She is 21 years old, lives in Hamburg and aspires to take part in the next Summer Olympiad 2020 in Tokio. We are talking of Yusra Mardini, a professional swimmer whose personal story has inspired the world. In 2015 she fled from war in Syria to find a shelter in Europe. Germany is her new home, and today she opened the tiebreak of the first round at the FIDE Grand Prix in Hamburg.
If classical chess sometimes doesn't provide enough drama rapid and blitz chess does. Today the players had much less time to think and this lead to mistakes, turnarounds and finally to the answer who will qualify for the next round.
No luck for Vitiugov
At the board of Nikita Vitiugov and David Navara, Yusra Mardini moved the white Knight to f3, but this brought no luck for the Russian grandmaster. He won a pawn at the queenside in the Benoni reversed, then went for another pawn on the other side of the board but gave the opponent dangerous initiative. Navara used the open h-file to start a menacing counterattack and with time running down, Vitiugov lost control of the action and went down in flames.
In the must-win-situation, Vitiugov chose the Dutch Opening in the second game but never came close to level the score. Navara broke through in the center and repelled all the attacking attempts by the Russian GM. After some tactical blows, the Czech won material and Vitiugov threw in the towel. As usual, Navara showed a lot of respect for his opponent: "Nikita played many other tournaments this year with very good results, and I considered him the favorite in the classical games. In rapid of course, everything can happen."
Yu Yangyi made up for the missing win from the previous day against Dmitry Jakovenko. The first game of the tiebreak saw an exciting tactical fight which ended with a clear advantage for White due to his active heavy pieces. The Chinese grandmaster won some material and progressed into an easily winning rook endgame with connected passed pawns on the queenside.
In the second game, Dmitry Jakovenko was close to equalizing the score. In a position with opposite-colored bishops, he was the one attacking, and chess experts know that usually, this factor favors an active part. Jakovenko had a decisive advantage around move 50, but in rapid chess, everything can change in a blink of an eye. Yu Yangyi managed to exchange the queens and held the resulting endgame with relative ease.
The first game between Radoslaw Wojtaszek and Alexander Grischuk was an unclear case from start to the end. Grischuk opted for a dutch-like setup with Black, but White chose to castle long. With no time on the clock, the Russian grandmaster decided to repeat moves, despite having slightly more active pieces.
In the second game, the Russian grandmaster went for a Kings-Indian-like setup with White to confuse his adversary. In a position with opposite-castled kings, both sides had their chances, but Grischuk prevailed after Wojtaszek went for a queen exchange in an unclear situation. The favorite won a pawn and converted his advantage safely, even being as usual short of time. "After my opponent completely out-prepared me in the classical games in rapid I decided to play anything just to avoid preparation", stated Grischuk afterwards.
Dubov faster and luckier
After finishing the two classical games fast and leaving the stage early in the first two days of the FIDE Grand Prix Daniil Dubov and Teimour Radjabov regaled the spectators with a long battle which lasted 4.5 hours, much longer than the rest of the tiebreak matches.
First, they continued their non-aggression pact with a quick draw, but the second game nearly became decisive. After blundering a pawn, Dubov was standing on the edge of a precipice but showed all his resilience. Apart from playing much faster, he was able to maintain tension which saved him half the point.
As the two rapid games with the time control of 10 minutes + 10 seconds increment also ended in a draw, the spectators could enjoy the two grandmasters blitzing out for the slot in the next round. It was a question of nerves. The first game with the time control of 5 minutes + 5 seconds was a clear-cut win for Dubov. In the second game, Radjabov was as dominating until he blundered with 63...b3 and had to take a draw.
Round 1, tiebreak results:
Nikita Vitiugov - David Navara: 0-2
Alexander Grischuk - Radoslaw Wojtaszek: 1,5-0,5
Daniil Dubov - Teimour Radjabov: 3,5-2,5
Yu Yangyi - Dmitry Jakovenko: 1,5-0,5
The pairings for the second round are as follows:
Veselin Topalov - Maxime Vachier-Lagrave
Alexander Grischuk - David Navara
Daniil Dubov - Peter Svidler
Yu Yangyi - Jan-Krzysztof Duda
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