Caruana and Wang Hao Win FIDE Grand Swiss

After a thrilling final round, Fabiano Caruana and Wang Hao are the deserved victors of the 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss, ending the tournament with a strong 8/11 score. Wang officially finished first on tiebreaks.

Each player receives $60,000 for shared first place, but of equal (if not greater!) importance to Wang is the fact that he receives an invitation to the 2020 Candidates on the basis of this result. Caruana entered the day alone in first place with 7.5/10. Trailing behind him at 7/10 were Kirill Alekseenko, Levon Aronian, Magnus Carlsen, David Howell, Hikaru Nakamura, Nikita Vitiugov, and Wang Hao. While all (save Carlsen and Caruana) harbored hopes of qualifying for the Candidates, the tiebreaks dramatically favored Wang. Grand Swiss regulations stipulate that the first tiebreak is “AROC 1,” or the average rating of one’s opponents, excluding the lowest-rated one.

Player TB1
Wang Hao 2735
Kirill Alekseenko 2716
Levon Aronian 2708
Hikaru Nakamura 2674
Nikita Vitiugov 2663
David Howell 2657

  Having the best tiebreaks, Wang could qualify with a win, while Aronian would need a win and Wang to draw, and with the pattern repeating as we move down the list. Only Wang had his fate completely in his hands, while the American hopeful, Hikaru Nakamura, needed a lot of help if he were to take the Candidates seat. The Round 11 pairings also, at least on paper, favored Wang. Nakamura faced tournament leader Caruana on board one, taking the white pieces. Aronian had white against Carlsen, as did Alekseenko against Vitiugov. And Wang had the advantage of the first move against Howell, making him the only player ‘playing down’ with white on the top four boards.

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The first game to finish was Nakamura-Caruana, drawn after 31 moves. Nakamura tried to find a way to play for a win against Caruana’s Petroff, but he ultimately could not breach the Black defenses.

[pgn] [Event "FIDE Grand Swiss"] [Site "Douglas ENG"] [Date "2019.10.21"] [Round "11.1"] [White "Nakamura, Hikaru"] [Black "Caruana, Fabiano"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C42"] [WhiteElo "2745"] [BlackElo "2812"] [PlyCount "61"] [EventDate "2019.10.10"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. d3 Nf6 6. d4 d5 7. h3 Nc6 8. Bd3 Nb4 9. Bb5+ c6 10. Ba4 Bd6 11. O-O O-O 12. c3 Na6 13. Bc2 Nc7 14. Bg5 Ne6 15. Bh4 Nf4 16. Ne5 Ng6 17. Bg3 Bxe5 18. dxe5 Ne4 19. Bxe4 dxe4 20. Nd2 Qd5 21. Re1 Bf5 22. Nb3 Rfe8 23. Qxd5 cxd5 24. Rad1 Rad8 25. Nd4 Bd7 26. f3 Nxe5 27. fxe4 dxe4 28. Rxe4 Nc6 29. Rxe8+ Bxe8 30. Bf2 Nxd4 31. Rxd4 1/2-1/2 [/pgn]
Aronian-Carlsen was drawn soon thereafter.

Aronian-Carlsen (photo / Maria Emelianova)

[pgn] [Event "FIDE Grand Swiss"] [Site "Douglas ENG"] [Date "2019.10.21"] [Round "11.2"] [White "Aronian, Levon"] [Black "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "E20"] [WhiteElo "2758"] [BlackElo "2876"] [PlyCount "67"] [EventDate "2019.10.10"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. f3 c5 5. d5 b5 6. e4 d6 7. Bd2 Bxc3 8. Bxc3 b4 9. Bd2 O-O 10. Be3 exd5 11. cxd5 Nfd7 12. Ne2 f5 13. exf5 Rxf5 14. Ng3 Re5 15. Kf2 Qh4 16. Qd2 Nf6 17. Rc1 Ba6 18. b3 Nxd5 19. Rc4 Qe7 20. Re4 Qe6 21. Bf4 Nxf4 22. Qxf4 Bxf1 23. Rxe5 dxe5 24. Qe4 Nc6 25. Rxf1 c4 26. Nf5 cxb3 27. Qxc6 Qxc6 28. Ne7+ Kf8 29. Nxc6 bxa2 30. Nxb4 Rb8 31. Ra1 Rxb4 32. Rxa2 Rb7 33. Ke3 Ke7 34. Ra6 1/2-1/2 [/pgn]

Meanwhile Wang Hao was working to convert a material advantage against Howell, one that he gained after Howell’s oversight on his 18th move. Spoiler alert: he did it.

