Third stage of the Grand Prix kicks off without Andreikin

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
3/22/2022 – Citing personal reasons, Dmitry Andreikin withdrew from the third leg of the FIDE Grand Prix. Andrey Esipenko (pictured), who also played in the first leg as a replacement, stepped in. The tournament is set to take place in Berlin, with two spots in the Candidates still up for grabs, albeit it is highly unlikely for Richard Rapport not to get one of those after his victory in Belgrade. | Photos: World Chess

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Esipenko steps in

FIDE Grand Prix 2022Last week, FIDE announced that Dmitry Andreikin had withdrawn from the third leg of the Grand Prix, set to take place from March 22 to April 4 in Berlin. According to the regulations, and for a second time in the series, Andrey Esipenko stepped in as a replacement. Esipenko, the second-highest rated U-20 player in the world, was inches away from beating Hikaru Nakamura in round 6 of the preliminary stage, which would have granted him a spot in the semifinals — after saving a draw, Nakamura would go on to win the event.

Esipenko is now one of five Russian players in the field. Besides him, Grigoriy Oparin, Alexandr Predke and Nikita Vitiugov are all officially representing FIDE after ‘switching federations’ via the International Federation’s simplified procedure. The one player not to have made that switch is Daniil Dubov, who still appears as a representative of the Russian Chess Federation in his rating profile.

Not one to fear going his own way, Dubov recently faced criticism by some of his compatriots due to his decision to work as a Magnus Carlsen’s second in the World Championship match against top Russian player Ian Nepomniachtchi.

Daniil Dubov

Daniil Dubov at the first leg of the Grand Prix series

Fighting to reach the Candidates

The dates and venue of the 2022 Candidates Tournament have already been announced, with the event scheduled to start on June 16 at the historic Palacio de Santoña in Madrid. 

Due to Sergey Karjakin’s six-month ban, recently ruled by the FIDE Ethics Commission (pending a potential appeal), elite players now have an extra chance to reach the 8-player tournament in Spain’s capital. According to the rules, Karjakin’s replacement will be the highest-rated eligible player in the ranking list of May 2022, with the provision that this player must have played at least 30 rated classical games in the period spanning from June 2021 until May 2022.

Ding Liren, currently the world number 3, is unlikely to get the spot as he has only played four classical games in that period — he beat Lu Shanglei in a 4-game match back in December. The Chinese star was supposed to play the Grand Prix, but visa issues prevented him from participating.

Next in line in the rating list are Levon Aronian, Wesley So and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, who all have played or are set to play the 30 classical games required, and will be playing in Berlin.

Levon Aronian

Levon Aronian

Regarding the spots granted by the series, it is very unlikely for Richard Rapport not to get one of these two tickets to Madrid. The Hungarian grandmaster reached the semifinals in the first leg and triumphed in Belgrade to all but secure at least second place in the overall standings of the Grand Prix.

Meanwhile, given Dmitry Andreikin’s absence (he was the runner-up in Belgrade), the two players who are most in control of their fate are Aronian and Nakamura, the finalists of the first leg. The fact that they are set to face each other in pool A and only one of them could potentially reach the semifinals in that group adds suspense to the preliminary stage.

The three players who reached the semis in either of the first legs will need more results to go their way for them to reach the Candidates. Anish Giri, Leinier Dominguez and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave are all playing in different pools and will likely need to win the event in order to get one of the two coveted tickets.

With so much at stake, we can only expect to see exciting, tense-filled games coming from the German capital during the next two weeks!

FIDE Grand Prix 2022

About the FIDE Grand Prix 2022 

The competition consists of three legs that span over three months and two cities:

  • First leg: February 3 — 17, Berlin, Germany
  • Second leg: February 28 — March 14, Belgrade, Serbia
  • Third leg: March 21 — April 4, Berlin, Germany

The FIDE Grand Prix series features 24 players, with each player competing in two out of three events.

Each 16-player event consists of a group stage followed by a knockout semi-final and final. At the group stage, the participants compete in four double-round-robin tournaments, with only the winners of each pool advancing. Both the semi-finals and final consist of 2 regular time limit games, plus tiebreaks if needed.

Read the full regulations for the FIDE Grand Prix Series 2022 (pdf)

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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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