Having concluded the classical leg of their semi-final match at the Hamburg FIDE Grand Prix with two draws, Jan-Krzysztof Duda and Daniil Dubov had to fight it out once again on Wednesday to determine a winner who will meet Alexander Grischuk in the final.
The modus of the tiebreak at the FIDE Grand Prix demands in the first step two rapid games with the time control of 25 minutes + 10 seconds increment.
Game 1 saw Duda playing the white pieces. His 1.e4 was answered with the Kalashnikov variation of the Sicilian Defence. Dubov chose a sideline and played much faster than his opponent. Before move 20, the players had exchanged queens and several minor pieces to reach an equal endgame with a rook and a light-squared bishop respectively.
But while the position looked stable, Dubov stirred things up by offering a pawn on his twenty-fourth move. Perhaps, it was best for Duda to avoid taking the pawn, but he decided to take the risk. In turn, the black forces immediately sprang into action. A passed pawn soon appeared on the ‘e’ file, and the active black pieces fully backed up its advance. Duda struggled to keep this pawn under control and ended up resigning on the 54th move.
Svidler controlled the course of the game. He exchanged a piece and even threatened mate in one with his queen. Dubov blocked the mate and Svidler could have gone for a second pawn. Instead, he preferred to continue the attack, but Dubov found a tactical way to complicate matters. The players reached a queen and rook endgame with White being a pawn up. Svidler had a weak king and Dubov created enough counterplay to hold the balance. In the end, it was a question of nerves. The game turned in favour of Svidler, but in severe time trouble, he allowed a perpetual after having a winning position for several moves.
Duda needed a win in the second game to level the score. With the black pieces, he opted for the Modern Defence and reached an unbalanced position. In contrast to the first game, the players reached a closed position in the middlegame which gave Duda chances to fight for the win.
Dubov used his space advantage to start a kingside attack, whereas Duda had a long-lasting edge on the other side of the board. The position soon became very complex, and with time running down both grandmasters failed to find the best continuations.
After a bit more than 40 moves, time-trouble was making an even bigger impact on the evaluation of the position. First, Duda reached a winning position, but an oversight on his part allowed an equal rook endgame. Then, it was Dubov’s turn to blunder. He permitted the black king to penetrate into his camp and to collect several pawns decisively.
Dubov’s loss meant that the tiebreak was to continue. Another mini-match of two further rapid games with an even faster time control of 10 minutes + 10 seconds soon began.
The first game was a short and painless affair. Dubov offered a draw after only twelve moves, and Duda accepted it.
The second game, however, was a completely different story. Duda chose the Torre Attack and went out for the K.O. For the most part, the Polish grandmaster had the upper hand but Dubov, again, was playing faster. With only two minutes on the clock, Duda managed to force a better rook endgame and finally overcame the resistance of his opponent.
Semi-final, tiebreak results:
Jan-Krzysztof Duda – Daniil Dubov 2,5-1,5
The pairings for the final– Game 1:
Alexander Grischuk – Jan-Krzysztof Duda
Modus for the tiebreak:
Two 25+10 rapid games are played. If still tied, there are two 10+10 games, then two 5+3. Finally, a single Armageddon game is played, where White has 5 minutes to Black’s 4 (with a 2-second increment from move 61), but Black wins the match with a draw.