Grand Swiss: Anna Muzychuk tops the standings

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
10/31/2023 – Going into the rest day, the Women’s Grand Swiss has a sole leader in Anna Muzychuk, who defeated Bibisara Assaubayeva with the white pieces on Monday. In the open, eight players are sharing the lead with 4½/6 points each, as Fabiano Caruana, Vidit Gujrathi, Javokhir Sindarov, Alexandr Predke and Radoslaw Wojtaszek grabbed full points to join the leading pack. | Photo: Anna Shtourman

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Muzychuk beats Assaubayeva

For a second day in a row, a decisive game on the top board of the Women’s Grand Swiss resulted in a sole leader topping the standings. Anna Muzychuk, who kicked off the event with three wins in a row, defeated former sole leader Bibisara Assaubayeva to go into the rest day as the only player with 5/6 points. 

The Ukrainian was a pawn down but had an outside passer in a pure queen endgame.

Defending this position with black is extremely difficult, even when engines show zeros on their evaluations, due to the passer on the b-file. Here Assuabayeva faltered with 50...Qb6, when 50...Qb4 would have kept the balance.

Muzychuk found the correct 51.Kc4 g5 52.Qd4 Qa5 53.Qxf6+ Kg8 54.Qg6+ Kf8 55.Qf6+ Kg8 56.Qe6+, and Black has lost two of her three pawns on the kingside.

The rest was easy for Muzychuk, who grabbed the full point shortly after.

FIDE Grand Swiss 2023

Players from both sections about to enter the playing hall | Photo: Anna Shtourman

Following the rest day, the sole leader will face top seed Aleksandra Goryachkina with the black pieces. Goryachkina is one of four players sharing second place with 4½/6 points. She is joined by Vaishali Rameshbabu, Bibisara Assaubayeva and Antoaneta Stefanova, who beat Irina Bulmaga with white on board 5.

A further half point behind, eight players are still well in the fight for first place with five rounds to go in Douglas. Mariya Muzychuk, Tan Zhongyi and Marsel Efroimski are the highest-rated players in this group.

Aleksandra Goryachkina

Aleksandra Goryachkina | Photo: Anna Shtourman

Standings after round 6

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Muzychuk, Anna 5 2450
2 Vaishali, Rameshbabu 4,5 2476
3 Assaubayeva, Bibisara 4,5 2467
4 Stefanova, Antoaneta 4,5 2408
5 Goryachkina, Aleksandra 4,5 2401
6 Garifullina, Leya 4 2482
7 Milliet, Sophie 4 2473
8 Tsolakidou, Stavroula 4 2473
9 Fataliyeva, Ulviyya 4 2454
10 Munguntuul, Batkhuyag 4 2450
11 Tan, Zhongyi 4 2443
12 Muzychuk, Mariya 4 2412
13 Efroimski, Marsel 4 2398
14 Kamalidenova, Meruert 3,5 2485
15 Cori T., Deysi 3,5 2469
16 Narva, Mai 3,5 2446
17 Bulmaga, Irina 3,5 2412
18 Mammadzada, Gunay 3,5 2396
19 Dronavalli, Harika 3,5 2392
20 Ushenina, Anna 3,5 2392

...50 players

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Eventful round sees five players joining the lead in the open

Three players entered round 6 sharing first place with 4 points in the open section of the Grand Swiss. Their games, on the top two boards, seemed to be heading to double-edged fights out of the opening, but they fizzled out into draws rather quickly.

Hikaru Nakamura sacrificed a piece to enter a forcing line that led to a perpetual check against Andrey Esipenko, while Arjun Erigaisi and Yu Yangyi liquidated the tension in the centre to reach a drawn double-rook endgame by move 30. When the draw was agreed, Arjun, who was playing black, had over 70 minutes on his clock. Given the strength of his opponent and the length of the tournament, it was surely a desirable outcome for the Indian prodigy.

