Hamburg GP Final: Grischuk's missed chance

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
11/16/2019 – In the first game of the FIDE Grand Prix in Hamburg, Alexander Grischuk was the one missing a good chance to get ahead on the score board. The Russian got a promising position with White, but could not make the most of it, after both he and Jan-Krzysztof Duda survived a deep time trouble scramble. Another draw in game two will mean the final will be decided in Sunday's tiebreaks. | Photo: Official site

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Time trouble

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.

With his ticket to the Candidates all but secured, Alexander Grischuk did not go for a safety-first strategy at the start of his final match-up against Jan-Krzysztof Duda. The Russian has explained in the past that he comes from a generation in which players were used to look for 'the truth of the position' at every turn, so if they feel there is a chance to fight for an advantage they will look for the way to get something out of it. There is a flip side to this approach, of course: frequent problems with the clock, an issue Grischuk has been struggling with during his career.

Alexander Grischuk

36-year-old Grischuk is a fan favourite | Photo: Official site

Out of a Queen's Indian Defence, the players quickly reached a position that called for deep analysis. The first one taking his time was Duda:


This is not a new position. In fact, it was recently seen in a game between Ivan Cheparinov and Sandro Mareco at the Grand Swiss. At this point, Mareco had gone for 13...♞f8, which led to him eventually going into an endgame a pawn down — he defended successfully until move 132. Duda instead opted for 13...f8 and responded to 14.f4 with 14...c5. Both fine moves, except that he spent 33 and 19 minutes deciding on each one of them. Surely there were deep strategic considerations to be taken into account, and Grischuk is the kind of player that leaves no stone unturned — he responded in kind, spending 16 and 31 minutes on moves 14 and 15.

The Russian was the one on the driver's seat soon after, transferring his knight to the strong c4-square after having wrecked Black's pawn structure on the kingside. Duda was defending exemplary though, despite living with the permanent concern of his clock dangerously ticking down — a situation he is not as used to as his opponent.

However, the Polish faltered on move 34:


Grischuk had less than a minute on his clock and here played 35.g5, going for an ending he probably considered would give him chances — let us not forget that he came from showing great endgame technique to take down 'MVL' in the semis. This was not the best alternative though, as Duda's previous 34...e2 allowed the very strong 35.♘e5. The idea is that after 35...Qe4 36.♕xe4 ♜xe4 White has 37.♘e3, placing his knight in an ideal square, while Black's bishop is rather restricted on the dark squares.

After this missed chance, the players made no more mistakes during the time trouble scramble, and when the dust had settled it was clear White did not have much to fight for. The draw was signed after Black's 46th move.


Duda will have the white pieces in Saturday's return game. Poland's number one has been doing quite well in Hamburg when playing White, defeating Ian Nepomniachtchi and Yu Yangyi in rounds one and two. Grischuk, on the other hand, beat David Navara with Black to get match victory without needing tiebreaks in the second round. Will we see a decisive game or will the final be decided on Sunday?

Jan-Krzysztof Duda

Jan-Krzysztof Duda | Photo: Official site

Match results

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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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