jobava dancing

Baadur Jobava danced his way to a 6.5:5.5 win over Alexander Grischuk as the most anticipated Round 1 match-up went down to the final game. It was the same in Howell-Van Foreest, which the English Grandmaster clinched 7:5 after an incredible battle, while there were comfortable wins in the day’s earlier matches. Nils Grandelius ousted Alexei Shirov 6.5:1.5, while Laurent Fressinet shocked Peter Svidler 6.5:2.5. It’s Giri-Grandelius, Dubov-Fressinet, Vidit-Howell and Navara-Jobava in the quarterfinals.

Jan Gustafsson and Mr Dodgy again commentated on the first three matches of Day 2 (replay all the games with computer analysis here), with Peter Svidler joining Jan and Mr Dodgy for his own match!

During the Mr Dodgy Invitational you can get 40% off chess24 Premium membership with the voucher code DODGY.

Fressinet and Grandelius score surprisingly easy wins

8-time Russian Chess Champion Peter Svidler was battling hay fever as he went into his match against 2-time French Champion Laurent Fressinet. He upped the pressure on himself by retweeting a joke at the French nation’s expense…

While Laurent also discouraged Peter from starting any games with 1.e4 and allowing the Berlin Defence…

Spoiler alert – Peter played a combination of 1.c4, 1.Nf3 and 1.b3 and scored 0.5/5 with the white pieces!

But all that was nothing compared to the handicap of actually joining Jan Gustafsson and Mr Dodgy for English commentary on the clash, when the original plan had been that Peter would simply stream on his own, as Laurent was doing in French.

What followed was a lot of fun, as we got Peter’s running commentary as things quickly began to fall apart. In Game 1 he allowed Laurent a tactic – would the Frenchman spot it?

The game went on, but only until Peter mouse-slipped on move 24 and resigned on the spot – he put the blame squarely on Chessable for encouraging him to buy a better mouse that turned out to be hyper-sensitive! 

It didn’t help that Laurent was playing very well, scoring a crushing win with White in Game 2 and a lightning 23-move win with Black in Game 3. Peter hit back in Game 4, but Game 5 illustrated just what he was up against. 

Objectively 12…0-0? (12…gxf5!) was a mistake by Laurent, but Peter was dismayed suddenly to be given a huge number of good continuations that needed to be calculated. He sank into 1 minute and 50 seconds of thought (an age for a 5-minute blitz game), while Jan and MrDodgy talked about… other stuff!

The net result was that Peter came within 0.3 seconds of losing on time (Laurent had 11 seconds) before the game ended in a fortunate draw by repetition.

A win in that game might have changed the momentum of the match, but instead Laurent would go on to win the next two and open up a 4-point lead. Nothing was going Peter’s way – 26…Rf3 in Game 6 was perhaps the most beautiful move of the match…

27.Bxf3?? gxf3 is checkmate in a couple of moves, but after 27.Rg1 Re3 28.Qe1 Peter simply resigned. It wasn’t premature, since Black has no real threat. The c-pawn, meanwhile, is lethal, while the trapped rook on e3 can be picked up almost at will. 

Game 7 continued Peter’s downfall.

Kramnik, Ding Liren, Grischuk and Aronian had all played Bd6, but it was only Laurent who went on to win, in 25 moves. 

Peter pulled one game back, but it only delayed the inevitable. Laurent was winning again with Black in the final game, though he’d gone astray when he needed to rely on an amazing resource.

Peter said Laurent should be disqualified, for computer assistance, if he played 30…Bh3+! 31.Qxh3 Qxh3 32.Kxh3 Rh5+. The Frenchman did, and Tournament Dictator Mr Dodgy agreed to the punishment, as well as later noting, “there’s nothing in the rules that the player who wins the match advances”.

Nevertheless, for now it looks as though it’s Laurent Fressinet who will go on to face Daniil Dubov in Friday’s quarterfinals. 

The other 16:00 kick-off was expected to be a closely fought match between Swedish no. 1 Nils Grandelius and Alexei “Fire on Board” Shirov, but in fact it was a 6.5:1.5 walk in the park for Nils. 

Alexei managed just one win – when Nils fell into a trap.

27.Bxb3? was losing a full piece, since after 27…Rxb3 it’s not just that the f3-knight is attacked once, but the a3-knight is attacked twice. It’s Nils Grandelius, however, who goes on to play Anish Giri in the quarterfinals. 

