FIDE Grand Swiss R6: MVL, Sasikiran Join Leaders
Shirov-Firouzja, watched by Caruana and Vachier-Lagrave. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

FIDE Grand Swiss R6: MVL, Sasikiran Join Leaders

| 55 | Chess Event Coverage

There's a five-way tie for first place at the FIDE Grand Swiss going into the rest day. GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and GM Krishnan Sasikiran won their games and joined the leaders GM Evgeniy Najer, GM Alexei Shirov, and GM Alireza Firouzja.

In the women's section, GM Lei Tingjie is back to being the sole leader thanks to a win versus WGM Jolanta Zawadzka. The seventh round will be played on Wednesday, November 3.

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

The Shirov-Firouzja game on the top board was both a great clash of generations and one that could have affected the live ratings even more. Already the number five in the world, 18-year-old Firouzja would have overtaken the world number four and world championship challenger GM Ian Nepomniachtchi, had he won. That didn't happen, but the tournament isn't over yet...

Firouzja Najer Shirov
Firouzja checking the Najer-Caruana game. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Firouzja had the better chances in a game where Riga-born Shirov used the Mikhail Tal(!) variation against the Caro-Kann. In fact, he also used a typical attacking recipe of Tal's that GM Gregory Serper wrote about earlier this year.

In this game, sacrificing the h-pawn was kind of a risky choice that didn't work out as planned. "I feel I was clearly worse, maybe lost, so I'm happy to draw," said Shirov.

Alexei Shirov interview
Alexei Shirov: "I feel I was clearly worse, maybe lost, so I'm happy to draw." Photo: Maria Emelianova/

However, White always had some counterplay, and even with the engine running, it's not easy to demonstrate a clear win for Black.

All in all, it was a great fight. Now 49 years old, Shirov was the world's number two player nine years before his opponent was born, and, clearly, still packs a punch.

Firouzja Shirov Riga 2021
Shirov with Firouzja (behind the arbiter). Photo: Maria Emelianova/

The game on board two fell in the same category: that of a highly interesting draw. GM Fabiano Caruana didn't shy away from a sharp fight with the black pieces as he went for a topical line in the Sicilian Four Knights.

Najer played another excellent game and had the upper hand well into the endgame. While he was still pressing, the game suddenly ended when he allowed a threefold repetition which Caruana successfully claimed. The final position had also been on the board on moves 50 and 52.

"To be honest, I blundered. If I knew about it I would just push one of my pawns and we'll continue the game. I have the feeling White has very good winning chances," said Najer.

Najer Caruana Riga 2021
Najer and Caruana shook hands after arbiter Arno Eliëns confirmed the threefold. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Vachier-Lagrave is so far having a "perfect" tournament where he drew all his black games and won all of his white games—just like "what every Russian schoolboy has been taught," as he put it himself. And once again, he was done before the time control was reached.

The Frenchman battled GM Pavel Ponkratov's French opening with the Advance variation, following a scheme GM Magnus Carlsen had used in an online game last year. It looks like a modernized variation of the old Milner-Barry gambit.

"It leads to ultra-sharp positions. I am not sure how well we navigated," said MVL, who also noted that the tournament only starts now. "The quest is not over." 

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave: "So far my play is convincing." Photo: Maria Emelianova/

It feels like he came a bit out of nowhere but GM Krishnan Sasikiran moved to an undefeated plus three as well and is also one of the leaders. On Monday, the 40-year-old Indian grandmaster defeated Russia's GM Alexandr Predke with the black pieces using the Nimzo-Indian defense—named after another big-name born in Riga, Aron Nimzowitsch.

After playing an interesting pawn sacrifice in the opening, Predke's decision to castle queenside was wrong. The intention was surely to create an attack in a middlegame with opposite-colored bishops, but this never really came off the ground:

Krishnan Sasikiran facemask chess
Krishnan Sasikiran is among the leaders as well. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Those were some great games but the following was even more spectacular. With GM Daniil Dubov in the tournament, you're pretty much guaranteed to have games like this. It should be noted that it takes two to tango: GM Ivan Saric defended fantastically and kind of deserved the draw but he "relaxed a move too early" as our annotator puts it:

Daniil Dubov
Daniil Dubov. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

On some of the lower boards, this sixth round saw a surprising number of blunders. The rest day isn't coming a day too early.

For example, GM Baadur Jobava won in just 14 moves after GM Jules Moussard's mishap in the opening:

Baadur Jobava
Baadur Jobava. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

An even bigger oversight happened in the following game.

The following game saw some nice final few moves. First, GM Sergei Movsesian found a pretty checkmate pattern, and then GM Lucas van Foreest nicely allowed him to execute it on the board:

In round seven (on Wednesday), the top pairings are Firouzja vs. Najer, Sasikiran vs. Vachier-Lagrave, and Esipenko vs. Shirov.

