News
FIDE Chess.com Grand Swiss R2: Firouzja, Predke, Saric on 2/2
The start of the second round in Riga. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

FIDE Chess.com Grand Swiss R2: Firouzja, Predke, Saric on 2/2

PeterDoggers
| 27 | Chess Event Coverage

After two rounds, there are three players in the open section on 2/2 and seven women players on the same score at the FIDE Chess.com Grand Swiss and Women's Grand Swiss in Riga, Latvia. There are nine rounds to go in the tournament.

How to watch?
You can follow the games and live broadcast live here: FIDE Chess.com Grand Swiss | FIDE Chess.com Women's Grand Swiss.
FIDE Chess.com Grand Swiss LIVE


With all of Wednesday's coronavirus test results coming back negatively, the 158 participants of the FIDE Chess.com Grand Swiss and Women's Grand Swiss could safely return to the playing hall on Thursday for the second round. They will undergo a test every three days.

The idea is that the players are in a "bubble" while being in either the hotel or playing hall, and they are not supposed to interact with people outside that bubble throughout the tournament. However, it is not always easy to keep a proper distance (two meters is recommended in Latvia), and face masks are not always consistently worn. In addition, there is no strict control on the players; some have already visited a supermarket even though that's not supposed to happen and delivery service is available. All in all, the bubble is unlikely to be maintained perfectly.

On to the chess, where third-seed GM Alireza Firouzja is one of the players on 2/2 after beating GM Dariusz Swiercz. The latter put up a good fight and was still close to the draw about seven moves before the end:

Swiercz-Firouzja Grand Swiss 2021
Swiercz stumbled at the end vs. the tricky Firouzja. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

GM Ivan Saric won his second game as well as he beat 2020 FIDE Candidate GM Kirill Alekseenko, who played an offbeat line in the Spanish Marshall with 12.d3 a5, which was recently tested by GM Wesley So as well. In this game, Black never got enough compensation for his gambit pawn, and even the opposite-colored bishops didn't help as his pawns were much easier to attack:

Ivan Saric
Ivan Saric won a good game. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

The third leader is GM Alexandr Predke, one of 32 players from Russia here in Riga. He played a very exciting game that saw a long-term queen sacrifice for two minor pieces. This happened to be the novelty, but Predke knew it was good for White, as he revealed in his interview.

"During the game, I didn't know how to play exactly, but I feel I played well," he said.

Predke Yakkuboev Riga 2021
Predke won beautifully vs. Yakubboev. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

One player who seemed well on his way to reach 2/2 was the top seed, GM Fabiano Caruana. Playing the Tarrasch defense as Black, he got a pleasant version of an isolated queen's pawn position and won two full pawns, thanks to a Bxh3 tactic. Quite surprisingly, Caruana failed to convert it to a full point.

"I'm very happy and relieved; I think I was completely lost at some point," Sarin admitted afterward. "Objectively, it should be extremely bad but the thing is, I had two bishops and his d5-pawn was a bit weak. There was no obvious plan for Black, I think. I thought there was about a 20 percent chance to save this game."

Nihal Sarin Caruana Riga 2021
Nihal Sarin escaped vs. Fabiano Caruana. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Learn more about Caruana's bishop sacrifice mirrored for the white pieces in GM Simon Williams' lesson Sacrifice on h6!

Study Now!

Another big name who is on 1.5/2, after starting with a draw yesterday, is GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, who won a nice game vs. Iran's GM Amin Tabatabaei. Staying true to his reputation, MVL won yet another Berlin Endgame. The game was remarkably similar to his win vs. GM Jeffery Xiong—who is also playing in Riga—at this year's Sinquefield Cup (see annotations).

"I think it's just an opening disaster," said Vachier-Lagrave. "Amin made a mistake early in the game, and I think after 17.Kg3 his position is already extremely difficult. Suddenly I can keep all my pawns on the kingside, and this is the ideal setup."

Vachier-Lagrave Tabatabaei
Vachier-Lagrave vs. Tabatabaei. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

With the white pieces, world number-five GM Levon Aronian kept pace with his colleagues as he defeated GM Hans Niemann.

