resources to get a win with correct play (not at all difficult for her level). Natural moves like 50...Ra2 or 50...Rh2 are, in fact, completely winning here.

50...Rxf5, on the other hand, gives up the exchange, and not only loses the advantage but leaves White in the driver’s seat. Matnadze had no trouble finding 51.Bg4, and the rook has no place to go!

Fortunately for Goryachkina, the blunder only cost her a half point, since her opponent erred on move 53 and could not convert the ending into a win.

Aleksandra Goryachkina, Ann Matnadze

Aleksandra Goryachkina playing black against Ann Matnadze | Photo: Anna Shtourman

Tan Zhongyi and Anna Muzychuk, seeded 4th and 5th, did win their games, while the biggest upset of the day was seen on board 6, where Dutch rising star Eline Roebers defeated Polina Shuvalova with the black pieces. Similarly, Stavroula Tsolakidou stunned Nino Batsiashvili on the ninth board.

Meanwhile, in an attractive matchup, Elisabeth Paehtz needed only 23 moves to beat Alice Lee. The German grandmaster found a good-looking mating net.

23.Bf3+ was followed by Lee’s resignation — 23...g4 24.Qxf7# is coming.

Eline Roebers, Polina Shuvalova

Eline Roebers beat Polina Shuvalova with black | Photo: Anna Shtourman

Standings after round 1

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Tan, Zhongyi 1 0
Muzychuk, Anna 1 0
Paehtz, Elisabeth 1 0
Vaishali, Rameshbabu 1 0
Gunina, Valentina 1 0
Stefanova, Antoaneta 1 0
Bulmaga, Irina 1 0
Divya, Deshmukh 1 0
Garifullina, Leya 1 0
Roebers, Eline 1 0
Tsolakidou, Stavroula 1 0
Savitha, Shri B 1 0
Guichard, Pauline 1 0
Kamalidenova, Meruert 1 0
Sandu, Mihaela 1 0
16 Goryachkina, Aleksandra 0,5 0
Kosteniuk, Alexandra 0,5 0
Muzychuk, Mariya 0,5 0
Dronavalli, Harika 0,5 0
Assaubayeva, Bibisara 0,5 0

...50 players

All games - Round 1


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.