Reports Oct 19, 2019 | 11:20 AMby Colin McGourty

Grand Swiss 8: David Antón joins the leaders

24-year-old Spanish Grandmaster David Antón joined Fabiano Caruana and Levon Aronian in the FIDE Chess.com Grand Swiss lead after crushing Alexander Grischuk in 24 moves. Magnus Carlsen trails by half a point but has the white pieces against Caruana in Round 9, while superstars Vishy Anand, Hikaru Nakamura, Boris Gelfand and Sergey Karjakin all won to join Magnus in the 10-man chasing pack. Karjakin did so in a crazy game against Aleksey Dreev that saw the arbiters controversially move Shirov-Yu Yangyi to another room after their first 19 moves were identical.

Could David Antón grab a shock place in the 2020 Candidates Tournament? | photo: John Saunders, official website

You can replay all the games from the FIDE Chess.com Grand Swiss using the selector below:

Leaders Fabiano Caruana and Levon Aronian drew their tense top-board clash in Round 8 while Wang Hao-Carlsen was the first game of the day to finish after a lifeless 31-move draw.

That was a chance for the chasing pack, and while it was seized upon by some of the usual suspects it also allowed David Antón to hit the front. The young Spanish grandmaster is in fact no stranger to succeeding in big opens – in Gibraltar he was leading before a last round loss to Nakamura in 2016, finished 2nd after a tiebreak defeat to Nakamura in 2017, and was 5th again this year – but he’s never got to play in closed elite events and it would be a sensation if he makes it into the 2020 Candidates Tournament next year.

Alexander Grischuk's qualifying hopes suffered a huge blow | photo: John Saunders, official website

In Round 8 he managed to beat Alexander Grischuk in just 24 moves, with the win based on brilliant preparation. He credited his coach, and the man responsible for chess24 in Spanish, IM David Martínez, for working overnight on the exact line of the English that occurred in the game. 11.h3 was a move that saw Grischuk sink into a 28-minute think:


He eventually opted for 11…Nxf2!? (Antón noted 11…gxh4 is the main line) 12.Rxf2 gxh4 13.Qb3 hxg3?! (here the tricky 13…Be6! was the move Antón said Black should play) 14.Rf4 Nc6:


With Grischuk having left the prepared lines, Antón here invested an enormous 59 minutes on 15.Qxd5!, but by then he essentially had the rest of the game worked out. After 15…f5! 16.Bxe4! Grischuk’s decision to take the piece with 16…fxe4? seems to be the losing mistake. The ending after exchanging queens might not have been pleasant, but after 17.Qh5+! Kd7 18.Be3! Antón was already sure he was winning:

All that remained was to find a clear win, which David did with 18…Qg8 19.d5 Nd8 20.Nxe4 (he noted he almost blundered 20.d6?? Qg5!) 20…Qg6 21.Qe5 Nf7 22.Rxf7! Qxf7 23.Rc1 Rf8 24.Bg5:

24…Bxg5 25.Qc7+ Ke8 26.Nd6# is mate, and other threats include playing Rc7+ and then giving mate on e7. A stunning game by Antón, that sees him play the black pieces against Levon Aronian on top board in Round 9.

As we noted, other top players took the chance to close the gap. Vishy Anand has now won four games after his first round defeat to move within half a point of the leaders, though his game against Vladimir Fedoseev was anything but smooth.

Vishy Anand managed to shrug off his Round 1 loss to Najer | photo: John Saunders, official website

Vishy identified a mistake by his opponent in a sharp Sicilian and set about punishing it only to overlook a tactical detail. He quipped that he needs to read his new book again!

By that stage he said he was ready to take a draw, but Fedoseev got over-ambitious and this time Vishy made no mistake meting out punishment.

Boris Gelfand usually finds a Hulk mode when World Championship qualification is on the line, and he's just half a point off the pace | photo: John Saunders, official website

Boris Gelfand also moved to 5.5/8 by beating Zhang Zhong, while Hikaru Nakamura did the same by outplaying Hrant Melkumyan just when limited material might seem to have reduced the attacking options. The final move was simple but elegant:


43.Rd8! and 43…Qxd8 would of course run into 44.Qf7+ Kh8 45.Qh7#

Radek Wojtaszek's chances may have gone after a loss to Vladislav Kovalev | photo: John Saunders, official website

Vladislav Kovalev was a less well-known player to reach 5.5/8, with a win over Radek Wojtaszek, but Kovalev will be no stranger to anyone who’s followed this event, since he’s already beaten Harikrishna and had Magnus Carlsen not just on the ropes but almost dead and buried.

