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GM Joel’s Chess Week Recap - Episode 139

Opening: C48, B40, A18, D42, A23, B45, :

Player(s): McShane, Caruana, Aronian, Dreev, Vitiugov, Bluebaum, Wang Hao, Anton, Grischuk, Karjakin

The FIDE Grand Swiss is wrapping up today. Since there are so many interesting games from the Isle of Man I will present games from rounds 5-8 and show games from the final three rounds next week. The barnburner between McShane and Caruana was still going on while I recorded last week's show. In the end, Fabi pulled off a miraculous defense. In the last three rounds, some of the cream rose to the top. Karjakin got knocked back down by Alekseenko in round 10, while the same happened to Anand, who lost badly to Wang Hao in the same round. Wang bounced back from a huge failure in a rook and pawn ending against Vitiugov to put himself in great position for the last round, with great tiebreaks. Nakamura bounced back from a slow start to defeat Melkumyan and Kovalev and co-lead after nine rounds. David Howell capped off a 4.5/5 run with a win in the time pressure addict bowl over Grischuk. So the last round pairings pitted Caruana at 7.5 against Nakamura a half-point back. A bit of a dilemma for American fans, though the Fabi and Naka fan bases don't always intersect. But for Hikaru, not possessing strong tiebreaks to qualify for the Candidates, he would have to knock Caruana out of first. The game never got off the ground and was quickly draw. Aronian-Carlsen was quite a bit sharper but quickly petered out into a draw, leaving Aronian, too, on the outside looking in. [By the way, that's 101 games without a loss for Carlsen. Take that, Ding Liren!]. Hao-Howell looked like a dull draw until Howell made a strange decision to sacrifice his queen when a simple bishop retreat led to complete equality. Howell probably could have drawn, but his position fell apart in time pressure, giving Wang Hao a dream result-equal first, and qualification into the Candidates. As David Howell sat there sobbing in his ruined position, Kirill Alekseenko must have felt a gamut of emotions as he prosecuted an advantage against Vitiugov. A win would have assured the spot in the Candidates for the young Russian, a huge break for him in his young career. In the end, Vitiugov defended stoutly and held the draw. So a two-way tie for first, with six players a half-point back.

Download Joel's annotated games HERE!

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