Game 1 of the final of the Moscow Grand Prix ended in a draw after 38 moves as neither Alexander Grischuk nor Ian Nepomniachtchi, who are both Russian, could make any appreciable headway against the other.
By Dylan Loeb McClain
Despite playing White, Grischuk found himself under pressure almost from the beginning as he was surprised by the preparation of Nepomniachtchi. While Grischuk took large amounts of time to find the best moves, Nepomniachtchi blitzed through the opening. After 19 moves, Nepomniachtchi had used barely any time on his clock while Grischuk had used more than an hour.
Fortunately for Grischuk, he is used to playing under time pressure. He continued to find good moves and Nepomniachtchi could make no progress. Though Grischuk only had about eight minutes, plus 30 seconds after each move, to make 17 moves, he was never in any real danger and Nepomniachtchi finally offered a draw.
Afterward, in an interview, Grischuk, who is known for his humorous and self-deprecating comments, said he was looking forward to Game 2, in which he will have Black. “At least the starting position of tomorrow’s game is definitely better than what I had today. At least there are some counter chances,” he said.
For his part, Nepomniachtchi, referring to Grischuk by his nickname in English, said, “Sasha defended very well.”
The Moscow Grand Prix, which is being held at the Central Chess Players’ House, is the first in a series of four tournaments to select two players for next year’s Candidates tournament. The winner of that tournament will become the challenger for the 2020 World Championship match to be held in November.
There are 21 players in the Grand Prix, with each playing three of the four tournaments.
The prize fund for each competition is 130,000 euros with an additional 280,000 euros allocated among the top 10 finishers in the series, for a total of 800,000 euros.
The principal sponsors of the series are PhosAgro, a giant Russian fertilizer company, and Kaspersky Lab, a worldwide leader in data security. The series is being organized and broadcast by Worldchess on its Web site under the auspices of the World Chess Federation, which is better known as FIDE, the game’s governing body.
The matches resume Friday at 3 PM local time. The broadcast can be viewed free and live at worldchess.com.