Tournament report

Rapid and Blitz Drama on Day 3

She is 21 years old, lives in Hamburg and aspires to take part in the next Summer Olympiad 2020 in Tokio. We are talking about Yusra Mardini, a professional swimmer whose personal story has inspired the world. In 2015 she fled from war in Syria to find new shelter in Europe. Germany is her new home, and today she opened the tiebreak of the first round at the FIDE Grand Prix in Hamburg.

Yusra Mardini, a professional swimmer and media darling in Germany, is making the first move in Hamburg

If classical chess sometimes doesn’t provide enough drama rapid and blitz chess does. Today the players had much less time to think and this lead to mistakes, turnarounds and finally to the answer who will qualify for the next round.


No luck for Vitiugov


At the board of Nikita Vitiugov and David Navara, Yusra Mardini moved the white Knight to f3, but this brought no luck for the Russian grandmaster. After the opening, he won a pawn at the queenside, but then greed pushed him to try his luck grabbing another pawn at the other side of the board. Navara used the open h-file to start a dangerous counterattack and with time running down, Vitiugov lost control of the action and went down in flames.

In this must-win-situation, Vitiugov chose the Dutch Opening for the second game, but he never came close to level the score. Navara broke through in the centre and repelled any attacking attempts by the Black player. After some tactical blows, the Czech won material and Vitiugov threw in the towel. As usual, Navara showed a lot of respect for his opponent: “Nikita played many other tournaments this year with very good results, and I considered him the favourite in the classical games. In rapid of course, everything can happen.”

Yu Yangyi made up for the missing win from the previous day against Dmitry Jakovenko. The first game of the tiebreak saw an exciting tactical fight which ended with a clear advantage for White due to his active heavy pieces. The Chinese grandmaster won material and transformed into an easily winning rook endgame with connected passed pawns at the queenside.

In the second game, Dmitry Jakovenko was close to equalizing the score. In a position, with opposite-coloured bishops, he was the one attacking, and chess experts know that this is the crucial factor. Jakovenko had a decisive advantage around move 50, but in rapid chess, everything can change in a blink of an eye. Yu Yangyi managed to exchange the queens and hold with ease the resulting endgame.


Grischuk wins


The first game between Radoslaw Wojtaszek and Alexander Grischuk was an unclear case from start to the end. Grischuk opted with Black for a dutch-like setup, but White chose to castle queenside. With no time on the clock, the Russian grandmaster decided to repeat moves, despite having the slightly more active pieces.

In the second game, the Russian grandmaster selected a Kings-Indian-like setup with White to confuse his adversary. In a position, with opposite-castled kings, both sides had their chances, but Grischuk prevailed after Wojtaszek went for a queen exchange in an unclear situation. The favourite won a pawn and converted his advantage safely, even being as usual short of time. “After my opponent completely out prepared me in the classical games I decided to play some… shit”, stated Grischuk afterwards.


Dubov faster and luckier


After finishing the two classical games fast and leaving the stage early in the first two days of the FIDE Grand Prix Daniil Dubov and Teimour Radjabov spoiled the spectators with a long fight which lasted 4,5 hours, much longer than the rest of the tiebreak matches.

First, they continued their non-aggression pact with a quick draw, but the second game nearly brought a decision. After blundering a pawn, Dubov stood on the edge of a precipice. But the young Russian grandmaster showed all his resilience. Apart from playing much faster, he created constant confusion which saved him half the point.

As the two rapid games with the time control of 10 minutes + 10 seconds increment also ended in a draw, the spectators could enjoy the two grandmasters blitzing out the qualification for the next round. It was a question of nerves. The first game with the time control of 5 minutes + 5 seconds was a clear-cut win for Dubov. In the second game, Radjabov was dominating until he blundered one move before the end of the game.

Round 1, tiebreak 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