Top GMs Exit Early After Bloody FIDE Grand Prix Day 2
Giving autographs before the round, Levon Aronian is one of the players who has to leave Moscow early. | Photo: WorldChess.

Top GMs Exit Early After Bloody FIDE Grand Prix Day 2

| 49 | Chess Event Coverage

Levon Aronian, Anish Giri, Dmitry Jakovenko, Sergey Karjakin, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Nikita Vitiugov all had to leave the FIDE Grand Prix in Moscow early. Sunday's tiebreaks will decide the matches Nakamura-Radjabov and Duda-So.

It was a surprisingly bloody second day in Moscow, with no less than five decisive games and early decisions in six of the eight matches. Nakamura's prediction of 80 percent draws in the classical games seemed to make sense, but luckily for the fans he was way off there.

The players showed serious fighting spirit and a willingness to go for interesting games, with Jan-Krzysztof Duda taking that approach to the next level, against Wesley So. For a game he needed to draw, he had a surprising opening in store: the Sicilian Dragon.

"I felt I wanted to surprise Wesley; I haven't played Dragon before in my life," Duda explained. "And also it's quite a nice opening; Black is fighting for the initiative from the beginning."

The Polish player had done quite a bit of analysis and followed his computer lines for long (including an early exchange sacrifice!), but still it was So who came with a strong novelty.

The position remained very complicated and at some point Duda blundered the move 30.Bxa7, after which it was over. 

"Of course Jan played very well but I played so bad, it was the worst game of my life. I made like four blunders," So said about yesterday's debacle. "I came to this game with the white pieces not particularly hoping for anything. In a must-win situation it's very difficult to win on demand. I gave myself maybe 10, 20 percent for today." 

So Duda 2019 FIDE Grand Prix Moscow
Despite the surprise, So remembered the critical variation and even brought an important novelty on the board. | Photo: WorldChess.

An even more spectacular game was Daniil Dubov vs Anish Giri. Yesterday the Dutchman had said that, while this was the match between the highest and lowest rated player in the tournament, he still felt the underdog as White, as Black, in rapid and in blitz.

Today Giri's nightmare scenario came true as he lost track in the complications of a razor sharp fight, where Dubov impressively kept things under control despite having to run with his kind into an open field.

"Probably I just played well. It’s hard to believe," said Dubov. 

Daniil Dubov FIDE Grand Prix Moscow
A great game by Dubov to reach the second round. | Photo: Niki Riga/WorldChess.

Radoslaw Wojtazek was quite fortunate to win his game yesterday, but definitely deserves credit for avoiding any problems in his black game with Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. The Polish GM did lose a pawn, but with four vs. three on the kingside, rooks and opposite-colored bishops it was just a draw, especially since White's bishop was positionally pinned.

Wojtaszek said he expected a longer match, and made another humble remark: "Of course I was mainly lucky yesterday and it has to be said that in such a short format simply not always the better player wins. I think this is what more or less happened. I am simply extremely happy to go through."

Wojtaszek Mamedyarov FIDE Grand Prix Moscow
Not only Wojtaszek was smiling afterward. | Photo: WorldChess.

Ian Nepomiachtchi knocked out Levon Aronian by holding the draw as Black, but not without making it a sharp and interesting game with his seventh move. In the interview afterward he revealed that he had been inspired by a recent internet game, where he had the position as White and his opponent went 7...Qd3.  

"I found it quite interesting. There is a very sharp position, a lot of theory. Fortunately for me Levon wasn’t well prepared; probably me neither. I was lucky to get some nice play after the opening," Nepo said.

Like the day before, Aronian burnt a lot of clock time early in the game: "I was lacking time, because I spent too much time in the opening at some precious moments, precious time at precious moments, and then it went astray. In my openings I wasn’t well prepared, so I have to work on that."

Levon Aronian FIDE Grand Prix Moscow
An early exit for Aronian. | Photo: Niki Riga/WorldChess.

Wei Yi also advanced to the next round, but it definitely didn't look like that around move 20 of his game with Dmitry Jakovenko. "I think today I was lucky," the Chinese GM said. "My position was very dangerous."

Wei thought he was losing if his opponent had played some accurate moves. As it went, Jakovenko got into time trouble, spoilt his advantage and after some more mistakes he was suddenly lost.

Wei Yi FIDE Grand Prix Moscow
Despite a few scary moments Wei Yi reached the second round. | Photo: Niki Riga/WorldChess.

Peter Svidler won a good game against his friend and former second Nikita Vitiugov to advance to round two as well. The game started with a reasonably fashionable sideline in the Open Ruy Lopez.

"Luckily I discussed it with Kirill Alekseenko recently," said Svidler. "So I had some idea."

Although he won a pawn, Svidler didn't think it was very dangerous for Black. "We both felt this endgame somehow has to be a draw but obviously it’s easier to play with an extra pawn. Something somewhere has gone wrong, and then I managed to convert my advantage."

Vitiugov said the same: "I am sure it was a draw, it was analysed. But somehow it wasn’t so easy to find at the board."

Svidler Shipov FIDE Grand Prix Moscow
Svidler joined the Russian commentary with GM Sergey Shipov. | Photo: WorldChess.

Alexander Grischuk defeated Sergey Karjakin in an endgame that was reached straight out of he opening, a Ragozin. Karjakin "knew" this endgame but as it turned out, it was more problematic than he expected: 

"It is hard for me to say where I got a bad position because I felt I was playing normal moves, very natural, what can go wrong. But in fact Alexander played very deeply and very interestingly and the question is if the endgame is any good for Black."

Grischuk said that the trade of bishops on f3 was a critical moment, because he got an initiative thanks to the doubled pawns. "But it's also weak and the h5-pawn is weak, so after this it just becomes tactics. We didn't play to great in this phase but I think I was luckier in this phase."

Karjakin Grischuk FIDE Grand Prix Moscow
Somehow someone managed to get Karjakin and Grischuk posing for a picture after their game. | Photo: WorldChess.

Hikaru Nakamura and Teimour Radjabov were again the first to call it a day. Yesterday they played 12 moves; today 14. 

Nakamura mentioned that he was facing a solid line: "I was trying during the game to come up with something; I thought for a very long time." It wasn't much at the end, and so this match was the first to go to the tiebreaks. 

"Close to coin-flipping in general," Nakamura assessed tomorrow's affair. "If someone wins a game obviously they have a very good start but I think it’s very close to even."

Radjabov was again all smiles in the post-game interview, saying he "completely agreed" with Nakamura. He also didn't provide much content about tomorrow's chances: "Yeah. Rapid. Lots of fun!"

Nakamura Radjabov FIDE Grand Prix Moscow
Nakamura and Radjabov in a cheerful mood after another short draw. | Photo: WorldChess.

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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