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    Entries in Anish Giri (65)

    Sunday
    May052019

    Du Te Cup (Shenzhen): A Quick Look Back

    For those willing to tolerate Google's translation of this report, you'll find plenty of information here. I'll just offer a few summary comments in retrospect on the 2019 Du Te Cup that took place in Shenzhen, China.

    When we left off at the halfway point, Pentala Harikrishna had bounced back from a second-round loss to Anish Giri to win three in a row, taking a half point lead over Giri with 3.5/5. He started the next cycle with a win over Dmitry Jakovenko, but Giri won what had to be a drawn ending against Yu Yangyi, grinding out the victory in a 2012 move marathon.

    Harikrishna's winning streak was snapped in his rematch with Giri, but since the game was drawn he kept his half-point lead. In round 8, however, he was upended, losing to Richard Rapport. This was Rapport's only win in the entire tournament, and it allowed Giri to catch up after drawing with pre-tournament favorite Ding Liren. Giri and Harikrishna lead with +2 scores, while Ding and Rapport were on 50%.

    In round 9, Harikrishna bounced back again, defeating Yu Yangyi, while Giri drew with Rapport and Ding drew with Yakovenko. Harikrishna thus entered the last round with a half point lead over Giri; however, Giri had White against Jakovenko, while Harikrishna would have Black against Ding. White won in both games - long ones - and so Giri came out half a point ahead. It took him 97 moves to win his game, while Ding's victory (getting revenge for Harikrishna's win in the first cycle) went 72 moves. (Everyone was fighting--even the draw between Yu and Rapport went 75 moves.)

    It wasn't a wonderful tournament for Ding, though it wasn't a disaster for him either, but it was a terrific outing for both Harikrishna and Giri. Harikrishna's TPR was more than 100 points over his rating, and his winning five games out of ten against a super-GM field in which he was the next-to-last seed was a fantastic achievement.

    As for Giri, this was his first outright super-tournament victory, even if it was relatively weak by super-tournament standards. (Magnus Carlsen, asked by an interviewer about this tournament with a round to go, light-heartedly said he was rooting for Harikrishna to win, to keep Giri from winning his first super-GM event. As Carlsen said, "I'm nothing if not petty." Again, this was meant in a light-hearted spirit, as Giri and Carlsen have been engaging in trash talk and Twitter wars for years.)

    Final Standings:

    • 1. Giri 6.5/10
    • 2. Harikrishna 6
    • 3. Ding 5.5
    • 4. Rapport 5
    • 5-6. Jakovenko, Yu 3.5

    Saturday
    May042019

    Du Te Cup (Shenzhen) 2019: A Translated Report

    I intend to say something about this tournament's finish as well, but for now you can find a long and interesting report on the event here, in Russian. Normally I wouldn't mention a Russian-language article, but Google's translation in the Chrome browser is serviceable enough that you might want to give it a try.

    Monday
    Apr012019

    Gashimov Memorial, Round 2: Carlsen, Ding Liren, and Karjakin All Win

    Yesterday's draws was not an indication of how things would go this time around. Three of the five games finished with a winner, and the fourth real game was also interesting.

    Magnus Carlsen and Viswanathan Anand were headed for a draw when things started to go badly wrong for the former champion. A series of tactical imprecisions, each relatively minor in its own right, resulted in a lost rook ending that Carlsen would have had no trouble converting.

    Another former Carlsen opponent from a world championship match, Sergey Karjakin, also won. He was in big trouble against Anish Giri early on, and would have lost quickly and possibly spectacularly had Giri handled his attack properly. Instead, he first played too slowly, and then played rashly, and suffered a painful defeat as a consequence. (He also lost a chance to break the 2800 barrier again.)

    Ding Liren was winning against Alexander Grischuk, then let Grischuk off the hook, and then won the game a second time. He is in sniffing distance of the #2 spot in the world rankings.

    I'm not sure if Veselin Topalov was ever winning against David Navara, but he had a significant advantage for most of the game and forced Navara to sweat it out for a long time.

    Finally, the "battle" between Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Teimour Radjabov was as genuine as a politician's apology. They're good friends, players of the host country and were good friends of the player being celebrated by the tournament. In an event where not that much is at stake they can be counted on to split the point. The game went 41 moves, yes, and ended while everyone else was still wiping the sleep from their eyes.

