FIDE Grand Swiss: Najer Upsets Anand In Round 1

| 27 | Chess Event Coverage

Round one of the FIDE Grand Swiss saw a big upset as the five-time world champion Vishy Anand (India) lost to Evgeniy Najer (Russia) in just 30 moves. Top seeds Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana started with wins.

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2019 FIDE Grand Swiss commentary

Carlsen and Caruana were among 30 players who won their opening games in the tournament held in the Comis Hotel in Isle of Man. The two are the lone players not playing for the qualification spot to the 2020 Candidates' Tournament—the very special bonus prize for anyone else in this tournament.

Carlsen has no need for the candidates' berth because he is the world champion; Caruana because he's already qualified.

Carlsen security FIDE Grand Swiss Isle of Man
Carlsen was one of the players who was checked with a metal detector. Cheating is not really expected, but it's easy to forget to leave your smartphone out of the playing hall these days. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Najer's win over the fourth seed Anand was not just the most surprising result of the day, but also one of the earliest ones. The Russian grandmaster, a former European champion who is now mostly occupied with his job as the coach of the Russian women's team, got a strong attack and beat his legendary opponent with a piece sacrifice, but never felt in complete control.

Asked when he was sure of the victory, the 81st seed Najer replied: "Only after the handshake!"

Evgeniy Najer FIDE Grand Swiss Isle of Man
Evgeniy Najer can be a giant killer. He eliminated Caruana from the 2017 World Cup. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

The top two seeds did not disappoint, at least in terms of score. Carlsen's game could have ended differently though, and that includes the two other results!

The Ukrainian GM Yuriy Kuzubov got the upper hand in a middlegame with rook vs. minor pieces when he got a pawn all the way to the seventh rank. Running low on time, he missed a chance for a serious advantage and then also failed to hold the balance.

Carlsen Kuzubov FIDE Grand Swiss Isle of Man
Carlsen and Kuzubov starting their game. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Caruana's win was smoother, although it took a while for the American player to bring home the point. The opening was interesting: a London System that looked more like a Trompowsky. Then it seemed Caruana was still in a Fischer Random mood (after he qualified for the Oslo world championship in last weekend's quarterfinals!) with his king on d8.

Fabiano Caruana FIDE Grand Swiss Isle of Man
Fabiano Caruana. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

The strength of this tournament can be deduced from the fact that among the top 20 boards there were just 10 decisive games. Whereas other Swisses have clear mismatches with players facing much lower-rated opponents, this was much less the case in this opening round.

Third seed Wesley So of the U.S. was held to a draw by Ukraine's Alexander Moiseenko, and other favorites such as Alexander Grischuk, Levon Aronian and Hikaru Nakamura also started with draws.

Our games annotator for this report, IM @RakeshKulkarni, has looked at four more games. For starters, he obviously couldn't resist the following quick and nice win by his compatriot Baskaran Adhiban:

Baskaran Adhiban FIDE Grand Swiss Isle of Man
Baskaran Adhiban. Photo: John Saunders.

Among the already more famous prodigies Nihal Sarin and Gukesh D., the 14-year-old IM Raunak Sadhwani is also playing in Isle of Man—and he might be just as famous after this tournament if he continues like he started:

Raunak Sadhwani FIDE Grand Swiss Isle of Man
Raunak Sadhwani. Photo: John Saunders.

More attacking splendor was seen in the game between the Armenian grandmaster Hrant Melkumyan and the Moldovan-born Romanian IM Irina Bulmaga. The latter's 14th move wasn't exactly pleasing to the eye, and it was punished properly.

Last, a fine win by Ivan Cheparinov. The Bulgarian grandmaster is in Isle of Man together with his wife Antoaneta Stefanova and so it's one of the possible "couple pairings," like e.g. Radek Wojtaszek and Alina Kashlinskaya—who didn't play each other last year but won the top prizes in the overall and female competition.

After having worked for many years as Veselin Topalov's second, Cheparinov is definitely a strong force at open tournaments. His first game on the Isle can be included in his best games collection:

Ivan Cheparinov FIDE Grand Swiss Isle of Man
Ivan Cheparinov. Photo: John Saunders.

Find most games for replay here:

Rakesh Kulkarni contributed to this report.

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