FIDE Grand Swiss: Aronian Joins Caruana In Lead

| 27 | Chess Event Coverage

As the only winner in round seven among the top 12 boards, Levon Aronian swapped places with Wang Hao to join Fabiano Caruana in the lead at the FIDE Grand Swiss in Isle of Man. There are four rounds to go.

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

After a sunny rest day, the tournament continued on a rainy Thursday in Isle of Man. Inside the playing hall, as photographer and reporter John Saunders noted, it was raining draws. (If we stretch the statistics a bit and conveniently only take a look at the top 52 boards, there were just 10 decisive games in that segment!)

The top 12 boards saw no fewer than 11 games ending peacefully. As a result, we now find Aronian and Caruana at the top, followed by seven players in shared third place. Besides Wang, these are Kirill Alekseenko, Alexander Grischuk, Parham Maghsoodloo, David Anton, Magnus Carlsen and Nikita Vitiugov.

Aronian Wang Hao 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss
Aronian vs. Wang Hao. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

The game between Aronian and Wang seemed to be heading to a draw as well. Aronian, who had been trying to win a double-rook endgame with an extra pawn for hours, looked disheartened when he seemed to have spoiled the win, but then he got a second chance.

Assisted by the seven-man tablebase, the commentators Daniel King and Anna Rudolf could confidently hold up the evaluation of a draw, and also accurately point out where Wang made the final mistake.

The last possibility for Black to hold was very difficult to find. Aronian hadn't seen it either, and called it "very beautiful."

Here Wang played 46...Ra3? and resigned after 57. Rf6 Ra8 58. Rf5+ Ke4 59. h5 as White can always sacrifice his rook for the f-pawn and win with his own pawns.

The only move to draw was 56... Rd3!, which seems to make little difference but after 57. Rf6 Rd8 58. Rf5+ Ke4 59. h5 Black has 59...Rd5!! (a brilliant resource unavailable in the game).

and after 60. Rxd5 (60. h6 Rxf5+ 61. gxf5 f2 62. h7 f1Q 63. h8Q Qxf5+) 60... Kxd5 61. h6 f2 62. h7 f1Q 63. h8Q is a theoretically drawn queen endgame.

Aronian 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss
Aronian after his win today. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Aronian had won that extra pawn in the opening as Wang had sacrificed it in Gruenfeld style, but without getting the Gruenfeld compensation. The double-rook endgame appeared on move 27, and Wang's stiff resistance was almost enough to hold.

Armenia's number-one now shares the lead with Caruana and automatically plays him next, as the regulations of a Swiss tournament stipulate.

"It's always good to play against someone I respect and...somebody who forces you to respect," Aronian smiled. "So, it's exciting!"

After the game, Aronian appeared on the live broadcast.

On the top board, Caruana faced Grischuk for their 17th classical game since 2010. The score so far was equal, with three wins each and 10 draws.

"He played a rare idea which I was kind of familiar with; I knew it was a possibility," said Caruana about 5.a3 in an English Opening. Only a few moves into the middlegame the players got "a crazy position," as Caruana put it, with White getting a knight on f5 supported by g4 and also a pawn center but Black having an extra pawn.

Caruana: "I wasn't sure what was going on but I didn't feel it was bad."

Grischuk Caruana 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss
Grischuk vs. Caruana started as an English. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Initially the engines liked White, but after the trade of queens Black seemed to have the better chances. Caruana felt it was tactically just not working for him, and with that the engines agreed.

Grischuk was once again in severe time trouble but, as Caruana pointed out, he rarely makes big blunders when low on time—and that was also the case today.

After the game, Caruana appeared on the live broadcast.

On board three, Magnus Carlsen missed his chance to catch the leaders. He stepped away from his usual Sveshnikov and played the Najdorf instead, but had a hard time creating winning chances.

Carlsen's opponent, the 22-year-old Russian grandmaster Kirill Alekseenko, was at least equal out of the opening using Anatoly Karpov's favorite treatment of the Najdorf, 6.Be2His clever 14. Bd2!? (to provoke ...a6-a5 before going Rc1 and c3) was answered by the equally clever 14...Nc6 15. a5 Bc8! by Carlsen, who avoided a few direct ways to draw later on but didn't get anywhere.

