Vachier-Lagrave Wins In 19 Moves In Riga Grand Prix
The tension will remain tomorrow as the players enter round two. | Photo: World Chess.com.

Vachier-Lagrave Wins In 19 Moves In Riga Grand Prix

SamCopeland
NM SamCopeland
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33 | Chess Event Coverage

The FIDE Grand Prix cycle resumed today in Riga, Latvia. This is the second Grand Prix tournament, following the Moscow Grand Prix won by Ian Nepomniachtchi. Each Grand Prix is a 16-player knockout event in which the players play two classical games before advancing to tiebreaks.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave hadn't won a classical game in 21 games, but today the relevant number wasn't 21—it was 19. He needed just 19 moves to break his unfortunate streak.

Against David Navara's Caro-Kann Defense, he deployed Fischer's Two Knights' variation and achieved the unmitigated success that Bobby never did. Navara reacted poorly to the move 9.Qf4!?, and after only 10 more strong moves, he succumbed as his bishop was trapped on d4. Vachier-Lagrave analyzed the game afterward with the Grand Prix commentators.

Bobby Fischer's attempts to play the Two Knight's variations led to this famous incident against Mikhail Tal where Tal teased Fischer with the prospect of entering the Caro-Kann before playing his usual Sicilian Defense.

Although all the remaining games were drawn, there were some incredible fights. The duel between Peter Svidler and Jan-Krzysztof Duda was head-spinning. On move 13, Duda sacrificed his rook on h8 and stranded his king in the center, ultimately he was the one who pressed.

Wesley So should have won his game against Pentala Harikrishna after he neutralized the latter's sacrificial play by sacrificing his queen and gaining a rook and two knights. It's always difficult to contain the unopposed queen, though, and eventually Harikrishna found his way to sufficient counterplay.

Alexander Grischuk came close to putting away Nikita Vitiugov with a free and joyous style of play as Black. Admitted that his play was buoyed by the recent news about GM Igors Rausis, Grischuk stated, "I have a good excuse because I was in a good mood before the game because Rausis finally got caught cheating... but it's dangerous to be in a good mood when playing chess!"

Nikita Vitiugov, Alexander Grischuk, FIDE Grand Prix
Vitiugov and Grischuk demonstrate the famous Russian smile. | Photo: World Chess.

Finally, mention should be made of the battle between Shakhriyar Mamedayov and Daniil Dubov. Neither player achieved a significant advantage during the game, but the mutual precipice they walked was exhilarating. The move 27.Bf3! was enjoyable.

The remaining games were comfortable draws, a significant result for the players with the black pieces because they now have the chance to attempt a knockout with the white pieces on day two.

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 1. Game 1 from FIDE_Chess on www.twitch.tv

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

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