4 Winners At Hamburg FIDE Grand Prix 1st Day
A bird's eye view of the playing hall in Hamburg. Photo: Valeria Gordienko/World Chess.

4 Winners At Hamburg FIDE Grand Prix 1st Day

| 12 | Chess Event Coverage

Besides some very quick draws, the first day of the FIDE Grand Prix in Hamburg saw four winners. Jan-Krzysztof Duda, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Peter Svidler and Veselin Topalov won and now only need a draw on Wednesday to advance to the next round.

See our preview for the current GP standings and other background information.

The downside of the knockout format is that some players prefer to battle it out in the tiebreak phase, and therefore are happy with (quick) draws in the classical portion. The first day in Hamburg saw three quick draws, two of which ended before move 18.

Normally it is considered to be the white player who "admits" to such a strategy, and in the case of Teimour Radjabov it was understandable. After winning the FIDE World Cup, the Azerbaijani grandmaster has already qualified for the candidates and so he can treat this Grand Prix as an individual tournament where he should do what he thinks will maximize his chances.

This is how we got to see a 12-move (!) draw between Radjabov and Daniil Dubov. It's the system, stupid.

Dmitry Jakovenko and Yu Yangyi needed just 16 moves to do the same. The game between David Navara and Nikita Vitiugov was a Spanish Marshall endgame but lasted only a bit longer. (See the game viewer at the bottom of this article for these games.)

"This is modern chess," was Vitiugov's explanation. 

Georgios Souleidis Hamburg FIDE Grand Prix 2019
Acting as the FIDE press officer in Hamburg, IM Georgios Souleidis interviews Dubov and Radjabov. Photo: Valeria Gordienko/World Chess.

Ironically, the game of the day we've chosen is another draw. It was hard to choose between the victories, while the game between Radoslaw Wojtaszek and Alexander Grischuk actually stood out.

What started as a calm, Open Catalan quickly turned into a complicated middlegame with a traffic jam of minor pieces placed in or close to the center of the board.

Wojtaszek decided to move out of his comfort zone and follow the plan that was required by the position: a full-blown kingside attack. This he executed nicely, but he invested so much material that a perpetual check (that would have followed another sacrifice) was the logical outcome. Due to time trouble, it was a draw anyway, as Grischuk missed his chance.

"We are both happy and unhappy," Grischuk said, as both players had hopes of winning this one.

Grischuk Wojtaszek Hamburg FIDE Grand Prix 2019
Grischuk: "We are both happy and unhappy." Photo: Valeria Gordienko/World Chess.

Just before the start of the FIDE Grand Swiss there was some controversy about Anish Giri's late withdrawal, with which the Dutchman basically increased his chances to qualify for the candidates by rating. Vachier-Lagrave tweeted that, if the regulations had permitted him, he "would have entered the tournament back in July if I knew I had the option to withdraw at any time."

That's water under the bridge now, and, besides hoping for the wildcard spot, all that remains for the Frenchman is trying to qualify via the Grand Prix. A first-day win against Wei Yi was a step in the right direction.

MVL played positionally against the Najdorf, and that worked out very well. Wei couldn't find the best piece setup, lost a pawn and then the game.

Vachier-Lagrave vs. Wei Yi Hamburg FIDE Grand Prix 2019
A great start for Vachier-Lagrave vs. Wei Yi. Photo: Valeria Gordienko/World Chess.

Hikaru Nakamura surprisingly got eliminated by Veselin Topalov in the first round of the Riga Grand Prix. Coincidentally paired against the same opponent, Naka now runs the risk of suffering the same fate in Hamburg. 

An Anti-Berlin gone wrong led to a very difficult middlegame where White made some strange decisions and by move 25 he was positionally bust.

Nakamura resigns vs Topalov Hamburg FIDE Grand Prix 2019
Nakamura resigns vs Topalov. Photo: Valeria Gordienko/World Chess.

Duda's win over Ian Nepomniachtchi was the result of a one-move blunder. Coming straight from Norway, where he came third in the Fischer Random World Championship, Nepomniachtchi forgot about a battery towards g7 and dropped a central pawn for nothing.

"I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw this move," Duda said about his opponent's pawn push. The exchange sacrifice, to create some chaos, was understandable but didn't do Black any good either:

Duda Nepomniachtchi Hamburg FIDE Grand Prix 2019
Nepomniachtchi left his man bun in Norway. Photo: Valeria Gordienko/World Chess.

Admittedly, it was Peter Svidler's win that deserved a game of the day analysis as well. The eight-time Russian champion played a wonderful endgame that appeared after he had calculated deeply, and correctly evaluated that he was better despite being a pawn down:

On day two, four players are in risk of early elimination. Harikrishna, Nakamura, Nepomniachtchi and Wei all need to win.

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.

All games from day 1

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