Grand Swiss: Sevian, Maurizzi and Sindarov join the lead

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
10/28/2023 – There are no more perfect scores in the open section of the Grand Swiss, as all seven co-leaders drew their games in round 3, allowing a trio of youngsters to join the lead — i.e. Sam Sevian (pictured), Marc’Andria Maurizzi and Javokhir Sindarov. In the women’s section, on the other hand, two players did win their three first games to keep perfect scores after Friday’s round: Tan Zhongyi, who beat Antoaneta Stefanova, and Anna Muzychuk, who got the better of Irina Bulmaga. | Photo: Anna Shtourman

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Draws on the top boards, wild games elsewhere

Round 3 of the FIDE Grand Swiss saw the first 19 boards featuring players with 1½ or 2 points. Out of the 19 games, only three finished decisively, with a few of the contenders deciding to keep a safety-first approach and signing rather quick draws.

This did not hinder the entertainment, though, as there was plenty of double-edged action both in the open and women’s sections — for example, the battle on board 19, between Australian GM Temur Kuybokarov and Azerbaijani GM Nijat Abasov, was an enthralling Sicilian battle which ended in a 79-move draw.

Since all co-leaders drew their games, the three players who entered the round with 1½ points and grabbed full points joined the leading pack (now consisting of ten players).

  • Javokhir Sindarov (Uzbekistan, 2658) stunned Levon Aronian after gaining a pawn and then converting his material advantage in a double-rook endgame.
  • Sam Sevian (United States, 2698) needed only 29 moves to beat Samvel Ter-Sahakyan with the black pieces.
  • Similarly, Marc’Andria Maurizzi (France, 2555), who recently won the World Junior Championship in Mexico, grabbed a quick win with black after his opponent, Gabriel Sargissian, faltered in the opening.

Sevian is the oldest of the three new co-leaders, at 22 years of age — Sindarov and Maurizzi are aged 17 and 16 respectively.

Out of the ten players on 2½/3, seven are 23 or younger. Besides the three mentioned above, Arjun Erigaisi (20), Andrey Esipenko (21), Alexey Sarana (23) and Ramazan Zhalmakhanov (21) also belong to this group.

“Veterans” Fabiano Caruana (31), Alexandr Predke (29) and Erwin l’Ami (38) are the remaining three co-leaders.

Ramazan Zhalmakhanov

IM Ramazan Zhalmakhanov, the 111th seed, is sharing the lead | Photo: Anna Shtourman

Playing white against Maurizzi, Sargissian took drastic measures once his opening approach left him in a less-than-desirable position.

The Armenian grandmaster had around 20 minutes for the remaining 20 moves at this point, and decided to deal with the check by giving up an exchange with 21.Rxb4, instead of going for the scary-yet-correct 21.Kf2. An in-form Maurizzi found a couple of nice tactical shots on his way to a convincing 31-move victory.

Queen sacrifices, long endgames

Radoslaw Wojtaszek drew his first two games against lower-rated opponents in Douglas. In the third round, however, he found an outstanding queen sacrifice to beat online-chess specialist Denis Lazavik.

Lazavik, playing white, entered this line (which included a bishop sacrifice on h6) relying on this double attack with 25.Qd4, as the queen is threatening to capture both the knight on f6 and the rook on c5. The move missed by the 17-year-old in his calculations is the stunning 25...Qa1, which was played by Wojtaszek after a 13-minute reflection.

Apparently shocked by the manoeuvre, Lazavik spent almost half an hour on 26.Qd2, agreeing to remain a piece down. Wojtaszek then converted his advantage into a full point.

The idea behind the queen sacrifice is that after 26.Rxa1 Rxa1+ 27.Bf1 Black has 27...e5

Much like the moves leading to this position, this pawn push is a forcing manoeuvre. The black rook is still en prise, the white queen is under attack and, more importantly, ...e6-e5 has opened up the diagonal for the light-squared bishop to go to h3. Astounding!

Denis Lazavik, Radoslaw Wojtaszek

Denis Lazavik facing Radoslaw Wojtaszek | Photo: Anna Shtourman

Vincent Keymer also got to sacrifice his queen to collect his first win of the event after having drawn his first two games. He had the white pieces against Pouya Idani on board 25.

Black is threatening to give checkmate with ...Qh2-h1, as the knight on d4 is ‘defending’ the escape square on e2. However, if White prevents this idea, he has a winning position with his dangerous passer on the b-file.

Thus, 35.Qxd4, getting rid of the multi-purposed knight!

After 35...Qh1+ 36.Ke2 Rxd4 37.exd4 Qxg2, the German prodigy forced his opponent’s resignation with the precise 38.Re8

There are no more checks available for the black queen, and the b-pawn will decide the game in White’s favour.

