Vachier-Lagrave Qualifies for Riga Grand Prix Semifinals In 12 Moves
Topalov and MVL after their ultra-short game. | Photo: WorldChess.

Vachier-Lagrave Qualifies for Riga Grand Prix Semifinals In 12 Moves

| 70 | Chess Event Coverage

After just 12 moves, Veselin Topalov threw in the towel and offered a draw today. With the draw, the Bulgarian GM ensured his elimination, and his opponent Maxime Vachier-Lagrave became the first to qualify for the semifinal of the FIDE Grand Prix in Riga.

"I don't see any risk for White; I just see fighting for a draw. I don't see how White can make a mistake," said Topalov after the game.

It was understandable: the position had become very symmetrical and White was going to get a knight to the d5-square. Giving up the fight this early meant that something had gone wrong in the opening for Topalov, and that something was 4.Ba4.

"I didn't really know it. I just don't follow all the new trends," said Vachier-Lagrave. 

"The element of surprise is always good," said MVL. He agreed that with his opponent that taking on e5 and playing c4 gave him "the ideal position in this situation."

There's extra good news for the Frenchman, who has now gained two bonus points in the overall GP standings for winning both rounds without needing a tiebreak.

There were draws in the other games, so we'll see three tiebreak matches tomorrow.

Jan-Krzysztof Duda admitted that he was "suffering" in his game with Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, after not remembering much from analysis he had done a long time ago. That was because the players ended up in the Fianchetto Gruenfeld from a Slav move-order.

Mamedyarov's swap on d5 and 13.Ra5 was interesting. Duda: "At first it looked harmless to me, but then I realized it was quite venomous."

The Polish GM was happy to see 23.Nc6, which allowed Black counterplay on the queenside.

Not much happened in the other two games. Yu Yangyi vs. Alexander Grischuk lasted 22 moves, and that was the longest of the two! Here Black equalized with the topical 7...b5 line in the Open Catalan, but not as easily as it looked.

Grischuk said it was "extremely difficult" to solve the many little problems and felt like the boxer Nikolai Valuev who played the main character in the movie Stonehead (Каменная башка, 2008) where he suffers from memory loss.

The game between Wesley So and Sergey Karjakin had a promising start as White chose the sharp 4.f3 line in the Nimzo-Indian. So said he had prepared an improvement over the recent game Mamedyarov-Karjakin from the Zagreb Grand Chess Tour, but as early as move four Karjakin deviated. 

As it went, So was out of book on move eight and quickly felt he was not better anymore. Karjakin didn't want to go too much into detail about the opening, suggesting he might play it again in tomorrow's tiebreak!

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 noon UTC. You can follow the games here as part of our live portal. The official site is here.

Watch FIDE World Chess Grand Prix Riga 2019. Round 2. Game 1 from FIDE_Chess on

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

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