How it all began... | photo: John Saunders, official website

That brings us, however, to the story of how Sergey Karjakin also joined the chasing pack by beating Aleksey Dreev. In a razor-sharp line of the Sicilian he was following his Round 3 victory from the 2015 Baku World Cup against Yu Yangyi. In that game he played 16.Rd1 Rc8 17.g4, but on the Isle of Man he unleashed an accidental novelty by playing 16.g4!? first! By itself that would be nothing too remarkable, but on the next board Yu Yangyi was playing the same line with Black, and Alexei Shirov decided that if a player as well-prepared as Karjakin had gone for g4 in this position it must be the right thing to do! And so we entered the twilight zone…

From here on it just got stranger. Dreev spent almost 40 minutes on 16…c5 17.Rg1 Ne4!, which allowed Shirov-Yu Yangyi to take the lead, and Karjakin confessed that he played 18.Qe5? fast without really checking it, since Shirov had blitzed it out and Yu Yangyi had quickly played the weak response 18…Qh4? What was the issue with 18.Qe5?


Karjakin had thought that 18…0-0! could be met by 19.Bg2 d6! 20.Qxe6+ Kh8 21.Bxe4 and if 21…Re8 then 22.Qxe8+! and White emerges with a winning advantage. The fly in the ointment? 21…Rf6! is instead winning for Black:


The difference is that the queen sacrifice now no longer works, since 22.Qxf6 Qxf6 23.Bxb7 runs into 23…Qxb2+! and the b7-bishop gets picked up.

So the players had exchanged blunders in both games:

And after that they marched on in unison with 19.Bg2 Qxg4+. Needless to say, chess fans were fascinated by what was going on, but most players can come up with similar stories. Afterwards Karjakin told one about the 2012 Russian Team Championship, where the games Morozevich-Caruana and Karjakin-Svidler saw Fabiano and Peter both play a dubious novelty in the Grünfeld to reach this position after 19 moves.


I wrote at the time for ChessVibes:

There were shades of the famous “Argentinian Tragedy” at the 1955 Interzonal, where three Argentinian players “unleashed” the same novelty against Keres, Geller and Spassky, only for the Soviet players all to refute it at the board.  Here Karjakin went first with the spectacular but less effective 20.Nb5?!, after which Svidler managed to exchange queens and achieve a relatively painless draw. The same couldn't be said about the other game...   

Morozevich found 20.Bf3! and was soon completely winning before Fabiano eventually escaped with a 127-move draw.  

So there was nothing new about the situation in the Grand Swiss games, and in fact the first different moves on Friday also came on move 20, but before that something perhaps unique in the history of top-level chess occurred. Chief arbiter Alex Holowczak decided he had to intervene, and Shirov-Yu Yangyi was moved to the second playing hall.

That required interrupting a World Championship qualifying game and taking a few minutes to move the players and equipment, while the game feed of the live board also had to be switched (that’s why we’ve now lost the time information for the first moves in Shirov-Yu Yangyi). To disrupt players during a game you have to have a very good reason, so what was it? Well, Alex explained on the live broadcast:

The important thing to make absolutely clear is that we’re not suspecting anybody of doing anything wrong. It’s just very noticeable on the last couple of moves I think Shirov and Yangyi were the second players to move in both cases. In particularly I saw Yangyi look quite nervous when he looked over to Dreev, who had made the move maybe a minute or so before, so I thought that just in the interests of everybody feeling comfortable with the game that it was better to move it into the second hall then nobody can accuse anybody of anything and it’s a lot better for everybody. The players can concentrate more, they won’t get distracted. I think that’s just better for them.

Danny King asked some very pertinent questions. Is it actually an offence to copy somebody’s moves?

I suppose it must be if we think they have copied moves, but we don’t think that.

The awkward point here is that Karjakin confessed to exactly that "offence", both in the post-game interview and in a tweet, where he also implicated others!

