Hamburg GP: Equality

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
11/12/2019 – The first classical games of the semi-finals at the FIDE Grand Prix in Hamburg ended in draws. Both games went into theoretical lines that led to draws in less than thirty moves. In Tuesday's rematch games, Alexander Grischuk and Daniil Dubov will have the white pieces against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Jan-Krzysztof Duda, respectively. | Photo: Valeria Gordienko

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Semis kick off in Hamburg


The third leg of the FIDE Grand Prix is being played in Hamburg, Germany. The 16-player knockout has a €130,000 prize fund, with the series as a whole having an additional prize fund of €280,000 plus two qualifying spots for the 2020 Candidates Tournament. The tournament takes place in the Kehrwieder Haus from November 5th to 17th. You can find more info here.


Half the semi-finalists at the third leg of the Grand Prix have their qualification to the Candidates on the line, while the other half is just fighting for prize money and honour. Coincidentally, the members of group one — Vachier-Lagrave and Grischuk — were paired up against each other. After day one of the semis, the Russian can claim a slight edge, as he drew with the black pieces.

Duda and Dubov, in the meantime, are two strong contenders to become permanent members of the elite in the future. They are only lacking some consistency against the top guns — especially Dubov — to join the likes of Aronian and Nepomniachtchi in top-notch events.


Match results

Click or tap any result to open the game via Live.ChessBase.com

 

Duda ½:½ Dubov

In the post-game interview, Daniil Dubov made a strong case for the appreciation of draws in games between strong players. The Russian spent over half an hour calculating a a potential ensuing line on move 11:

 

Perhaps, if we just take a quick glance at the game, we might not realize all that Black needed to assess here before playing the apparently innocuous 11...h6. Dubov himself declared that he "felt like an idiot" after spending over half an hour on this move, as after 12.xf6 xf6 Duda instantly replied with 13.c1.

The Russian star was fully justified in spending that time though, as the critical line with 13.♘xd5 is both dangerous for Black and difficult to calculate. The idea is that after 13...cxd5 14.♕xd5 Black's rook and bishop are attacked. Thus, there should follow 14...♝xf2+ 15.♖xf2 ♕xb2:

 

Here is when things get more messy, as White has 16.♖xf7+ and in case of 16...♛xa1+ White has 17.♖f1+ with a killer discovered check. Black would need to go 16...♛b6+ and enter an endgame a pawn down after 17.♔h1 ♝e6 18.♖xf8+ ♜xf8.   

None of this happened of course, as Duda later confessed he had seen this line but missed 17♖f1+. Dubov rightfully explained: "That basically shows that even such a short draw makes some sense for the players".

 

Jan-Krzysztof Duda

Will Duda and Dubov decide their match-up on Tuesday? | Photo: Valeria Gordienko

Vachier-Lagrave ½:½ Grischuk

The contenders for the Candidates spots entered a line of the Ruy Lopez mostly seen in games featuring players in the 2300-2600 range (although Dominguez and Caruana also explored it back in 2009). If we go by the time spent by the players, the critical moment came on move 15:

 

Vachier-Lagrave went for 15.h3 after fourteen minutes of thought, but 15.♕c2 and 15.♗d5 were also moves to consider. Grischuk, in kind, spent a half an hour on 15...f5, when 15...♝h5 and 15...♝xf3 would have led to a different kind of struggle. The draw was signed in a completely balanced position twelve moves later.

 

All games available at Live.Chessbase.com

France's number one Maxime Vachier-Lagrave | Photo: Valeria Gordienko


Commentary webcast

Commentary by GM Evgeny Miroshnichenko


Schedule

Nov. 5–7 Round 1 + Tie-breaks
Nov. 8–10 Round 2 + Tie-breaks
Nov. 11-13 Semi-final + Tie-breaks
Nov. 14 Rest day
Nov. 15-17 Final + Tie-breaks

Links



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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