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    Entries in Anish Giri (56)

    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.

    Saturday
    Sep082018

    Karjakin-Duda and Giri-Mamedyarov

    The last two matches of the 1/8-finals of the 2018 Speed Chess Championship are now history, and they were both very good, coming down to the wire. If you didn't watch the matches live but want to see them, without knowing what happened, we're here to serve. The Karjakin-Duda stream can be (re-) watched here, and Giri-Mamedyarov is here.

    UPDATE/Bonus: Another Chess.com super-event is underway now as well, the 2018 PRO Chess League All-Star Games. Have a look, but only if it doesn't interfere with your enjoyment of the Notre Dame game.

    Friday
    Aug242018

    More St. Louis Action Coming Up: Chess960 Matches Starring Kasparov

    Here's the quick summary: five 20-game matches, with six rapid and 14 blitz games taking place from September 11-14 of this year. All the games are Chess960 (aka Fischerrandom), and the positions will be unknown to the players until the start of the round. Here are the pairings:

    • Garry Kasparov - Veselin Topalov
    • Hikaru Nakamura - Peter Svidler
    • Wesley So - Anish Giri
    • Sam Shankland - Maxime Vachier-Lagrave
    • Levon Aronian - Leinier Dominguez

    Friday
    May252018

    Baden-Baden Wins 12th Bundesliga Title in 13 Years (Yawn)

    A team "from" Baden-Baden with no German players beat a team "from" Solingen without any German players, to win the 2017-2018 German league competition known as the Bundesliga. (Maybe each team had a German player as their last substitute, whose job it was to provide beer and munchies for the leading mercenaries players.) Baden-Baden generally romps to victory, as they are typically stocked with 2700-2800 players from top to bottom. But this year it was close, requiring a playoff, and not only did Solingen make it close in the playoff; they also beat B-B in the regular season. Baden-Baden won on boards 4 and 8, with Peter Svidler and Rustam Kasimdzhanov beating Jan Smeets and Predrag Nikolic, respectively on the way to a 4.5-3.5 team victory. The most notable result was Solingen's one victory: Anish Giri's impressive win over Fabiano Caruana on board 1.

    More here.

    A remark about a bit of trash-talk from Peter Heine Nielsen. In the article linked above, they show a selfie by Giri with Caruana back in March, which only praises Caruana after his win in the Candidates. There's nothing self-aggrandizing in it at all. For some reason Nielsen, who is a second for Magnus Carlsen and a very strong (but not Grand Chess Tour level) GM, tweeted this: "Two of my favorite players: Their tournament victories includes Candidates, Olympics, London Chess Classic, Sinquefield Cup, Dortmund and Zurich!" The "joke", of course, is that all of those events were won by Caruana, and none were won by Giri. This might have been funny if Giri's selfie tweet had involved any bragging, but there wasn't. So the joke makes no sense, especially since Nielsen's chess career, as impressive as it is not only to most chess players, but even to most grandmasters, would barely register as a smudge on Giri's résumé.

    To elaborate: Nielsen has never so much as played in the Candidates, the London Chess Classic, the Sinquefield Cup, or in Zurich; and in his one and only appearance in the elite round-robin in Dortmund (in 2005), he finished dead last. While we're at it, how about Tata Steel (Wijk aan Zee)? Nielsen never played in the main event, while Giri has played in it each of the last eight years, starting from the age of 16. He finished second in 2014, tied for second in 2015, and tied for first this year before losing to Carlsen in a playoff.

    Maybe there is a broader context at play here. Certainly Giri is known for poking at other people (himself included), incluing Nielsen's boss (Carlsen). If that was part of the overall picture, then the joke might have been more appropriate. If the full context was just Giri's selfie and tweet, however, the joke was pretty stupid.

    Wednesday
    Apr252018

    Shamkir, Round 6: Giri Joins the Winners' Club

    It may be impossible to repair the damage at this point (though an enterprising reader like Chuckles is welcome to work out for us how if at all a 10-way tie for first is still possible), now that Anish Giri has also won a game, at the expense of David Navara who is now at -2. Navara was never doing well on the black side of an Advance Caro-Kann, but apparently thought he had found an ingenious tactical solution to his problems when he played 23...Bc2.

    If so, he was completely wrong. His move would work if after 24.Rxc2 Rxc2 25.Qxc2 Nd4 White would move the queen. Then Black would have at least equality, and against most moves he'd even be winning. But 26.b6 wins for White, and 25.b6 is even better. For that matter, 24.b6 is also excellent, and was the move chosen by Giri, after which Black's position was thoroughly and irrevocably lost.