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[pgn] [Event "FIDE Grand Swiss"] [Site "Douglas ENG"] [Date "2019.10.21"] [Round "11.4"] [White "Wang, Hao"] [Black "Howell, David W L"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D71"] [WhiteElo "2726"] [BlackElo "2694"] [Annotator "Hartmann,John"] [PlyCount "73"] [EventDate "2019.10.10"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. g3 Bg7 4. Bg2 d5 5. cxd5 Nxd5 6. Nf3 Nb6 7. O-O Nc6 8. e3 e5 9. Nc3 exd4 10. Nxd4 Nxd4 11. exd4 c6 12. d5 cxd5 13. Nxd5 O-O 14. Be3 Be6 15. Nxb6 axb6 16. Bxb7 Rxa2 17. Rxa2 Bxa2 18. Qa4 Bd5 $2 (18... Be6) 19. Rd1 $1 Bxb7 {Relatively best, heading for an ending where White has queen for rook, bishop and pawn.} (19... Bc6 {of course loses to} 20. Bxc6) 20. Rxd8 Rxd8 21. f4 Bxb2 22. Qa7 Rd7 23. Qxb6 Ba1 24. Qb5 Rd1+ $2 {Leaving the Black king undefended.} (24... Bc8 $18 {but there is still work to do.}) 25. Kf2 Bh1 26. Qe8+ Kg7 27. Bc5 h5 28. Bf8+ Kf6 29. Qe7+ Kf5 30. Qxf7+ Bf6 31. Be7 Rd2+ 32. Ke3 Rxh2 33. Qxf6+ Kg4 34. Qxg6+ Kh3 35. f5 Bd5 36. f6 Kg2 37. Qc2+ 1-0 [/pgn]

Alekseenko-Vitiugov (photo / Maria Emelianova)

Wang’s win meant that only the winner of the Alekseenko-Vitiugov game could catch he and Caruana for first place. That game resulted in a drawn knight ending in 56 moves.

[pgn] [Event "FIDE Grand Swiss"] [Site "Douglas ENG"] [Date "2019.10.21"] [Round "11.3"] [White "Alekseenko, Kirill"] [Black "Vitiugov, Nikita"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C50"] [WhiteElo "2674"] [BlackElo "2732"] [PlyCount "111"] [EventDate "2019.10.10"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. O-O Nf6 5. d3 d6 6. c3 a6 7. a4 Ba7 8. Re1 O-O 9. h3 h6 10. Nbd2 Re8 11. b4 Be6 12. Bxe6 Rxe6 13. Qc2 Qd7 14. Rb1 b5 15. Ra1 Ree8 16. Nb3 Ne7 17. Bd2 Ng6 18. c4 c6 19. c5 dxc5 20. bxc5 Rad8 21. axb5 axb5 22. d4 Bb8 23. Ba5 Bc7 24. Bb6 Ra8 25. Rad1 Qc8 26. Bxc7 Qxc7 27. d5 Ra4 28. dxc6 Ra6 29. Rd6 Rxc6 30. Qd2 Rxd6 31. cxd6 Qb6 32. Qb4 Rc8 33. Rd1 Rc2 34. Rd2 Rxd2 35. Nfxd2 Nf4 36. Nc4 Qc6 37. Nxe5 Qc2 38. Nd2 Qc1+ 39. Kh2 Qe1 40. Qd4 Ne2 41. Ndf3 Nxd4 42. Nxe1 Kf8 43. f3 Ke8 44. N1d3 Nd7 45. Nxd7 Kxd7 46. e5 Ke6 47. f4 Nc6 48. Kg3 f6 49. Kg4 fxe5 50. fxe5 b4 51. Kf4 b3 52. Nc5+ Kd5 53. Nxb3 Nxe5 54. Kf5 Kxd6 55. Nd2 Nd3 56. Kg6 1/2-1/2 [/pgn]
Caruana and Wang finished the event at 8/11, while six players – Alekseenko, David Anton, Aronian, Carlsen, Nakamura, and Vitiugov – ended up half a point back at 7.5. Crucially, with the highest tiebreaks among the non-qualifiers, Alekseenko becomes eligible for the organizer’s wildcard at the 2020 Candidates, although there is no guarantee he will be chosen for the task.

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Women’s Prizes Looking to grow female participation, Isle of Man tournaments have historically provided special women’s prizes, and this year’s edition was no different. Top honors were shared by GM Harika Dronavalli and IM Dinara Saduakassova at 5.5/11, with the second player earning a GM norm in the process. Harika’s best win was perhaps her round 9 victory over Axel Bachmann, while the highlight of Saduakassova’s tournament was her final round win over Ahmed Adly.

