Wang Hao Wins FIDE Grand Swiss, Qualifies For Candidates
Winner Wang Hao with Isle of Man chief minister Howard Quayle MHK. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Wang Hao Wins FIDE Grand Swiss, Qualifies For Candidates

| 221 | Chess Event Coverage

Wang Hao defeated David Howell today and edged out Fabiano Caruana on tiebreak to win the FIDE Grand Swiss in Isle of Man and qualify for the 2020 Candidates' Tournament. The Candidates' Tournament will determine the next challenger for Magnus Carlsen and the world chess championship.

Caruana drew his game with Hikaru Nakamura, while Levon Aronian and Carlsen  also split the point. With that, Carlsen is now unbeaten for 101 games and improved on Ding Liren's streak by one game.

Trophies FIDE Grand Swiss
The trophies. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Six players, including world number-one Carlsen and world number-two Caruana, were in contention for tournament victory. Six players (not the two Cs) had a chance to qualify for the Candidates' Tournament. In the end, one man got both prizes.

Like the day before, Wang ended up winning a game that he was happy to draw. The 30 year-old GM from Harbin, Heilongjiang, China profited from a blunder by Howell and got the full point. Having the best tiebreak of everyone in the tournament guaranteed him a place in the next Candidates' Tournament, in March 2020 in Yekaterinburg, Russia.

It will be the first time in history that a candidates' tournament has two representatives from China. The other player is Ding Liren, who qualified via last month's FIDE World Cup.

Wang Hao 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss
Wang Hao has been busy as a chess trainer, but suddenly has a good reason to focus on his own chess again. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

After his last game, Wang revealed that he was close to withdrawing from this tournament, as he was very tired from playing the World Cup—especially his match with Leinier Dominguez that had a long tiebreak.

"Now I need to go back home, sit down and think how to continue," Wang said about his candidates participation. "I don’t have a team working with me. I am hoping to create a small team—three to four people—who will be able to help me. I am, however, not sure if I’ll be able to do so."

Carlsen Caruana FIDE Grand Swiss
The first prize didn't go to one of the top seeds, Carlsen and Caruana. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

The leader before the round, Caruana, drew his game with Nakamura. Wang thus caught him and won the tournament, although the top two prizes ($70,000 and $60,000) were shared because the players finished on the same number of points (eight).

The first results at the top boards were the draws on boards one and two. These ended relatively quickly, and right after each other. 

The first to finish were Nakamura and Caruana, who drew a game that started as a Petroff. With 5.d3 and 6.d4 it transposed into an Exchange French, where Nakamura played the offbeat move 7.h3!?.

Nakamura Caruana 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss
Nakamura and Caruana shaking hands after 1.e4 was on the board. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Caruana initially was fine out of the opening (using a remarkable knight maneuver from b8 to c6, b4, a6, c7, e6, f4 and then g6) but then he needed to be a bit careful, which he was.

Although he couldn't win this must-win game, Nakamura was still satisfied: "Probably in this tournament I played good chess from start to finish. I felt like I saw a lot in most of the games here and it's been a while," he said.

Caruana was also satisfied with his plus-five: "Overall it was very good. I couldn't really hope for more," Caruana said.

Nakamura Caruana 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss
Nakamura vs. Caruana, a Petroff in the making. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

While Nakamura and Caruana were being interviewed, board two, Aronian-Carlsen, also finished in a draw. Aronian was clearly disappointed, as he needed to win this game keep chances to qualify for the candidates.

"I remembered vaguely, because I had to check many lines today," said Aronian, who played the 4.f3 Nimzo-Indian. After he missed that Black could take on d5 with the knight, he was basically playing for a draw.

"This year I've been playing terribly so at last scoring a decent amount of points is already a relief," said Aronian.

Aronian Carlsen 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss
Carlsen and Aronian drawing their game. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Carlsen had reason to smile, as with this game he improved on Ding's 100-game unbeaten streak. Although against weaker opposition, the longest unbeaten streak lasted 110 games and was achieved by the Russian-Dutch GM Sergei Tiviakov.

Carlsen: "I feel like 100 is kind of a magic number; I never thought I'd get there. I had some luck for sure, also in this tournament. Now that I haven't played so well recently that's a big reason to be happy."

Magnus Carlsen 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss
Magnus Carlsen, now 101 games in a row undefeated. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

The game between Wang and Howell was expected to end in a draw as well. From a Fianchetto Grunfeld, the position looked quite drawish when Howell blundered terribly. Suddenly the tournament was decided.

Wang said he was "very happy but also very surprised" as once again his game plan had been that a draw was a good result today. Sometimes you get more than you wish for.

Wang Hao appeared on the live broadcast.

Kirill Alekseenko, who was next in line behind Wang on first tiebreak, eventually drew his game with Nikita Vitiugov. Reaching 7.5/11 was a fine performance by both players.

David Anton finished on the same score, as he defeated Robert Hovhannisyan in one of the most interesting games of the round:

David Anton 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss
An excellent tournament for David Anton. Photo: John Saunders.

