Tournament report

Vachier-Lagrave Winner of the Day

Hamburg is known as a hub of chess activity. The city in northern Germany hosts one of the largest clubs in Europe that has its clubhouse and a long tradition dating back to 1830. Additionally, the Chess in Schools project has been successfully supported by the local associations and authorities for decades. One result of these steady efforts is the annual “Alsterufer” match with more than 100 schools and nearly 4000 kids participating.

One of the winning teams of this annual match, consisting of eight children, was invited onto the stage to open the first game of the second round of the FIDE Grand Prix.

Vachier-Lagrave does it again

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave is the only winner of the day. The French grandmaster chose his beloved Grünfeld Defence with Black against Veselin Topalov who opted for a sideline which transposes the position into a Benoni-like-structure. In a highly complex middlegame, the Bulgarian grandmaster used one of his trademark exchange sacrifices to complicate matters even more.

In time trouble, both players attacked the enemy king and risked everything. Topalov committed the final mistake in move 36. He could have sacrificed a piece and hide his king in the corner, but this was extremely difficult to spot. Instead, he allowed his opponent to win the crucial b-pawn. In the end, Vachier-Lagrave found a lovely combination to force a queen exchange and to promote his passed pawn.

Yu Yangyi misses possible win

Yu Yangyi showed once more a fantastic preparation. In a main line of the Petrov’s Defence, which the Chinese grandmaster often uses himself, he presented an interesting novelty in move twelve, which immediately put pressure on his opponent. Duda thought about one hour for the following six moves but landed in an inferior position. Yu Yangyi played a perfect game until move 27. In a heavy piece endgame, he had a strong passed pawn on e6 and could dominate the situation with a quiet queen move. Instead, he lost two tempi with unnecessary rook moves. Duda was able to activate his queen and force the draw with a perpetual. “When I played my rook to e5 I completely missed that he can activate his queen”, Yu Yangyi mentioned after the game.

Alexander Grischuk and David Navara followed a main line in the Catalan Opening that the Russian grandmaster used to beat Leinier Dominguez Perez in the third round of the Worldcup in Khanty Mansiysk. After exchanging three minor pieces, Grischuk relied on his slight space advantage and better minor piece. However, Navara’s position remained solid. Grischuk spent a lot of time, but he couldn´t find a way to put Black under serious pressure. Navara countered with a well-timed centre push, and the position soon petered out into an equal queen endgame.

In a battle of generations, the Russians Daniil Dubov and Peter Svidler discussed an important theoretical line of the Grünfeld Defence. White started to build up a strong centre, and Svidler hurried to attack it with typical counters. However, he had to sacrifice a pawn. Afterwards, both players agreed that objectively White should hold an advantage. Over the board, Dubov wasn´t able to demonstrate this statement to be the case. With his time running down, Dubov decided to avoid unnecessary risks and offered a draw on move 23.

Round 2, game 1 results:

Veselin Topalov – Maxime Vachier-Lagrave 0-1
Alexander Grischuk – David Navara 1/2-1/2
Daniil Dubov – Peter Svidler 1/2-1/2
Yu Yangyi – Jan-Krzysztof Duda 1/2-1/2