Grand Swiss: Arjun and Nakamura join Esipenko in the lead

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
10/30/2023 – Round 5 of the FIDE Grand Swiss saw Hikaru Nakamura and Arjun Erigaisi grabbing wins to join Andrey Esipenko in the lead of the open section. Nakamura obtained his third consecutive win after starting the event with two draws. The large chasing pack, now consisting of 16 players, now includes round-5 winners Sam Shankland, Nodirbek Yakubboev and Radoslaw Wojtaszek. Meanwhile, in the women’s tournament, Bibisara Assaubayeva beat Tan Zhongyi to become the first sole leader of the event. | Photo: Anna Shtourman

ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024 ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024

It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it. Start your personal success story with ChessBase and enjoy the game even more.


Naka’s hat-trick, Arjun’s fighting spirit

Three players are now sharing first place in the open section of the FIDE Grand Swiss. Andrey Esipenko, who entered the fifth round as sole leader, drew top seed Fabiano Caruana on the first board, allowing two of the seventeen players who stood a half point back to catch him atop the standings: Hikaru Nakamura and Arjun Erigaisi.

Nakamura gained an advantage early in his game with white against Alexey Sarana. The US grandmaster then gained a pawn and correctly dealt with his opponent’s tactical threats.

White cannot capture the knight with 41.Qxd2 due to 41...Qa1+ 42.Kf2 Qh1, and Black will either give a perpetual check or grab the h-pawn with decisive effect.

An excellent technician, Nakamura thus played 41.Kf2 Qxb2 42.Qc2, forcing a queen trade that led to a pure knight endgame.

Patiently, the 5-time US champion converted his advantage into a 70-move win, his third consecutive victory after his slow start with back-to-back draws.

Hikaru Nakamura

Levon Aronian checking Hikaru Nakamura’s game | Photo: Anna Shtourman

Arjun’s victory was not as straightforward. The Indian prodigy’s game against Rinat Jumabayev was a double-edged struggle, with connected passed pawns on opposite sides of the board and an evaluation bar that kept going up and down.

After missing a number of winning continuations — according to the scrutinous engines — Arjun saw his opponent making the last mistake of the game on move 65.

Jumabayev here faltered with 65...b1Q, when starting by 65...Re1+ was necessary, as the rook will be more active than in the game’s continuation.

The missed tempo allowed Arjun to crucially activate his knight with 66.Nd6, a great square both to block checks and to collaborate in a potential attack. There followed 66...Qb2+ 67.Ke6 Qe2+ 68.Kd7, and Black resigned.

White’s king is now safe, and Arjun’s army is ready to create a mating net against the helpless black monarch.

Arjun Erigaisi

Arjun Erigaisi | Photo: Anna Shtourman

Firouzja and Niemann’s fiery draw

We have seen their names so often in the news that we might forget that they are both still 20 years old: Alireza Firouzja and Hans Niemann played a wild game that kept online spectators on the edge of their seats.

A fearless Niemann entered a line that led to a highly imbalanced position on move 16.

15...f6 in the previous move meant that after 16.exf6 Black is all but forced to capture on f2 with one of the minor pieces — Niemann opted for 16...Nxf2 17.Rxf2 Bxf2+ 18.Kxf2, and the fun was just beginning.

At this point, with 22 moves to go before the time control, both players had less than a half hour on their clocks. Not surprisingly, a big mistake was made eight moves later, when Firouzja faltered with 26.Qd2

Firouzja used 5 out of the 6 minutes he had left on his clock before playing this move. Niemann, who himself had 3 minutes left, correctly replied by 26...Qxc4, but after 27.Qxd7 failed to find the winning continuation.

Only 27...Rfe8 wins for Black here, while 27...Re2, as seen in the game, gives White more defensive recourses.

Given the small amount of time both players had on the clock, more inaccuracies were made in the 53-move game, with Niemann missing his last chance to keep realistic winning chances on move 33.

The US rising star later confessed that he had seen 33...a3, an idea he described as “scary” — Black plans to grab on a2 and win with the outside passer. Instead, he went for 33...Qd1+ 34.Qf1 Qxf1+ 35.Kxf1, which leads to a drawn endgame.

