Nakamura and So Through to Round Two in Moscow

It required a trip to the tie-break round, but both Hikaru Nakamura and Wesley So are through to the second round of the 2019 Moscow Grand Prix. Both Nakamura and So drew their first games in the second round as this report was heading to press.

The Moscow Grand Prix is organized as a series of two-game knockout matches, followed by rapid tie-break games if needed. Six of the eight first-round mini-matches were decided in regulation, and while both Americans had to rely on the tiebreaks to advance, they did it in very different ways.

Hikaru Nakamura (photo World Chess)

Hikaru Nakamura played two quick, toothless draws – 12 moves in the first game, and 14 in the second – against Teimour Radjabov in the classical portion of their matchup. He then took the rapid tie-break 1.5-0.5, winning with White (as seen below) and then drawing with Black to move to the second round.

Wesley So (photo World Chess)

Wesley So’s path to Round Two was more combative. He lost to Jan-Krzysztof Duda with Black in the first classical game, forcing him to ‘win-on-demand.’ Duda bravely (or unwisely?) chose the Sicilian Dragon in a game where a draw would have sufficed, but So navigated the chaos better and won to force the match to tie-breaks.

Like Nakamura, So won with White and drew with Black in the rapids, advancing with a 1.5-0.5 tie-break win.

Anish Giri and Daniil Dubov (photo World Chess)

One of the ideas behind the knock-out format is that, in principle, it forces competitors to play fighting chess. This was certainly true in round one, with Daniil Dubov’s mind-boggling win over Anish Giri being emblematic of this attitude. No less than Magnus Carlsen expressed his admiration for the current World Rapid Champion’s enterprising play.

The notes to the Dubov-Giri game are based on Dubov’s comments in the post-game interview. You can watch them in the embedded video by going to the 4:11 mark.

Nakamura and So both drew their Monday second round games against Dubov and Grischuk, respectively.

Both players will certainly be hoping to win tomorrow and earn a rest day by avoiding tiebreaks.

Live coverage of the Moscow Grand Prix is available at the official WorldChess site, or direct via their YouTube channel. Play starts at 3pm Moscow time, or 8 am Eastern.

Leave a Comment

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Announcements

  • US Chess Press