Alekseenko-Carlsen 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss
Alekseenko-Carlsen opens with the Sicilian. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

After joining the 2700 club before the rest day in the live ratings, Alekseenko survived this big test and proved that he's a worthy member.

After the game, Alekseenko appeared on the live broadcast.

Going down the list, there was Spanish GM Anton drawing with Russia's Vitiugov, and so these two players remain in the chasing pack as well. With the same rating as Alekseenko (2674), it's almost an equally impressive result so far for the 24-year-old Spanish grandmaster.

Anton-Vitiugov  2019 FIDE Grand Swiss
A solid draw in Anton-Vitiugov. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Among the many draws, there were quick ones on boards eight and nine, in Shirov-Wojtaszek and Adhiban-Nakamura. Both games finished quickly with a dead-drawn position with opposite-colored bishops.

Two pre-tournament favorites struggled a bit to earn the half-point: Sergey Karjakin against his compatriot Vladimir Fedoseev, and Vishy Anand of India vs. Ukraine's Yuriy Kryvoruchko.

2019 FIDE Grand Swiss playing hall
The playing hall with the 34 highest boards. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Besides Aronian, we have to go down to board 13 for the next win, scored by Wesley So against Surya Ganguly. It was the second victory for the American player, which brings him to just a point behind the leaders.

So-Ganguly 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss
So and Ganguly analyzing their game. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Hrant Melkumyan, one of the eight Armenian participants in the field, scored an attractive win against Bu Xiangzhi, one of six Chinese players in total. White got a chance to play the typical pawn sac d4-d5, e6xd5, e4-e5 (also known from e.g. the Benoni) and eventually pulled through with an attack on the king:

Hrant Melkumyan vs. Bu Xiangzhi 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss
A Semi-Tarrasch in Hrant Melkumyan vs. Bu Xiangzhi. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

After seven rounds, three players are left with only draws behind their names: Viktor Erdos of Hungary, Paco Vallejo of Spain and Jorden van Foreest of the Netherlands. Although he is winning Elo, the latter will be disappointed as he blew winning positions against both Gata Kamsky and Ruslan Ponomariov in the last two rounds.

Joren van Foreest 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss
Jorden van Foreest. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

FIDE Grand Swiss | Round 7 Standings

1-2: Aronian, Caruana 5.5

3-9: Wang, Alekseenko, Grischuk, Maghsoodloo, Anton, Carlsen, Vitiugov 5.0

10-29: Adhiban, Fedoseev, Shirov, Tari, Melkumyan, Jumabayev, McShane, Kovalev, Yu, Kryvoruchko, Karjakin, Wojtaszek, Nakamura, So, Gelfand, Anand, Dreev, Zhang, Hovhannisyan, Robson 4.5

(Full standings here.)

FIDE Grand Swiss | Top pairings round 8

Wang Hao-Carlsen
Shirov-Yu Yangyi

(Full pairings here.)

Find the top games of round seven for replay here:

Fabiano Caruana anti-cheating scanner 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss
Fabiano Caruana undergoing a random check before the start of the round. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Kirill Alekseenko touch screen 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss
Kirill Alekseenko showing his draw with Carlsen on the touch screen. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Kryvoruchko vs Anand 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss
Kryvoruchko vs Anand, watched by two local fans who work at one of the Indian restaurants in Douglas. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Wang Hao Aronian 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss
Aronian sharing his thoughts with other grandmasters. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Sergey Karjakin Vladimir Fedoseev 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss
Sergey Karjakin and Vladimir Fedoseev in good spirits after their game. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Rustam Kasimdzhanov 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss
2004 FIDE world champion Rustam Kasimdzhanov. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Krishnan Sasikiran 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss
Krishnan Sasikiran. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Americans analysing chess 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss
Var Akobian and Robert Hess analyzing, with Fabiano Caruana and Hrant Melkumyan kibitzing. Photo: Maria Emelianova/ 

IM Rakesh Kulkarni contributed to this report.

Correction: an earlier version of this report stated that only Viktor Erdos and Jorden van Foreest of the Netherlands had started with seven draws.

Previous reports:

Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

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