FIDE Grand Swiss R3: Firouzja On Fire, Sole Leader In Riga
Alireza Firouzja, on 3/3 in Riga. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

FIDE Grand Swiss R3: Firouzja On Fire, Sole Leader In Riga

| 34 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Alireza Firouzja is the sole leader at the FIDE Grand Swiss in Riga after beating GM Alexandr Predke on Friday, while co-leader GM Ivan Saric drew his game with GM Fabiano Caruana. Nine players are sharing the lead in the FIDE Women's Grand Swiss.

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

There are 158 players playing in Riga but just one is on 3/3. Three straight wins have sent 18-year-old Firouzja to the pole position while he has netted 10.1 rating points along the way.

On Thursday the French GM had already moved up to world number-six in the live ratings, and he's now 1.3 Elo points behind GM Levon Aronian. If the latter had lost his rook endgame in this round (which was entirely possible), Firouzja would have moved up one more spot in the rankings.

With the white pieces, Firouzja scored his third point in an endgame grind vs. Predke, who put up an excellent fight throughout the game and only started playing inaccurately in the fifth hour of play. Because all other top players had already finished, it was immediately clear that Firouzja had grabbed the sole lead with this victory.

Alireza Firouzja is on fire.
Alireza Firouzja is on fire. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Aronian had a tough game at the office from the onset. GM Anton Demchenko, the reigning European Champion, played the solid Four Knights and even managed to outplay his star opponent in the middlegame where he won a pawn. However, the Russian player spoiled Demchenko's winning chances in the rook endgame:

Anton Demchenko Aronian Riga
Anton Demchenko had Levon Aronian on the ropes. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

For the second day in a row, Caruana failed to convert to a winning position as well. He played a very interesting game with Saric, who was initially OK out of the opening but got into trouble after castling queenside. It seems Caruana miscalculated Black's 31st move: 

Fabiano Caruana Riga Grand Swiss
Fabiano Caruana was again close to winning. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

The wildest game of the day was played between Norwegian GM Aryan Tari and Russia's GM Vladimir Fedoseev, who came in fourth in the FIDE World Cup this summer. The latter was in complete control but messed it up with one move. Afterward, he called his smile, which was visible on camera during play, a "sad smile."

However, Fedoseev clearly overestimated his position as he thought he had missed a clear win on move 29 where the engines think it's level: "I think it was as winning as it can be in chess, but I played a completely ridiculous move 29...Qh2, and after 30.Rg5 I immediately realized that a draw for me in this game will be a huge success for me. This move 29...Qh2 is maybe one of the biggest mistakes in my career in a technically winning position."

He was happy to escape with a draw as Tari missed a chance to deliver a smothered mate on the board: 

Vladimir Fedoseev Riga 2021
Vladimir Fedoseev with Amin Tabatabaei (middle) and David Howell looking on. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

More success for Russia came at the hands of GM Daniil Dubov, who won a good game as Black. 

"I got surprised in the opening," he said. "I think I looked at it two, three years ago, and I felt like in general it's a bluff and with precise play, Black is probably slightly better. So I was kind of puzzled: I thought it's either that I will lose straight out of the opening or if I will survive, then I'm probably in great shape. I'm probably slightly better."

Afterward, Dubov was interviewed, and he made some interesting comments about engines and computers getting better and better:

"To me, it feels like three years ago. We had a completely different level of engines in general. The difference is probably comparable to, like, three years ago and fifteen years ago and three years ago and now. I think it's pretty much the same story; it's a completely different level. Some of the lines that were considered to be playable, considered to be good, are not playable at all anymore. It changed a lot. Also, all the books make zero sense, in general. I checked recently all the Kasparov books, My Great Predecessors. I became a chess player basically thanks to these books, but the stuff that he recommends in the openings are [outdated], mildly put."

Daniil Dubov
Daniil Dubov. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

One game that caught the eye of this author was GM Jules Moussard's win vs. GM Ivan Cheparinov, mostly because of the opening. The Two Knights, and actually hanging on to the extra pawn, is fully playable for White these days.

Moussard vs. Cheparinov Riga 2021
Moussard (right) vs. Cheparinov. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

A similar theme also occurred in the following game, where the first player accepted the sacrifice of a full piece, defended on the kingside, and won on the queenside, which led to a pretty final position.

Now that we're at it, here's a lesson on How to Materialistic in Chess by IM Kostya Kavutskiy about when to accept sacrifices!

Study Now!

In round four, the top pairings are Yu-Firouzja, Sarin-Ponkratov, Najer-Saric, Aronian-Hovhannisyan, Swiercz-Caruana, MVL-Demchenko, Dubov-Donchenko, and Fedoseev-Gukesh.

