MVL, Grischuk and Duda advanced while Dubov & Svidler head to playoff in Hamburg
The rematches of the second round at the FIDE Grand Prix brought several decisions. Three grandmasters qualified for the semi-finals and a tiebreak on Sunday will decide about the fourth player.
After his loss in the first game of the second round, Veselin Topalov needed a win to equal the score against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. He chose the French Defence, and after some thought, the French grandmaster opted for the Exchange Variation to avoid any theoretical battles. Nevertheless, the game became quite sharp with both sides installing a strong knight in the middle of the board. As the game developed, White started an attack on the queenside, whereas Black had no realistic chances to attack the white king on the other side of the board. After some exchanges before move 30, Topalov realized that his position was worse and offered a draw. Vachier-Lagrave saw no reason to play on as half a point was enough to enjoy another free day before heading on to the semi-finals.
David Navara and Alexander Grischuk followed a critical line of the Queen's Gambit Declined which the Czech grandmaster had used in the past year in the German Bundesliga. Grischuk deviated on move 15, and both players spent a lot of time evaluating a sharp position with kings castled on opposite sides of the board. Navara went astray when he prematurely pushed his h-pawn that allowed Grischuk to land a deadly counter punch on the other side of the board. The Russian grandmaster took over with an exchange sacrifice which yielded him a material advantage. Navara had to choose between entering an inferior rook endgame or playing a piece down against the black king. He picked the second option but was lost afterwards. Navara fought on for several moves, but Grischuk parried the threats against his king and advanced to the next round with the win.
Blunder decides in favour of Duda
Jan-Krzysztof Duda qualified for the semi-finals. His game against Yu Yangyi was more or less decided by one terrible blunder. After an equal opening, the players exchanged queens on move 14 and soon reached an endgame. The encounter was heading towards a peaceful finish despite the Chinese grandmaster being down a pawn. However, Yu Yangyi went for a deadly walk with his king to the square h3. Duda surprisingly captured the black pawn on g4 while delivering a check that took advantage of the pinned black bishop on c8. The combination resulted in Yu Yangyi losing two pawns and resignation shortly followed. Evgeny Miroshnichenko, who is commentating the games in the official live coverage, said: "It's one of those moves which are easy to calculate but hard to consider."
The day started with a quick draw between Peter Svidler and Daniil Dubov in a game that only lasted an hour. Svidler chose the Rossolimo Variation against Dubov's Sicilian Defence and regretted it afterwards. "It was not the wisest choice to play this, but these things happen". After the opening, the younger of the two Russian players gave a pawn to free up his light-squared bishop, which he then exchanged for the white knight on f3 and spoiled white's pawn structure. After 21 moves, the players had reached an endgame with Svidler being a pawn up, but Dubov had active pieces and was still in his preparation. Svidler had seen enough and offered a draw which his compatriot accepted. In the end, Dubov had gained five minutes on the clock compared to his starting time, whereas Svidler burned over 50 minutes of clock time.
Round 2, game 2 results:
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave - Veselin Topalov 1/2-1/2
David Navara - Alexander Grischuk 0-1
Peter Svidler - Daniil Dubov 1/2-1/2
Jan-Krzysztof Duda - Yu Yangyi 1-0
FIDE Press officer for the event: Georgios Souleidis
Official Photographer: Valeria Gordienko