    The tournament website is here, the games (with my comments to parts of Carlsen-Anand and Giri-Karjakin) are here, and these are the pairings for round 3:

    • Karjakin (1.5) - Topalov (1)
    • Grischuk (.5) - Giri (.5)
    • Radjabov (1) - Ding Liren (1.5)
    • Anand (.5) - Mamedyarov (1)
    • Navara (1) - Carlsen (1.5)

    Saturday
    Jan262019

    2019 Wijk aan Zee, Round 12: Carlsen Wins Again, Leads Giri By Half a Point Going Into Their Last-Round Showdown

    Last year Magnus Carlsen and Anish Giri tied for first in the Tata Steel Chess Tournament, and in this year's edition they are once again the only contenders for first. Last year, Carlsen defeated Giri in a playoff; this year, a playoff is impossible, as Carlsen enters the round half a point ahead of his rival and they face off in the last round. (I suppose one could consider it a de facto playoff: an Armageddon game with a classical time control. If Carlsen wins or draws, he wins the tournament; if Giri wins, then he does.)

    They entered the round tied for first after Giri got a colossal gift from Sam Shankland, who resigned in a completely drawn position. In this round Giri got a second gift, as Teimour Radjabov offered a draw (which was of course accepted by Giri) in a won position. Not a dead or obviously won position, but a winning one all the same. Even with all the freebies Giri is enjoying, Carlsen still enters the last round as the sole leader after grinding out a victory against Jan-Krzysztof Duda. No freebies, just hard work: he obtained an advantage in the early middlegame and never let go. Duda didn't make it easy for him, but he was still forced to surrender after 71 moves.

    Ian Nepomniachtchi entered the round only half a point behind the leaders, but now he's a point and a half behind after getting clobbered by Shankland. Perhaps trying to hard to get a complicated and untheoretical position Nepo played an experimental line, a Pirc with ...e6. The combination of ...g6, ...Bg7, ...Nf6 and ...e6 generally don't go very well together (to oversimplify a bit: if you want to play a Pirc, avoid ...e6; if you want a Hippo, don't play ...Nf6), and they went dreadfully wrong in this game. Shankland played natural, healthy, aggressive chess, and won convincingly.

    Ding Liren and Viswanathan Anand could have remained a point behind Carlsen, had either defeated the other. That still would have left them mathematically eliminated from the race for first, after Carlsen's win, but at least they'd be a bit closer. It was a very good game, with Ding playing 1.e4 - an unusual first move for him - and having some deep preparation. Anand defended well, and 28...Rd6 was a beautiful idea that led to an ending where White's had no way to use his material advantage.

    Finally, Vladimir Kramnik made it two consecutive wins by defeating Vladimir Fedoseev in a queen and rook ending, while Shakhriyar Mamedyarov bled some rating points by drawing with Jorden Van Foreest. Kramnik is now "only" -18.7 for the touranment, while Mamedyarov is a ghastly -26 on the live rating list. And Santosh Vidit Gujrathi was winning against Richard Rapport, but after he missed the right way to prosecute his attack the game finished in a draw.

    The tournament site is here, the games (with light comments, though not about photons) are here, and these the pairings for the final round, tomorrow:

    • Giri (8) - Carlsen (8.5)
    • Nepomniachtchi (7) - Radjabov (6)
    • Kramnik (4.5) - Shankland (5.5)
    • Mamedyarov (4.5) - Fedoseev (4.5)
    • Rapport (5.5) - Van Foreest (4.5)
    • Anand (7) - Vidit (6.5)
    • Duda (5) - Ding (7)

    In the Challengers Tournament, the sole leader is Vladislav Kovalev, who came into the event as the second seed. He has 9/12, good for a half-point lead over 16-year-old Andrey Esipenko and Maksim Chigaev. Unfortunately for Chigaev and Esipenko, they're both playing Black against strong opponents (Gledura and Bareev, respectively) while Kovalev has White against bottom seed and co-cellar dweller Stefan Kuipers. One never knows for sure, but the odds of Kovalev's getting clear first and securing qualification to next year's top group look awfully good.

