International Chess Federation
Saturday, 30 Oct 2021 21:16
FIDE Grand Swiss: Round 4 Recap

The fourth day of the 2021 FIDE Grand Swiss was marked by draws, several of which were made fairly quickly. With 3.5 out of four, Alireza Firouzja still leads in the Open section. In the Women’s section, Lei Tingjie defeated Valentina Gunina and, with 3.5/4, is the sole leader

The Open event

All the games in the top five boards in the Open section of the Grand Swiss ended in a draw, leaving Alireza Firouzja as the sole leader on 3.5/4, with more than ten players behind on three points. World number two, Fabiano Caruana, is in the third tier of players, with 2.5 points.

The game between the Chinese player Yu Yangyi and tournament leader Alireza Firouzja finished with a draw after an hour and a half of play. In an interview after the game, dissatisfied with his performance, Yu Yangyi noted he did not check his preparation well and that he ended up in a position in the Slav Defence which he wasn’t very comfortable with. Despite having white pieces, the Chinese player opted for a line which led to a draw, and the opponents shook hands on the move 30.

On board two, Nihal Sarin and Pavel Ponkratov also split a point. In the semi-Slav defence, Sarin was thinking for a long time whether he wanted a draw or not, but, in the end, he decided not to take chances and went for repetition as White.

The tragic person of the day is Evgeniy Najer, who was very close to winning as White against Ivan Saric in the last game to finish on the top boards. After the Croatian’s mistake on the move 45, the Russian got an overwhelming position, although some accuracy was required. Unluckily for Evgeniy, he missed an important subtlety on the move 55:

Evgeniy Najer - Ivan Saric

In the position that emerged after 54…f7-f5, White had a study-like win 55.Bf6+! Bxf6 56.Rc7 Bxg5 57.Rxd7 Kf6 58.Rb7, and so on. Najer played a more natural 55.gxf6+ Kf7 56.Rc6? and allowed Saric to build an unbreacheable fortress. After both players reached the next critical time control, the Russian realised he couldn’t do much and had to accept a draw.

Top seed Fabiano Caruana has drawn his game against fellow compatriot Dariusz Swiercz. In the Queen’s Gambit Declined, the position quickly transpired into a rook and bishop ending in which both sides were equal. The top seed player at the tournament, Caruana, now has just one victory and three draws in four rounds.

On board six, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave broke through in the centre in the game with Anton Demchenko and wedged his pawn on e6:

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave - Anton Demchenko

Be it for good or bad Black should have rolled the dice taking this pawn immediately 19…Nxe6 and there is no forced win for White in sight. Anton opted for 19…Qc6? but after 20.Re4! Ned5? 21. Nxd5 Nxd5 22.Rg4 Rxe6 23.Bb3 found himself in a hopeless position | 1-0, 28 moves

With three out of four, Vachier-Lagrave came out as the only winner of the day on the top boards and has again reminded everyone he is one of the key players who will be attacking the top spots at the Grand Swiss.

One of the most exciting games of the round was between the only woman playing in the Open event, Aleksandra Goryachkina and one of the top world youngsters, Hans Moke Nieman. After a risky play by Nieman in a sharp position, presumably trying to take advantage over Goryachkina’s time trouble, White managed to regroup to launch an attack on the black king’s castle, putting the black monarch on the run. Surprisingly, the game ended in a draw after Goryachkina missed a clear win in severe time trouble.

Jorden Van Foreest, who took the Wijk aan Zee this year, scored an impressive victory against Surya Shekhar Ganguly of India. In the English Opening, Van Foreest sacrificed a pawn but got an excellent compensation that quickly morphed into powerful pressure in the centre and the kingside. After Ganguly’s mistake on move 25, Jorden sacrificed an exchange and finished his opponent off with a direct attack.  

A big upset of the round was young Danish star Jonas Buh Bjerrel (17) victory against over a hundred points higher rated player, former Indian champion and the former World Under-16 Champion, Baskaran Adhiban. With two out of four Bjerrel is now in the middle of the standings, while the former Indian Champion will need to do some serious thinking about how to get back into the tournament.

The Women’s event

Unlike the previous three days, day four brought a lot of draws in the Women’s event, with just one decisive game in the top five boards.

Lei Tingjie became the sole leader of the inaugural Women’s FIDE Grand Swiss after defeating Valentina Gunina in the Caro-Kann. Gunina found herself in a strategically difficult position and tried to complicate matters by sacrificing a pawn and then exchange. Very often, this approach has worked for her but not this time, as Lei returned part of her extra material to steer into a won endgame.

With this loss, Gunina is no longer among the leaders in the women’s event.

Top German player IM Elisabeth Paehtz was White against top-seed Nana Dzagnidze on board one. Black also responded with the Caro-Kann defence and had some problems in the opening as well, but unlike Valentina, Nana managed to equalise by move 19. The position transpired into a rook endgame with both sides being equal, and the two called it a draw.

Former Women’s World Champion Alexandra Kosteniuk won her game on board six against Bibisara Assaubayeva, as did Alina Kashlinskaya, who bested Rout Padmini. With 3/4 Kosteniuk and Kashlinskaya have joined the pack of players trailing Lei Tingjie by half a point.

In the women’s event, there are now ten players with three points: Nana Dzagnidze, Elisabeth Paehtz, Zhu Jiner, Harika Dronavalli, Natalija Pogonina, Nino Batsiashvili, Lela Javakhishvili, Alexandra Kosteniuk, Alina Kashlinskaya and Jolanta Zawadzka.

Round 5

Round 5 starts at 2 PM on the 31st of October.

The pairings for Round 5 for the Open event can be found here:

The pairings for Round 5 of the Women’s event can be found here:

For more information about the tournament, please visit:

Press enquiries:

Article: Milan Dinic

Photo: Mark Livshitz and Anna Shtourman