FIDE Grand Swiss: 4 Players Lead; Carlsen Escapes
Kovalev had Carlsen on the ropes today. Photo: John Saunders.

FIDE Grand Swiss: 4 Players Lead; Carlsen Escapes

| 37 | Chess Event Coverage

Fabiano Caruana and Wang Hao drew their game in round four of the FIDE Grand Swiss and were joined in first place by Parham Maghsoodloo and Luke McShane. Magnus Carlsen was lost but miraculously escaped vs. Vladislav Kovalev.

You can follow the games here as part of our live portal There's daily coverage by GM Daniel King and IM Anna Rudolf, joined by WIM Fiona Steil-Antoni for interviews, on

The show starts daily at 14:50 local time, which is 15:50 (noon) CEST, 9:50 a.m. Eastern and 6:50 a.m. Pacific.

2019 FIDE Grand Swiss commentary

It was about to become quite a big story... and then it didn't.

Carlsen had entered the tournament with a streak of 90 undefeated games and had added three more in the Isle of Man. The Norwegian last lost a game 438 days ago.

The 25-year-old Belarusian grandmaster Kovalev got incredibly close to changing that streak.

In what was a Moscow variation of the Sicilian (where White checks with the bishop on move three), Carlsen chose a somewhat odd setup with his king's bishop on d8. It was playable, but after a few inaccuracies he allowed his opponent to gain a serious advantage.

White had a stellar knight on e4, a protected passed pawn on d6 and a central queen on d5—what more can you wish for? Few had expected the game to take this turn, especially taking into account that Kovalev, the winner of the 2019 Tata Steel Challengers, had played a game of 152 moves the day before! 

Vladislav Kovalev Magnus Carlsen 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss
Vladislav Kovalev came very close to beating Carlsen today. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

At some point the engines were giving the Belarusian player an advantage of the equivalent of a full queen, but in practice it wasn't that easy. For starters, Kovalev was in time trouble—he had to make 14 moves in fewer than two minutes plus a 30-second increment. Secondly, he had to avoid a three-fold move repetition in the process. And thirdly, Carlsen was defending extremely well.

In the end it proved too difficult to convert for Kovalev. What was almost a big sensation became a (very) narrow escape for the world champion.

Remarkably, Caruana had never managed to beat Wang in eight classical games. He again failed to do so in today's top clash on board one.

From a Petroff defense the players went straight into a theoretically known endgame where the Chinese GM continued to play very solidly.

Fabiano Caruana Wang Hao 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss
Caruana smiles as Wang starts the clock. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

There is still some play in the final position, but Caruana didn't feel comfortable to continue and reflected: "I felt like I was much better, even a few moves before but I couldn’t find anything. In the final position I wasn’t sure if I was still better or not, but my king was under attack. I didn’t really see an advantage."

Caruana was interviewed in the live broadcast. 

Caruana's opponent tomorrow will be McShane, who has now won three truly excellent games in a row. On Sunday the English grandmaster defeated Baskaran Adhiban convincingly in a game where it was hard to pinpoint where Black went wrong.

About facing McShane, Caruana said: "Playing Luke is always fun. I’ve played him very rarely, but on the few occasions that we have played, they have been fun games."

Adhiban McShane 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss
McShane vs. Adhiban. Photo: John Saunders.

The other co-leader is reigning World Junior Champion Maghsoodloo, who defeated Vidit Gujrathi of India. Besides playing a good game (which he finished off with excellent technique), the 19-year-old Iranian player also showcased a fine sense of humor in the interview after the game.

Maghsoodloo Vidit 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss
Maghsoodloo vs. Vidit. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

When commentator Daniel King asked why he wasn't wearing his "lucky jacket," Maghsoodloo replied: "This dress code of FIDE made me very upset. On the first day an arbiter told me: 'Never wear this again!'"

And then, when King referred to an interview when the Iranian had expressed his ambition to become world champion, Maghsoodloo said: "Yeah, and then I can put [in] some rule that I can wear the jacket!"

Parham Maghsoodloo lucky jacket Daniel KingMaghsoodloo did wear his favorite jacket when King met him outside the hotel later in the day. Photo: Aran Graham/

Maghsoodloo showed his game in the live broadcast. 

For a while it seemed that Nikita Vitiugov had good chances to join the leaders as well, but first he failed to win in the attack, and then he let Ivan Cheparinov escape in an endgame with opposite-colored bishops. After his dramatic elimination in the quarterfinals of the World Cup, the Russian GM was yet again reminded how hard it is to finish a won position successfully.

