Riga Grand Prix: Mamedyarov, Vachier-Lagrave To Play In Final
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave is looking forward to playing in his first Candidates. | Photo: Niki Riga/World Chess

Riga Grand Prix: Mamedyarov, Vachier-Lagrave To Play In Final

| 20 | Chess Event Coverage

Day eight of the FIDE Grand Prix in Riga, Latvia was an exciting affair that gave us two finalists without needing any tiebreaks. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov kept his cool and defended calmly to draw and oust Wesley So while Maxime Vachier-Lagrave punished Alexander Grischuk's over-ambitious play and won a fine game with the black pieces.

For the first time in this Grand Prix, we won't be needing a tiebreak to determine who goes through. This means that both the finalists will enjoy an additional and much needed rest day after eight consecutive days of games.

FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich opens the second classical game of this semifinal match. | Photo: Niki Riga/World Chess
Grischuk started the game with the queen's pawn and had pretty much expected Vachier-Lagrave to reply with his pet Gruenfeld. The Russian had come prepared with some interesting yet ambitious idea with 3.h4 which he played after only eight seconds of thought. Vachier-Lagrave sunk into a long thought before he chose his reply.
The players are in action after the interesting 3.h4!? | Photo: Niki Riga/World Chess
The game then drifted into a Benko resembling structure with White having the additional h4. In the middlegame, Black grabbed the initiative and maneuvered his pieces beautifully. Grischuk's 10.Ra3 was a nice move but sadly the rook got stuck later on and didn't move thereafter in the entire game! Active pieces and threats against the weakened white king helped Vachier-Lagrave to win this game and to enter the final.
Grischuk tried but goes down fighting. | Photo: Niki Riga/World Chess
Vachier-Lagrave was focused and won a great game. | Photo: Niki Riga/World Chess

Grischuk later said at the press conference: "It [3.h4] was an interesting line for white and it was a fantastic game by Maxime. I think Re1 was quite a stupid move by me and the reason for it was an oversight. [In the end] he played extremely precisely. I mean I just need one move and I will be totally fine but I never got the time to make that one move. I was always one tempi short and yeah, just a great game."

Vachier-Lagrave was kind enough to visit the studio and give detailed insights to the game and share his thoughts on qualifying to the final of this FIDE Grand Prix.

Norwegian grandmaster Jonathan Tisdall expressed: "I must confess I am pleased that the guys with the classical wins are in the FIDE Grand Prix final."

Earlier in the day, the other semifinal was kicked off by the famous Latvian artist and songwriter Markus Riva. A funny incident occurred when Riva asked So which move to make and So replied with whatever he wants. Mamedyarov sprung to the conversation and pointed to the 'a' pawn and suggested 1.a4 which prompted smiles all around.

So then advised Riva to play 1.Nf3 and the second semifinal resumed.

So tried but couldn't breach Mamedyarov's defence. | Photo: Niki Riga/World Chess
Mamedyarov chose a solid line and never in any real trouble. | Photo: Niki Riga/World Chess

Mamedyarov explained his opening choice saying; "I remembered this game Ding Liren vs Nakamura just played in Zagreb [at the Croatia Grand Chess Tour] and okay I was very happy with position after the opening. I didn't play very well in the queen endgame. Mamedyarov felt that his king march wasn't the best choice and it is important to play accurate moves in the endgame and not just actively.

So admitted: "It's hard to come back after losing the first game and Shakh played very well and completely deserved to win the match and all the best [to him] in the finals.

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.

Watch live video from FIDE_Chess on

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

Previous reports:

IM Rakesh Kulkarni

Rakesh Kulkarni is the Director of Indian Social Media for and a correspondent on chess in India.

Rakesh has earned the International Master title and is a former Commonwealth Blitz Champion and a Commonwealth Bronze medallist in the junior category. Rakesh has a Masters of Commerce degree in Management & Business administration. He now is a professional chess player and trains young talents across the globe on

Company Contact and News Accreditation:
• Email:
• Phone: 1 (800) 318-2827
• Twitter: itherocky
• Address: PO Box 60400 Palo Alto, CA 94306

More from IM Rakesh
Chess Super League Playoffs: Kingslayers, Pivotal Pawns To Clash In Sunday's Final

Chess Super League Playoffs: Kingslayers, Pivotal Pawns To Clash In Sunday's Final

Comedians On Board, Part 2

Comedians On Board, Part 2