Today, FIDE published the dates for the next Candidates Tournament. It will take place from March 15 till April 5, 2020, in Yekaterinburg (Russia). Two spots are reserved for the top finishers of the FIDE Grand Prix, and only a few grandmasters remain who can qualify via this tournament series. Two of the aspirants are facing off in the semi-final of the third leg in Hamburg. So far, Alexander Grischuk has collected 14 points, but Hamburg is the last stop on his Grand Prix journey. His opponent, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave has 13 points under his belt but he will have an additional opportunity to earn more points in December during the fourth leg of FIDE Grand Prix in Jerusalem.
Considering these circumstances, the Russian player is under more pressure to win their encounter. In the first game, Grischuk chose the Modern Arkhangelsk Defense with Black, which is considered to be a highly theoretical line of the Ruy Lopez. The last time he played this line was in 2007. After some thought, Vachier-Lagrave reacted with a sideline to avoid a theoretical battle.
Alexander had no problems equalizing and around move 20 the pawn structure was nearly symmetrical with equal material. After the exchange of two minor pieces, there was little play left in the position and the players agreed to a draw after 27 moves.
The game between Jan-Krzysztof Duda and Daniil Dubov started as an English Opening but soon transposed into a line of the Tarrasch Defense which Dubov has played several times this year against high-rated opponents. Duda did not show up empty-handed and introduced a new idea by developing the bishop on g5 on move eleven.
The 23-year-old Russian seemed to be surprised. Dubov had some reservations about a key tactical sequence and spent over half an hour in thought. However, Duda avoided the sharpest variations and steered the game towards a double rook and opposite-colored bishops endgame. The position became completely equal and the players agreed to a draw after nearly two hours of play.
Semi-final, game 1 results:
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave - Alexander Grischuk 1/2-1/2
Jan-Krzysztof Duda - Daniil Dubov 1/2-1/2
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