Hamburg GP Final: Duda the defender

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
11/17/2019 – For a second day in a row, Alexander Grischuk got the upper hand against Jan-Krzysztof Duda at the final of the FIDE Grand Prix in Hamburg. Duda lost the opening battle but managed to find correct defensive moves one time after another until the draw was agreed. The champion will be decided in Sunday's tiebreakers. | Photo: Official site

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A son of the computer era

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.

For players like Jan-Krzysztof Duda (b. 1998), dissociating the game of chess from the use of computers is almost impossible. Much has been talked about this subject, with one of the generally accepted consequences of this phenomenon being the fact that players have realized many positions that were considered to be lost in the past can actually be defended — the engines have shown that 'winning won positions' is even harder than people used to think.

Alexander Grischuk (b. 1983), on the other hand, experienced what it was like to face someone like Garry Kasparov in classical chess, when the Beast from Baku would frequently win games simply by showing a forced line that gave a large advantage to either side. Needless to say, Grischuk adapted his style to the new conditions — the Russian has had a 2700+ rating in every official FIDE list since April 2002.  

Jan-Krzysztof Duda, Alexander Grischuk

Grischuk is fifteen years older than Duda | Photo: Official site

In the rematch game of the final, Duda strangely spent about 18 minutes on move 7, despite the fact that a normal line of the Queen's Gambit Declined was being explored. By the time he played 11.a3, both finalists apparently noticed the position had turned dangerous for White:


You can try your own variations on the diagram above

Duda's push of the a-pawn had been seen repeatedly in the past, but it is not a move well-liked by the engines (11.♗e5 seems safer). At this point, Grischuk started calculating intensely, spending half an hour on 11...Bd7. Also aware of the sharpness of the position, Duda used over an hour of his clock on his next four moves. The sharp sequence went 12.xd5 c8 13.e4 b6 14.b4 fd8 15.bxc5 xc5 16.e2.


In the diagrammed position, Grischuk continued with 16...b5, preventing White from castling. The Russian was clearly in the driver's seat, but Duda kept defending tenaciously. Four moves later, Grischuk rejected a move that would have further complicated matters — by then, Duda had less than ten minutes on his clock.


20...♛xe4 is the kind of move one needs to explore carefully — there would probably follow 21.♘d2 ♛xg2 22.♔xe2 ♔♛xh1, when White has two pieces for a rook, but also quite a vulnerable king. Instead of all this, Grischuk simplified into an endgame with 20...xf3 21.xf3 xc5, an understandable decision given the circumstances, i.e. why take unnecessary risks with little time on the clock when the worst thing that can happen from going into a slightly superior ending is that the score board will remain tied and everything will be decided on Sunday.

Grischuk kept trying to up the pressure, but Duda never stopped finding precise defensive moves. The draw was agreed on move 38.

Sunday's tiebreaks kick off at the usual time.


Alexander Grischuk

All will be decided in rapid and, if necessary, blitz and Armageddon | Photo: Official site

Match results

Click or tap any result to open the game via


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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