MVL Levels Score In Riga Grand Prix Final; Tiebreaks Next
MVL beat Mamedyarov as White today to make up for yesterday's loss. | Photo: Niki Riga/World Chess.

MVL Levels Score In Riga Grand Prix Final; Tiebreaks Next

| 34 | Chess Event Coverage

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave won on demand vs. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov today. The FIDE Grand Prix in Riga, Latvia will be decided in a tiebreak on Wednesday.

"A must-win situation is never pleasant but I will just be ready to play for as long as it takes," Vachier-Lagrave said yesterday after his tough loss. As it turned out, the next day he didn't need to play that long to score a win himself and level the score.

MVL entered a Giuoco Pianissimo, which literally means "very quiet game." In hindsight, this worked out pretty well psychologically, he argued.

"I didn’t mind positions that looked slow at first sight," said MVL. “Shakh was maybe expecting something much more double-edged—I am only being hypothetical—but maybe he was not ready to play this kind of slow game."

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave Riga Grand Prix
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. | Photo: Niki Riga/World Chess.

Vachier-Lagrave said that in this game he wanted to play like Wesley So vs Ding Liren at the Tbilisi World Cup. He meant playing 14.a4 and 15.Bc4, which led to this position:

Position after 16.Nxc4.

"Of course it looks like nothing at first sight because the position is very symmetrical but this knight [on c4] stands excellent," he explained, adding that if Black wants to do the same with Nf6-d7-c5 he’ll run into d3-d4.

Mamedyarov: "After the opening I think I played the very bad move 16...Nd7. This looks not good. I just got a bad position after the opening.”

His opponent agreed that the knight move was a mistake: "It just allows me to play 17.d4," said MVL.

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov Riga Grand Prix
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov being interviewed after the game. | Photo: Niki Riga/World Chess.

Although the black queen had done an excellent job forcing the trade of dark-squared bishops and to some extent also the light-squared bishops, it was out of play later on.

"After 23.f3 I already felt kind of winning," said MVL, who was even more optimistic five moves later, where he thought: "I am a pawn up and it’s up to me not to screw it up."

Mamedyarov said he sees his opponent as the small favorite in tomorrow's tiebreak.

"Of course it’s not easy but it’s OK," said Mamedyarov. "Of course I want to win without tiebreak but he also played very good today. For me it’s OK, it’s not a catastrophe; everything is OK. Yesterday I won a good game, today he [did], and tomorrow we will play an interesting match; a rapid match, a blitz match maybe, it’s very interesting."

The post-game interview with Mamedyarov.

As commentator Evgeny Miroshnichenko pointed out, the players used a somewhat unorthodox way to reach the tiebreaks by exchanging wins.

Vachier-Lagrave commented: "I have had some experience in knockouts and at least in classical games it’s the first time that there is some exchange of blows like this in my games. Here, we might also be a bit tired because in both games one player played well and the other didn’t. I hope tomorrow we will be fresh and ready for some fight. Of course, the best games are the games where both players play well and give a great fight."

The 2019 FIDE Grand Prix series consists of four knockout tournaments, each with 16 players who play two classical games per round and, if needed, a tiebreak on the third day. Ian Nepomniachtchi won the first Grand Prix tournament in Moscow. The remaining two are 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 12 p.m. UTC (14:00 CEST, 8 a.m. EDT, 5 a.m. PDT). You can follow the games here as part of our live portal. The official site is here.

The official World Chess broadcast with GMs Evgeny Miroshnichenko and Arturs Neiksans.

Previous reports:

More from PeterDoggers
Nepomniachtchi Repeats Levitov Chess Week Victory

Nepomniachtchi Repeats Levitov Chess Week Victory

Nepomniachtchi, Svidler Lead As Levitov Chess Week Becomes Two-horse Race

Nepomniachtchi, Svidler Lead As Levitov Chess Week Becomes Two-horse Race