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Tuesday, 05 Nov 2019 22:11
FIDE Grand Prix Hamburg: Four winners in the first round

The first day of the FIDE Grand Prix in Hamburg attracted many spectators until the organizers announced: "sold out". The German chess fans didn't regret coming as they witnessed many dramatic battles and four victories. 

The president of the German Chess Federation, Ulrich Krause, symbolically opened the 1st round of the FIDE Grand Prix in Hamburg by playing 1. e2-e4 on the board of Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Wei Yi. "It was a pleasure," he said afterward and added: "It is an honor for me to be the chairman of the appeals committee during the next two weeks. At the same time, I expect not to be active in this role."

 

Superb technique by Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

One of the favorites of the FIDE Grand Prix in Hamburg got off to a great start. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave outplayed his opponent Wei Yi from the very beginning to the end. The Chinese grandmaster boldly chose the Najdorf Variation of the Sicilian Defense with the black pieces against the world's leading expert of this opening. Vachier-Lagrave reacted with a rare idea on move seven. After the exchange of queens on move 19, he got a better ending and was gradually improving his position. On the move 29 Vachier-Lagrave won the crucial a-pawn, which proved to be decisive.

A blunder by Ian Nepomniachtchi

Jan-Krzysztof Duda opened his duel against Ian Nepomniachtchi by pushing his pawn to c4. "I just wanted a random game and to avoid any theoretical battle in the Grunfeld or Najdorf", he stated afterward. It was an equal fight until the Russian grandmaster played 23.e5-e4. "I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw this move," said Duda. It was just a terrible blunder. The Polish GM was not only a pawn up, but also had the bishop pair and the center. Nepomniachtchi tried to complicate things by sacrificing an exchange, but the outcome of the game was never in doubt.

Peter Svidler thanked his compatriot Kirill Alekseenko for showing him the line he used today to beat Pentala Harikrishna. In the second Italian Game of the day, Black seemed to have some initiative on the kingside, but Svidler parried all threats with precise counters and reached a favorable ending. White's advantage increased when the Russian grandmaster infiltrated the 7th rank with one of his rooks on move 29. Harikrishna sacrificed an exchange and tried to create some counterplay with his passed pawn on the a-file, but Svidler was always in command and seamlessly converted his advantage into a full point.

Radoslaw Wojtaszek and Alexander Grischuk split the point after an intense and open battle in a variation of the Catalan Opening. "We are both happy and unhappy", said Grischuk, meaning that both players missed their chances. In a highly complex middlegame, Black got the upper hand around move 30 when the white pieces were clumsily flocked up on the kingside. The Polish grandmaster nevertheless was able to turn the tables by giving some material for the black queen and forcing Grischuk's majesty to leave the corner and run to the center. He chased the black king over half of the board, but the position promised nothing more than a perpetual check, which he delivered after the first time control.

In a battle lasting nearly five hours, Hikaru Nakamura and Veselin Topalov played the longest game of the day, which ended in favor of the  Bulgarian grandmaster. "I used a line, which Anand played against me once", Topalov explained. His decision was justified as he started a vicious attack against the white king right after the opening. Even if Topalov missed a win by force, the position on the board never raised serious doubts about the outcome. 

David Navara and Nikita Vitiugov tested their theoretical knowledge in a deeply analyzed line of the Marshall Attack. The Czech grandmaster followed in the footsteps of Teimour Radjabov, who beat Ding Liren in the final of the World Cup. Vitiugov deviated on move 17 by putting the bishop on f5 instead of the queen. He sacrificed a pawn, but soon afterward Navara gave the pawn back and forced the draw after 25 moves. "This is modern chess", said Vitiugov later and added that Black has typical compensation in this position, which often leads to a draw. 

The first game to end in the starting round was the one between Teimour Radjabov and Daniil Dubov. It was only twelve moves long and it concluded in less than an hour. In an Italian Game, the Russian grandmaster gave up castling short but advanced his pawns on the kingside. Just when the battle began to heat up, Radjabov offered a draw, which Dubov accepted.

Dmitry Jakovenko and Yu Yangyi shook hands shortly afterward. In a line of the rock-solid Petroff, Jakovenko decided to call it a day after 17 moves in a symmetrical and balanced position. 

The opponents will face each other on November 6 at 3 pm (CET) with colors reversed. The games are broadcasted live via the official website, www.worldchess.com.

Round 1 first games results:

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave - Wei Yi: 1-0
Hikaru Nakamura - Veselin Topalov: 0-1
David Navara - Nikita Vitiugov: 1/2-1/2
Radoslaw Wojtaszek - Alexander Grischuk: 1/2-1/2
Teimour Radjabov - Daniil Dubov: 1/2-1/2
Peter Svidler - Pentala Harikrishna: 1-0
Dmitry Jakovenko - Yu Yangyi: 1/2-1/2
Jan-Krzysztof Duda - Ian Nepomniachtchi: 1-0

Schedule FIDE Grand Prix Hamburg

Nov. 5 14:00 Round 1 game 1
Nov. 6 14:00 Round 1 game 2
Nov. 7 14:00 Tiebreak
Nov. 8 14:00 Round 2 game 1
Nov. 9 14:00 Round 2 game 2
Nov. 10 14:00 Tiebreak
Nov. 11 14:00 Round 3 game 1
Nov. 12 14:00 Round 3 game 2
Nov. 13 14:00 Tiebreak
Nov. 14 Rest day
Nov. 15 14:00 Round 4 game 1
Nov. 16 14:00 Round 4 game 2
Nov. 17 14:00 Tiebreak

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.

The list of key partners supporting the FIDE World Chess Grand Prix Series 2019 includes:
 
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