FIDE Grand Swiss R5: Najer, Shirov Catch Firouzja
Alexei Shirov is among the leaders after five rounds. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

FIDE Grand Swiss R5: Najer, Shirov Catch Firouzja

| 20 | Chess Event Coverage

Russian GM Evgeniy Najer and former world number-two GM Alexei Shirov caught GM Alireza Firouzja in the lead in round five of the FIDE Grand Swiss in Riga. The two won their games, while Firouzja drew the all-French clash with GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. Five players are leading the women's section.

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

It's been 23 years since Shirov famously won a Candidates match vs. GM Vladimir Kramnik in Cazorla, Spain. He should have played GM Garry Kasparov for the world championship next, but funding was never secured and Shirov sadly never got to face Kasparov for the title.

Kasparov and Kramnik, who ended up playing the match instead, both have retired from classical chess but Shirov instead suddenly finds himself in first place halfway through a tournament that is part of the world championship cycle. Not bad for someone who wasn't planning on playing until a day before the start.

The Latvian-Spanish GM defeated GM Ivan Saric basically by out-calculating his Croatian opponent. The 2018 European Champion didn't have his best day at the office, and Shirov found some nice resources to refute what should have been a temporary piece sacrifice:

Alexei Shirov Saric 2021
An excellent game by Alexei Shirov. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Najer coped well with his missed win the other day, saying: "You have no time to think about it because you have the next game." The Russian GM, who won the European Championship in 2015, beat Armenian GM Robert Hovhannisyan in a pawn endgame.

It was another long and tough clash for Najer, who said he has played a lot of games in this tournament on increment, with lots of mistakes for both sides occurring in endgames. This time, they were mostly by his opponent:

Evgeniy Najer chess
Evgeniy Najer missed his chance yesterday but won today. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

The Firouzja-MVL clash disappointed a little in content, which was related to Firouzja's solid approach with 6.a4 against the Najdorf. GM Aryan Tari continued to do well as he held GM Yu Yangyi to a draw—the same result as in Ponkratov-Sevian on board three.

Tari Yu Riga 2021
Tari vs. Yu. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

While GM Levon Aronian drew his fourth game (besides one win), GM Fabiano Caruana scored his second win of the tournament vs. GM David Howell to get to half a point behind the leaders. In the final stages of the game, Caruana had an hour more on the clock than his opponent, who was in time trouble.

"I was a bit disappointed because he seemed to know the line really well," said Caruana. "But at some point, he started to tank, and I figured that he was getting increasingly uncomfortable with the position which is not bad for him, but it's just very complicated."

Fabiano Caruana David Howell
David Howell (left) and Fabiano Caruana leave the playing hall. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

On what was a good day for the U.S., GM Dariusz Swiercz drew (and almost won) as Black, while GM Jeffery Xiong scored the full point a day after turning 21. He showed what to do if Black tries to copy White in the London System:

Swiercz's draw against the strong GM Pentala Harikrishna was a good result, but he won't be happy with it as he was completely winning with two connected passers:

Swiercz Harikrishna Riga 2021
A bummer for Swiercz, who had Harikrishna on the ropes. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

GM Parham Maghsoodloo bounced back from his loss the other day and won a good game, first using a pin to win White's queen and then another to simplify into a winning ending: 

Parham Maghsoodloo
Parham Maghsoodloo. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Wanna get better at using pins too? Check out WIM Fiona Steil-Antoni's lesson on Pins in her series Every Chess Tactic Explained!

Study Now!

The following game cannot remain unmentioned either, with four queens on the board at the final stage:

In round six, the top pairings are Shirov vs. Firouzja, Najer vs. Caruana, and Vachier-Lagrave vs. Ponkratov.

Round 5 Standings (Top 20)

Rk. SNo Fed Title Name Rtg Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3
1 3 GM Firouzja Alireza 2770 4,0 13,5 15,5 12,00
2 38 GM Najer Evgeniy 2654 4,0 10,5 12,5 10,00
3 32 GM Shirov Alexei 2659 4,0 9,5 11,0 8,75
4 11 GM Yu Yangyi 2704 3,5 13,5 15,5 10,25
4 31 GM Ponkratov Pavel 2659 3,5 13,5 15,5 10,25
6 89 GM Petrosyan Manuel 2605 3,5 13,0 14,5 9,50
7 41 GM Nihal Sarin 2652 3,5 13,0 14,5 9,25
8 1 GM Caruana Fabiano 2800 3,5 12,5 15,0 10,25
9 4 GM Vachier-Lagrave Maxime 2763 3,5 12,0 14,0 9,50
10 26 GM Predke Alexandr 2666 3,5 12,0 14,0 8,50
11 20 GM Korobov Anton 2690 3,5 11,5 14,0 9,75
12 40 GM Sevian Samuel 2654 3,5 11,0 13,0 9,00
13 48 GM Tari Aryan 2646 3,5 11,0 11,5 7,50
14 27 GM Sargissian Gabriel 2664 3,5 10,5 12,5 8,50
15 17 GM Navara David 2691 3,5 10,0 12,0 8,25
16 54 GM Sasikiran Krishnan 2640 3,5 10,0 11,0 7,50
17 50 GM Deac Bogdan-Daniel 2643 3,5 9,5 10,5 7,50
18 49 GM Saric Ivan 2644 3,0 14,0 15,5 7,75
19 74 GM Hovhannisyan Robert 2622 3,0 13,5 15,5 8,25
20 65 GM Keymer Vincent 2630 3,0 13,0 16,0 9,50