    Veselin Topalov led entering the round, and he still does, but he was unable to add to his lead. He found a small improvement on the white side of a Sveshnikov Sicilian, but Rauf Mamedov played well and obtained a typical kind of Sveshnikov draw with opposite-colored bishops.

    The World Champion was content to play for a draw against Sergey Karjakin with the Marshall Gambit, and he achieved it easily enough. He followed a 2017 game of his against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave up until move 20, and seemed to have no problems after that. He's still half a point behind Topalov, and tied with Giri in second place.

    Ding Liren enjoyed a small edge against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, but couldn't convert it into anything serious.

    Finally, Teimour Radjabov and Radoslaw Wojtaszek contested a deeply theoretical Poisoned Pawn Variation (is there any other kind?), and followed email games practically to the very end. Wojtaszek passed the memory test, and the game was drawn.

    Here are the games (with some comments). Round 7, tomorrow, looks like this:

    • Mamedyarov (2.5) - Radjabov (3)
    • Navara (2) - Ding Liren (3)
    • Mamedov (3) - Giri (3.5)
    • Carlsen (3.5) - Topalov (4)
    • Wojtaszek (2.5) - Karjakin (3)

    Friday
    Mar092018

    Candidates Odds & Ends

    Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, who very, very nearly qualified for the Candidates (by several different means) has written up his own preview of the event, singling out Fabiano Caruana and Levon Aronian as his favorites. (He's not alone in this, as he acknowledges; many others - and I'd include myself here - are of the same opinion.) He also offers some very high praise of Vladimir Kramnik:

    In my opinion, Vlad is probably the player in the world who best understands chess. You can show him whatever position, his instincts will seldom let him down. He will always find what the evaluation of the position is and which plan to adopt.

    A well-known Norwegian didn't care for this very much, expressing his disapproval on Twitter, and in Kramnik's and MVL's defense came Anish Giri. Giri has two dogs in the fight: first, he and Magnus Carlsen have been exchanging barbed tweets for years now; second, Giri is one of Kramnik's helpers for the Candidates. You can read more about how their little feud progressed at the preceding link; perhaps it has continued on their Twitter feeds in the meantime.

    Returning to more buttoned-up preview material, Jan Gustafsson has a preview series of videos on Chess24, and Chess24 also has a series of articles on the Candidates. In order from the most to the least recent:

    Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Vladimir Kramnik, Levon Aronian, Alexander Grischuk, Fabiano Caruana, Ding Liren, Wesley So, and Sergei Karjakin.

    Happy reading and viewing!

    Monday
    Jan292018

    Wijk aan Zee 2018, Final Round and Playoff: Carlsen Defeats Giri To Win the Tournament

    The exciting and closely contested 2018 edition of the Tata Steel Masters, held mostly in its traditional site in Wijk aan Zee, concluded in a two-game blitz playoff between Magnus Carlsen and Anish Giri. Both played very well in the tournament, and Giri probably played the better chess overall. (Certainly his level was more consistently excellent throughout the tournament, and he can also boast of having beaten the players who tied for third-fourth, half a point behind him and Carlsen.) He can take pride in that, but ultimately moral victories matter less than real ones. Carlsen won their first playoff game very smoothly, and while Giri had some chances in the second game Carlsen's defense was more than up to the task. As a result, Carlsen won his sixth Wijk aan Zee crown, and also, scarily, maintained an unbeaten streak in tiebreaks going back to 2007.

    For Carlsen, it was his first victory in a Classical round-robin event in quite some time, and for Giri it marked a clear return to the world's elite. He gained a whopping 25 rating points, and was very close to becoming the first Dutch player since Jan Timman back in 1985 to win the Wijk aan Zee supertournament.

    Let's go back to round 13. Carlsen had Black against Sergey Karjakin, and was apparently perfectly prepared for Karjakin's novelty in an anti-Marshall, drawing easily. Anish Giri also had Black, against Wei Yi, and he too drew in comfort.

    This gave Shakhriyar Mamedyarov the chance to catch them in a tie for first, if he could beat Viswanathan Anand. Unlike Carlsen and Giri, Mamedyarov had White, and he gave it a good try. Anand defended very well though, and his slight inaccuracy on move 35 wasn't enough to cost him the game. It was a great tournament for Mamedyarov, but not good enough to get him into a playoff.

    Joining Mamedyarov in a tie for third, half a point behind the leaders, was Vladimir Kramnik. He defeated Baskaran Adhiban with Black, though not smoothly. He was in serious trouble, but was bailed out and then some when Adhiban came up with the bad idea of sacrificing the exchange. Instead of a big advantage after 33.Nxb7, Adhiban was just about lost after 33.Rb1? Rc7 34.Rb5 b6 35.Rxa5? bxa5. Kramnik's result was good, he gained rating points (his new rating will be rounded up to 2800), and notched up more wins - 6 - than anyone else in the tournament. Overall though, his play was inconsistent and sometimes shaky, and it will have to be better if he hopes to win the Candidates in March.

