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FIDE Grand Swiss 2023: Who Will Qualify For A Shot At World Title?
Who will take the two spots and qualify for the Candidates Tournament? The FIDE Grand Swiss begins Wednesday October 25.

FIDE Grand Swiss 2023: Who Will Qualify For A Shot At World Title?

TarjeiJS
| 56 | Chess Event Coverage

Two spots for the 2024 Candidates Tournament are up for grabs in the strongest open tournament of the year, the 2023 FIDE Grand Swiss, which takes place in Douglas, Isle of Man, from October 25 to November 5, with a prize fund of $460,000. Who will edge closer to playing a World Championship match?

The prestigious open tournament returns on Wednesday with a spectacular field that includes a whopping 106 grandmasters in the Open section, 92 of them rated above 2600—of which 22 players are rated above 2700. The FIDE Women's Grand Swiss is also particularly strong with 15 grandmasters among the 50 invited players.

Leko: "The Grand Swiss is always something special"

Heading the field of 113 players in the Open is the three-time U.S. Champion and world number-two GM Fabiano Caruana, ahead of his countryman GM Hikaru Nakamura. Also expected to fight for the top places are (in order of rating) GM Alireza Firouzja, GM Anish Giri, GM Gukesh Dommaraju, GM Richard Rapport, GM Levon Aronian, and GM Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu followed by GM Alexander Grischuk, GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, and GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda.

Former World Championship Challenger GM Peter Leko, who will be providing commentary for the event on Chess.com, says he is particularly excited about the classical format with 11 rounds (instead of the usual nine) and just one rest day, after round six.

"The Grand Swiss is always something special! My absolute favorite part is that it is the 'good old classical time control!' Both as a player and also now as a commentator, I simply love this. It's a real marathon and enables the games to have a logical conclusion," Leko said.

"Also with so much action going on, like the World Cup or the Olympiad, I always feel like we can't do justice to so many players because we have no time, not because we don't want to cover them! The classical control is essential in this aspect," the Hungarian grandmaster added.

The Fight For A Candidates Spot

Villa Marina in Douglas, Isle of Man, hosts the 2023 FIDE Grand Swiss. Photo: John Saunders
Villa Marina in Douglas, Isle of Man, hosts the 2023 FIDE Grand Swiss. Photo: John Saunders.

The total prize fund is a hefty $460,000, with the winner cashing in $80,000. However, the cherry on the cake are the two spots for the 2024 Candidates in Toronto, Canada. The winner of the premier event qualifies for a world championship match against the reigning champion, GM Ding Liren

Four out of eight players in the 2024 Candidates are already known:

  • GM Ian Nepomniachtchi (2023 World Championship match runner-up)
  • Praggnanandhaa (2023 FIDE World Cup runner-up)
  • Caruana (2023 FIDE World Cup 3rd place)
  • GM Nijat Abasov (2023 FIDE World Cup fourth place, expected to replace GM Magnus Carlsen)

One Candidates spot also goes to the 2023 FIDE Circuit winner, while the last spot goes to the top-rated player on the January 2024 rating list.

GM Robert Hess, who will also provide live commentary, feels that the Grand Swiss can produce what some might consider a "random" qualifier if they have the tournament of their life. However, it's entirely earned, Hess thinks.

"What generally complicates matters is that already-qualified individuals can take part; a player can impact who becomes one of their future Candidates opponents. It's a bit odd, but with such significant prizes it'd also be quite unfair to limit someone's income opportunities."

Busy Chess Calendar

Another aspect is the particularly busy schedule for the top players these days. Caruana, Aronian, and Sam Shankland had some more days to rest after a tough U.S. Championship, which finished on October 17, while players competing in the Qatar Masters, which finished on October 21, will have limited time to recover. This affects favorites such as Nakamura, Giri, Gukesh, and GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov.

Then there was the Bundesliga in Germany this weekend, where favorites such as Abdusattorov, Keymer, Rapport, and Duda all were in action. Leko, who came straight from Qatar as a coach himself, reveals an inside story about just that.

Can the young Uzbek Nodirbek Abdusattorov win a spot in the Candidates? Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com
Can the young Uzbek Nodirbek Abdusattorov win a spot in the Candidates? Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

"Parham [Maghsoodloo] and Nodirbek [Abdusattorov] played a lot of blitz games with each other right before the closing ceremony," Leko begins, adding that Abdusattorov was involved in a playoff for the title just minutes earlier. "After the closing ceremony had finished, they still kept blitzing against each other! Who would've guessed that the next day at 2:00 p.m. they would be back at the chessboard in the Bundesliga?"

"Both did quite well. I think this illustrates very well what chess fanatics the younger generation is and why they are so dangerous," Leko said and noted that Vachier-Lagrave has a different approach, skipping the Qatar Masters and Bundesliga, making him well-prepared and rested.

