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Wednesday, 06 Nov 2019 22:11
FIDE Grand Prix Hamburg: Four players advance to the second round

FIDE oversees the undoubtedly most beautiful game humankind has ever created, the royal game of chess, which unites nearly all countries of this world with one language. Algorand has the vision of building technical innovations for a borderless economy. What could be more natural than joining forces with World Chess, the organizer of the FIDE Grand Prix?

The COO of Algorand, Mr Sean Ford, opened the 2nd round of the FIDE Grand Prix in Hamburg on the board of Wei Yi and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave by pushing the e-pawn two squares ahead. "Probably this was the best move I ever made over a chessboard", he joked afterwards.

All of the games of the second day of the first round of knockouts at the FIDE Grand Prix in Hamburg ended with a draw, but not without drama.

Four players advanced to the next round, and four need to pack their bags. The remaining eight players will meet again on the tiebreaks.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave at the top of his game

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave has lived up to expectations so far. After winning the first game against Wei Yi in grand style, he was close to winning the second game as well. The rivals again discussed a line of the Najdorf Variation, but once again the Frenchman seemed to be better prepared. The critical moment arose after White's twelfth move. Vachier-Lagrave correctly pushed his h-pawn and then his e-pawn to destroy the pawn armada that threatened to overrun his position. Black's pieces exerted a lot of pressure, and although his king stayed in the centre for the whole game, it was the white king that was in much more danger. Instead of taking any chances, Vachier-Lagrave forced a draw by repetition at move 27. "So far the preparation before the tournament pays off", said the 29-year-old with a smile after the match.

A draw in the second game of the first round against Pentala Harikrishna was enough for Peter Svidler to qualify for the next round. With a strong pawn centre and well-placed pieces, the Indian grandmaster could hope for more than a half-point in the middlegame, but Svidler's position was very solid and "Hari" did not manage to find a way to breakthrough. After a massive exchange of pawns, there was no play left and the players agreed to a draw.

Hikaru Nakamura playing with the black pieces was not able to turn the tables in his match against Veselin Topalov. In a Queen´s Gambit Accepted White got an upper hand due to better development. Nakamura left his king in the centre and tried to create some play against the white king with his queen and the bishop pair, but it caused only a slight disturbance to White, who obtained a clear advantage. After 25 moves Topalov was a pawn up in an ending and could have continued without any risks, but decided that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

Bitter end for Ian Nepomniachtchi

Ian Nepomniachtchi was in a must-win-situation after he lost the first game against Jan-Krzysztof Duda. The rising Polish star chose the Accelerated Dragon with Black but was never able to equalize. An ending that arose after only 15 moves favoured White due to the better structure and the more active pieces. After a long fight, Nepomniachtchi managed to win a pawn, but it was not enough to win the game due to the reduced material. This defeat in the first round of the FIDE Grand Prix in Hamburg substantially reduces the chances for the Russian grandmaster to qualify for the Candidates, but there is still hope for him to bounce back in the last leg of the series in Jerusalem.

In total contrast with their exciting first battle, Alexander Grischuk and Radoslaw Wojtaszek concluded the second game of their mini-match with a draw after just an hour of play. In a line of the Italian Game, the Polish grandmaster showed excellent preparation, whereas Grischuk weighed the pros and cons of the position in his typical tempo. After spending more than 50 minutes for the first 14 moves and realizing that his opponent still was blitzing out his analysis, he offered a draw which Wojtaszek accepted. Grischuk justified his decision by saying: "I didn't want to continue playing against a computer," and added with an ironic undertone: "Besides I don't want to spoil the spectators".

Nikita Vitiugov and David Navara will meet again on the tiebreak after drawing both games with classical time control. It seemed that the Russian grandmaster was applying pressure throughout the game, but afterwards, he denied doing so: "Actually this was nothing until David tried to lose the game". He was referring to the way the Czech grandmaster handled the position. Navara deliberately sacrificed material to enter a rook endgame a pawn down. Here he showed an excellent technique and apparently aware of how to save a half-point. 

Yu Yangyi fails to convert

Yu Yangyi missed a big chance to win the second game against Dmitry Jakovenko. After only 18 moves, the two players had exchanged most of the pieces including the queens, but something went wrong for the 36-year-old Russian as he lost a pawn shortly thereafter. The battle headed into a knight ending where Yu Yangyi was completely winning but failed to convert his advantage. "It was a miracle, and it took several mistakes from my opponent to save the game", Jakovenko admitted.

Daniil Dubov tried to bedazzle Teimour Radjabov by using the Italian Gambit as White, a rare choice on top-level. The Azerbaijanian took his time to recall the critical lines, and after forcing the exchange of queens, the players reached an equal ending with two rooks and one minor piece respectively. The rising Russian star, who used only a bit more than 15 minutes for the whole game, penetrated the 7th rank with one of his rooks and forced Radjabov to oppose the threats with one of his own rooks. Daniil tried to continue battle after the exchange of the rooks, but in the emerging endgame a draw was unavoidable.

Round 1, game 2 results:

Wei Yi - Maxime Vachier-Lagrave: 1/2-1/2
Veselin Topalov - Hikaru Nakamura: 1/2-1/2
Nikita Vitiugov - David Navara: 1/2-1/2
Alexander Grischuk - Radoslaw Wojtaszek: 1/2-1/2
Daniil Dubov - Teimour Radjabov: 1/2-1/2
Pentala Harikrishna - Peter Svidler: 1/2-1/2
Yu Yangyi - Dmitry Jakovenko: 1/2-1/2
Ian Nepomniachtchi - Jan-Krzysztof Duda: 1/2-1/2

Modus for the tiebreak:
Two 25+10 rapid games are played. If still tied, there are two 10+10 games, then two 5+3. Finally, a single Armageddon game is played, where White has 5 minutes to Black’s 4 (with a 2-second increment from move 61), but Black wins the match in case of a draw

Official website and LIVE broadcast: https://worldchess.com

FIDE Press officer for the event: Georgios Souleidis

Official Photographer: Valeria Gordienko

World Chess contact: media@worldchess.com

Photos are available for the press from the following link to Dropbox.

Leading partners supporting the FIDE World Chess Grand Prix Series 2019 include:
 
Algorand as the Exclusive Blockchain Partner
PhosAgro as the Official Strategic Partner
Kaspersky as the Official Cybersecurity Partner
Pella Sietas Shipyard as Official Partner
Prytek as the Technology Transfer Partner