Nakamura Knocked Out in Hamburg

The 2019 FIDE Grand Prix continues this week with a stop in Hamburg, Germany. From November 5th through 17th, 16 of the world’s elite will compete in knockout play, with the winner taking home €24,000 and a total prize fund of €130,000.

Players are also competing for Grand Prix points, with an additional €280,000 distributed on the basis of overall standings. The top two Grand Prix finishers are seeded into the 2020 Candidates Tournament, which will determine the challenger to Magnus Carlsen in a match to be played later in 2020. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Alexander Grischuk are at the head of the table heading into Hamburg.

Each knockout round is contested over three days. The competitors play two classical time control games (40/90, G/30, with a 30 second increment from move one), and if no winner is determined, they move to a tiebreak round on day three. Two G/25+10 games are followed by two G/10+10 and two G/5+3 games, and if the players are still tied after those six games, an armageddon blitz game is played.

Round 1.1 Results:

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave – Wei Yi: 1-0
Hikaru Nakamura – Veselin Topalov: 0-1
David Navara – Nikita Vitiugov: 1/2-1/2
Radoslaw Wojtaszek – Alexander Grischuk: 1/2-1/2
Teimour Radjabov – Daniil Dubov: 1/2-1/2
Peter Svidler – Pentala Harikrishna: 1-0
Dmitry Jakovenko – Yu Yangyi: 1/2-1/2
Jan-Krzysztof Duda – Ian Nepomniachtchi: 1-0

Veselin Topalov continues to be a difficult opponent for Hikaru Nakamura in Grand Prix events. Topalov knocked Nakamura out of the Riga Grand Prix earlier this year, and with his Round 1.1 win in Hamburg, Nakamura must win on demand in Round 1.2 to survive to the tiebreak round.

photo Valeria Gordienko

Maxime-Vachier Lagrave is in fourth place in the Grand Prix Standings as Hamburg begins, and he got off to a great start with this precise win over Wei Yi.

photo Valeria Gordienko

Things did not go as well for the player currently in third place. Ian Nepomniachtchi lost to Jan-Kryzsztof Duda in 44 moves.

The fourth decisive result of the day belonged to Peter Svidler, who defeated Pentala Harikrishna in an interesting Italian Game.

The remaining games were drawn, including a complex theoretical battle in the Catalan between Wojtaszek and Grischuk, and a toothless 12 move draw between Radjabov and Dubov.

Round 1.2 Results:

Wei Yi – Maxime Vachier-Lagrave: 1/2-1/2
Veselin Topalov – Hikaru Nakamura: 1/2-1/2
Nikita Vitiugov – David Navara: 1/2-1/2
Alexander Grischuk – Radoslaw Wojtaszek: 1/2-1/2
Daniil Dubov – Teimour Radjabov: 1/2-1/2
Pentala Harikrishna – Peter Svidler: 1/2-1/2
Yu Yangyi – Dmitry Jakovenko: 1/2-1/2
Ian Nepomniachtchi – Jan-Krzysztof Duda: 1/2-1/2

All eight games were drawn in Round 1.2. Dubov made Radjabov wait six more moves, 18 in all, before their game was drawn. Grischuk and Wojtaszek shared their point after just 15 moves. Grischuk explained his draw offer to his opponent, well known for his opening preparation, by saying that he “didn’t want to continue playing against a computer.”

Hikaru Nakamura drew against Veselin Topalov in 27 moves, eliminating Nakamura from the tournament. Nakamura tried to create some complexity, but the final position favors White and so the draw was agreed.

photo Valeria Gordienko

Perhaps the most interesting game of the round was the battle between Yu Yangyi and Dmitry Jakovenko. The game did not look that exciting from the start, but after Yu won a pawn in the late middlegame, a sharp ending transpired that Jakovenko was lucky to save.

Round 1.3 Results:

Nikita Vitiugov – David Navara: 0-2
Alexander Grischuk – Radoslaw Wojtaszek: 1.5-0.5
Daniil Dubov – Teimour Radjabov: 3.5-2.5
Yu Yangyi – Dmitry Jakovenko: 1.5-0.5

Only one match went beyond the first tiebreak round, and surprisingly, it was the match between Dubov and Radjabov. After two insipid draws in the classical games, the two Russian players had to go all the way to the final set of blitz games before Dubov advanced. The players drew the first four games, three of them fighting, before Dubov won the first G/5+5 matchup.

Radjabov nearly won the return game, which would have forced the match to the Armageddon round, but he stumbled right at the finish line.

David Navara advanced by defeating World Cup hero Nikita Vitiugov 2-0 (3-1 overall), while both Alexander Grischuk and Yu Yangyi moved on to the second round by scores of 1.5-0.5 (2.5-1.5 overall). Yu’s win over Jakovenko came when he cashed in his attacking position for a winning endgame.

photo Valeria Gordienko

photo Valeria Gordienko

Grischuk bamboozled Wojtaszek in a scrappy, messy game. Wojtaszek’s decision to trade queens may have been the key error.

Pairings for Round 2

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave – Veselin Topalov
David Navara – Alexander Grischuk
Daniil Dubov – Peter Svidler
Yu Yangyi – Jan-Krzysztof Duda


Hamburg quick links:

World Chess main page

Hamburg Event Page

World Chess YouTube Channel (live coverage daily at 9am EST)

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