[pgn] [Event "FIDE Grand Swiss"] [Site "Douglas ENG"] [Date "2019.10.20"] [Round "9.60"] [White "Bachmann, Axel"] [Black "Harika, Dronavalli"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A10"] [PlyCount "62"] [EventDate "2019.10.10"] 1. c4 g6 2. Nc3 Bg7 3. g3 Nf6 4. Bg2 O-O 5. e4 c5 6. Nge2 Nc6 7. d3 a6 8. O-O Rb8 9. a4 d6 10. h3 Ne8 11. Be3 e5 12. f4 Nd4 13. Rb1 exf4 14. gxf4 Qh4 15. Bf2 Nxe2+ 16. Qxe2 Qxf4 17. Bxc5 Qh4 18. Bf2 Qd8 19. d4 Nc7 20. Rbd1 b5 21. b3 bxa4 22. bxa4 Rb4 23. e5 Bf5 24. Be3 Rb3 25. Qd2 dxe5 26. d5 Qh4 27. Rxf5 gxf5 28. c5 e4 29. Bd4 e3 30. Qxe3 Re8 31. Qf2 Bxd4 0-1 [/pgn]
[pgn] [Event "FIDE Grand Swiss"] [Site "Douglas ENG"] [Date "2019.10.21"] [Round "11.58"] [White "Adly, Ahmed"] [Black "Saduakassova, Dinara"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A17"] [WhiteElo "2636"] [BlackElo "2481"] [PlyCount "122"] [EventDate "2019.10.10"] 1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 e6 3. Nf3 Bb4 4. Qc2 O-O 5. b3 d6 6. e3 e5 7. Bb2 Bxc3 8. Bxc3 c5 9. O-O-O Nc6 10. d4 exd4 11. exd4 Nb4 12. Bxb4 cxb4 13. h3 a5 14. Bd3 a4 15. g4 g6 16. Qd2 axb3 17. axb3 Qa5 18. Rhe1 b5 19. Qb2 bxc4 20. bxc4 Ba6 21. Kb1 d5 22. Nd2 dxc4 23. Nxc4 Qc7 24. Ne3 Bxd3+ 25. Rxd3 Ne4 26. Nd5 Qc4 27. Rde3 Qxd5 28. Rxe4 b3 29. Re5 Qc4 30. R5e3 Rfb8 31. Rc1 Qd5 32. Rc5 Qh1+ 33. Rc1 Qd5 34. Rc5 Qd6 35. Rxb3 Rxb3 36. Qxb3 Qxd4 37. Qc3 Qd1+ 38. Kb2 Qe2+ 39. Kc1 Qf1+ 40. Kb2 Qxf2+ 41. Kb1 Qf1+ 42. Kb2 Qg2+ 43. Kc1 Qf1+ 44. Kb2 Rb8+ 45. Kc2 Qb1+ 46. Kd2 Rd8+ 47. Ke3 Qf1 48. Ke4 Re8+ 49. Kd5 Qd1+ 50. Kc4 Re4+ 51. Kb5 Qa4+ 52. Kb6 Re6+ 53. Rc6 Qxc6+ 54. Qxc6 Rxc6+ 55. Kxc6 Kg7 56. Kd6 Kf6 57. h4 h6 58. Kd5 h5 59. Ke4 hxg4 60. Kf4 Kg7 61. Kxg4 Kh6 0-1 [/pgn]
Team America For some of the Americans in Douglas, the Grand Swiss will be a tournament to quickly forget and move past. Others will bring home fonder memories. Caruana and Nakamura both had performance ratings over 2800. Robert Hess outperformed his 2581 rating by 63 points, finishing at 5.5/11, although two of his wins came at the expense of fellow Americans Sam Shankland and Aleksandr Lenderman. And Ray Robson ended his tournament by drawing former World Champion Viswanathan Anand.

[pgn] [Event "FIDE Grand Swiss"] [Site "Douglas ENG"] [Date "2019.10.21"] [Round "11.8"] [White "Robson, Ray"] [Black "Anand, Viswanathan"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C67"] [WhiteElo "2670"] [BlackElo "2765"] [PlyCount "60"] [EventDate "2019.10.10"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. Re1 Nd6 6. Nxe5 Be7 7. Bf1 Nxe5 8. Rxe5 O-O 9. d4 Bf6 10. Re1 Re8 11. c3 Rxe1 12. Qxe1 Ne8 13. Bf4 d5 14. Bd3 g6 15. Nd2 Ng7 16. Nf3 Bf5 17. Bxf5 Nxf5 18. Qe2 c6 19. Re1 Ng7 20. h3 Qd7 21. Be5 Re8 22. Qd2 Bd8 23. Bxg7 Kxg7 24. Rxe8 Qxe8 25. Qf4 Qe7 26. Qe5+ Qxe5 27. Nxe5 f6 28. Nd3 Be7 29. g4 Kf7 30. Kg2 Ke6 1/2-1/2 [/pgn]
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In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

The final round was not very "thrilling" for the two Americans at the top --- since it was a must-win one for Nakamura, perhaps he should not have allowed the drawish Petroff to be played. Open with 1 d4 or something else since it was predictable that Caruana, playing without a need to take any risks, would open the way he did. The game went barely 30 moves although for one player there was a lot at stake. I'm old enough to have played in a tournament with those two in New York when Nakamura was 500 points higher than Caruana and now one is in the next Candidates' Tournament and one isn't yet. Interesting that players already in the Candidates' Tournament or even W C could affect who got into the next Candidates' Tournament.

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