After 54 years, a high-class chess event will take place again in Hamburg. In 1965, the Soviet Union won the gold medal at the European Team Championship held in this city. In the year 2019, sixteen of the world's best grandmasters fight at the FIDE Grand Prix for two spots at the next Candidates tournament.
The President of the International Chess Federation (FIDE), Arkady Dvorkovich, ceremoniously opened the third leg of the FIDE Grand Prix 2019 at the Curio-Haus, the same venue where the world champions Tigran Petrosian, Mikhail Botvinnik, and Vassily Smyslov lead their team to victory. During his speech, Mr Dvorkovich announced that FIDE had received two bids for the next World Championship match. The United Arab Emirates and Argentina are interested in hosting the most important chess event in the second half of the year 2020. FIDE will take a decision within the next few days.
The speeches by the authorities were followed by the drawing of lots. The 16 grandmasters took the stage, where the main arbiter, Mr Jens Wolter, announced the pairings for the 1st round:
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave - Wei Yi
Hikaru Nakamura - Veselin Topalov
David Navara - Nikita Vitiugov
Radoslaw Wojtaszek - Alexander Grischuk
Teimour Radjabov - Daniil Dubov
Peter Svidler - Pentala Harikrishna
Dmitry Jakovenko - Yu Yangyi
Jan-Krzysztof Duda - Ian Nepomniachtchi
Can the nominal favourite Maxime Vachier-Lagrave make a further step towards the Candidates? The number four in the world is one of the elite players, who is permanently on duty. During the first press conference in Hamburg, he was asked about the number of games he has played in the current year. The guess of the 29-year-old grandmaster was something around 100, but he wasn't even close: adding blitz and rapid games, the number is 280! Accordingly, it was essential for the Frenchman to take a well-deserved rest after the Worldcup in Khanty Mansiysk at the beginning of October, where he finished third.
Vachier-Lagrave faces Wei Yi in the first round of the FIDE Grand Prix in Hamburg. The Chinese grandmaster collected only two points at the FIDE Grand Prix in Moscow and needs to finish strong in Hamburg and Jerusalem to keep his hopes alive to qualify for the Candidates.
In another of the eight duels, it will be interesting to see if the winner of the Worldcup, Teimour Radjabov, can slow down the resourceful and creative play of Daniil Dubov. Alexander Grischuk, who is leading the FIDE Grand Prix along with Shakhriyar Mamedyarov with 10 points, is facing the Polish grandmaster Radoslaw Wojtaszek. Grischuk needs a perfect result in Hamburg to stay in the game for the Candidates spot, as this is his last tournament within the Grand Prix series.
Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia is another firm candidate to aspire for the spot to the Candidates. "Nepo" tested his creativity in the past week during the first official Fischer Random Worldchampionship in Oslo. In Hamburg, he has to adjust again to the more classical play against the young Polish super grandmaster Jan-Krzysztof Duda.
All the action starts on November 5 at 3 pm (CET). The games are broadcasted live via the official website, www.worldchess.com.
Schedule FIDE Grand Prix Hamburg
Nov. 5 14:00 Round 1 game 1
Nov. 6 14:00 Round 1 game 2
Nov. 7 14:00 Tiebreak
Nov. 8 14:00 Round 2 game 1
Nov. 9 14:00 Round 2 game 2
Nov. 10 14:00 Tiebreak
Nov. 11 14:00 Round 3 game 1
Nov. 12 14:00 Round 3 game 2
Nov. 13 14:00 Tiebreak
Nov. 14 Rest day
Nov. 15 14:00 Round 4 game 1
Nov. 16 14:00 Round 4 game 2
Nov. 17 14:00 Tiebreak
The Grand Prix is a knockout (KO) tournament. In each round, two games are played against each other with players receiving 90 minutes for the first 40 moves plus 30 seconds bonus per move. If there is a draw, then it continues until the decision with further two-party matches with ever shorter thinking time.
FIDE Press officer for the event: Georgios Souleidis
Official Photographer: Valeria Gordienko
FIDE website: www.fide.com