The Top Chess Players in the World
The Top Chess Players in the World

GM Daniil Dubov

Daniil Dubov
Full name
Daniil Dmitrievich Dubov
Apr 18, 1996 (age 27)‎
Place of birth
Moscow, Russia



Daniil Dubov is a Russian grandmaster and world-class player. He finished tied for first place in the 2015 Aeroflot Open and broke onto the international chess scene when he won third place at the 2016 World Blitz Championship.

Dubov was one of World Champion Magnus Carlsen's seconds for the 2018 World Championship match and the winner of the 2018 Abu Dhabi Masters tournament as well as the 2018 World Rapid Championship.


Dubov's style is universal like most modern super-grandmasters. According to his trainer, GM Sergey Shipov, his playstyle is closest to former world champion GM Tigran Petrosian (a.k.a. "Iron Tigran"). However, Dubov shows fantastic attacking abilities in his best games.

In the following game, Dubov chases his opponent's king from g8 all the way to a3 before delivering checkmate! After a normal and quiet Queen's Gambit Declined, Dubov shows his aggressive intentions by castling queenside on the eighth move.

On move 14, Dubov offers a piece sacrifice and opens the h-file. By move 22, Dubov sacrifices a full rook to tear apart the rest of Black's kingside, and the king hunt begins! On the 30th move, Black's king has already been chased to the b5-square, and checkmate is imminent—a wonderful attacking game from Dubov! 

Early Career 

Dubov began playing chess at a young age and had success almost immediately. He finished in third place in the U-10 division of the Russian Championship in 2006, and he earned the bronze medal in the U-10 division of the European Youth Championships in the same year. Dubov earned his FM title in 2008 and finished in second place in the U-12 section of the European Championship. 

Daniil Dubov
Dubov at the 2016 World Blitz/Rapid Championship. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

In 2009 Dubov finished in second place in the U-16 section of the Russian Championship. He also won the U-16 Russian Blitz and Rapid Championships in 2009 and earned his IM title in 2010. Dubov had a strong showing at the 2011 European Individual Championship, scoring 6/11 and earning his final grandmaster norm. He became a grandmaster shortly before his 15th birthday.

Young Grandmaster 

Dubov had a fantastic performance in the 2012 Russian Championship Higher League, sharing first place (second on tiebreaks) alongside GMs Dmitry Andreikin and Nikita Vitiugov with a 7.5/11 score. He finished ahead of a field of 46 Russian grandmasters, including Sanan Sjugirov, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Alexander Khalifman, Dmitry Jakovenko, and Vladislav Artemiev.

In the following game from this tournament, Dubov defeats GM Dmitry Frolyanov. After a relatively normal Sicilian Richter-Rauzer opening, the position is roughly balanced around move 17—Dubov has the bishop pair and a better pawn structure while White has the semi-open f-file and the d5-square:

Dubov sacrifices a pawn, and then a heavy-piece endgame is reached on move 24 where Black has the semi-open b- and c-files to use (a la Benko Gambit) and a weak e4-pawn as a target as compensation for the pawn. Dubov's 30... Rc3! is a great find, and White is already in trouble. White gives the pawn back a couple of moves later to try and release some pressure, but Dubov keeps pressing with his more active pieces—his technique is memorable. 

Dubov's results at the Russian Championship Higher League tournament qualified him for the 2012 Russian Championship Superfinal. He scored eight draws and one loss in this event, finishing a point behind the winners (GMs Andreikin, Sergey Karjakin, Peter Svidler, Jakovenko, Vladimir Potkin, Evgeny Alekseev) and a half a point behind GM Alexander Grischuk. After this event, the then 16-year-old Dubov's classical rating reached 2600+ for the first time.

Daniil Dubov Ian Nepomniachtchi
Dubov (right) talking with Nepomniachtchi at the 2017 European Team Championships. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

In 2013 Dubov finished in fifth place out of 14 grandmasters in the Tata Steel Group B tournament with a 7.5/13 score. He defeated the Dutch chess legend Jan Timman in this tournament. Dubov played in his first FIDE World Cup in 2013 as well, defeating GM Sergey Fedorchuk in round one. In the second round, he defeated former FIDE world champion GM Ruslan Ponomariov. He lost in the third round to GM Anton Korobov.

Dubov tied for first (alongside Nepomniachtchi, who won on tiebreaks) at the 2015 Aeroflot Open. He scored 7/9 ahead of a field of 72 grandmasters, including GMs Shakhriyar Memedyarov, Richard Rapport, Vladimir Fedoseev, Francisco Vallejo Pons, Korobov, Baskaran Adhiban, Jorden van Foreest and Sjugirov.

World-Class Player

The year 2016 was another strong one for Dubov, who scored 7.5/11 at the European Individual Championship and tied for sixth place alongside GMs Radoslaw Wojtaszek, Vitiugov, and more. Here is a game example from 2016 that sees Dubov conduct a brilliant attack! After a sharp opening, the kings end up on opposite sides of the board. Dubov sacrifices his queen on move 23 with the jaw-dropping (yet simple) 23. Ba6!

After accepting the queen sacrifice (declining it would have been a more dreadful option), Black is in a complete bind despite being up a queen! Another memorable attacking game from Dubov! 

He finished the year with his best blitz achievement so far in the 2016 World Blitz Championship. He finished in third place (on tiebreaks ahead of GMs Hikaru Nakamura and Grischuk) behind the winners, Karjakin and Carlsen.

