Chess Piece

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 vs. Jan-Krzysztof Duda POL 2748, 3.5-2.5

Hamburg FIDE Grand Prix is part of the world championship cycle. Here is how it goes:

Twenty-two players are qualified by the World Chess Federation (FIDE) to participate in the Grand Prix

There are four legs in the Grand Prix: Moscow (May 16–30, 2019), which was won by Ian Nepomniachtchi, Jurmala, Riga (July 11–25), won by Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Hamburg (Nov. 4–18 and Jerusalem December 10–24, 2019). Each leg has a €130,000 (roughly P7.3 million) prize fund, with €24,000 (around P1.3 million) for first place.

Each of the 22 participants compete in three of the four tournaments.

There are grand prix points awarded to the players depending on how they finish in the tournament. Winner gets eight GP points, runner-up five GPpts, semifinal loser three GPpts, round 2 (quarterfinals) loser one GPpt. There is also one additional point for each match win without tie-breaks. For example, in Hamburg the tournament winner Grischuk got eight GPpts 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.

The two players with most Grand Prix points qualify for the 2020 Candidates tournament which is scheduled to be held in March 2020 in Yekaterinburg, Russia.

The overall winner of the Grand Prix also receives an additional €50,000 (P2.8 million), and the runner-up €45,000 (roughly P2.5 million).

As of the end of the Hamburg Grand Prix the top 5 are:

Alexander Grischuk*, 20 GPpts

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, 13 GPpts

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, 10 GPpts

Ian Nepomniachtchi, 9 GPpts

Jan-Krzysztof Duda*, 8 GPpts

*have already completed 3 legs

As can be seen, Grischuk is virtually certain to qualify for the 2020 Yekaterinburg Candidates’ tournament while the no. 2 qualifier depends on how Vachier-Lagrave, Mamedyarov and Nepomniachtchi do in the forthcoming Jerusalem Grand Prix.

Jan-Krzysztof Duda is no longer in the running for the final Candidates’ place as he has already completed 3 legs and is not participating in Jerusalem. Having said that, his play recently and especially here in the Hamburg Grand Prix leaves a very strong impression. He always plays to win and while perhaps his opening knowledge is not of the highest standard he more than makes up for it with extreme resourcefulness, tactical brilliance, and very strong endgame play.

Duda, Jan-Krzysztof (2748) — Yu, Yangyi (2753) [D94]
Hamburg FIDE Grand Prix (2.2), 09.11.2019

Ding Liren made history when he qualified for the 2018 Berlin Candidates tournament — the first Chinese player ever to do so. This year he repeated the feat by finishing second in the 2019 Khanty-Mansiysk World Cup and once again qualifying.

Wang Hao also made history earlier this year by winning the FIDE Grand Swiss tournament in the Isle of Man and in so doing become the second Chinese ever to qualify for the Candidates’ tournament. A very impressive feather in the cap for the Chinese Chess Federation for now they have two Chinese GMs in the 2020 Yekaterinburg Candidates.

And now along comes Yu Yangyi. He was the one Ding Liren beat in the semi-finals of the World Cup (remember, the two finalists get automatic slots to Yekaterinburg), and now he is contending strongly in the Grand Prix. If he can continue with his powerful form then perhaps he can really make history by becoming the third Chinese GM in the Candidates’ Tournament?

The problem is that his opponent Duda is in the zone where he sees everything and throws every trick in the book at you.

1.c4 c6 2.Nf3 d5 3.e3 Nf6 4.Nc3 g6 5.d4 Bg7 6.Be2 0–0 7.0–0 Ne4

A sideline. More common are either:

7…Bg4 8.cxd5 cxd5 9.Qb3 b6 10.h3 Bxf3 11.Bxf3 e6; or

7…dxc4 8.Bxc4 Bg4 9.h3 Bxf3 10.Qxf3 Nbd7 11.Rd1 e5.

