FIDE Grand Swiss 2021

Round Four Report: Lei Tingjie takes sole leadership in the Women’s event

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 both sides split a point on move 30.

On board two, the game between Nihal Sarin and Pavel Ponkratov also ended with a split 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 risk it and went for repetition as white.

Evgeniy Najer – the tragic person of the day

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 move 45, the Russian got an overwhelming position although it required some precision. Unluckily for Evgeniy, he missed an important subtlety on move 55 and allowed Saric to build an unassailable 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 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.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave - the only one of the top players who has won today

On board six, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave broke through in the centre in the game with Anton Demchenko and wedged his pawn on e6. Be it for good or for bad Black should have rolled the dice taking this pawn immediately. As played,  Vachier-Lagrave managed to put his bishop on b3, pinning several of Black’s strong pieces along the a2-g8 diagonal and taking full control. On move 28, Demchenko had to resign. 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 found several good moves 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. 

Jonas Buh Bjerrel - a great upset by one of the youngest players of the tournament

A big upset of the round was the victory of young Danish star Jonas Buh Bjerrel (17) 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 Pähtz was White against top-seed Nana Dzagnidze on board one. Black responded with the Caro-Kann defence. The position transpired into a rook endgame with both sides being equal, and the two called it a draw.

Alexandra Kosteniuk making her way to the top

Former Women’s World Champion Alexandra Kosteniuk won her game on board six against Bibisara Assaubayeva, as did Alina Kashlinskaya who was playing 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 nine players with three points: Nana Dzagnidze, Elisabeth Paehtz, Zhu Jiner, Harika Dronavalli, Natalija Pogonina, Nino Batsiashvili, Lela Javakhishvili, Alexandra Kosteniuk and Alina Kashlinskaya.

Round Five

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

The pairings for the fifth round for the Open event can be found here 

The pairings for the fifth round of the Women’s event can be found here

For more information about the tournament, please visit:

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Article: Milan Dinic

Photo: Mark Livshitz and Anna Shtourman