This breakout performance in an insanely talented 108 field was the best of his career, as he finished ahead of GMs Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Leinier Dominguez Perez, Korobov, Vassily Ivanchuk, Viswanathan Anand, Peter Leko, Nepomniachtchi, Wei Yi, Baadur Jobava, Yu Yangyi, Bu Xiangzhi, Teimour Radjabov, Mamedyarov, Artemiev, Levon Aronian and many other world-class grandmasters.

Daniil Dubov
Dubov in 2017. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

In 2017 Dubov won the Russian Championship Higher League Tournament (beating Sjugirov on tiebreaks) with a score of 6.5/9. This qualified him for the 2017 Russian Championship Superfinal, where he finished in third place (tied with Fedoseev, whom he beat on tiebreaks) behind the winners, Svidler and Vitiugov. 

Dubov scored 7/10 at the 2018 Tradewise Gibraltar tournament, half a point behind the co-winners GMs Nakamura, Rapport, Vachier-Lagrave, Aronian, Vitiugov, Michael Adams, and Le Quang Liem. His rating broke the 2700 barrier for the first time in 2018. Here is a game from the 2018 Russian Championship Superfinal where Dubov sacrifices not one but two exchanges! After a Modern Benoni opening, Dubov creates a nice position against GM Ernesto Inarkiev and sacrifices the first exchange on move 23:

Dubov gave up the exchange for White's dark-squared bishop and starts attacking the dark squares a few moves later with 25... Qg5 with a crushing assault! The final position is beautiful with Black's pieces dominating the center and kingside.

He went on to win the 2018 Abu Dhabi Masters on tiebreaks (alongside GMs Korobov and Salem Saleh) ahead of a large field including GMs Rapport, Wang Hao, Fedoseev, Nodirbek Abdusattorov, Parham Maghsoodloo, Alireza Firouzja, and others. He reached a classical rating of 2709 after this tournament. Here is Dubov's victory against Firouzja from this tournament with fantastic annotations by IM Rakesh Kulkarni:

2018 World Rapid Champion

Dubov had a unique opportunity when he served as one of Carlsen's seconds for the 2018 World Championship match against GM Fabiano Caruana. One would expect that he gained a lot of great experience working closely with the world champion, and it showed immediately—Dubov won the 2018 World Rapid Championship ahead of the world's best players with an 11/15 score. He finished half a point ahead of Carlsen, Mamedyarov, Nakamura, Artemiev and the rest of the 204-player field that also included GMs Firouzja, Anish Giri, Karjakin, Korobov, Jan-Krzysztof Duda, Grischuk, Jakovenko, Andreikin, Wang, Gata Kamsky, Anand and Nepomniachtchi.

Daniil Dubov
Dubov at the 2018 Gibraltar Tournament. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Dubov participated in the 2019 FIDE Grand Prix Moscow tournament, which had a 16-player knockout format. In the first round, he defeated Giri but lost to Nakamura in the second round. Here is Dubov's victory against Giri from this tournament. After a sharp Queen's Gambit, Giri tries a novelty on move 11. The game turns extremely tactical and messy, and it becomes even sharper after Dubov castles queenside on move 19 with no queenside pawns left!

The game next becomes a mutual king hunt, and each side is trying to prove that the other's king is more exposed. By move 26, Dubov's king has become relatively safe, while Giri's is still in trouble. Dubov's piece coordination is impressive, and the final blow with 36. Ne7+ forces checkmate. An outstanding slugfest of a game!

He tied for third (alongside GM Pavel Eljanov) in the 2019 Netanya Masters tournament, half a point behind the winners, GMs Boris Gelfand and Dominguez, but ahead of six strong grandmasters. He defeated GM Emilio Cordova in the first round of the 2019 World Cup but lost to the young phenom Firouzja in the second round. Dubov made it to the semifinals at the 2019 FIDE Grand Prix Hamburg knockout tournament. He defeated Radjabov in round one and then defeated Svidler in the quarterfinals. In the semis, Dubov lost to Duda in the second section of rapid games.

Daniil Dubov and Anish Giri
Dubov playing at the 2018 World Cup with Giri observing. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Dubov was unable to repeat as world rapid champion but finished in eighth place on tiebreaks behind Carlsen, Firouzja, Nakamura, and Artemiev and tied with Aronian, Dominguez, Duda, Korobov, and others. He finished ahead of Mamedyarov, Liem, Vachier-Lagrave, Giri, Svidler, Grischuk, Fedoseev, Andreikin, Gelfand, Nepomniachtchi and many other strong grandmasters.

In 2020 Dubov finished tied for fourth place (alongside van Foreest) at the Tata Steel Masters tournament behind GMs Caruana, Carlsen, and Wesley So. He finished ahead of the strong field of participants: GMs Giri, Anand, Duda, Firouzja, Jeffery Xiong, Artemiev, Vitiugov, Yu, and Vladislav Kovalev. Here is Dubov's victory over Yu from this tournament: a positional masterpiece. After a quiet Slav opening, Dubov outmaneuvers Yu and has a noticeable advantage by move 19:

After the queens are exchanged, Black's problems are still evident—an undeveloped bishop on c8 and an odd-looking knight on b7. By move 29, Dubov's pieces dominate Black's pieces, and the game is over two moves later. A brilliant display of technique when an opponent is in a positional bind.

In June 2020 Dubov won the Lindores Abbey Rapid Championship, the first event of the Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour. He bested Karjakin and GM Ding Liren to reach the final, where he defeated Nakamura in an armageddon game to take first place. He finished ahead of the star-studded field that also included GMs Carlsen, Aronian, So, and Yu.

The chess world looks forward to the future accomplishments of this talented super-grandmaster, who has shown strength in all of the competitive time controls and is on the rise.

Daniil Dubov
Dubov at the 2019 World Cup. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Best Game

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