Chess Piece

The FIDE Hamburg Grand Prix took place in the Kehrwieder Theater in Hamburg, Germany from Nov. 5–17 this year. The 16-player knockout is the third of four legs of the 22-player Grand Prix series that will determine two places in the 2020 Candidates Tournament.

Players compete in three of the four tournaments, which each have a €130,000 (about P7.3 million) prize fund, with €24,000 (about P1.3 million) for first place. There are grand prix points awarded to the players depending on how they finish in the tournament. Winner gets eight GP points all the way down one for the Quarterfinal loser. There is also one additional GP point for each match win without tie-breaks. Here in Hamburg, for example, the tournament winner Grischuk got eight points plus an additional two for defeating David Navara (1.5-0.5) and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (1.5-0.5) in the regulation two-game match, without need of tie-breaks.

Each round consists of two games of classical chess, with a time control of 90 minutes/40 moves + 30 minutes to the end of the game, with a 30-second increment from first move. If the match is tied two 25+10 (25 minutes play-to-finish with 10 second increment) rapid games are played. If still tied, there are two 10+10 games, then two 5+3. Finally, if after all of that they are still tied, then a single Armageddon game is played, where White has 5 minutes to Black’s 4 (with a two-second increment from move 61) but Black wins the match with a draw.

Hamburg FIDE Grand Prix
Hamburg, Germany
Nov. 4–18, 2019

Round 1

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave FRA 2774 vs. Wei Yi CHN 2736, 1.5-0.5

Veselin Topalov BUL 2736 vs. Hikaru Nakamura USA 2745, 1.5-0.5

David Navara DZE 2724 vs. Nikita Vitiugov RUS 2732, 3.0-1.0

Alexander Grischuk RUS 2759 vs. Radoslaw Wojtaszek POL 2739, 2.5-1.5

Daniil Dubov RUS 2699 vs. Teimour Radjabov AZE 2758, 4.5-3.5

Peter Svidler RUS 2729 vs. Pentala Harikrishna IND 2746, 1.5-0.5

Yu Yangyi CHN 2763 vs. Dmitry Jakovenko RUS 2681, 2.5-1.5

Jan-Krzysztof Duda POL 2730 vs. Ian Nepomniachtchi RUS 2776, 1.5-0.5

Round 2 (Quarterfinals)

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave FRA 2774 vs. Veselin Topalov BUL 2736, 1.5-0.5

Alexander Grischuk RUS 2759 vs. David Navara CZE 2724, 1.5-0.5

Daniil Dubov RUS 2699 vs. Peter Svidler RUS 2729, 3.5-2.5

Jan-Krzysztof Duda POL 2730 vs. Yu Yangyi CHN 2763, 1.5-0.5

Round 3 (Semifinals)

Alexander Grischuk RUS 2759 vs. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave FRA 2774, 1.5-0.5

Jan-Krzysztof Duda POL 2730 vs. Daniil Dubov RUS 2699, 3.5-2.5

Round 4 (Final)

Alexander Grischuk RUS 2759 versus Jan-Krzysztof Duda POL 2748, 3.5-2.5

There were some instances in Hamburg where the players went for quick draws in the classical games and headed straight for the faster time controls of the tie-breaks. The Finals match between Grischuk and Duda though was very hard-fought all throughout.

Grischuk was pressing in both games. In the first he had a chance for a big advantage but, with the clock seconds ticking away, let it slip.

Grischuk, Alexander (2764) — Duda, Jan-Krzysztof (2748) [E15]
Hamburg FIDE Grand Prix Hamburg GER (4.1), 17.11.2019