(Full standings here.)

The tournament leader in the women's section, China's GM Lei Tingjie, drew her game with GM Nana Dzagnidze that allowed four players to catch her in first place. GM Nino Batsiashvili did so with a beautiful game vs. GM Alexandra Kosteniuk that included a long-term knight sacrifice on h6.

"I think she missed 18.Nxh6+," Batsiashvili said after the game. "I have a very big initiative."

Nino Batsiashvili
A great game by Nino Batsiashvili. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

The number-one German female player, IM Elisabeth Paehtz, is among the leaders as well, thanks to a good win over IM Lela Javakhishvili that was decided on move 75.

"I think she underestimated the activity of [my] rooks and not the material, and suddenly I was better," Paehtz said. The key moment came right after the time control.

Paehtz: "When we reached 40 moves, I was quite upset because I just missed 41.Kd1 and I thought: that's it. But suddenly, after 15 minutes of being upset and angry with myself, I found this 41…Rd3+ move which actually changed the whole outcome because after that move, I think, I am practically already winning."

Elisabeth Paehtz
Nice endgame play by Elisabeth Paehtz. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Round 5 Women Standings (Top 20)

Rk. SNo Fed Title Name Rtg Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3
1 10 GM Batsiashvili Nino 2484 4,0 13,0 15,5 11,75
2 12 IM Paehtz Elisabeth 2475 4,0 13,0 15,0 11,25
2 15 WGM Zhu Jiner 2455 4,0 13,0 15,0 11,25
4 7 GM Lei Tingjie 2505 4,0 12,5 14,5 10,75
5 22 WGM Zawadzka Jolanta 2428 4,0 9,0 10,5 8,75
6 2 GM Dzagnidze Nana 2524 3,5 14,5 17,5 11,75
7 13 WGM Pogonina Natalija 2467 3,5 13,5 15,5 10,00
8 4 GM Harika Dronavalli 2511 3,5 11,5 13,0 8,50
9 20 IM Badelka Olga 2438 3,5 11,0 12,5 8,25
10 18 IM Javakhishvili Lela 2446 3,0 13,0 15,0 8,00
11 3 GM Kosteniuk Alexandra 2518 3,0 13,0 14,0 7,00
12 14 GM Gunina Valentina 2462 3,0 12,5 14,5 7,50
13 1 GM Muzychuk Mariya 2536 3,0 12,0 14,0 8,00
14 34 IM Assaubayeva Bibisara 2400 3,0 11,5 13,5 7,75
15 27 GM Girya Olga 2410 3,0 11,5 13,0 6,75
16 23 IM Osmak Iulija 2423 3,0 11,0 13,0 7,00
17 5 IM Shuvalova Polina 2509 3,0 11,0 12,0 6,25
18 46 WIM Vantika Agrawal 2322 3,0 10,5 12,0 7,00
19 6 GM Abdumalik Zhansaya 2507 3,0 10,5 12,0 6,50
20 8 IM Kashlinskaya Alina 2493 3,0 10,5 11,5 5,00

(Full standings here.)

In round six, the top pairings are Lei vs. Zawadzka, Zhu vs. Paehtz, and Dronavalli vs. Batsiashvili.

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

Sasikiran Fedoseev
Deep concentration by Krishnan Sasikiran, who beat Vladimir Fedoseev. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Ana Srebrnic chess
One of the arbiters, Ana Srebrnic. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Ruslan Ponomariov
Ruslan Ponomariov of Ukraine (but living in Spain). Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Nihal Sarin
Junior Speed Chess Champion in 2020 and 2021, Nihal Sarin. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Anna Sargsyan
Anna Sargsyan of Armenia. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Dinara Saduakassova Riga
Dinara Saduakassova of Kazakhstan. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Hjörvar Steinn Grétarsson
Hjorvar Steinn Gretarsson of Iceland. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Natalija Pogonina
Natalija Pogonina of Russia. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Salome Melia
Salome Melia of Georgia. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Madara Golsta chess
Madara Golsta of Latvia. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Harika Dronavalli
Harika Dronavalli of India. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Pia Cramling
Pia Cramling of Sweden. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Earlier reports:

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