FIDE World Cup winner Teimour Radjabov got close to eliminating Daniil Dubov, but eventually the opposite happened. Alexander Grischuk, David Navara and Yu Yangyi also won their tiebreaks to reach the second round of the FIDE Grand Prix in Hamburg.
Excellent play and a necessary share of luck got Radjabov all the way to victory in the grueling knockout tournament called the World Cup. It all went differently in his very next knockout event.
Radjabov had played two quick draws with Dubov in their classical games, and the same happened in their first rapid game in the tiebreak. Then, the Azerbaijani grandmaster got a golden opportunity to strike when his opponent blundered in the early middlegame.
Dubov however showed fantastic resilience, and dodged another bullet later on to hold the game:
After two draws in the 10+10 games it was Dubov who struck as Black in the first game of blitz. It was the only game in this long match where a player got outplayed from start to finish.
However, the match wasn’t over yet. Radjabov reached a winning endgame, but with less than 10 seconds on the clock he pushed the wrong pawn and an apologetic Dubov forced the draw:
This was the longest and most dramatic tiebreak match of the day. The other three only lasted two rapid games.
The match between David Navara and Nikita Vitiugov was surprisingly won by Navara. As suggested by his opponent, Vitiugov might be suffering of fatigue by now (after playing the FIDE World Cup, the FIDE Chess.com Grand Swiss and the European Team Championship back-to-back) as he got eliminated in the first round, for the third time in this Grand Prix.
Vitiugov lost both rapid games to the (slight) underdog from the Czech Republic. Navara said he considered his opponent the favorite in the classical chess: “Nikita had been playing quite a lot before this tournament, more than me, so he might have been more tired than me and he did quite well in many tournaments this year.”
Here’s the first rapid game:
Despite the fact, I lost 3 times in the first round in this Grand-Prix, I truly believe it was a very meaningful experience for me, which helped me to achieve what I’ve achieved recently. Unfortunately, only defeats help mortals to progress. #GrandPrixFIDE
— Nikita Vitiugov (@N_Vitiugov) November 7, 2019
A day after missing a tablebase win, Yu Yangyi defeated Dmitry Jakovenko in the first rapid game, and held the second to a draw. His 15th move in the first was spectacular (and homework in fact, as Yu stated afterward), but should only have led to equality:
Alexander Grischuk did it the other way around, holding Radek Wojtaszek to a draw in the first, and then winning the second. Admitting to his opponent’s excellent preparation, Grischuk stated afterward: “In the first two games Radoslaw completely killed my openings and for the rapids I just decided to play anything to avoid preparation… to play some s**t basically.”
By reaching the second round, Grischuk is now the virtual leader of the overall Grand Prix standings with 11 points, ahead of Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave who both have 10 right now.
The second round starts on Friday, with the matches Maxime Vachier-Lagrave vs Veselin Topalov, David Navara vs Alexander Grischuk, Daniil Dubov vs Peter Svidler and Yu Yangyi vs Jan-Krzysztof Duda.
All games from day 3