Two players finished their tournament with 11 draws: Viktor Erdos of Hungary and Jorden van Foreest of the Netherlands.

As always in open tournaments, the last round saw many relatively quick draws. Some players were probably just tired from playing, or had to leave early to start traveling to the European Team Championship in Batumi, Georgia, which starts on October 23.

Another major event coming up is the Fischer Random World Championship in Norway, between October 27 and November 2, with Carlsen, Caruana, Ian Nepomniachtchi and Wesley So.

FIDE Grand Swiss | Final Standings (Top 20)

Rk. SNo Fed Name Rtg Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3
1 15 Wang Hao 2726 8,0 2735 67,5 73,0
2 2 Caruana Fabiano 2812 8,0 2720 69,5 75,0
3 38 Alekseenko Kirill 2674 7,5 2716 64,5 69,5
4 8 Aronian Levon 2758 7,5 2708 70,5 75,5
5 39 Anton Guijarro David 2674 7,5 2702 66,5 70,5
6 1 Carlsen Magnus 2876 7,5 2698 67,5 73,0
7 12 Nakamura Hikaru 2745 7,5 2674 62,0 67,0
8 13 Vitiugov Nikita 2732 7,5 2663 65,0 70,0
9 7 Grischuk Alexander 2759 7,0 2682 66,5 72,0
10 110 Paravyan David 2602 7,0 2675 60,0 64,5
11 24 Howell David W L 2694 7,0 2657 60,0 65,0
12 17 Vidit Santosh Gujrathi 2718 7,0 2644 60,0 65,0
13 19 Le Quang Liem 2708 7,0 2631 58,5 63,0
14 48 Maghsoodloo Parham 2664 6,5 2703 65,0 69,5
15 83 Abasov Nijat 2632 6,5 2703 62,5 66,5
16 53 Kovalev Vladislav 2661 6,5 2699 61,5 65,0
17 47 Fedoseev Vladimir 2664 6,5 2691 63,5 67,0
18 95 Rakhmanov Aleksandr 2621 6,5 2689 61,0 64,0
19 44 Kryvoruchko Yuriy 2669 6,5 2680 61,0 65,0
20 71 Lupulescu Constantin 2643 6,5 2676 57,5 60,0
(Full standings here.)

The top women's prizes were shared by top seed Harika Dronavalli of India and Dinara Saduakassova of Kazakhstan. Both scored 5.5/11. The latter also earned a grandmaster norm in this event.

Dinara Saduakassova appeared on the live broadcast.

FIDE Grand Swiss | Women, Final Standings

Rk. SNo Fed Title Name Rtg Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3
83 122 GM Harika Dronavalli 2495 5,5 2653 58,5 63,0
85 127 IM Saduakassova Dinara 2481 5,5 2650 55,5 60,0
107 146 IM Munguntuul Batkhuyag 2421 5,0 2637 55,5 59,0
108 131 GM Lei Tingjie 2469 5,0 2637 53,5 57,5
116 126 IM Kashlinskaya Alina 2481 5,0 2575 51,5 54,0
126 149 WGM Soumya Swaminathan 2365 4,5 2591 54,0 58,0
127 128 GM Stefanova Antoaneta 2479 4,5 2582 52,0 56,0
132 144 GM Batsiashvili Nino 2422 4,5 2515 42,0 44,5
134 134 GM Cramling Pia 2462 4,5 2497 45,5 48,0
135 141 GM Ushenina Anna 2431 4,0 2626 50,0 53,0
138 138 GM Sebag Marie 2445 4,0 2573 51,5 54,0
140 147 GM Danielian Elina 2385 4,0 2569 52,0 55,5
143 142 IM Houska Jovanka 2430 3,5 2581 50,0 52,5
144 132 IM Atalik Ekaterina 2464 3,5 2540 47,5 50,0
145 140 IM Bulmaga Irina 2442 3,5 2531 45,5 48,0
146 145 IM Zatonskih Anna 2422 3,0 2586 49,5 53,0

Find the top games of round 11 for replay here:

Nakamura security check 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss
Rather oddly, Nakamura underwent a security check after he had already made a move. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Alekseev Vitiugov 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss
Alekseev and Vitiugov played a great tournament. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Wang Hao 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss
Wang Hao at work. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Aronian Carlsen 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss
Carlsen, Fedoseev and So watching as Aronian is thinking. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Aronian 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss
Aronian analysing with Carlsen...Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Aronian Carlsen 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss
...and chatting some more. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Wang Hao Howell 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss
Howell realizing it's over... Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Wang Hao Howell 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss
...and resigning, making Wang Hao the champion. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Wang Hao 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss
Wang Hao during his interview for the live broadcast. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Wang Hao 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss
Wang Hao at the closing ceremony. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Harika Dronavalli 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss
Harika Dronavalli with the women's trophy. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Norms at 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss
The final GM norms for Jonas Buhl Bjerre, Raunak Sadhwani and Vincent Keymer; a first GM norm for Dinara Saduakassova; and an IM norm for Soumya Swaminathan. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Previous reports:

Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

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