Nakamura, So Through To Round 2 FIDE Grand Prix Moscow
The round-one tiebreaks. | Photo: WorldChess.

Nakamura, So Through To Round 2 FIDE Grand Prix Moscow

| 14 | Chess Event Coverage

The American grandmasters Hikaru Nakamura and Wesley So both won their FIDE Grand Prix tiebreaks in the shortest way possible to reach the second round. The new pairings are Nakamura-Dubov, Grischuk–So, Wei Yi–Nepomniachtchi and Svidler–Wojtaszek.

After Saturday's bloody round, only two out of a possible eight tiebreak matches needed to be played on Sunday. And these tiebreaks could theoretically have gone seven games (three pairs of two with decreasing clock time and then an Armageddon), but each went only two.

Drawing of colors FIDE Grand Prix Moscow 2019
The drawing of colors was done shortly before the first rapid game. | Photo: WorldChess.

Hikaru Nakamura was the first to emerge victoriously after beating Teimour Radjabov with the white pieces and then drawing his black game.

Both players played very solidly in the first, a Queen's Gambit, and so it remained almost equal until 32…f6 33.Nh4. Radjabov had forgotten about White's knight sortie, after which it became difficult, especially since he Azerbaijani player was low on time as well.

"Maybe a computer can still hold it but it's very unpleasant," said Nakamura.

Hikaru Nakamura FIDE Grand Prix Moscow 2019
A deeply focused Nakamura in the first rapid game. | Photo: Niki Riga/WorldChess.

"I thought my position was completely fine but then I started to mix things up, lacking some time there. I completely forgot about this Nh4," said Radjabov.

"Obviously winning the first game made the second game a lot easier," said Nakamura. He could have gotten under some pressure if Radjabov had played more precisely on move 22.

Teimour Radjabov FIDE Grand Prix Moscow 2019
Radjabov: "I think I wasn’t at my best today but it can happen. It’s rapid. At some point I just lost control." | Photo: Niki Riga/WorldChess.

Nakamura and Radjabov interviewed after their match. | Video: WorldChess.

In the next round Nakamura will meet the 23-year-old Russian grandmaster Daniil Dubov, who eliminated top seed Anish Giri. Nakamura said he was surprised about Giri feeling the underdog: "It puts you in a very bad mood for the rest of the match."

About being mistaken with his prediction that 80 percent of the matches would go to tiebreaks, Nakamura said: "I think it was just the matchups and who had black in the second game as to why there were so many decisive games, more than the format being brilliant. It was just the matchups, and so far it seems like it's good for chess, but it's very early."

Nakamura FIDE Grand Prix Moscow 2019
Nakamura said he is looking forward to his match with Dubov. | Photo: Niki Riga/WorldChess.

Wesley So knocked out Jan-Krzysztof Duda in an identical scenaro: a win with the white pieces followed by a draw.

Although he noted that both Nakamura and himself had come to Moscow with some useful rapid practice in Abidjan, in the first game So was either not fully sharp, or playing a bit too cautiously as he missed that a Bxh6 sacrifice was just winning. 

So Duda tiebreak FIDE Grand Prix Moscow 2019
So could have decided the first game much earlier. | Photo: WorldChess.

Duda came back into the game and was doing alright, until he suddenly blundered horribly (calling 35...Bxf2 "a tragical move" based on "an illusion").

Especially the second game was "nerve-wracking" according to So, who was probably lost at some point but managed to trick his opponent with 42...Nc1!, a move that's easy to miss. 

"Jan-Krzysztof is very young and he is improving very quickly; no doubt that he will be a top player very shortly," So said about Duda.

Duda and So interviewed after their match. | Video: WorldChess.

So now plays Alexander Grischuk, but he remarked that he didn't really care about his next opponent. "After my very embarrassing play in the first classical game I just wanna prove that I can play chess."

Wesley So autographs children FIDE Grand Prix Moscow 2019
Wesley So signing autographs after reaching round two. | 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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