Belgrade GP: Andreikin stuns Grischuk

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
3/2/2022 – Half the games ended decisively on opening day at the second leg of the FIDE Grand Prix in Belgrade. Dmitry Andreikin and Vidit Gujrathi are leading their pools after beating Alexander Grischuk and Alexei Shirov respectively. Meanwhile, both games finished decisively in pool C, with Anish Giri and Nikita Vitiugov scoring full points in the first round. Two draws were seen in pool D. | Photos: Mark Livshitz

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The second leg has begun

A horrific war is taking place in Ukraine, and the whole world is closely following the appalling events prompted by Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade the second-largest country in Europe.

There is no argument that this time around, in the era of social media, a massive rejection of Putin’s behaviour online will make a difference, as the general public can both influence leaders’ decisions and offer their help directly — the chess world can support via Hikaru Nakamura’s charity stream, via Mikhail Golubev (who often writes articles for ChessBase) or via long-time chess journalist Anastasiya Karlovich.

At the start of the commentary webcast for chess24, 8-time Russian chess champion Peter Svidler quickly clarified:

Let’s at least get some things stated live on air. I do not agree with the war my country is waging in Ukraine. I do not believe Ukraine, or Ukrainian people, are my enemies, or anybody’s enemies

Notwithstanding, there is a limit to the impact we can have by following the news. In fact, sharing bad information can be harmful both for the victims and for our mental health. At some point, as stated by Abby Ohlheiser, we should consider logging off:

Sometimes when an important and horrible thing is happening in the world, looking away or taking a break feels like apathy. It’s not. Stop doomscrolling.

Alexander GrischukFive out of sixteen participants at the Grand Prix in Belgrade are Russian. In the direct duel between compatriots, Dmitry Andreikin beat Alexander Grischuk.

In the post-game press conference, Andreikin mentioned that he played a sharp game because “maybe it’s [our] last tournament, who knows”, while Grischuk gave a more lengthy response condemning his country’s actions. Grischuk reflected:

I will not use the word ‘war’ because it’s prohibited in our media, and I want them to be able to quote me. [...] If we know that the truth is on our side, if we feel that we are with the truth, with justice, [we resurrect as a country] — and now, at least me, I’m losing this feeling every day, with what is going on, with every victim, with every bombing of the civil [population], and it’s extremely painful.

Pool A: Andreikin strikes with the Sicilian

For a second tournament in a row, Etienne Bacrot is playing in pool A. After scoring 1½/6 in Berlin, the Frenchman started the second leg with a 46-move draw against Sam Shankland.

Meanwhile, Alexander Grischuk and Dmitry Andreikin were battling in a sharp Sicilian. The compatriots only left theory on move 14, but by then they had both spent copious amounts of time dealing with the opening complications. By move 20, White was a pawn up, but had to deal with a rather annoying pin.

 

Already in zeitnot, Grischuk found the appropriate idea but not the correct move order. To keep fighting, White needs to start with 21.b4 here, and after 21...Qa4 22.Bh6 Black cannot gain a piece with 22...Bxd6 23.Qxd6+ (see diagram below) Rxd6 because of 24.Rf8#

 

However, instead of 21.b4, Grischuk opted for the direct 21.Bh6, which can be responded by 21...Qxe1 22.Rxe1 (the rook is no longer on the f-file, so there will be no mate threat on f8) Bxe6 23.Qe3

 

Black was left with a rook and a knight for the queen. More importantly, though, he can immediately play the strong 23...Ng4, with a clear initiative. 

Andreikin was in the driver’s seat, and went on to convert his advantage into a 35-move win despite also being low on time. It was an excellent win to boost his confidence in his debut at the series.

 
 

Pool B: Giri and Vitiugov score

Both round-1 games in this pool saw a player getting the upper hand very early in the game. Anish Giri played a powerful novelty as early as on move 10, giving up a pawn and prompting Amin Tabatabaei to spend 38 minutes on his response. The Dutchman showed his class to convert the advantage into a remarkable victory.

In the other encounter, instead of a novelty that created long-term opportunities, it was a blunder by Pentala Harikrishna which decided the game in Nikita Vitiugov’s favour.

 

This very position was seen last year at the New in Chess Classic, when Aryan Tari played 13.0-0 and drew Vidit Gujrathi in a long encounter. Harikrishna’s 13.Nxd5, on the other hand, immediately fails to 13...Ne4, which attacks both the queen and the f2-pawn. 

 

There is no way to save this position against a player of Vitiugov’s calibre. Resignation came on move 24.

 
 

Anish Giri

Anish Giri

Pool C: Vidit beats Shirov

Richard Rapport and Vladimir Fedoseev are once again playing in the same pool, as they also faced each other twice in the prelims of the Berlin leg. In that event, Rapport won both encounters, clinching group victory by beating his Russian opponent in the sixth round. This time around, the Hungarian was once again in the driver’s seat, but could not make the most of his advantage and ended up collecting only a half point.

In an extremely messy encounter, Vidit Gujrathi out-calculated Alexei Shirov while marshalling the white pieces.

 

As the players noted in the press conference, it was all but impossible to correctly evaluate such a complex position over the board. Here, Shirov’s 23...Qe8 was a crucial mistake though, as it allows White to consolidate his position with 24.Bxd6+ Rxd6 25.Bxb3 Rg8 26.Nc4

 

Of course, playing black was markedly difficult with such a vulnerable king on b8. In the first diagrammed position, nonetheless, the engines give 23...e3 as best, a tough move to play but one that an in-form Shirov is surely capable of finding. 

In the game, the Spaniard threw in the towel on move 30.

 
 

Vidit Gujrathi

Vidit Gujrathi

Pool D: Two draws

Seasoned grandmasters Yu Yangyi and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov entered a theoretical Scoth Opening and signed a 36-move draw.

Another experienced member of the elite, meanwhile, played a much longer game, as Maxime Vachier-Lagrave struggled in his encounter with white against Alexandr Predke. 

 

MVL gave up the c-pawn with 32.Rd1, but quickly placed his rook on the seventh rank to get enough compensation for the lost material. The game lasted around four and a half hours, which, as the Frenchman emphasized, helped him to get back in rhythm after not having played a single classical game in a bit over three months.

 
 

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Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.

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