The rematches of the second round at the FIDE Grand Prix brought several decisive outcomes. Three grandmasters qualified for the semi-finals whereas the fourth one will be determined on the tiebreak on Sunday.
After his loss in the first game of the second round, Veselin Topalov needed a win to equal the score against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. He chose the French Defence, and after some thought, the French grandmaster opted for the Exchange Variation to avoid any theoretical battles. Nevertheless, the game became quite sharp with both sides installing strong knights in the center. As the game developed, White started an attack on the queenside, whereas Black had no realistic chances to attack the white king on the other side of the board. After some exchanges before move 30, Topalov realized that his position was worse and offered a draw. Vachier-Lagrave saw no reason to play on as a half-point was enough to promote him into the next round and enjoy another free day before the semi-finals.
David Navara and Alexander Grischuk followed a critical line of the Queen's Gambit Declined which the Czech grandmaster had used in the past year in the German Bundesliga. After Grischuk deviated on move 15, both players spent a lot of time evaluating a sharp position with kings castled on opposite sides of the board. Navara went astray when he prematurely pushed his h-pawn that allowed Grischuk to deliver a deadly counter punch on the other side of the board. The Russian grandmaster timely sacrificed an exchange and ripped big rewards. Navara had to choose between entering an inferior rook endgame or playing a piece down but having some threats to the black king. He picked the second option but the risk did not pay off. Navara fought on for several moves, but Grischuk confidently fended off all the threats and advanced to the semis.
Blunder decides in favor of Duda
Jan-Krzysztof Duda also qualified for the semi-finals. His game against Yu Yangyi was more or less decided by one terrible blunder. After an equal opening, the players exchanged queens on move 14 and soon reached an almost equal endgame. The encounter was heading towards a peaceful finish despite the Chinese grandmaster being down a pawn. However, Yu Yangyi went for a deadly walk with his king to the h3-square. Duda surprisingly captured the black pawn on g4 with a check and it turned out it was immune because of the pinned black bishop on c8 and a deadly checkmate threat. As a result, Yu Yangyi losing two pawns and resigned shortly afterward. Evgeny Miroshnichenko, who is commentating on the games in the official live coverage, said: "It's one of those moves which are easy to calculate but hard to come up with."
The day started with a quick draw between Peter Svidler and Daniil Dubov in a game that only lasted an hour. Svidler chose the Rossolimo Variation against Dubov's Sicilian Defence and regretted it afterwards. "It was not the wisest choice to play this, but these things happen," he admitted. After the opening, the younger of the two Russian players gave a pawn to free up his light-squared bishop, which he then exchanged for the white knight on f3 and ruined white's pawn structure. After 21 moves, the players reached an endgame in which Svidler was a pawn up, but Dubov had active pieces and was still in his preparation. Svidler had seen enough and offered a draw which his compatriot accepted. In the end, Dubov had gained five minutes on the clock compared to his starting time, whereas Svidler burned over 50 minutes.
These two grandmasters will meet again in the tiebreak on Sunday to determine the fourth player of the semi-final.
Round 2, game 2 results:
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave - Veselin Topalov 1/2-1/2
David Navara - Alexander Grischuk 0-1
Peter Svidler - Daniil Dubov 1/2-1/2
Jan-Krzysztof Duda - Yu Yangyi 1-0
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