Here Comes Hikaru

Never write Hikaru Nakamura off.

In our last report, posted after Round 6 of the FIDE Grand Swiss, we noted that Nakamura was at 4/6 with four draws and looking somewhat adrift from the tournament leaders. Still, we wrote, “if anyone can go on a hot streak quickly, it’s the American champion.”

Nakamura has won his last two games to get to 6.5/9, earning himself a share of first place heading into Sunday’s penultimate round. He is tied for the lead with three others: David Anton, Levon Aronian, and Fabiano Caruana. Half a point back are a pack of eleven players, including Viswanathan Anand, Magnus Carlsen, and Sergey Karjakin.

After a seventh round draw with Baskaran Adhiban, Nakamura reeled off a win against Hrant Melkumyan in Round 8 and an exciting victory over Vladislav Kovalev in Saturday’s Round 9.

Hikaru Nakamura (photo David Llada)

While playing down his tournament ambitions in an early round interview, Nakamura is now in position to claim a seat in the 2020 Candidates Tournament if he can take first place in Douglas. He takes White against Levon Aronian on Sunday.

Fabiano Caruana has already qualified for the Candidates by virtue of his being the 2018 World Championship Challenger, but he continued his steady play in Round 9 with this 25 move draw with World Champion Magnus Carlsen. Caruana admitted that he’d forgotten his preparation after his ninth move, but he responded well, forcing a draw with his 19th move.

Caruana stays on first board for Round 10, where he will face David Anton with the White pieces. Seeded 39th coming into the event, Anton is having an excellent event, knocking off Alexander Grischuk in Round 8 and drawing Levon Aronian in today’s Round 9.

Anton-Grischuk (photo / Maria Emelianova)

Team America

There have been four intra-American matchups thus far in the Grand Swiss. Caruana defeated Sevian in Round 1. In Round 4, Xiong drew Akobian, while Lenderman defeated Kamsky. And Robert Hess pulled a minor upset Saturday, taking down Sam Shankland in a real battle of a game.

Hess will look to keep his solid tournament going on Sunday when he plays fellow countryman Alexander Lenderman, one of three Round 10 pairings between U.S. nationals. Wesley So will play Ray Robson, while Jeffery Xiong meets Sam Sevian.

American Results through Round 9

Round 10 Pairings 

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