A wild encounter between two of the most fighting players in the circuit!

Alireza Firouzja

Alireza Firouzja | Photo: Anna Shtourman

Arjun Erigaisi shows his win over Jumabayev!

Standings after round 5

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Nakamura, Hikaru 4 2664
2 Esipenko, Andrey 4 2658
3 Erigaisi, Arjun 4 2654
4 L'ami, Erwin 3,5 2724
5 Niemann, Hans Moke 3,5 2723
6 Predke, Alexandr 3,5 2710
7 Zhalmakhanov, Ramazan 3,5 2709
8 Najer, Evgeniy 3,5 2704
9 Sindarov, Javokhir 3,5 2701
10 Yakubboev, Nodirbek 3,5 2690
11 Caruana, Fabiano 3,5 2664
12 Firouzja, Alireza 3,5 2657
13 Yu, Yangyi 3,5 2656
14 Keymer, Vincent 3,5 2647
15 Vidit, Santosh Gujrathi 3,5 2641
16 Shankland, Sam 3,5 2634
17 Sevian, Samuel 3,5 2628
18 Artemiev, Vladislav 3,5 2623
19 Wojtaszek, Radoslaw 3,5 2615
20 Narayanan, S L 3 2726

...114 players

All games - Round 5

Find games from all rounds at

Assaubayeva beats Tan, leads

While only 2 out of the 10 top games finished decisively in the open section, 7 out of 10 had decisive results in the women’s tournament, including Bibisara Assaubayeva’s win with black over Tan Zhongyi on the top board.

Assaubayeva played the King’s Indian Defence and saw her opponent making a questionable decision on move 16.

After 15...f5, Tan hurried to trade her dark-squared bishop for the black knight with 16.Bxc5, a major concession in this structure.

Tan would later castle queenside and look for ways to create an attack on the kingside, but it was Assuabayeva who ended up getting a stronger initiative around the opposite king.

38.Ka1 was the losing mistake for Black. Tan escapes a potential discovered check while intending to reposition her bishop to a2-b1, but this quiet move also gives Black a key tempo to advance her own army — 38...b5 39.Ba2 c4 40.Qe1 Nc2+ prompted Tan’s resignation.

Game over.

Bibisara Assaubayeva

Bibisara Assaubayeva | Photo: Anna Shtourman

Three players now stand in shared second place a half point behind Assaubayeva: Anna Muzychuk and Vaishali Rameshbabu, who drew their game on board 2, and top seed Aleksandra Goryachkina, who beat Meruert Kamalidenova with the white pieces.

In round 6, the last one before the rest day, leader Assaubayeva will play black against Anna Muzychuk, while Vaishali will face her greatest challenge so far on the Isle of Man, as she will play World Cup champion Goryachkina on the second board.

Tan Zhongyi

Tan Zhongyi during the fifth round | Photo: Anna Shtourman

Standings after round 5

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Assaubayeva, Bibisara 4,5 2456
2 Vaishali, Rameshbabu 4 2455
3 Muzychuk, Anna 4 2445
4 Goryachkina, Aleksandra 4 2390
5 Milliet, Sophie 3,5 2481
6 Garifullina, Leya 3,5 2474
7 Tan, Zhongyi 3,5 2453
8 Munguntuul, Batkhuyag 3,5 2450
9 Bulmaga, Irina 3,5 2410
10 Stefanova, Antoaneta 3,5 2404
11 Efroimski, Marsel 3,5 2403
12 Kamalidenova, Meruert 3 2497
13 Tsolakidou, Stavroula 3 2483
14 Hoang, Thanh Trang 3 2483
15 Fataliyeva, Ulviyya 3 2447
16 Paehtz, Elisabeth 3 2411
17 Muzychuk, Mariya 3 2409
18 Mammadzada, Gunay 3 2398
19 Injac, Teodora 3 2374
20 Beydullayeva, Govhar 2,5 2469

...50 players

All games - Round 5

Find games from all rounds 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.