FIDE Grand Swiss 2023

The playing hall amid the third round | Photo: Anna Shtourman

Much later in the day, at around the seventh hour of play, Hans Niemann finally converted an endgame with queen and two extra pawns versus two rooks into a 101-move win.

This was the position on the board after move 44. Niemann patiently pushed his pawns while creating threats with his queen until prompting Shamsiddin Vokhidov’s resignation.

In another marathon, Vokhidov’s compatriot Nodirbek Abdusattorov did manage to escape with a draw from an inferior position — against none other than living legend Alexei Shirov.

Even when there were knights on the boards, commentators often mentioned how difficult it would be for White to convert his advantage into a win. Here, on move 80, Shirov allowed Abdusattorov to grab the a-pawn — the engines consider the position to be winning.

But how to escape the checks from the black queen while creating the right conditions to queen the g-pawn?

Shirov tried hard — until move 115 — but it was Abdusattorov who was finally rewarded for his resilience, as the players split the point well into the Isle of Man’s evening.

Alexei Shirov, Nodirbek Abdusattorov

Nodirbek Abdusattorov fought hard and survived against “Fire on Board” author Alexei Shirov | Photo: Anna Shtourman

Interview with Erwin l’Ami conducted by ChessBase India’s Sagar Shah

Standings after round 3

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 L'ami, Erwin 2,5 2751
2 Zhalmakhanov, Ramazan 2,5 2729
3 Predke, Alexandr 2,5 2705
4 Maurizzi, Marc`andria 2,5 2677
5 Erigaisi, Arjun 2,5 2668
6 Caruana, Fabiano 2,5 2657
7 Sarana, Alexey 2,5 2652
8 Sindarov, Javokhir 2,5 2649
9 Sevian, Samuel 2,5 2634
10 Esipenko, Andrey 2,5 2630
11 Bacrot, Etienne 2 2756
12 Cheparinov, Ivan 2 2731
13 Shirov, Alexei 2 2718
14 Narayanan, S L 2 2714
15 Tari, Aryan 2 2709
16 Melkumyan, Hrant 2 2704
17 Najer, Evgeniy 2 2697
18 Aravindh, Chithambaram Vr. 2 2692
19 Huschenbeth, Niclas 2 2689
20 Kuybokarov, Temur 2 2682

...114 players

All games - Round 3

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Tan Zhongyi and Anna Muzychuk still perfect

Two players did manage to get a third consecutive win in the women’s section, as Tan Zhongyi (China, 2517) and Anna Muzychuk (Ukraine, 2510) obtained convincing victories on the top two boards to go into round 4 sharing the lead with 3/3. In their direct confrontation on Saturday, Muzychuk will have the white pieces.

The chasing pack a half point behind consists of three players, all of which won with white in round 3: Elisabeth Paehtz (Germany, 2484), Bibisara Assaubayeva (Kazakhstan, 2469) and Vaishali Rameshbabu (India, 2448).

Anna Muzychuk

Anna Muzychuk | Photo: Anna Shtourman

Vaishali’s game against Leya Garifullina was nothing short of heart-stopping. Out of a Grand Prix Attack, the following position was reached after Black’s 15th move.

As usual in these sharp positions, engines evaluate many of the moves as imprecise — but Vaishali’s 16.Bxe6 was one of the exceptions!

Once the position was opened up in the centre, things went from bad to worse for Black, who, in fact, never managed to castle. This is how the position looked after 23.Qf3

The queen both attacks the rook on a8 and, after 23...Ra7 24.Rhf1, threatens checkmate on f7. Black is doomed — 24...Nf5 25.gxf5 was followed by Garifullina’s resignation.

25...Rxd7 fails to 26.Qa8+, as the bishop controls the d8-square. Remarkable!

Vaishali Rameshbabu

Vaishali Rameshbabu | Photo: Anna Shtourman

Support of family members (including Vaishali’s mom) on the Isle of Man

Standings after round 3

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Tan, Zhongyi 3 2416
2 Muzychuk, Anna 3 2407
3 Assaubayeva, Bibisara 2,5 2412
4 Vaishali, Rameshbabu 2,5 2396
5 Paehtz, Elisabeth 2,5 2395
6 Guichard, Pauline 2 2539
7 Roebers, Eline 2 2515
8 Tsolakidou, Stavroula 2 2493
9 Fataliyeva, Ulviyya 2 2482
10 Kamalidenova, Meruert 2 2462
11 Stefanova, Antoaneta 2 2446
12 Munguntuul, Batkhuyag 2 2438
13 Bulmaga, Irina 2 2404
14 Goryachkina, Aleksandra 2 2404
15 Muzychuk, Mariya 2 2399
16 Shuvalova, Polina 2 2395
17 Efroimski, Marsel 2 2382
18 Javakhishvili, Lela 2 2351
19 Injac, Teodora 2 2330
20 Hoang, Thanh Trang 1,5 2511

...50 players

All games - Round 3

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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.