Hamburg FIDE Grand Prix Semifinals Start Peacefully
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave during the first game of the semifinals. Photo: Valeria Gordienko/World Chess.

Hamburg FIDE Grand Prix Semifinals Start Peacefully

| 15 | Chess Event Coverage

Jan-Krzysztof Duda vs. Daniil Dubov and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave vs. Alexander Grischuk, the first two games of the FIDE Grand Prix in Hamburg semifinals, both ended in draws. The return games will be played on Tuesday.

At a press conference in the Central Chess Club in Moscow, the exact dates of some major chess events for 2020 in Russia were announced today:

  • FIDE Candidates' Tournament: March 11-April 5 in Yekaterinburg.
  • FIDE Congress, Chess Paralympiad and General Assembly: July 29-August 5 in Khanty-Mansiysk.
  • FIDE Chess Olympiad: August 5-17 in Moscow.
Anatoly Karpov, Arkady Dvorkovich, Andrey Filatov, Andrey Simanovsky, Mark Glukhovsky
The speakers at the press conference were the 12th world champion Anatoly Karpov, FIDE president Arkady Dvorkovich, president of the Russian Chess Federation Andrey Filatov and the head of the Sverdlovsk regional chess federation , Andrey Simanovsky. Chief executive officer of the Russian Chess Federation, Mark Glukhovsky (right), conducted the press conference.

Russian Chess Federation president Andrey Filatov suggested that the Candidates' Tournament wildcard will be a Russian player, who might have to win a small qualifier before being selected.

"The decision to host this event in Russia guarantees that there will be a Russian player participating. We’re still considering different options how we’ll choose a Russian wildcard, but it will probably be a match or match-tournament with Kirill Alekseenko, third-place finisher in the Grand Swiss, taking part in it."

The other participants in this event that will determine the final wildcard will of course depend on the outcome of the FIDE Grand Prix, where the Russians Grischuk and Ian Nepomniachtchi have a chance to qualify, with Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Vachier-Lagrave as their main rivals.

Grischuk is currently playing his last Grand Prix in Hamburg, while MVL will play in Jerusalem next month as well, like Mamedyarov and Nepomniachtchi.

The two players started their semifinal today with a rather tame draw. Grischuk used an opening line he hadn't played for 12 years: the Moller variation of the Ruy Lopez. Probably taken by surprise, MVL didn't go for the most critical lines and soon the position was about equal, and then very equal.

Vachier-Lagrave - Grischuk Hamburg Grand Prix
Vachier-Lagrave vs. Grischuk. Photo: Valeria Gordienko/World Chess.

After his game, Duda joked that he repeated the English Opening because other people had blundered against it (referring to Nepomniachtchi!). Dubov turned it into a Tarrasch, and the specific line that came on the board was something he had played before in 2019.

"I played this line probably six times and at least three times out of six Jan-Krzysztof was like 10 meters from me," Dubov said. "I played it in Moscow, I played it in Paris, I played it in Riga, I played it everywhere."

Duda, however, also looked at a lot of other lines and wasn't particularly well prepared for this. He said he was hoping this variation wouldn't occur: "Possibly I should have checked this more complicated stuff like Nakamura played."

Still, the Polish player was trying to "squeeze" his opponent somehow, but a timely ...d5-d4 equalized quickly for Black.

Duda-Dubov 2019 Hamburg Grand Prix
Duda vs. Dubov. Photo: Valeria Gordienko/World Chess.

On Tuesday, we'll see the return games, with Grischuk being under the most pressure as he can't afford to lose this match. The players will surely remember their semifinal from the Riga Grand Prix, where MVL won the second game as Black when Grischuk took too much risk.

The Hamburg Grand Prix games start each day at 15:00 CET, which is 9 a.m. Eastern and 6 a.m. Pacific. You can follow them here as part of our live portal.

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