Grand Swiss Highlights – Part 1

by Joshua Doknjas
11/3/2021 – The 2021 FIDE Grand Swiss in Riga, Latvia has featured many exciting new opening ideas and double-edged games, as the world’s best players fight for spots in the World Championship cycle. Canadian FM and opening expert Joshua Doknjas analyzes five interesting games from the first half of the event. | Photo: Mark Livshitz

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Highlights

MVL’s 1.e4

Following his impressive Sinquefield Cup victory, where MVL scored 4.5/5 points with the White pieces, the French number one has won 3 crushing games as White in the first half of the Grand Swiss. The game between MVL and Anton Demchenko in Round 4 saw a rare variation of the Ruy Lopez, in which White seizes central control while Black fights for activity on the flanks. MVL’s successive central advances overwhelmed Black’s defenses and the ensuing kingside attack proved to be decisive.

 

The French Defense has recently attracted more attention from players at the highest levels, since Nepomniachtchi tried the Winawer twice in the 2020 Candidates, and some new ideas have been shown for Black in the Classical French (3.Nc3 Nf6) by Grischuk and Bluebaum, among others. Therefore, 1.e4 players have searched for new ideas to challenge their opponents. In Round 6, MVL employed a gambit in the Advanced French with a modern twist from the neural network engines. White’s play is based on slowing down Black’s development and advancing the h-pawn to create pressure on the kingside.

 

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave wants to qualify for the Candidates | Photo: Anna Shtourman

Firouzja’s 3/3 Start

Following a brilliant queen sacrifice in Round 2, Alexandr Predke faced a tough matchup in Round 3 with the Black pieces against Alireza Firouzja. Firouzja obtained a clear advantage out of the opening but allowed Predke to escape from most of his queenside pressure and reach a holdable endgame. In the end, the game was decided by the difference in king activity, which Firouzja had focused his efforts on.

 

Alireza Firouzja, 18 years old and with a live-rating of 2777.6 currently the world's number five | Photo: Anna Shtourman

Navigating the Ruy Lopez Vol.1-3

The Ruy Lopez is one of the oldest openings which continues to enjoy high popularity from club level to the absolute world top. In this video series, American super GM Fabiano Caruana, talking to IM Oliver Reeh, presents a complete repertoire for White.

Fire on Board

Alexei Shirov played in his trademark aggressive and uncompromising style to share first place after 6 rounds. In his Round 5 matchup against Ivan Saric, Shirov employed a fashionable variation of the 6…Bc5 Ruy Lopez and quickly seized the initiative after an opening mishap by his opponent.

 

Alexei Shirov | Photo: Anna Shtourman

Ideas Everywhere

In a tournament with over 100 grandmasters, new and exciting ideas can be seen in every round as everyone is trying to put their preparation to use. Of the many examples to choose from, a game between Jorden Van Foreest and Surya Ganguly caught my attention. Van Foreest played a surprising pawn sacrifice in the English Opening, posed tremendous practical problems for his opponent, and won a very nice attacking game.

 

I look forward to the excitement of the last 5 rounds, where the world’s best players fight for qualification into the 2022 Candidates and FIDE Grand Prix events.

Grand Swiss Open - Standings after round 6

Rk. SNo     Name FED Rtg Pts.  TB1   TB2   TB3   TB4 
1 3
 
GM Firouzja Alireza
 
2770 4,5 20,0 22,5 16,00 0,0
2 4
 
GM Vachier-Lagrave Maxime
 
2763 4,5 18,0 21,0 15,50 0,0
3 38
 
GM Najer Evgeniy
 
2654 4,5 16,5 18,5 14,00 0,0
4 54
 
GM Sasikiran Krishnan
 
2640 4,5 16,0 17,5 13,25 0,0
5 32
 
GM Shirov Alexei
 
2659 4,5 14,5 16,0 11,25 0,0
6 11
 
GM Yu Yangyi
 
2704 4,0 19,5 22,5 14,50 0,0
7 1
 
GM Caruana Fabiano
 
2800 4,0 19,0 22,0 14,50 0,0
8 89
 
GM Petrosyan Manuel
 
2605 4,0 18,5 20,0 12,75 0,0
9 41
 
GM Nihal Sarin
 
2652 4,0 18,0 20,0 12,25 0,0
10 20
 
GM Korobov Anton
 
2690 4,0 17,0 19,5 12,75 0,0
11 48
 
GM Tari Aryan
 
2646 4,0 17,0 18,5 11,75 0,0
12 27
 
GM Sargissian Gabriel
 
2664 4,0 16,5 18,5 12,25 0,0
13 17
 
GM Navara David
 
2691 4,0 16,5 18,5 11,50 0,0
14 28
 
GM Sjugirov Sanan
 
2663 4,0 16,0 18,5 12,00 0,0
15 40
 
GM Sevian Samuel
 
2654 4,0 16,0 18,0 11,50 0,0

...108 players

All games - Round 6

 

Replay all games at Live.ChessBase.com

Grand Swiss Women - Standings after round 6

Rk. SNo     Name FED Rtg Pts.  TB1   TB2   TB3   TB4 
1 7
 
GM Lei Tingjie
 
2505 5,0 18,0 20,5 16,50 0,0
2 10
 
GM Batsiashvili Nino
 
2484 4,5 20,0 23,0 16,50 0,0
  12
 
IM Paehtz Elisabeth
 
2475 4,5 20,0 23,0 16,50 0,0
4 15
 
WGM Zhu Jiner
 
2455 4,5 20,0 22,0 15,50 0,0
5 13
 
WGM Pogonina Natalija
 
2467 4,5 18,0 20,0 14,00 0,0
6 4
 
GM Harika Dronavalli
 
2511 4,0 19,0 21,0 13,00 0,0
7 18
 
IM Javakhishvili Lela
 
2446 4,0 18,0 20,5 12,25 0,0
8 3
 
GM Kosteniuk Alexandra
 
2518 4,0 18,0 19,0 11,00 0,0
9 1
 
GM Muzychuk Mariya
 
2536 4,0 17,5 20,5 13,50 0,0
10 22
 
WGM Zawadzka Jolanta
 
2428 4,0 16,0 18,0 10,75 0,0
11 21
 
IM Munguntuul Batkhuyag
 
2433 4,0 14,5 16,5 10,00 0,0
12 8
 
IM Kashlinskaya Alina
 
2493 4,0 14,0 16,0 9,00 0,0
13 2
 
GM Dzagnidze Nana
 
2524 3,5 21,5 24,5 13,50 0,0
14 34
 
IM Assaubayeva Bibisara
 
2400 3,5 18,0 21,0 12,00 0,0
15 23
 
IM Osmak Iulija
 
2423 3,5 17,5 20,0 11,25 0,0

...50 players

All games - Round 6

 

Replay all games at Live.ChessBase.com

Links


Joshua Doknjas is a FIDE Master from Canada and the author of two books on the Sicilian Najdorf and Ruy Lopez. He enjoys teaching, following, and writing about chess. Joshua is especially interested in the role of engines during opening preparation and understanding how AI has influenced modern chess.
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