Grand Swiss: Nakamura, Esipenko and Vidit share the lead

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
11/5/2023 – Round 10 of the FIDE Grand Swiss saw decisive games on the seven top boards, with Hikaru Nakamura, Andrey Esipenko and Vidit Gujrathi scoring full points to go into the final round in shared first place. Nakamura got the better of Fabiano Caruana in the duel of top seeds, Vidit defeated Bogdan-Daniel Deac with the black pieces, while Esipenko beat Parham Maghsoodloo on board 3. In the women’s tournament, Vaishali Rameshbabu climbed to the sole lead by beating Tan Zhongyi with the white pieces. | Photo: / Maria Emelianova

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Decisive, decisive, decisive

Two rounds remained to be played at the FIDE Grand Swiss on the Isle of Man, and the players topping the standings showed their fighting spirits by playing decisive games on all seven top boards in the penultimate round of the open tournament.

Most notably, in a duel of top seeds, Hikaru Nakamura all but secured a spot in next year’s Candidates Tournament, as he defeated world number two Fabiano Caruana with the white pieces — not only allowing him to enter the final round as a co-leader, but also gaining 5.1 rating points (Naka now has a 25-point advantage over Alireza Firouzja in the race to get the rating spot in the Candidates).

Vidit Gujrathi and Andrey Esipenko also grabbed full points to join Nakamura in the lead. Curiously, all three co-leaders have already faced each other, so they will play against participants with 7 or 6½ points in the final round.

Wins for Vincent Keymer, Arjun Erigaisi and Alexandr Predke on Saturday left them still in contention for first place, as all three stand a half point behind the leaders and, since the frontrunners will not play each other, it is theoretically possible for all three chasers to score wins and create a tie for first place on 8 points in the final standings — i.e. an extremely unlikely scenario!

Round 11 pairings

Name Pts. Result Pts. Name
Erigaisi, Arjun 7 Nakamura, Hikaru
Vidit, Santosh Gujrathi 7 Predke, Alexandr
Giri, Anish Esipenko, Andrey
Caruana, Fabiano 7 Keymer, Vincent
Maghsoodloo, Parham Vitiugov, Nikita
Praggnanandhaa, R 6 Deac, Bogdan-Daniel

Vidit Gujrathi

Vidit Gujrathi | Photo: / Maria Emelianova

Analyses by GM Karsten Müller

All three co-leaders showed good endgame technique to convert their advantages in the penultimate round, much like Anish Giri, who needed 94 moves to defeat Hans Niemann in what was his second consecutive victory on the Isle of Man, and Arjun Erigaisi, who defeated an in-form Sam Sevian.

Endgame expert Karsten Müller analysed the wins by Nakamura, Vidit, Arjun and Giri!

Select an entry from the list to switch between games

Game analysis by Robert Ris

Hans Niemann, Anish Giri

Hans Niemann and Anish Giri | Photo: / Maria Emelianova

Standings after round 10

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Esipenko, Andrey 7,5 2696
2 Nakamura, Hikaru 7,5 2684
3 Vidit, Santosh Gujrathi 7,5 2672
4 Predke, Alexandr 7 2700
5 Erigaisi, Arjun 7 2670
6 Keymer, Vincent 7 2661
7 Caruana, Fabiano 6,5 2680
8 Deac, Bogdan-Daniel 6,5 2663
9 Maghsoodloo, Parham 6,5 2654
10 Giri, Anish 6,5 2654
11 Vitiugov, Nikita 6,5 2646
12 Sindarov, Javokhir 6 2708
13 Ter-Sahakyan, Samvel 6 2703
14 Yakubboev, Nodirbek 6 2698
15 Cheparinov, Ivan 6 2695
16 Bacrot, Etienne 6 2689
17 Kuzubov, Yuriy 6 2671
18 Sarana, Alexey 6 2671
19 Wojtaszek, Radoslaw 6 2671
20 Korobov, Anton 6 2666

...114 players

All games - Round 10

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Vaishali only needs a draw to reach the Candidates

Decisive results were also seen in the most important games of the penultimate round in the women’s tournament, with Vaishali Rameshbabu scoring her sixth win of the event by beating Tan Zhongyi with the white pieces. The Indian star is now the sole leader with one round to go, and only needs a draw on Sunday to secure at least second place in the final standings — i.e. a spot in next year’s Candidates Tournament.

Anna Muzychuk also scored a crucial win, as she defeated Deysi Cori to go into the eleventh round in sole second place, a half point behind Vaishali.

Similarly, Mongolian IM Batkhuyag Munguntuul (the 40th seed in the field) scored a key full point on Saturday. The biggest underdog among the players fighting for tournament victory defeated Mai Narva with black and is now in sole third place, a full point behind Vaishali.

Round 11 pairings

Name Pts. Result Pts. Name
Munguntuul, Batkhuyag 7 8 Vaishali, Rameshbabu
Cramling, Pia Muzychuk, Anna
Tan, Zhongyi 6 Mammadzada, Gunay
Tsolakidou, Stavroula 6 Stefanova, Antoaneta
Garifullina, Leya 6 Javakhishvili, Lela

Vaishali Rameshbabu

Vaishali Rameshbabu | Photo: / Maria Emelianova

Anna Muzychuk

Anna Muzychuk | Photo: / Maria Emelianova

Standings after round 10

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Vaishali, Rameshbabu 8 2464
2 Muzychuk, Anna 7,5 2446
3 Munguntuul, Batkhuyag 7 2440
4 Garifullina, Leya 6,5 2469
5 Tan, Zhongyi 6,5 2445
6 Stefanova, Antoaneta 6,5 2435
7 Cramling, Pia 6,5 2398
8 Kamalidenova, Meruert 6 2477
9 Tsolakidou, Stavroula 6 2470
10 Cori T., Deysi 6 2464
11 Narva, Mai 6 2462
12 Assaubayeva, Bibisara 6 2441
13 Muzychuk, Mariya 6 2408
14 Javakhishvili, Lela 6 2405
15 Mammadzada, Gunay 6 2390
16 Milliet, Sophie 5,5 2477
17 Socko, Monika 5,5 2445
18 Tania, Sachdev 5,5 2439
19 Goryachkina, Aleksandra 5,5 2433
20 Dronavalli, Harika 5,5 2397

...50 players

All games - Round 10

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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.