The Russian grandmaster Alexander Grischuk is a happy man this evening as he assured himself a spot in the finals of the Moscow Grand Prix by convincingly beating the American grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura in the 2nd game of their mini-match.
Tomorrow Nepo’ and Wojtaszek must play a tiebreak to determine Grischuk’s next opponent. Good chance for a Russian vs Russian finals!
Grischuk seems to have rid himself of his self-destructive vice of perpetual time trouble in his games. I have always felt that he is definitely one of the most likely contenders for Carlsen’s crown just in view of his incredible talent and objectivity.
In his game with Nakamura, Grischuk was helped by the American’s stubborn loyalty to a somewhat dubious opening system in the Catalan Opening. Grischuk admitted as much in his post game interview:
Of course, actually winning an advantageous position against slippery Nakamura is a lot easier said than done! Hikaru has built a myth around his Houdini-like style of provocative play when he is playing with the Black pieces.
One can even say that the American’s career is based on entirely on playing poker-ish positions, when Black, and then turning them into gold points when the opponent cracks trying to ‘refute’ them.
Much in the same psychological vein as one of my favourite stars from the past: Emanuel Lasker.
Congrats to Grischuk for keeping his head focused and bringing in a VERY important point. And for giving Nakamura an important lesson. I give the game below with a few annotations. Enjoy!