Andrey Esipenko, Hikaru Nakamura

Andrey Esipenko and Hikaru Nakamura | Photo: Anna Shtourman

There was no lack of decisive results in the games featuring members of the large chasing pack, though, with five players collecting full points to join the leading group:

  • Fabiano Caruana out-calculated Evgeniy Najer in a complex middlegame to score with the white pieces.
  • Vidit Gujrathi obtained his fourth win in five games (after starting the event with a painful loss) by beating Hans Niemann.
  • Javokhir Sindarov beat Sam Sevian in 23 moves out of a double-edged opening struggle with kings castling on opposite sides.
  • Alexandr Predke got the better of Sam Shankland in a rollercoaster, tactical game with imbalanced material.
  • Radoslaw Wojtaszek defeated Erwin l’Ami, who surprisingly played the Albin Countergambit.

Radoslaw Wojtaszek

Radoslaw Wojtaszek | Photo: Anna Shtourman

Playing black, Niemann was a pawn down but had the safer king when he erred in the following complicated position.

Realising why 48...Bd7 is better than 48...Nf3+, as played by Niemann, is surely difficult to figure out over the board.

After placing the bishop on d7, White will force the knight check with 49.f4, and the difference with the text move is that after 49...Nf3+ 50.Kc3 Qh1 51.Kb2 Black has 51...Qd1, both creating threats on the queenside and defending the d-pawn.

Compare this diagram with the position seen in the game after 49.Kc3 Qh1 50.Kb2, which, by the way, was a great find by Vidit — since 50.Qxc8 would have failed to 50...Qa1+ 51.Kd3 Qd4+, with a mating attack for Black.

Now 50...Qd1 does not make sense, since White would simply grab the bishop to get a winning material advantage. Niemann’s idea was 50...Nd2, when 51.Qxc8 only leads to a draw as Black will get a perpetual check starting with 51...Qb1+.

But Vidit had foreseen this idea, and played the winning 51.Bf6, threatening mate on g7 while defending the a1-square!

A remarkable manoeuvre, as White did not need to grab the undefended bishop on c8 to force his opponent’s resignation — the game ended after 51...Qb1+ 52.Ka3 Qc1+ 53.Bb2, and the dark-squared bishop does a tremendous job on the long diagonal.

Hans Niemann

Hans Niemann | Photo: Anna Shtourman

The dark-squared long diagonal also played a key role in Sindarov’s stunning win over Sevian. Playing black, the Uzbek grandmaster correctly gave up a piece for an attack on move 17.

17.g4 turned out to be the losing mistake for White, as Black now has 17...Rbc8, and there is no convenient way to deal with the queenside attack after 18.gxf5 Nxd5 19.fxg6 hxg6

Black is a whole piece down, but more importantly, there are five black pieces pointing at the weak c3-knight, which is pinned along the c-file.

After 20.Bh3 Nxc3 21.Bxc8 Rxc8 22.Qd3 Sindarov played the precise 22...Qxa2

Instead of moving the knight with a discovered check — which is also winning, of course — Black captured on a2, combining all kinds of threats. Resignation came after 23.Bc7 Nxd1

Javokhir Sindarov

Sagar Shah interviewing Javokhir Sindarov | Photo: Anna Shtourman

ChessBase India: Vidit shows insane lines from his game against Niemann!

Standings after round 6

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Predke, Alexandr 4,5 2707
2 Sindarov, Javokhir 4,5 2700
3 Esipenko, Andrey 4,5 2682
4 Erigaisi, Arjun 4,5 2667
5 Nakamura, Hikaru 4,5 2667
6 Caruana, Fabiano 4,5 2661
7 Vidit, Santosh Gujrathi 4,5 2646
8 Wojtaszek, Radoslaw 4,5 2617
9 Zhalmakhanov, Ramazan 4 2719
10 Yakubboev, Nodirbek 4 2695
11 Bacrot, Etienne 4 2685
12 Yu, Yangyi 4 2667
13 Firouzja, Alireza 4 2665
14 Korobov, Anton 4 2662
15 Kuzubov, Yuriy 4 2655
16 Artemiev, Vladislav 4 2654
17 Keymer, Vincent 4 2644
18 Deac, Bogdan-Daniel 4 2636
19 Sarana, Alexey 4 2630
20 Fedoseev, Vladimir 4 2625

...114 players

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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.