Grand Swiss Highlights - Part 2

by Joshua Doknjas
11/12/2021 – The 2021 FIDE Grand Swiss concluded on November 7 with Firouzja and Caruana taking the qualification spots to the 2022 Candidates tournament. Two of the most important games from the second half of the event, Caruana – Firouzja and Firouzja – Howell are analysed by Joshua Doknjas. He also takes a look at the impressive second half performances of David Howell and Grigoriy Oparin. | Photo: Anastasiya Karlovich

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Highlights – Part 2

The two Candidates

Caruana and Firouzja faced off in Round 9, when Caruana and nine others had 5½/8, a full point behind Firouzja’s 6½/8 points. It was crucial for Caruana to create chances in this game and fight for a Candidates spot. He employed a new idea against the Caro-Kann, leading to a complicated queenless middlegame. Firouzja’s ambitious plan to fight for the initiative was not fully sound, but it completely changed the character of the game and forced both sides to solve many challenging problems.

 

Howell’s winning streak

After a loss to Caruana in Round 5, Howell scored four wins in a row and was tied for first with 6½/9. The following game is from Round 9, where he outplayed Anton Korobov and smoothly converted his advantage in an endgame.

 

David Howell

David Howell | Photo: Anastasiya Karlovich

Firouzja - Howell

The round 10 matchup between Firouzja (who had just lost to Caruana) and Howell (who had won his previous 4 games) was extremely important for the tournament’s outcome. Out of a tense Italian opening, Firouzja seized the initiative after the centre opened up and seemed to be winning with a kingside attack. Then, Howell found a brilliant tactical resource which was completely missed by Firouzja. But it wasn’t enough to solve Black’s problems, and Firouzja entered the final round in clear first.

 

Vitiugov - Oparin

On his way to tying for second place, Grigoriy Oparin scored two crucial wins with the black pieces (against Dubov and Vitiugov) in the second half of the event. His game against the 2021 Russian Champion displayed several remarkable strategic concepts.

 

The final round of the tournament saw the top two boards Oparin - Firouzja and Caruana – Predke end in relatively uneventful draws. Firouzja retained clear first and Caruana edged out Oparin on tiebreaks to take second place.

Grigoriy Oparin

Grigoriy Oparin | Photo: Anastasiya Karlovich


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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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