Cheparinov Vitiugov 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss
Cheparinov vs. Vitiugov. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Below the four leaders are 16 players on three points. One of them is Armenian number-one Levon Aronian, who defeated Sam Sevian, a player with an American passport but with Armenian parents.

The two had played each other only once before, which was a year ago in Isle of Man. Back then Aronian opened with 1.e4, and the game was drawn in 31 moves. This time the favorite chose 1.d4 and won in 47 moves:

Sam Sevian 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss
Sam Sevian. Photo: Maria Emelianova/'s Daily Question in the live broadcast today was: "Would you try the 'Swiss Gambit' (losing or drawing in early rounds to avoid the strongest opposition)?" It has become clear that in this tournament such a strategy makes little sense because you might face a world champion anyway.

Vishy Anand is on 50 percent after four rounds. The same can be said for several others, such as Wesley So, Le Quang Liem and Francisco Vallejo, who have drawn all their games so far. 

Another former world champion, Ruslan Ponomariov of Ukraine, won a nice game against Georgia's Baadur Jobava. Ponomariov, who had celebrated his 36th birthday two days ago (during round two), was clearly better prepared in an important line of the Caro-Kann's old main line and crushed his opponent right out of the opening:

Ruslan Ponomariov 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss
Ruslan Ponomariov. Photo: John Saunders.

The final note is about a game from one of the lower boards, played in the second playing hall. IM Antenaina Rakotomaharo Fy from Madagascar, a FIDE wildcard in this tournament, won a good game against the experienced GM Sergei Movsesian of Armenia:

FIDE Grand Swiss | Round 4 Standings (Top 20)

Rk. SNo Name Rtg Pts. TB1 rtg+/-
1 15 Wang Hao 2726 3,5 2726 13,6
2 2 Caruana Fabiano 2812 3,5 2681 7,4
3 34 McShane Luke J 2682 3,5 2626 11,5
4 48 Maghsoodloo Parham 2664 3,5 2610 10,7
5 70 Bluebaum Matthias 2643 3,0 2711 9,6
6 41 Cheparinov Ivan 2670 3,0 2662 7,8
7 38 Alekseenko Kirill 2674 3,0 2658 7,8
8 13 Vitiugov Nikita 2732 3,0 2657 5,5
9 7 Grischuk Alexander 2759 3,0 2653 3,9
10 47 Fedoseev Vladimir 2664 3,0 2644 6,9
11 10 Wojtaszek Radoslaw 2748 3,0 2640 4,0
12 6 Karjakin Sergey 2760 3,0 2639 1,7
13-14 8 Aronian Levon 2758 3,0 2639 3,4
13-14 28 Sargissian Gabriel 2690 3,0 2639 6,7
15 49 Shirov Alexei 2664 3,0 2637 6,0
16 39 Anton Guijarro David 2674 3,0 2636 6,7
17 30 Gelfand Boris 2686 3,0 2628 6,5
18 51 Dreev Aleksey 2662 3,0 2566 3,2
19 44 Kryvoruchko Yuriy 2669 3,0 2549 3,0
20 64 Lenderman Aleksandr 2648 3,0 2531 2,7

(Full standings here.)

FIDE Grand Swiss | Round 5 Top Pairings

Bo. No. Name Pts. Result Pts. Name No.
1 34 McShane Luke J - Caruana Fabiano 2
2 15 Wang Hao - Maghsoodloo Parham 48
3 39 Anton Guijarro David 3 - 3 Karjakin Sergey 6
4 7 Grischuk Alexander 3 - 3 Cheparinov Ivan 41
5 44 Kryvoruchko Yuriy 3 - 3 Aronian Levon 8
6 47 Fedoseev Vladimir 3 - 3 Wojtaszek Radoslaw 10
7 13 Vitiugov Nikita 3 - 3 Lenderman Aleksandr 64
8 49 Shirov Alexei 3 - 3 Sargissian Gabriel 28
9 51 Dreev Aleksey 3 - 3 Gelfand Boris 30
10 70 Bluebaum Matthias 3 - 3 Alekseenko Kirill 38
11 1 Carlsen Magnus - Ganguly Surya Shekhar 54

(Full pairings here.)

Find the top games of round four for replay here:

Rakesh Kulkarni contributed to this report.

Previous reports:

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