"I think what he did was very risky. This 14...d4 is a huge strategical risk," said Aronian, who could put his opponent under pressure from that moment on. "I managed to put him in time trouble, and then it was difficult for him to play," he said.

Asked about his (custom-made!) shirt, Aronian remarked: "I believe that what we're doing is something very special, playing a very noble game. And I want to represent the noble game wearing something that is proper."

Aronian - Niemann
Aronian vs. Niemann. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

I believe that what we're doing is something very special, playing a very noble game. And I want to represent the noble game wearing something that is proper.
—Levon Aronian

GM Aleksey Dreev, who had his best days in the 1990s (for example, victories in Wijk aan Zee and Biel in 1995), drew Russian champion GM Nikita Vitiugov on Wednesday and completely dominated Thursday's game vs. GM Pentala Harikrishna.

Dreev Harikrishna Riga 2021
Dreev showed his class vs. Harikrishna. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

From the same generation (and having the same first name) as Dreev is GM Alexei Shirov, a last-minute entry in this tournament. After starting with a loss, the legendary Spanish-Latvian player won a nice game using a similar Nd5-sacrifice as Caruana did on Wednesday:

Alexei Shirov
Alexei Shirov. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

We're finishing the coverage of the open section with a puzzle. How did GM Robert Hovhannisyan beat the 2021 Tata Steel Chess winner? (Hint: it kind of mirrors Shirov's most famous move of his career!)


Round 2 Standings (Top 20)

Rk. SNo Fed Title Name Rtg Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3
1 3 GM Firouzja Alireza 2770 2,0 1,0 2,0 2,00
2 26 GM Predke Alexandr 2666 2,0 1,0 1,0 1,00
2 49 GM Saric Ivan 2644 2,0 1,0 1,0 1,00
4 1 GM Caruana Fabiano 2800 1,5 1,5 2,5 1,75
4 12 GM Maghsoodloo Parham 2701 1,5 1,5 2,5 1,75
4 14 GM Artemiev Vladislav 2699 1,5 1,5 2,5 1,75
4 31 GM Ponkratov Pavel 2659 1,5 1,5 2,5 1,75
4 98 GM Neiksans Arturs 2570 1,5 1,5 2,5 1,75
9 10 GM Fedoseev Vladimir 2704 1,5 1,5 2,0 1,25
9 11 GM Yu Yangyi 2704 1,5 1,5 2,0 1,25
9 19 GM Wojtaszek Radoslaw 2691 1,5 1,5 2,0 1,25
9 20 GM Korobov Anton 2690 1,5 1,5 2,0 1,25
9 21 GM Kryvoruchko Yuriy 2686 1,5 1,5 2,0 1,25
9 32 GM Shirov Alexei 2659 1,5 1,5 2,0 1,25
9 64 GM Ponomariov Ruslan 2631 1,5 1,5 2,0 1,25
9 65 GM Keymer Vincent 2630 1,5 1,5 2,0 1,25
9 74 GM Hovhannisyan Robert 2622 1,5 1,5 2,0 1,25
9 76 GM Brkic Ante 2621 1,5 1,5 2,0 1,25
9 77 GM Kollars Dmitrij 2621 1,5 1,5 2,0 1,25
9 86 GM Henriquez Villagra Cristobal 2608 1,5 1,5 2,0 1,25

(Full standings here.)

One of the seven leaders in the women's section is Russian WGM Natalija Pogonina, who was somewhat fortunate in this second round. Her opponent, WGM Anna Sargsyan of Armenia, seems to have made the classical mistake of "blitzing along in the opponent's time trouble" as she blundered terribly on move 37 while having more than seven minutes on the clock and 51 seconds for Pogonina:

Pogonina Sargsyan
An incredible blunder by Sargsyan. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

IM Alina Kashlinskaya, who won the women's section of the 2018 Chess.com Isle of Man International, bounced back from a loss to win a game on her birthday (as did IM Karina Cyfka). 