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.g3 Ba6 5.b3 Bb4+ 6.Bd2 Be7 7.Bg2 d5 8.cxd5 exd5 9.0–0 0–0 10.Nc3 Re8 11.Ne5 Bb7 12.Rc1 Nbd7 13.Rc2 Bf8 14.Bf4 c5 15.Nxd7 Qxd7 16.dxc5 bxc5 17.Bg5 d4 18.Bxb7 Qxb7 19.Bxf6 gxf6 20.Na4 Re5 21.Nb2 Rae8 22.Nc4 Re4 23.e3 f5 24.Qh5 Qd7 25.Rd2 Bg7 26.Rd3 Qe6 27.exd4 cxd4 28.Rf3 Re2 29.Rxf5 Rxa2 30.Rd5 Qg6 31.Qf3 Ra6 32.Rd7 h5 33.h4 Rf6 34.Qd5 Re2 <D>



A pity. With 44 seconds left on his clock Grischuk did not have time to find 35.Ne5! Qe4 (35…Qf5? 36.Rd8+! Kh7 37.Nd7! Qxd5 38.Nxf6+ Bxf6 39.Rxd5 Rb2 40.Ra1 White is just winning) 36.Qxe4 Rxe4 37.Nd3 Re2 38.Rd1 Ra2 White is clearly better as his pieces as Black’s pawns are too scattered.

35…Qxg5 36.hxg5 Rf5 37.f4 Rb5 38.Rf3 a5 39.Ra7 Rc2 40.Rxa5 Rb8 41.Kf1 Rc3 42.Rxc3 dxc3 43.Ne3 Rxb3 44.Ke2 Bd4 45.Ra8+ Kh7 46.Rc8 Bxe3 ½–½

Duda, Jan-Krzysztof (2748) — Grischuk, Alexander (2764) [D37]
Hamburg FIDE Grand Prix Hamburg GER (4.2), 17.11.2019

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 Be7 5.Bf4 0–0 6.e3 Nbd7 7.Rc1 c5 8.dxc5 Nxc5 9.cxd5 Nxd5 10.Nxd5 exd5 11.a3 Bd7

Something went wrong with White’s opening, for Black is already threatening …Ba4, …Nb3 (that is why some people were saying that putting white’s rook on c1 was wrong) and …Qa5+ and White would not be able to castle.

12.Qxd5 Rc8

With the idea of …Nd3+, winning the Rc1.

13.e4! Qb6 14.b4 Rfd8 15.bxc5 Bxc5 16.Be2 Bb5 17.Rxc5!

Only move

17…Rxc5 18.Qb3!

Another only move


With the idea of …Bxe2+ followed by …Qxe4

19.Be3! Bxe2 20.Bxc5 Bxf3 21.Qxf3 Qxc5 22.0–0

Now White is safe.

22…b5 23.h4 h6 24.Rb1 a6 25.Rb3 Qe5 26.g3 Rd4 27.Re3 a5 28.Qg4 b4 29.axb4 axb4 30.Qc8+ Kh7 31.Qb7 f6 32.Kg2 Rc4 33.Qd5 Qxd5 34.exd5 Rd4 35.Rb3 Kg6 36.Kf3 h5 37.Ke3 Rxd5 38.Rxb4 ½–½

In the tie-breaks the Polish no. 1 drew first blood in the 25+1 games but Grischuk in a must-win situation managed to win a pawn in the opening of the second game and accurately brought home the full point.

The first game at 10 minutes + 10 seconds increment proved decisive.

Grischuk, Alexander (2764) — Duda, Jan-Krzysztof (2748) [D30]
Hamburg FIDE Grand Prix (4.5), 17.11.2019

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 e6 5.Bd3 Nbd7 6.b3 b6 7.0–0 Bb7 8.Bb2 dxc4

The main line is 8…Bd6. Several years ago during the 2013 European Team Championship Duda as Black had this same position and played 8…dxc4 followed by …c5, then …Be7, …0–0 and put pressure on the White center. He won that game (I will show it to you later) but apparently this was Grischuk’s plan — having won that game, Duda would probably follow the same path, and there Grischuk is lying in wait …

9.bxc4 c5 10.d5!

Grischuk’s “surprise”’ for Duda. In an earlier game Duda’s opponent had played 10.Nbd2 Be7 11.Qe2 0–0 12.Rad1 Rc8 13.Ne5 cxd4 14.exd4 Nxe5 15.dxe5 Nd7 16.Ne4 Bxe4 17.Qxe4 g6 18.Qe3 White’s planned kingside offensive never got off the ground and Black targeted White’s weak center pawns and went on to win. Kessler, L. (2280) — Duda, J. (2536) European Team Championship U18 Maribor 2013 0–1 29.

