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John Henderson
By John Henderson

Showing a gritty determination that’s almost become his trademark throughout his long career, Russia’s Alexander Grischuk duly won the third leg of the FIDE Hamburg Grand Prix in Germany as he overcame the spirited challenge of his young wannabe Polish opponent, Jan-Krzysztof Duda, 3½-2½, after their final went to a rapid tiebreak decider for the title and first prize of $24,000 – and with it, Grischuk now takes a big step towards his fifth candidates’ appearance.

The 36-year-old Russian gained a further 10 Grand Prix points (eight for the victory and two bonus points for winning two matches without need of a tiebreak decider) and he is now in pole position – having played his ‘cycle’ of three nominated legs – with what could well be a commanding lead in the year-long race, and all but certain to take one of the two spots on offer into the eight-player Candidates’ Tournament that will take place in Ekaterinburg, Russia from March 15 to April 5 2020 which will decide Magnus Carlsen’s next title-challenger.

After his Hamburg victory, Grischuk now leads in the standings with 20 points, with Frenchman Maxime Vachier on 13 points, followed by Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, 10 points, and Ian Nepomniachtchi, 9 points – and all three now face a dramatic showdown in the final GP leg in Jerusalem in mid December. MVL holds the nominal edge as he only needs to outscore the other two contenders to make the cut for the second candidates’ spot.

“Now it will be very pleasant for me to watch the final event,” said a relieved and victorious Grischuk. “Of course, I wish luck to everyone who can still qualify, to ‘Shakh’ Mamedyarov, to Nepomniachtchi and Maxime. But not too much luck to Maxime because I don’t want him to overtake me. I can not be rooting against myself.”

Earlier this month, Dutchman Anish Giri was officially confirmed as taking the year-long rating spot into the candidates’. With Grischuk ‘pending’, now confirmed so far is: Fabiano Caruana (defeated 2018 title challenger), Teimour Radjabov and Ding Liren (both World Cup finalists), Wang Hao (FIDE Grand Swiss) and Anish Giri (Rating).

Photo: Grischuk beats Duda in the tiebreak to win the FIDE Hamburg Grand Prix | Valeria Gordienko/World Chess.

GM Alexander Grischuk – GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda
FIDE Hamburg Grand Prix Final, (4)
Queen’s Indian Defence
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.g3 Ba6 Originally pioneered in the 1920s and 30s by hyper-modernist Aron Nimzowitsch, this way of playing the Queen’s Indian became big in the 1980s as a way to sidestep Lev Polugaevsky’s troublesome pawn sacrifice in the Classical Queen’s Indian with 4…Bb7 5.Bg2 Be7 6.0-0 0-0 7.d5 exd5 8.Nh4 etc. 5.b3 Bb4+ 6.Bd2 Be7 7.Bg2 d5 8.0-0 A slight divergence. In game 2 of the classical mini-match, Grischuk played 8.cxd5 exd5 9.0-0 0-0 10.Nc3 Re8 11.Ne5 and went on to get good play against the eventual hanging pawns on d5 and c5 – but Duda was very resourceful in managing to secure a draw. 8…0-0 9.Ne5 c6 Another approach is 9…c5 10.Bc3 Bb7 11.Nd2 Na6 12.Rc1 Re8 13.e3 cxd4 14.Bxd4 Ba3 15.Rb1 Bf8 16.Qe2 Nb4 that was seen in Radjabov,T-Gelfand,B Moscow 2019. 10.Bc3 Nfd7 11.Nd3 dxc4 12.Nb4 cxb3 13.Nxa6 Nxa6 14.Bxc6 Rb8!?N A novelty – but is it a shrewd one or played out of necessity to avoid the complications seen in a 2011 ICCF email game with 14…Rc8 15.Bb7 Rxc3 16.Nxc3 Qc7 17.Bxa6 b2 18.Rb1 Qxc3 19.Qb3 Qxb3 20.axb3 Ba3 21.b4 Nb8 with a complex struggle ahead, as seen in Nowakowski,M (2446)-Carapinha,F (2264) ICCF email 2011. 15.axb3 Nb4 16.Bxb4 Bxb4 17.Rxa7 White has an annoying and persistent edge due to the strong rook and the more active bishop. 17…Nf6 18.e3 Rc8?! Duda starts to stray from here. He should have at least have tried 18…b5! 19.Bg2 Qb6 20.Ra2 Rfc8 and take the fight from here. – at least his pieces look more co-ordinated to hold the draw. 19.Bg2 Re8 Duda’s rationale is that if he can trade off a set of rooks with …Re7, then his position can’t be all that bad – but it isn’t as easy as this. 20.Nd2 Re7 21.Rxe7 Bxe7 22.Nc4 Bf8?! The only good try was the immediate 22…b5 23.Ne5 Bd6 but Black still faces problems after 24.Qa1 Qc7 25.Nd3!? and Rc1 coming next. Either way, the problem for Duda is that Grishuck will have the stronger bishop and better prospects for his knight on c5 or e5. 23.Qa1! b5 24.Ne5 Qb6 25.Rc1 Rxc1+ 26.Qxc1 Qa7 While 26…Qb8 stops Grischuk’s queen dominating on c8, after 27.Qa1 Bd6 28.Qa6! puts Black in a bind, as now 28…Bxe5 29.dxe5 Ne8 30.b4 Nc7 31.Qb7! Qxb7 32.Bxb7 followed by f4, e4 and the clear king run Kf2-e3-d4-c5 is going to be hard to meet. 27.Qc8 b4 28.Bb7! [see diagram] Nicely disconnecting the Black queen defending from e7 that soon breaks Duda. 28…Qa1+ 29.Kg2 Qa5 30.Bc6! Now that …Qe7 has been prevented, the major threat is Be8xf7+. 30…Qa7 31.Be8 Nxe8 32.Nd7! 1-0 Although 32.Qxe8 Qb7+ 33.Kg1 Qe7 34.Qc8 is good enough to win for White, the text is the clean, clinical kill that threatens mate and winning a piece. Faced with that dilemma, Duda resigned.

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