FIDE Grand Swiss chess: Unbeaten Nihal, Harika impress; IM norm for Vantika; Firouzja takes title, Caruana also qualifies for Candidates

Harika, who started the event as the fourth seed, shared a point with Muzychuk in 31 moves late on Sunday to end with seven points and remained undefeated in the tournament.

FILE PHOTO: Indian chess ace Dronavalli Harika held top-seed Mariya Muzychuk of Ukraine to a draw in the 11th and final round to finish fifth and qualify for the next women's Grand Prix cycle.   -  V.V. Subrahmanyam

The unbeaten duo of Nihal Sarin and D. Harika emerged as the strongest Indian performers in their sections as 18-year-old Alireza Firouzja deservedly won the $425,000 FIDE Grand Swiss chess tournament in Riga, Latvia, on Sunday.

Firouzja (France) collected $70,000 for scoring 8 points from 11 rounds after drawing with Grigoriy Oparin (Russia). Fabiano Caruana (USA) was runner-up with 7 points after a draw with Alexandr Predke (Russia). Firouzja and Caruana qualified for next year’s Candidates Tournament.

Among the Indians, 41st-ranked Nihal finished a creditable 18th, worth $5,000, with 6.5 points. Seventh seed P. Harikrishna also scored 6.5 points but was placed 30th, one ahead of K. Sasikiran, who finished with six points after his third loss in four games.

Fourth seed Harika (7 points) held the fifth spot, worth $10,000 in the women's section where China’s Lei Tingjie won with 9 points. Vantika Agarwal was the most impressive Indian performer. Starting as the 46th rated player in a very strong field, she finished 14th with 6.5 points and collected her maiden International Master norm. Rated 2322, she performed at a whopping 2496 to gain 52 rating points and became India No. 6 in live ratings.

11th round results (involving Indians):

Open: P. Harikrishna (6.5) drew with Yuriy Kuzubov (Ukr, 6.5); Nihal Sarin (6.5) drew with Daniil Dubov (Rus, 6.5); K. Sasikiran (6) lost to Anton Korobov (Ukr, 7); Radoslaw Wojtaszek (Pol, 5.5) drew with Arjun Erigaisi (5.5); Raunak Sadhwani (5.5) drew with Hans Moke Niemann (USA, 5.5); S. P. Sethuraman (4.5) lost to Alksandr Rakhmanov (Rus, 5.5); D. Gukesh (5) drew with R. Praggnanandhaa (5); Surya Shekhar Ganguly (4.5) lost to Maksim Chigaev (5.5); B. Adhiban (4.5) bt Normunds Miezis (Lat, 3.5).

Women: Mariya Muzychuk (Ukr, 6.5) drew with D. Harika (7); Vantika Agrawal (6.5) drew with Natalija Pogonina (Rus, 6.5); Alina Kashlinskaya (Rus, 6) bt R. Vaishali (5.5); Elina Danielian (Arm, 5) bt Divya Deshmukh (4); Padmini Rout (4) lost to Meri Arabidze (Geo, 5).

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