Kashlinskaya: "I played horribly but I got my birthday gift, I guess! I'm happy to win my game, but I'm not satisfied with my play."

This meant the second unfortunate loss in a row for IM Jovanka Houska, who was comfortably better on Wednesday and close to winning on Thursday: 

Alina Kashlinskaya
Alina Kashlinskaya also won on her birthday in the 2018 Isle of Man tournament that she won. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Round 2 Women Standings (Top 20)

Rk. SNo Fed Title Name Rtg Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3
1 2 GM Dzagnidze Nana 2524 2,0 1,0 2,0 2,00
1 7 GM Lei Tingjie 2505 2,0 1,0 2,0 2,00
1 10 GM Batsiashvili Nino 2484 2,0 1,0 2,0 2,00
1 15 WGM Zhu Jiner 2455 2,0 1,0 2,0 2,00
5 12 IM Paehtz Elisabeth 2475 2,0 1,0 1,0 1,00
5 13 WGM Pogonina Natalija 2467 2,0 1,0 1,0 1,00
5 14 GM Gunina Valentina 2462 2,0 1,0 1,0 1,00
8 5 IM Shuvalova Polina 2509 1,5 1,5 2,5 1,75
8 18 IM Javakhishvili Lela 2446 1,5 1,5 2,5 1,75
10 3 GM Kosteniuk Alexandra 2518 1,5 1,5 1,5 0,75
10 20 IM Badelka Olga 2438 1,5 1,5 1,5 0,75
12 4 GM Harika Dronavalli 2511 1,5 1,0 1,5 1,00
12 11 GM Stefanova Antoaneta 2475 1,5 1,0 1,5 1,00
14 31 WGM Garifullina Leya 2409 1,0 2,0 3,0 1,00
14 33 WGM Sargsyan Anna M. 2402 1,0 2,0 3,0 1,00
14 41 GM Arakhamia-Grant Ketevan 2376 1,0 2,0 3,0 1,00
17 23 IM Osmak Iulija 2423 1,0 2,0 2,0 0,00
17 24 IM Atalik Ekaterina 2420 1,0 2,0 2,0 0,00
17 25 WGM Vaishali R 2419 1,0 2,0 2,0 0,00
17 27 GM Girya Olga 2410 1,0 2,0 2,0 0,00

(Full standings here.)

For round three, two of the leaders will face each other in the game Firouzja-Predke, while Saric faces the highest-rated player on 1.5 points, Caruana. In the women's section, the top games will be Dzagnidze-Pogonina, Paehtz-Lei Tingjie, Batsiashvili-Zhu Jiner, and Gunina-Kosteniuk.

You can find all games of the tournament here for replay and download: FIDE Chess.com Grand Swiss | FIDE Chess.com Women's Grand Swiss.

Note that on Saturday, October 30, in the morning before the round there's the first ChessKid Grand Swiss, a seven-round Swiss tournament (3|2 games) for kids with a live broadcast starting at 12 a.m. Pacific | 9 a.m. Central Europe hosted by FM Mike Klein. You can watch the action at Chess.com/tv or Twitch.tv/chesskid.

ChessKid Grand Swiss


The FIDE Chess.com Grand Swiss and Women's Grand Swiss take place October 27-November 7, 2021 in Riga, Latvia. The format is an 11-round Swiss. The time control for the open group is 100 minutes for the first 40 moves, then 50 minutes for the next 20 moves, and finally 15 minutes for the rest of the game, with a 30-second increment starting from move one. For the women, it's 90 minutes for the first 40 moves followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game, with a 30-second increment starting on move one. The top two finishers in the open and the winner among the women will qualify for their respective 2022 candidates tournaments.


Earlier reports:

More from PeterDoggers
China, Uzbekistan To Play World Team Chess Championship Final

China, Uzbekistan To Play World Team Chess Championship Final

Carlsen Tops 'Strongest-Ever Field' At Tata Steel Chess 2023

Carlsen Tops 'Strongest-Ever Field' At Tata Steel Chess 2023