    Friday
    Jan252019

    2019 Wijk aan Zee, Round 11: Giri Gets a Gift, Co-Leads with Carlsen

    Well, that was embarrassing. Sam Shankland lost by resigning to Anish Giri in a theoretically drawn position. What's worse is that he didn't have to find anything. All he had to do was retreat the king, and the job would be done. It's remarkable that so studious a player as Shankland was unfamiliar with this particular fortress - it's a bit like Viktor Korchnoi once asking an arbiter if castling queenside was legal if the rook passed over an attacked square. That's chess for you: there's so much to know that it's possible for a 2700 not to know an elementary draw known to many club players.

    It was a big gift for Anish Giri, who thereby caught up with Magnus Carlsen in first place with two rounds to go after the latter drew quickly and easily with Black in a Sveshnikov against Teimour Radjabov. They are half a point ahead of Ian Nepomniachtchi, who bounced back from yesterday's loss by defeating Vladimir Fedoseev. Nepo had a serious, evening winning advantage early on in an Advance Caro-Kann, let it slip, and then won the game a second time when Fedoseev faltered just before (and after) the time control.

    Ding Liren and Viswanathan Anand are a further half a point behind. Ding drew with Richard Rapport in all of 16 moves, while Anand came close to achieving something with White against Jan-Krzysztof Duda. Close, but Duda had the one tempo he needed to equalize.

    The last two games were decisive. Santosh Vidit Gujrathi defeated the plummeting Shakhriyar Mamedyarov with Black, and pretty easily, too. Meanwhile, Vladimir Kramnik finally won a game - with great difficulty - against Jorden Van Foreest. Kramnik was winning smoothly early on, and was on the way to what would have been an attractive attacking game. He missed his best opportunity, and after further inaccuracies Van Foreest equalized. But Kramnik started grinding and kept on grinding, and in the second time control Black made several errors to lose in a double bishop ending. Even with the win Kramnik is still alone in last place, half a point behind Van Foreest and Mamedyarov. Both Kramnik and Mamedyarov have lost 23 points in what has proved to be a disastrous event for them. (Tournament site here, games here, with notes to Kramnik's and Giri's games.)

    But enough about their woes. The race for first is where the action is, and five players are still in the hunt. Better still, the pairing for the last round is Giri-Carlsen. First we have round 12, and here are the pairings:

    • Carlsen (7.5) - Duda (5)
    • Ding (6.5) - Anand (6.5)
    • Vidit (6) - Rapport (5)
    • Van Foreest (4) - Mamedyarov (4)
    • Fedoseev (4.5) - Kramnik (3.5)
    • Shankland (4.5) - Nepomniachtchi (7)
    • Radjabov (5.5) - Giri (7.5)

    Just think: if Carlsen and Giri draw, Nepomniachtchi wins, and either Ding or Anand wins, there will be a four-way tie for first entering the last round. And if we add to that a draw between Van Foreest and Mamedyarov and a Kramnik win there will be a five-way tie for last. It's impossible to happen in this event, but has a tournament ever finished with half the players tied for first and the other half tied for last? My favorite oddball super-GM tournament result was Linares 2001, when Kasparov finished in first with a +5 score while the other five players (Polgar, Karpov, Leko, Shirov, and Grischuk) tied for second=last place with -1 scores.

    Friday
    Jan182019

    2019 Wijk aan Zee, Round 6: Four Leaders, Including the Surging Carlsen

    It's always fascinating to see confidence monsters ("con mons"?) in action. They can struggle for a long time, with no end in sight, but once something goes their way it's like a switch is flipped and they go back to full blast. This is how it was for Bobby Fischer and Garry Kasparov, and it has been true of Magnus Carlsen as well. After 21 draws in a row, the string was finally broken with a win over the tournament's (by far) bottom seed. Should that suddenly herald the return of good form? Not normally, but when we're talking about a confidence monster, it might. Carlsen won again today, this time against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, in a complicated ending, and with that he is in a four-way tie for first in the 2019 Tata Steel Chess Tournament, which I hereby pronounce is over: Carlsen will win it, probably running away from the field. (But we'll see.)

    Also joining the tie for first: Anish Giri, who crushed Jan-Krzysztof Duda with the black pieces. In fact Giri is 3-0 with Black, and has more than made up for his first-round loss.

    The other two leaders are Ian Nepomniachtchi and Ding Liren. Nepo drew quickly with Black (22 moves) against Viswanathan Anand, while Ding Liren tried for a long time (75) moves to defeat Teimour Radjabov with the white pieces before admitting the draw.