But can you really restrict players looking at and, if they so choose, copying moves from other players in the same playing hall? And if you want to, where do you draw the line? The players here followed each other for 3 or 4 moves after known theory had ended, but do the arbiters need to know the theory and decide how many moves after that is significant? Wouldn’t the logical “solution” eventually be to segregate every board, at least in the most important chess events? It’s an interesting precedent.

Shirov and Yu Yangyi in their new environment | photo: John Saunders, official website

Another pertinent question was about the players’ reaction. Alex comments:

They seemed to be a bit confused as to why I was intervening, but when I explained it to both of them they seemed to understand the reason for it and they were willing to move into the other room.

Karjakin, who had stayed on the same board and won, wasn’t too concerned, but he also didn’t appear to feel it had been necessary:

I was completely fine with that. It doesn’t happen many times in my life and I would love to continue actually, but ok, it’s his decision. I have nothing against it, but there were no problems.

Getting back to the chess, however, the games did go their separate ways at this point, which was almost inevitable anyway given there were now no clear forced moves. Alexei Shirov picked 20.Bf3 and had an advantage, but it disappeared when he grabbed a pawn on g7:


29…Bxc4! was an instant equalizer for Yu Yangyi. On the other board Karjakin played 20.Kd3 and was essentially winning after Dreev’s reply:


20…d6! now would have posed White big questions, with the 21.Qxe4 line Karjakin said he was planning to play only leading to a draw with best play, according to the engines. Instead Dreev picked 20…Nf2+?! and Sergey was already confident in his position. He went on to win smoothly, and that third win of the event puts him right back in contention to qualify for the Candidates Tournament. In Round 9 he has Black against World Junior Champion Parham Maghsoodloo.

Levon Aronian and David Antón are leading the race for Candidates qualification, since Fabi is already qualified, and they meet in Round 9 | photo: John Saunders, official website

Once again let’s give the standings of those within a point of the lead, which is now 31 players:

Rk.SNo NameFEDRtgPts. TB1  TB2  TB3 
12GMCaruana FabianoUSA28126,0270135,540,0
239GMAnton Guijarro DavidESP26746,0268733,537,0
38GMAronian LevonARM27586,0268434,538,5
415GMWang HaoCHN27265,5273736,540,5
538GMAlekseenko KirillRUS26745,5270032,035,5
648GMMaghsoodloo ParhamIRI26645,5268732,535,5
753GMKovalev VladislavBLR26615,5267930,032,5
81GMCarlsen MagnusNOR28765,5267134,538,5
913GMVitiugov NikitaRUS27325,5265733,037,0
106GMKarjakin SergeyRUS27605,5265533,036,5
1112GMNakamura HikaruUSA27455,5264428,532,0
124GMAnand ViswanathanIND27655,5263830,534,0
1330GMGelfand BorisISR26865,5263630,533,5
1449GMShirov AlexeiESP26645,0271332,536,0
1573GMAdhiban B.IND26395,0270535,536,5
1685GMTari AryanNOR26305,0269833,036,0
1756GMKasimdzhanov RustamUZB26575,0269430,533,5
187GMGrischuk AlexanderRUS27595,0268336,040,0
1995GMRakhmanov AleksandrRUS26215,0268329,031,5
2034GMMcShane Luke JENG26825,0267435,539,5
215GMYu YangyiCHN27635,0265933,537,5
2244GMKryvoruchko YuriyUKR26695,0265133,536,0
233GMSo WesleyUSA27675,0264531,535,5
2414GMSvidler PeterRUS27295,0264229,533,0
2518GMMatlakov MaximRUS27165,0263929,533,0
2620GMXiong JefferyUSA27085,0263428,031,5
2724GMHowell David W LENG26945,0263229,533,0
2819GMLe Quang LiemVIE27085,0263029,032,5
2932GMRagger MarkusAUT26845,0261428,531,5
3074GMHovhannisyan RobertARM26395,0260729,031,5
3143GMRobson RayUSA26705,0258529,032,5

It’s getting serious, as there are just 3 rounds left, so that the games everywhere at the top are of vital importance. There’s no question about the game of the day, however, since the two “chess tourists” who don’t care about Candidates qualification, world numbers 1 and 2 Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana, meet yet again. Will we get the first decisive classical game between them since Magnus won in Norway Chess 2018? Follow all the games live here on chess24!

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