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


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

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

Commentary webcast

Commentary by GM Evgeny Miroshnichenko


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


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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Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 11/12/2019 10:22
The event in Budapest was a thematic tournament. Another game from the tournament saw Duras win as white against Lapka after 16... Rxf7 17 Rf1, as a certain 'Gypsy' on another site pointed out. An in retrospect funny comment in the Wiener Schachzeitung [on that same site by 'Karpova']: 'No one can claim that the tournament yielded important results for chess theory'... Black could try [after 13 Nxd5] 13... Qxb2 14 Nf4 and now maybe 14... Bb6 [14... Ba6 saves the pawn, but white has attacking chances after 15 Nd3 Bxd3 16 Qxd3 Rad8 17 Qc4 c5 18 Bd5] 15 Bxc6 Rb8 and I would say the bishop pair should be enough compensation
besler besler 11/12/2019 09:53
@Atisha : Great find! Looks like Marshall ALSO found an improvement over the line suggested in the above analysis by Colodro: Rather than 18.Rxf8+, Marshall played the more forceful and asthetic 18.Rb7!. However, it is worth noting that this game came from an "analytical tournament" where players were forced to examine the Schlechter-Rubinstein variation of Tarrasch QGD.
Atisha Atisha 11/12/2019 09:36
That's quite funny. When I saw the variation of the game Duda-Dubov this morning, I told to myself "It's strange, I have the feeling to have seen this variation before!" and after a quick research, I've found why! The line that Dubov has spent 30 minutes on... was played between Franck Marschall and Oldrich Duras in a tournament at Budapest in 1912 and Duba has missed a move that F.Marschall didn't! The only difference between the analysed line in the article and the actual game is that F.Marschall played 18.Rb7 and not 18.Rf8+ but despite been a pawn down, Black (Duras) managed to draw the game. (My Source: Game 3 of the book The art of the Tarrasch Defence by A.Bezgodov).