8.Nxe4 dxe4 9.Nd2 c5

An attempt to improve on a previous game which went 9…f5 10.f3 e5 this is Mozetic, D. (2540)-Matulovic, M. (2445) from Novi Sad 1995 (0–1 46). In that game White continued 11.d5 but he could have played 11.fxe4 fxe4 12.Rxf8+ Qxf8 13.d5 with the advantage. The e4–pawn will soon fall and White’s pieces are better than their counterparts.

10.dxc5 f5 11.Rb1

In contrast with the variation above after 11.f3 White does not have any d4–d5 or c4–c5 ideas anymore, opening up the a2–g8 diagonal.

11…a5 12.a3 a4 13.b4 axb3 14.Nxb3 Qxd1 15.Rxd1

The opening phase is over and the game hinges on under what circumstances can Black win back his pawn? In this stage of the game Duda plays very well and manages to create threats.

15…Nd7 16.Kf1 h5 17.Bd2 Rxa3 18.Na5 Nxc5 19.Bb4 Ra2 20.Bxc5 Rxa5 21.Bxe7 Rf7 22.Bb4 Ra8 23.Rd8+ Kh7 24.Bd6

Intending c4–c5 followed by Bc4. Yangyi decides to give up a pawn to make sure this does not happen.

24…Rd7 25.Rxd7 Bxd7 26.g4!

Yangyi was counting on the fact that 26.Rxb7?? is not possible because of 26…Ra1+.


Taking with the f-pawn is better because it leaves f5 open for his light-squared bishop to take refuge. After 26…hxg4 27.Rxb7 Bc8 28.Re7 Kh6 29.c5 Ra1+ 30.Kg2 Rc1 31.Bb5 the bishop on c8 is in a very bad situation.

27.Rxb7 Bc8 28.Re7 Kh6 29.Bf4+

Not 29.Rxe4? Ra1+ 30.Kg2 Re1! (this is even stronger than 30…Bb7) 31.Re8 Bb7+ 32.Kg3 Rxe2 Black has turned the tables.

29…g5 30.Bxg5+ Kxg5 31.Rxg7+ Kh4! 32.Rg8 <D>


Yu Yangyi has defended very well but now commits a fatal mistake.


Correct is 32…Ra1+ 33.Kg2 Bf5 34.Rf8 Kg5 Black should be able to hold. Obviously, with his last move he threatens the devastating 33…Ra1+, but White has a no less shattering response:


I was watching this game online and must confess that this move really took me by surprise.


He is mated after 33…hxg4 34.Rh8#

34.Rxc8 Ra1+ 35.Kg2 hxg4 36.Re8 1–0

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (MVL) is currently in the Grand Prix no. 2 position and he has made known that he really wants to qualify. The organizer of the 2020 Candidates Tournament, the Sverdlovsk Chess Federation, is allowed to nominate one player directly into the Candidates subject to some criteria but has already announced that this wild-car entry will only be given to a Russian player. This means that even if Alexander Grischuk or Ian Nepomniachtchi (the only other eligible Russian player is Kirill Alekseenko, who is not in the Grand Prix) do not make it to the top 2 in the Grand Prix they still have a chance to play in the Candidates as a wild-card entry. MVL has no choice but to do well in Jerusalem in order to book his ticket to Yekaterinburg.

Ian Nepomniachtchi won the first leg of the Grand Prix but got eliminated in the first round here and did not earn any Grand Prix points. He obviously needs a good performance in Jerusalem. I am afraid though that once again he let his emotions get the better of him after his elimination by getting into a bad twitter exchange with the organizer of the Grand Prix tournaments, “World Chess” which is owned by Ilya Merenzon through his company Agon Limited:

Nepomniachtchi: Hamburg Grand Prix organization recipe from @theworldchess: choose the most expensive and nice hotel and the most cheap and unsuitable playing venue. At least I rejoice I shouldn’t go there anymore. Good luck to remaining players 🙂

World Chess/Agon: sorry you lost bro.

Ian Nepomniachtchi: Fortunately, I’m not your bro, Mr. Golden Standard of pathetic organization. You should be put to the weights and measures department.

Definitely the Jerusalem Grand Prix this December will be a very interesting event!


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.