Round 3 Standings (Top 21)

Rk. SNo Fed Title Name Rtg Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3
1 3 GM Firouzja Alireza 2770 3,0 4,0 5,5 5,50
2 11 GM Yu Yangyi 2704 2,5 3,5 5,0 4,00
2 31 GM Ponkratov Pavel 2659 2,5 3,5 5,0 4,00
4 74 GM Hovhannisyan Robert 2622 2,5 3,5 4,5 3,50
5 41 GM Nihal Sarin 2652 2,5 3,5 4,0 3,00
6 49 GM Saric Ivan 2644 2,5 3,5 3,5 2,50
7 38 GM Najer Evgeniy 2654 2,5 3,0 4,0 3,50
8 1 GM Caruana Fabiano 2800 2,0 5,0 7,0 4,50
9 20 GM Korobov Anton 2690 2,0 4,5 5,5 3,25
9 65 GM Keymer Vincent 2630 2,0 4,5 5,5 3,25
11 26 GM Predke Alexandr 2666 2,0 4,5 5,5 2,50
12 89 GM Petrosyan Manuel 2605 2,0 4,5 5,0 2,75
13 14 GM Artemiev Vladislav 2699 2,0 4,0 5,5 3,50
13 98 GM Neiksans Arturs 2570 2,0 4,0 5,5 3,50
15 10 GM Fedoseev Vladimir 2704 2,0 4,0 5,0 3,00
15 12 GM Maghsoodloo Parham 2701 2,0 4,0 5,0 3,00
15 64 GM Ponomariov Ruslan 2631 2,0 4,0 5,0 3,00
15 76 GM Brkic Ante 2621 2,0 4,0 5,0 3,00
19 34 GM Howell David W L 2658 2,0 4,0 4,5 2,50
19 53 GM Gukesh D 2640 2,0 4,0 4,5 2,50
19 81 GM Praggnanandhaa R 2618 2,0 4,0 4,5 2,50

(Full standings here.)

No female player is on 3/3 as the three leaders all drew their games on Friday. Six players who had been on 1.5 points won their games and joined the group at the top.

One of them was GM Harika Dronavalli, who beat former women's world champion and now a politician in Bulgaria GM Antoaneta Stefanova. Harika declined a draw offer on move 30 despite being a pawn down.

"I felt I have chances if I go into the ending, so I gave it a try and it worked," she said.

Harika Dronavalli Stefanova Riga
Harika Dronavalli and Antoaneta Stefanova starting their game. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

GM Zhansaya Abdumalik started with a loss in the first round but has now recovered with two wins in a row. On Friday she sacrificed a piece without fully calculating everything, saying: "I wasn't sure if it was the correct move. I saw that I have many pawns for the piece, and also the king on e8 wasn't really good. She couldn't castle, and the pawn on d6 was really strong. It just felt really good for White."

A lovely game by Zhansaya Abdumalik. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
A lovely game by Zhansaya Abdumalik. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Round 3 Women Standings (Top 20)

Rk. SNo Fed Title Name Rtg Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3
1 15 WGM Zhu Jiner 2455 2,5 4,5 6,0 4,75
2 13 WGM Pogonina Natalija 2467 2,5 4,5 5,0 3,75
3 18 IM Javakhishvili Lela 2446 2,5 4,0 5,5 4,50
4 2 GM Dzagnidze Nana 2524 2,5 4,0 5,5 4,25
5 14 GM Gunina Valentina 2462 2,5 4,0 5,0 4,00
6 7 GM Lei Tingjie 2505 2,5 4,0 5,0 3,75
7 12 IM Paehtz Elisabeth 2475 2,5 4,0 4,0 2,75
8 10 GM Batsiashvili Nino 2484 2,5 3,5 4,5 3,25
9 4 GM Harika Dronavalli 2511 2,5 2,5 3,0 2,50
10 3 GM Kosteniuk Alexandra 2518 2,0 5,0 5,5 3,00
11 33 WGM Sargsyan Anna M. 2402 2,0 4,5 5,5 3,00
12 41 GM Arakhamia-Grant Ketevan 2376 2,0 4,0 5,0 2,50
13 40 IM Padmini Rout 2380 2,0 3,5 4,0 1,50
13 43 IM Lujan Carolina 2340 2,0 3,5 4,0 1,50
15 34 IM Assaubayeva Bibisara 2400 2,0 3,0 4,0 2,50
16 20 IM Badelka Olga 2438 2,0 3,0 3,5 2,00
17 8 IM Kashlinskaya Alina 2493 2,0 3,0 3,5 1,50
18 6 GM Abdumalik Zhansaya 2507 2,0 2,5 2,5 1,00
19 22 WGM Zawadzka Jolanta 2428 2,0 2,0 2,5 1,75
20 46 WIM Vantika Agrawal 2322 2,0 2,0 2,5 1,50

(Full standings here.)

In round four, the top pairings are Paehtz-Dzagnidze, Zhu Jiner-Dronavalli, Lei Tingjie-Gunina, Pogonina-Batsiashvili, Abdumalik-Javakhishvili, and Kosteniuk-Assaubayeva.

You can find all games of the tournament here for replay and download: FIDE Grand Swiss | FIDE 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 or

ChessKid Grand Swiss

The FIDE 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.

FIDE Grand Swiss playing hall
The start of round three. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Kosteniuk vs Gunina
Russia's top guns Alexandra Kosteniuk and Valentina Gunina drew their game. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Dana Reizniece-Ozola
Dana Reizniece-Ozola, FIDE's managing director and a former Minister of Economics (2014–2016) and Minister of Finance (2016–2019) in Latvia. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Ganguly Raunak Sethuraman
Left to right, the Indian GMs Raunak Sadhwani, Nihal Sarin, S.P. Sethuraman, and Surya Ganguly. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Goryachkina Gelfand Riga 2021
Aleksandra Goryachkina held the draw vs. Boris Gelfand. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Earlier reports:

More from PeterDoggers
Gender Bias Research Shows Parents, Mentors Shortchange Girls’ Chess Potential

Gender Bias Research Shows Parents, Mentors Shortchange Girls’ Chess Potential

Nepomniachtchi Repeats Levitov Chess Week Victory

Nepomniachtchi Repeats Levitov Chess Week Victory