10…exd5 11.cxd5 Bxd5

Taking with the knight is not much better: 11…Nxd5 12.Bc4 Nb4

12…N7f6? 13.Qa4+! Or 13…Nd7 (13…Qd7? 14.Bb5 wins the queen) 14.Rd1 Black will be losing material;

12…N5f6? 13.Ng5 the f7 pawn cannot be defended;

12…Nb4 13.Qb3 Qe7 14.Rd1 (threatening to exchange twice on f7 followed by Rxf7+) 14…0–0–0 15.Bxf7 material parity is restored but Black’s position is miserable.

12.e4 Bc6 13.Re1!

I am sure that Grischuk saw that 13.e5 Nh5 14.e6! fxe6 15.Re1 Nf4 16.g3 is pretty dire for Black, but the text move does not give anything away and strengthens the attack. This type of move is very useful in games with fast time controls — in contrast with 13.e5 which forces instant counter-moves, 13.Re1 is the calm before the storm and obliges Black to think and eat up his time..

13…Qe7 14.Nc3 0–0–0 15.Nd5 Qe8

The knight is a thorn on Duda’s side but cannot be taken: 15…Bxd5 16.exd5 Qd6 17.Ba6+ Kb8 18.Ne5.

16.a4 Bd6

Black needs to regroup his pieces but 16…Nb8 is met by instant material loss via 17.Nxf6 gxf6 18.Bxf6

17.Ba6+ Kb8 18.Qb3! Nxe4 19.a5 Bc7?

The only move is 19…c4! freeing up c5 for his knight.

20.axb6 axb6 21.Bb5 Bb7 22.Qa4 Qe6 23.Bc6! Bxh2+!

Desperation, but anything else leads to mate:

23…Bxc6 24.Qa7+ Kc8 25.Qxc7#

23…Qxc6 24.Qa7+ Kc8 25.Ne7#]

24.Nxh2 Qxc6 25.Qa7+ Kc8 26.Ne7+ Kc7 27.Nxc6 Ra8 28.Rxe4 Rxa7 29.Rxa7 Kxc6 30.Re7

Duda could have resigned here with a clear conscience.

30…Rd8 31.Nf3 b5 32.Rxf7 b4 33.Rxg7 Kb6 34.Ra1 Bxf3 35.gxf3 Nf8 36.Rg8 c4 37.Bg7 Ne6 38.Rxd8 Nxd8 39.Rc1 Kb5

[39…c3 40.Bxc3 bxc3 41.Rxc3 is too easy to win]

40.f4 Ne6 41.Be5 Nc5 42.Kf1 Nd3 43.Rd1 Kc5 44.Ke2 Kd5 45.Rh1 Nc5 46.Rxh7 c3 47.Bxc3 bxc3 48.Rc7 c2 49.Kd2 Ne4+ 50.Kxc2 Nxf2 51.Kd2 Ke4 52.Ke2 Ng4 53.Rc4+ Kf5 54.Kf3 Nh2+ 55.Kg2 Ng4 56.Kg3 Ne3 57.Rc5+ Kf6 58.Kf3 Nf5 59.Ra5 Kg6 60.Ra6+ 1–0

In the second game Duda played the Four Knights Defense, got the advantage but was then steadily outplayed by his opponent. On the 45th move Duda offered a draw in a lost position which Grischuk happily accepted as it was already game, set and match.

With his Hamburg win Grischuk appears to be a cinch to qualify for the 2020 Candidates tournament to be held in Yekaterinburg in March. We will talk more about this on Thursday.


Bobby Ang is a founding member of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) and its first Executive Director. A Certified Public Accountant (CPA), he taught accounting in the University of Santo Tomas (UST) for 25 years and is currently Chief Audit Executive of the Equicom Group of Companies.