    The round's other winner was Jorden Van Foreest, who was lost against Vladimir Fedoseev before the latter made a string of errors to turn his winning position into a lost one. A late mistake gave Fedoseev a chance to put up serious resistance and maybe even hold, but a blunder in return erased that opportunity and gave the Dutch players a sweep on the day.

    Vidit-Shankland was an 18-move draw, and like the two draws already mentioned was very clean. Rapport-Kramnik was anything but clean, with both sides having winning advantages at different times. The game dragged on for 94 moves, but the last 30 were utterly pointless as Kramnik "tried" to win rook vs. knight. He wouldn't manage to defeat me in such an ending - it's a trivial task for the weaker side to hold - so his playing it out against Rapport was slightly insulting, or at least absurd. Maybe Kramnik had a fight with his wife and didn't want to resume the argument, or maybe he was thinking about variations for the press conference where his opponent survived by a "miracle". Whatever the case, playing out the ending for 30 moves was somewhere between pointless and dumb, especially since Rapport had tons of time on the clock.

    The games, with my comments to the decisive battles, are here. The round 7 pairings are as follows:

    • Fedoseev (2) - Carlsen (4)
    • Shankland (2.5) - Van Foreest (2)
    • Radjabov (3) - Vidit (3.5)
    • Giri (4) - Ding (4)
    • Nepomniachtchi (4) - Duda (2.5)
    • Kramnik (2) - Anand (3.5)
    • Mamedyarov (2.5) - Rapport (2.5)

    Tuesday
    Jan152019

    2019 Wijk aan Zee, Round 4: Nepomniachtchi Remains in Clear First; Carlsen Draws Again

    Looks like I was wrong about Magnus Carlsen and Vladimir Kramnik. After Kramnik's first three games I assumed he'd be ripe for the picking by Carlsen, but where Kramnik's suicide streak only extended to three games (and two in which he was successful), the champ's 20-game series of draws was an unstoppable force. Kramnik put on his Sunday best, played strong and sensible chess, and drew like the three-time world champion and frequent 2800 player that he is.

    Theirs was an interesting draw, but the other four drawn games were utterly forgettable. I'd tell you more about them, but they've already slipped my memory, so I'll only note that one of the draws was the shared property of Ian Nepomniachtchi, who continues to enjoy the sole lead in the event with a +2 score of 3 out 4.

    On to the two decisive games. As usual, the Dutch players were involved. On the sunny side, Anish Giri moved to +1 by defeating Richard Rapport with the black pieces. The game was balanced until Rapport found an exchanging combination that backfired. Rapport presumably missed Giri's 22nd or 24th move, and the result was a lost middlegame that Giri cashed in without much trouble. Things were less sunny for Jorden Van Foreest. He found himself a pawn down in an opposite-colored bishops ending. It was probably drawn, as I think I've demonstrated in the analysis, but (possibly due to time trouble) he didn't manage to save hte game against Santosh Vidit.

    All the games can be replayed here, with comments to the two decisive games and Carlsen-Kramnik. (Tournament site here.) Here are the pairings for round 5: 

    • Van Foreest (1) - Carlsen (2)
    • Fedoseev (1.5) - Vidit (2.5)
    • Shankland (2) - Ding (2.5)
    • Radjabov (2) - Duda (2)
    • Giri (2.5) - Anand (2.5)
    • Nepomniachtchi (3) - Rapport (1.5)
    • Kramnik (1) - Mamedyarov (2) 

    Carlsen has to win this time, right?

    Sunday
    Jan132019

    2019 Wijk aan Zee, Round 2: The Dutch Giveth, the Dutch Taketh Away

    In round 1, the two Dutch participants in this year's Tata Steel Chess Tournament, Anish Giri and Jorden Van Foreest, lost with the white pieces. No problem: they promptly won with the black pieces in round 2. Giri took advantage of Vladimir Kramnik's crazy all-in approach. Kramnik barely got away with it in round 1, surviving, as he likes to say, by a "miracle" against Teimour Radjabov, but Giri was unforgiving today. As for Van Foreest, his game with Duda was balanced for quite a while, with Duda's kingside play sufficing for equality against VF's positional pluses. Duda was slightly outplayed as the game went on, but the real damage didn't happen until the last few moves of the time control. Duda made several serious errors in a row - and this continued after the time control as well, though it was already too late by then.

