FIDE Grand Swiss: Controversy Over 2 Similar Games
Yu and Dreev looking at the same position. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

FIDE Grand Swiss: Controversy Over 2 Similar Games

| 41 | Chess Event Coverage

With a surprisingly quick and crushing win over Alexander Grischuk, the Spanish grandmaster David Anton joined Levon Aronian and Fabiano Caruana in the lead at the FIDE Grand Swiss in Isle of Man. There are three rounds to go.

But the story of this round was about two other games that started out identically.

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

Alexei Shirov was playing Yu Yangyi on board seven, and on the adjacent board Sergey Karjakin faced Alexey Dreev—and these two games were identical for the first 19 moves. (A separate twist was that Karjakin and Yu had played the same line before against each other, four years ago.)

The moves 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Nxc6 bxc6 7. e5 Nd5 8. Ne4 Qc7 9. f4 Qb6 10. c4 Bb4+ 11. Ke2 f5 12. exf6 Nxf6 13. Be3 Qd8 14. Nd6+ Bxd6 15. Qxd6 Bb7 16. g4 c5 17. Rg1 Ne4 18. Qe5 Qh4 19. Bg2 Qxg4+ led to the following position in both of today's games:

The strange thing was that Karjakin's 18th move was a mistake, but copied by Shirov anyway, and Yu's 18th move was not the refutation, but was still copied by Dreev!

In any case, the big question was to what extent one player was following (copying?) one of the other players, and whether this was allowed.

The FIDE laws of chess state that during play "the players are forbidden to make use of any notes, sources of information or advice, or analyze on another chessboard," but does that include looking at a neighbor's board?

By the time the diagram had been reached, the chief arbiter Alex Holowczak decided to end this little comedy and move one of the games, Shirov-Yu, to the other playing hall. From that moment the games immediately deviated, with White doing well in both but eventually only Karjakin won, while Shirov drew.

IM Daniel Rensch made a video about the games for his "Missed on the Isle" series:

Holowczak made an appearance on's live broadcast, and he made it clear that he did not suspect anyone of wrongdoing.

"In particular I saw Yu Yangyi sort of look quite nervous when he [looked] over to Dreev, who made a move maybe a minute or so before," said Holowczak. "So I thought in the interest of everybody feeling comfortable with the game it was better to just move it to the second hall so that nobody can accuse anyone of anything."

Alex Holowczak on the live broadcast.

Karjakin later tweeted with more explanation of what happened, which implied that if there was actual copying of moves involved, it was probably done by all four players.

Karjakin on the live broadcast.

In terms of standings, the more important story was Anton's upset victory over Grischuk. Not only was Grischuk the favorite in this game, but the way he lost was surprising as well.

The win was largely based on preparation, as Anton revealed afterward.

Anton: "My trainer [IM David Martinez –PD] had been analyzing it during the night. I checked it in the morning for one hour more."

Anton Grischuk 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss
Boards three, four, five and six. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

When Grischuk deviated from his preparation, Anton spent a full hour on his 15th move, and on the next move he sacrificed a piece after just 19 seconds. Soon White was completely winning. Impressive stuff by the 24-year-old Spaniard.

"It's been great," Anton said about his tournament so far. "I think I've been playing very good games. It's amazing to have six points."

Anton on the live broadcast.

Anton caught Aronian and Caruana in first place, as these two players drew their game in 38 moves. It was a quite an interesting and tactical game:

Caruana-Aronian 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss
Caruana vs. Aronian. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Meanwhile, the world champion had already finished his game a long time ago. In fact, the game on board two between Wang Hao and Magnus Carlsen was the first to end of all 76 in progress.

It was understandable that the Chinese grandmaster didn't push very hard, while for Carlsen, who always likes to fight, it was a disappointing game—even though it brought his unbeaten streak to 98 games, two away from Ding Liren's streak last year.

Wang Hao Carlsen 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss
Wang Hao vs. Carlsen was a game to quickly forget. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Viswanathan Anand is also in the group of players half a point behind the leaders after a nice win against Vladimir Fedoseev. The Russian GM played the Grivas Sicilian, but quickly got a worse position after his somewhat strange moves 10...Nb4?! and 13...Qc6?!.

Anand had difficulty understanding the latter move, and said "it should be punished clearly," but he couldn't exactly figure out how. The Indian legend still got a promising position, which he almost spoiled with the careless 26.h5, but he came back on top after more mistakes by his opponent. 

Anand on the live broadcast.

Three more players on 4.5 points won their games to join the pack of players trailing the leaders. For starters, there was Vladislav Kovalev of Belarus, who beat the Polish GM Radek Wojtaszek. For 14 moves the game followed one of the games from the recent World Cup final:

Kovalev-Wojtaszek 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss
Kovalev vs. Wojtaszek. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Hikaru Nakamura is also still in contention after beating Hrant Melkumyan convincingly in a Ruy Lopez:

And then there was the 2012 world championship contender Boris Gelfand, who nicely outplayed Zhang Zhong:

FIDE Grand Swiss | Round 8 Standings

1-3: Anton, Aronian, Caruana 6.0

4-13: Wang Hao, Alekseenko, Kovalev, Carlsen, Vitiugov, Maghsoodloo, Karjakin, Nakamura, Anand, Gelfand 5.5

14-31: Shirov, Adhiban, Tari, Kasimdzhanov, Grischuk, Rakhmanov, McShane, Yu, Kryvoruchko, So, Svidler, Matlakov, Xiong, Howell, Le, Ragger, Hovhannisyan, Robson 5.0

(Full standings here.)

FIDE Grand Swiss | Top pairings round 9

Aronian (6)-Anton (6)
Carlsen (5½)-Caruana (6)
Alekseenko (5½)-Anand (5½)
Maghsoodloo (5½)-Karjakin (5½)
Kovalev (5½)-Nakamura (5½)
Vitiugov (5½)-Wang Hao (5½)
Matlakov (5)-Gelfand (5½)

(Full pairings here.)

Find the top games of round eight for replay here:

Shirov-Yu 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss
Shirov-Yu, now moved to the other playing hall. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

IM Rakesh Kulkarni contributed to this report.

Previous reports:

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