Round 6 Standings (Top 20)

Rk. SNo Fed Name Rtg Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3
1 3 GM Firouzja, Alireza 2770 4.5 20.0 22.5 16.00
2 4 GM Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime 2763 4.5 18.0 21.0 15.50
3 38 GM Najer, Evgeniy 2654 4.5 16.5 18.5 14.00
4 54 GM Sasikiran, Krishnan 2640 4.5 16.0 17.5 13.25
5 32 GM Shirov, Alexei 2659 4.5 14.5 16.0 11.25
6 11 GM Yangyi, Yu 2704 4.0 19.5 22.5 14.50
7 1 GM Caruana, Fabiano 2800 4.0 19.0 22.0 14.50
8 89 GM Petrosyan, Manuel 2605 4.0 18.5 20.0 12.75
9 41 GM Nihal, Sarin 2652 4.0 18.0 20.0 12.25
10 20 GM Korobov, Anton 2690 4.0 17.0 19.5 12.75
11 48 GM Tari, Aryan 2646 4.0 17.0 18.5 11.75
12 27 GM Sargissian, Gabriel 2664 4.0 16.5 18.5 12.25
13 17 GM Navara, David 2691 4.0 16.5 18.5 11.50
14 28 GM Sjugirov, Sanan 2663 4.0 16.0 18.5 12.00
15 40 GM Sevian, Samuel 2654 4.0 16.0 18.0 11.50
16 33 GM Anton, Guijarro David 2658 4.0 16.0 18.0 11.00
17 50 GM Deac, Bogdan-Daniel 2643 4.0 15.0 16.5 10.75
18 6 GM Esipenko, Andrey 2720 4.0 14.5 17.0 11.50
19 44 GM Sarana, Alexey 2649 4.0 14.5 16.5 11.50
20 8 GM Dubov, Daniil 2714 4.0 14.5 16.5 10.75

(Full standings here.)

Just like after round four, Lei is the sole leader in the women's tournament. The 24-year-old Chinese player won a long and tough game vs. Poland's Zawadzka, who was hanging on while under pressure for a long time. The final touch was nice:

Lei Tingjie
Lei Tingjie. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

While her sister Anna is one of the commentators of the live broadcast, GM Mariya Muzychuk is playing, and now moving up the standings as well. After four draws, she won her next two games, today against the strong GM Nana Dzagnidze.

"I think I was much better prepared today; I was preparing for three hours, so I had some ideas in mind," said Muzychuk. "I'm pretty sure the piece sacrifice of my opponent was wrong. The only minus in that position is that White needs to remember many variations, but luckily my opponent didn't know about it and I got a winning position out of the opening."

Mariya Muzychuk
Mariya Muzychuk. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

How can you catch your opponent in the opening and score a win like Mariya Muzychuk? Join IM Levy Rozman as he demonstrates how to keep your opponent's king in the center and how to get at it once it's stuck there.

Study Now!

Round 6 Women Standings (Top 20)

Rk. SNo Fed Name Rtg Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3
1 7 GM Tingjie, Lei 2505 5.0 18.0 20.5 16.50
2 10 GM Batsiashvili, Nino 2484 4.5 20.0 23.0 16.50
2 12 IM Paehtz, Elisabeth 2475 4.5 20.0 23.0 16.50
4 15 WGM Zhu, Jiner 2455 4.5 20.0 22.0 15.50
5 13 WGM Pogonina, Natalija 2467 4.5 18.0 20.0 14.00
6 4 GM Dronavalli, Harika 2511 4.0 19.0 21.0 13.00
7 18 IM Javakhishvili, Lela 2446 4.0 18.0 20.5 12.25
8 3 GM Kosteniuk, Alexandra 2518 4.0 18.0 19.0 11.00
9 1 GM Muzychuk, Mariya 2536 4.0 17.5 20.5 13.50
10 22 WGM Zawadzka, Jolanta 2428 4.0 16.0 18.0 10.75
11 21 IM Munguntuul, Batkhuyag 2433 4.0 14.5 16.5 10.00
12 8 IM Kashlinskaya, Alina 2493 4.0 14.0 16.0 9.00
13 2 GM Dzagnidze, Nana 2524 3.5 21.5 24.5 13.50
14 34 IM Assaubayeva, Bibisara 2400 3.5 18.0 21.0 12.00
15 23 IM Osmak, Iulija 2423 3.5 17.5 20.0 11.25
16 6 GM Abdumalik, Zhansaya 2507 3.5 16.5 19.0 10.75
17 20 IM Badelka, Olga 2438 3.5 16.5 18.5 9.25
18 48 WGM Rogule, Laura 2289 3.5 15.0 17.5 9.50
19 26 WGM Maltsevskaya, Aleksandra 2411 3.5 14.0 15.5 8.50
20 14 GM Gunina, Valentina 2462 3.0 18.5 20.5 8.00

(Full standings here.)

In round seven (on Wednesday), the top pairings are Batsiashvili vs. Lei, Paehtz vs. Pogonina, and Kosteniuk vs. Zhu.

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

Mikhail Tal Memorial: Lindores Abbey Blitz
Many of the Grand Swiss participants will also be participating in the Lindores Abbey Blitz, a nine-round blitz tournament on November 8, a day after the Grand Swiss finishes and a day before the anniversary of Mikhail Tal's 85th birthday. You can follow the games and live broadcast live here. Don't miss it! 
Mikhail Tal Memorial Lindores Abbey Blitz

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.

Sarin Navara post-mortem
Nihal Sarin and David Navara analyzed their draw with Indian GMs Pentala Harikrishna and Surya Ganguly kibitzing. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Artemiev Ponomariov
Vladislav Artemiev and Ruslan Ponomariov also drew their game.  Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Maris Krakops Dana Reizniece-Ozola
GM Maris Krakops (President of the Latvian Chess Federation) and WGM Dana Reizniece-Ozola (managing director of FIDE). In 1998, the two won the Latvian championships together.

Earlier reports:

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