FIDE Grand Prix Moscow To Be Decided In Tiebreak
The start of the second game of the final. | Photo: World Chess.

FIDE Grand Prix Moscow To Be Decided In Tiebreak

| 15 | Chess Event Coverage

The FIDE Grand Prix in Moscow will be decided in a tiebreak on Wednesday. Both classical games between Russian grandmasters Alexander Grischuk and Ian Nepomniachtchi ended in draws.

It's been a long tournament that started on Friday, May 17 with the first day of the round of 16. Tomorrow will be the last day of the FIDE Grand Prix in Moscow, between two Muscovites, with a tiebreak where 10,000 euros is on the line: the winner earns 24 thousand euros, the loser gets 14 thousand.

After the first and only rest day on Sunday, Grischuk and Nepomniachtchi played two classical games which both ended in draws, but each game had a bit of intrigue.

Grischuk Nepomniachtchi 2019 FIDE Grand Prix Moscow
Grischuk and Nepomniachtchi at the start of their final. | Photo: World Chess.

In the first, on Monday, Grischuk went for a rare line against his opponent's Gruenfeld that involves an early exchange sacrifice, but somehow he completely failed to surprise his opponent.

"It was an opening catastrophe for me," said Grischuk. "Not just he played a very good line, but also it seems like it was the only thing he was preparing for. I don’t know why!"

As it turned out, Nepomniachtchi had looked at it for one of his previous opponents in Moscow. "I believe it’s a more or less drawish line," he said. "I think the position is equal until 20.exf6; after this it could be somewhat suspicious for White because the structure is not so pleasant and Sasha was in time trouble."

Grischuk Nepomniachtchi 2019 FIDE Grand Prix Moscow
Grischuk had some problems with the white pieces. | Photo: World Chess.

Both players thought that Black had the better chances, and both agreed that White's setup with g3 and h4 was very precise. "There must be a way to equalize but I didn’t find, and then it was a terrible position," said Grischuk. "Somehow I managed to set up a defense with this h4, g3. At least now I don’t have back rank problems. And the queen on a5 stops; I thought if the pawns come to b4 and a5 it can become very bad. Somehow I managed to defend."

The interview with the players after the game. | Video: World Chess.

Taking into account that he only had a few minutes left on the clock at the end, Grischuk clearly felt relieved:

"The good thing for me is that I have the feeling that I am playing white again tomorrow. I don’t think I am supposed to get a worse position than I got today! At least the starting position of tomorrow’s game is definitely better than what I had today. At least there are some counter chances and so on."

Grischuk Nepomniachtchi 2019 FIDE Grand Prix Moscow
After winning his semifinal, Nepomniachtchi said he was mostly looking forward to the press conferences with Grischuk. It seems he's getting his money's worth! | Photo: World Chess.

On Tuesday we had a 5.Re1 Berlin Ruy Lopez, where Nepomniachtchi played the by now infamous 10.Re2 move. It was introduced by Maxime Vachier-Lagrave five years ago, after the Frenchman had accidentally played it in a game in the PlayMagnus app and thought it was interesting enough to try in a real game. It also featured in the third game of the 2016 Carlsen-Karjakin world championship.

“If someone plays Berlin, it’s very difficult to refute, so I came up with this more or less rare move 10.Re2, with the idea to provoke 10…b6 and then play 11.Re1," explained Nepomniachtchi.

Nepomniachtchi starting vs Grischuk Moscow FIDE Grand Prix
Nepomniachtchi played MVL's 10.Re2. | Photo: World Chess.

Grischuk's 10...Nc4!? had only been played once before, by the greatest Berlin player of them all, in his last classical tournament (Fedoseev-Kramnik, Wijk aan Zee 2019) and after 11.b3 Nb6 Nepo played the novelty 12.a4. Grischuk managed to trade some pieces and quickly equalized, as even white's bishop pair didn't mean much.

Nepomniachtchi: "In the end I thought maybe the endgame could be unpleasant because my king is a little bit far from the c2 square, so I decided to offer a draw."

Drawing as Black in 23 moves was definitely a success for Grischuk, who said: "Today was better than yesterday. Still not fantastic out of the opening, but better than yesterday. At least there was some counterplay, and I almost took over the initiative. Maybe I should play on at the end, but I wasn’t sure. It was not that easy to starting playing for a win at full steam.”

The interview with the players after the game. | Video: World Chess.

The 2019 FIDE Grand Prix series consists of four knockout tournaments, with 16 players each, who play two classical games per round and if needed a tiebreak on the third day. The other three Grand Prix tournaments are Riga/Jurmala, Latvia (July 11–25), Hamburg, Germany (November 4–18) and Tel Aviv, Israel (December 10–24).

Each of the four tournaments has a prize fund of 130,000 euros ($145,510). Prizes for the overall standings in the series total 280,000 euros ($313,405), making the total prize fund of the series 800,000 euros ($895,444).

The games start each day at 3 p.m. Moscow time, which is 14:00 CEST, 8 a.m. Eastern and 5 a.m. Pacific. You can follow the games here as part of our live portal. The official site is here.

The official WorldChess broadcast with GMs Evgeny Miroshnichenko and Daniil Yuffa.

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