The 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss was somewhat surprisingly won by GM Wang Hao ahead of Caruana on 8/11. In 2021, it was won by Firouzja, also on 8/11.

The Hungarian fan-favorite didn't want to predict winners but noted:

I am expecting crazy, big fights and clearly a good start is very important to all the favorites. One of the tricks of the Grand Swiss is that doing a big catch-up is almost impossible as no matter how many points you have, you face very strong opposition who are often extremely cautious vs Elo favorites.

Hess, who will commentate along with Leko, GM Jan Gustafsson, and GM Daniel Naroditsky, agreed and called the event extremely exciting.

"I'm a huge fan of formats that provide opportunities to more exceptional players who may not get invited to closed round robins." 

Hess noted one player in particular that fans should keep an eye on, the Armenian GM Haik Martiosyan, who has shot up to World number-33 after a strong performance in the European Club Cup.

"His rise to become a Super-GM has gone almost entirely unnoticed. He was a bronze medalist at the last World Blitz and is young and still improving."

Magshoodloo is a player worth to watch, having made it to the top 20 in the world for the first time. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com
Maghsoodloo is a player worth watching, having made it to the top 20 in the world for the first time. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Hess also pointed out Maghsoodloo, who has crashed into the world's top 20 with a rating gain of 25 points in 20 games. Another player to watch is GM Vladislav Artemiev, who won six straight games at the Russian Superfinal. "He seems to be in great shape," Hess said.

Vachier-Lagrave has dropped a bit on the world rankings but is always a player to consider for the top spots. Now the Frenchman skipped both Qatar Masters and the Bundesliga.

"He clearly comes very well prepared and well rested," Leko said, while Hess noted:

"MVL just defeated Magnus in consecutive matches in the AI Cup, which is a ridiculous feat, and followed it up with a good showing at the European Club Cup. I'd watch out for him right now. He's returning to form."

Women's Grand Swiss

The FIDE Women's Grand Swiss is being held for the second time after the inaugural 2021 event that took place in Riga, Latvia. Among the 50 invited players, 15 are grandmasters, and all are fighting for the $25,000 first prize. More importantly, though, they also vie for two spots in the Women's Candidates.

GM Aleksandra Goryachkina heads the field including GM Alexandra Kosteniuk, GM Mariya Muzychuk, GM Tan Zhongyi, GM Anna Muzychuk, and Chess.com's "I'M Not A GM" winner IM Polina Shuvalova.

Five players have already qualified for the Women's Candidates, which is also taking place in Toronto, Canada, next year:

By the end of the event, we will know seven out of the eight players, while the eighth and last place goes to the highest-rated player on the January 2024 FIDE rankings.

"It's quite a big deal with two spots considering there are only 50 entrants," Hess says. "I am OK with it too, since there are so many improving talents that might be underrated."

Another player in "superb form" is Vaishali R, sister of Praggnanandhaa, who just earned her final GM norm.

Hess is also full of praise for Russian-born German WGM Dinara Wagner.

Dinara Wagner gets high praise from Chess.com commentator Robert Hess. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com
Dinara Wagner gets high praise from Chess.com commentator Robert Hess. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

"I've been super impressed by many of her games over the past year. She has increased her Elo by over 100 points and has scored massive wins along the way. You don't defeat both Goryachkina and Lagno in the same event by accident; Wagner did this en route to winning the fourth leg of the Women's Grand Prix. She made another GM norm in Dortmund, with an undefeated 7/9. Why can’t she add another tournament victory to her impressive 2023?"

The FIDE Grand Swiss is also a chance for some younger players and outsiders to face the very best. Chesskid ambassador IM Alice Lee finished third in the U.S. Women's Chess Championship last week, but she will now face much tougher opposition.

"I'm very grateful to have this amazing opportunity to play in this prestigious event against such strong and experienced opponents," Lee told Chess.com.

"I'm really excited to watch her compete on the international stage," Hess said about his compatriot.

You can watch Chess.com's live broadcast of the 2023 FIDE Grand Swiss on Chess24's Twitch and YouTube channels. Tune in to enjoy expert commentary by GMs Daniel Naroditsky, Hess, Jan Gustafsson, and Leko. 

TarjeiJS
Tarjei J. Svensen

Tarjei Svensen is a Norwegian chess journalist who worked for some of the country's biggest media outlets and appeared on several national TV broadcasts. Between 2015 and 2019, he ran his chess website mattogpatt.no, covering chess news in Norwegian and partly in English.

In 2020, he was hired by Chess24 to cover chess news, eventually moving to Chess.com as a full-time chess journalist in 2023. He is also known for his extensive coverage of chess news on his X/Twitter account.

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