The remaining two Round 1 matches went all the way to the final blitz game, stopping just short of Armageddon. 

Howell wins thriller

Jorden van Foreest was in deep trouble in Game 1 after playing 9.e5?

9…Nxe5! was simply winning a crucial central pawn, with 10.Na4 Qa5+ 11.Bd2 Qxa4 12.dxe5 doing nothing to improve White’s situation. We knew we were in for a great fight, however, when Jorden went on to bamboozle David Howell in time trouble and win both on the board and on the clock. Given David’s famous time-trouble the omens looked bad for the Englishman, but his fans needn’t have worried. 

He stormed back to win the next three games, two of them on the clock!

Jorden hit back in Game 5, but then David took over again to win two of the next three games and take a 5.5:2.5 lead. Effectively David had four match points in a row, but perhaps that was when the nerves kicked in. Jorden won the next game on time, after losing control on the board, before grinding out a win in a drawish position in the next. 

In the penultimate game Jorden looked on course to level the scores, but then all hell broke loose. Jorden lost control and David first looked set to force a draw by perpetual check before finding himself completely winning – a result which would end the match. Ultimately, however, his time ran out a fraction of a second before his opponent’s and, as there wasn’t enough material for Jorden to give mate, the game was drawn.

Jorden now had to win on demand with the black pieces in the final game, and even got some fleeting chances, but for most of the game it was David who was dominating both on the board and the clock. When the game and match finally ended on move 92 you could see the joy and relief, even if we couldn’t hear the roar!

Jobava dances to victory

Jobava-Grischuk was the last match of the day and more than lived up to the hype.

The players traded blows in a hard-fought first two games, while the draw that followed was most memorable for Baadur Jobava’s dancing.

On his own stream you could hear the music blaring out, and the party never stopped whatever was happening on the chessboard. 

Grischuk took the lead again in Game 4, and the turning point of the match may have been the next game, where after a shaky sequence of moves 35.Qb2! should have been the decisive blow.

Black can’t avoid losing a piece, but there would be another twist after 35…Bxg2 36.Bxg2 Re4 37.Qb8 Qg4 38.Qg8+ Kg6 39.Rf8? (e.g. 39.Qb3! would have kept the advantage).

39…Qd1+ 40.Kh2 Rh4+ 41.Bh3 Rxh3+! was the key point, and after 42.Kxh3 Qh5+ Baadur forced a draw by perpetual check from d1 and g4. 

Instead of Grischuk taking a 2-point lead, Baadur hit back to win the next game and level the scores.

Grischuk’s 36…f3+? looks like an obvious move to put pressure on the white king, but in fact it just fatally weakened the crucial e3-square, and after 37.Kg1 Rc7 38.Qc1 Be7 39.Re3 everything collapsed for Black: 39…Qc4 40.Rxf3+ Ke8 41.Ng7+

A quick draw was then followed by Jobava taking the lead after a Grischuk blunder. The lead was doubled in the next game, despite Baadur having spent most of it on the ropes. 

Grischuk missed a chance to reduce the gap in Game 10 when he played 73…f4? (73…e3! saves a crucial tempo)

74.Bxb5! cxb5 75.c6 e3 and Jobava queened first and was able to give a draw by perpetual check before Black could deliver mate. 

Grischuk did hit back in the next game, however, to win perhaps his smoothest game of the match, after Jobava took the less than obvious decision to play the Benoni in a game where he only required a draw. 

That meant that like Jorden van Foreest, Grischuk found himself needing to win with Black in the final game to force Armageddon. He got almost everything he could hope for out of the opening after Baadur made another eccentric choice on move 7, but the failure to play 20…d2! proved costly and it was soon all White. Jobava could have given checkmate, but he satisfied himself with forcing a draw to clinch the match.

Quite a performance all round from the Georgian no. 1, who made an impression on Anish Giri.

That means we’re all set for the quarterfinals on Friday, with Giri-Grandelius and Vidit-Howell at 16:00 CEST and Fressinet-Dubov and Navara-Jobava at 18:00 CEST.

Needless to say, we’ll have commentary with Jan Gustafsson and guests LIVE here on chess24 from 16:00 CEST onwards. 

See also:

Chess Mentor

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