FIDE Grand Swiss Underway at Isle of Man

With $432,500 in prizes, and a coveted seat in the 2020 Candidates at stake, 154 players have made the trip to the Isle of Man for the 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss. Those hoping to earn the Candidates seat will have to fight through an incredibly strong field, which includes 133 GMs, 16 IMs, and 2 WGMs. The first place winner takes home $70,000.

Top players in Douglas are Magnus Carlsen, Fabiano Caruana (who has already qualified for the Candidates as the 2019 Challenger), Wesley So, Viswanathan Anand, and Yu Yangyi, among many, many others.

The twelve American hopefuls include (in rating order) Caruana, So, Hikaru Nakamura, Jeffery Xiong, Sam Shankland, Gata Kamsky, Ray Robson, Sam Sevian, Aleksandr Lenderman, Varuzhan Akobian, Robert Hess, and Anna Zatonskih.

After two rounds only five  players remain perfect at 2/2: Caruana, Wang Hao, Bu Xiangzhi, Alexei Shirov, and Baskaran Adhiban. Caruana defeated Sevian in an all-American Round 2 matchup, grinding out a beautiful positional win in 53 moves.

Adhiban, who won against World Cup breakout star Jeffery Xiong in Round 2, overwhelmed Isle of Man resident Logan Wu in their first round game.

Caruana moves to Board 1 for Round 3, after top seed Magnus Carlsen drew in Friday’s second round with Alexey Sarana. Sarana tested Carlsen’s preparation in the Sveshnikov Sicilian, but the World Champion was up to the challenge, using good technique to hold the draw in 52 moves.

Sarana-Carlsen postmortem (photo Emelianova)

Caruana will have Black against Alexey Shirov in Saturday’s third round, who won in Round 2 against Erwin L’ami with a delightful endgame tactic that echoed his famous …Bh3 shot against Topalov from Linares 1998. Carlsen drops to board four and faces Caruana’s trainer and second Rustam Kasimdzhanov.

L’ami-Shirov (photo Emelianova)

Current U.S. Champion Hikaru Nakamura is at 1.5/2, having drawn with Mircea-Emilian Parligras in Round 1. He then defeated Axel Bachmann in Round 2, using small tactics and continual pressure to win from a deceptively quiet looking position.

Seven Americans – So, Xiong, Shankland, Kamsky, Robson, Sevian, and Lenderman – are at 1/2 after two rounds, while three more – Akobian, Hess, and Zatonskih – are at 0.5/2.

Pairings for Saturday’s Round 3

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