    Other games were mirrors of what happened in round 1. For instance, Sam Shankland again managed to outplay his opponent - Richard Rapport in this case - and once again faltered near the finish line. After playing a great grinding game and finally getting a winning position against Rapport, he gave it away with one sloppy move, 74...h5. Alas!

    Magnus Carlsen's second round game also bore some resemblance to what he did in round 1. It was again a short draw if one just counts the moves, but as in round 1 it was a wild game, full of content. Another repeated idea is that he once again sacrificed an exchange; in fact, in this game (against Ian Nepomniachtchi) he upped the ante and made it a full rook sacrifice. It wasn't enough for an advantage, but it made for an exciting game in any case.

    The remaining games weren't so interesting. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Teimour Radjabov played a quick, short (32 moves) draw, as they often do, and no one was remotely close to being in danger. This makes 22 drawn games in a row between them going back to 2012, many of them in under 20 moves. Draw your own conclusions (pun intended). Viswanathan Anand and Vladimir Fedoseev's game had a little more life, but not much: Fedoseev's Petroff did what the Petroff was designed to do and they called it a day after 34 moves. Finally, Ding Liren obtained an advantage against Santosh Viidt Gujrathi, but couldn't maintain it, and they split the point after move 33. (Games here, but this time without annotations.)

    The tournament leaders are thus the same as the leaders after yesterday's games: Anand and Nepomniachtchi. The caboose is brought up by today's victims, Kramnik and Duda, and everyone else has one point. Here are the pairings for tomorrow's (Monday's) round 3:

    • Vidit (1) - Carlsen (1)
    • Van Foreest (1) - Ding (1)
    • Fedoseev (1) - Duda (.5)
    • Shankland (1) - Anand (1.5)
    • Radjabov (1) - Rapport (1)
    • Giri (1) - Mamedyarov (1)
    • Nepomniachtchi (1.5) - Kramnik (.5)

    A question in parting: why is Carlsen given as board 1 every round, just as at the last two World Rapid & Blitz Championships? He isn't pairing number 1 (as I understand it, he would have had the white pieces in round 1 if he were) and the board numbers aren't determined by rating. Is this another Norwegian TV thing? Can they really not set up their cameras on a different board? Not even Garry Kasparov ever received such treatment. Hopefully players, sponsors, and the media won't have to start referring to him with honorifics and be forced to retreat from his presence by walking backwards and always facing him.

    Thursday
    Nov152018

    Shenzhen Finishes in a Three-Way Tie; MVL First on Tiebreak

    Maxime Vachier-Lagrave took first on tiebreaks over Anish Giri and Ding Liren in the Shenzhen Masters (aka the 2nd Du Te Cup). I'm not a fan of determining first place in round-robins by tiebreaks, but that said, it was the only tiebreak method that I think is relevant: head-to-head scores. Giri drew his four games with MVL and Ding (it was a double round-robin), but MVL won his second game with Ding to have the best score in the mini-round robin of the top three.

    It was an odd tournament, with very few wins overall - just six games out of 30. Ding beat Radoslaw Wojtaszek in round 5, lost to MVL in round 7, and beat Yu Yangyi in round 8. Yu beat Nikita Vitiugov in round 5; Vitiugov beat Wojtaszek in round 7, and Giri beat Wojtaszek in the final round. (Up to that point he was the only player who drew all his games.)

    The tournament came close to achieving Lake Wobegon status. Not all the "children" were above average, but half were while 2/3 of the other half (Yu and Vitiugov) were average. Only poor Wojtaszek really took it on the chin, going -3 (3.5/10).

    The most noteworthy aspect of the tournament was that Ding Liren's very long unbeaten streak finally came to an end after 100 games, when he lost to Vachier-Lagrave. More on the streak, and the apparent surviving record streak held by Sergei Tiviakov, here.

    Tuesday
    Sep252018

    2018 Speed Chess Championship: Aronian-Giri

    This match between Levon Aronian and Anish Giri, the second of the quarterfinal pairings of the 2018 Speed Chess Championship, occurred last week. Most of you probably already know what happened, if you've followed the competition closely, but I'll stick to my usual procedure and report the result in the first comment. So: if you want to watch the video coverage as if it were live, here's the link.

    Whatever the final result, Giri had a bit of a problem with a glass jaw in the match, losing a handful of brutal games to lightning attacks. Here are five of them.