    Another half a point back were Anand and Wesley So. So defeated Hou Yifan to finish a successful tournament, while for Hou she finished tied for the worst score in the history of 13-round Wijk aan Zee events. (Ironically, that too was a record of Jan Timman's.)

    The other games were drawn: Caruana-Svidler and Matlakov-Jones. All the games, including the tiebreaks, are here, with my comments to all but Matlakov-Jones.

    Final Standings:

    • 1. Carlsen 9 (and 1.5-.5 in the playoff vs. Giri)
    • 2. Giri 9
    • 3-4. Kramnik, Mamedyarov 8.5
    • 5-6. Anand, So 8
    • 7. Karjakin 7.5
    • 8. Svidler 6
    • 9. Wei Yi 5.5
    • 10-12. Jones, Caruana, Matlakov 5
    • 13. Adhiban 3.5
    • 14. Hou Yifan 2.5

    Sunday
    Jan282018

    Wijk aan Zee 2018, Round 12: Carlsen and Giri Lead Entering the Last Round

    The penultimate round of this year's Tata Steel Masters event was a fighting one...mostly. The game between Gawain Jones and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov was a bit of a shocker, though. Not from Jones's side of the board: as the underdog in every game, and having lost three of his last four games, it's not surprising that he'd be happy to get a quick draw, even with White. But for Mamedyarov it's really odd. He was a significant favorite by rating and in good form, yet he played the Petroff and stumbled into a draw by repetition after just 12 moves. Maybe he assumed that Jones would play more ambitiously with White? Whatever the story, it was a terrible result for Mamedyarov, as both his main rivals won.

    The first of the two to win was Anish Giri, who dispatched Baskaran Adhiban with relative ease. After 17...Qb6(?) 18.Be3 Giri had a nice edge - maybe Adhiban missed that after 18...Ng4 19.Qe4! Black couldn't take on e3 as the bind following 20.Qe8+ Bf8 21.fxe3 would be fatal. So he had to give up a pawn several moves later, and Giri managed to convert his advantage. Amusingly, the secret was to return the pawn some moves later to establish a new bind, and this one wound up costing Adhiban a piece and the game.

    For Magnus Carlsen, the win took a lot longer, and was yet another demonstration of his unmatched endgame prowess. The game went straight from the opening to the ending, and after 23 moves the players were down to a rook apiece and opposite-colored bishops, with three pawns apiece on the kingside and Carlsen enjoying an extra pawn on the queenside. The pawn looked worthless though: he had an a-pawn and doubled c-pawns against Black's a- and b-pawns. A draw, surely? For most of us, yet; in fact, I wouldn't be surprised to see even some titled players call it a day at that point. Carlsen's 24.Rd1 did keep a slight edge though, and while Matlakov's response was understandable it may not have been the best idea, as it gave Carlsen additional targets. Still, a draw was much likelier than a win for White, but the game went on and on, and Carlsen is Carlsen.

    Thus Giri and Carlsen lead Mamedyarov by half a point entering the final round. If Viswanathan Anand had won against Wesley So, he would have caught up with Mamedyarov. To his misfortune, he had nothing special prepared for So's Open Ruy Lopez. In a very well-known line they followed an Adams-Giri game from last March for 27 moves. In that game, Adams played 28.Ra8 and a draw was agreed after White's 31st move. In this game, Anand played 28.Rd1, and a draw was agreed after Black's 32nd move.

    Anand is therefore in fourth place, where he was caught by Vladimir Kramnik. Kramnik bounced back from his loss to Sergey Karjakin in the previous round by defeating Fabiano Caruana - an impressive comeback. Kramnik could have won the queen ending sooner than he did, but despite an excess of caution he never let the win slip.

    The other games were drawn: Peter Svidler split the point with Karjakin in 32 moves, while Hou Yifan-Wei Yi drew in 45.

    The games (unannotated today, sorry) are here, and these are the pairings for the last round:

    • So (7) - Hou Yifan (2.5)
    • Mamedyarov (8) - Anand (7.5)
    • Matlakov (4.5) - Jones (4.5)
    • Karjakin (7) - Carlsen (8.5)
    • Caruana (4.5) - Svidler (5.5)
    • Adhiban (3.5) - Kramnik (7.5)
    • Wei Yi (5.5) - Giri (8.5)

    No fewer than five players still have a shot at first, but on paper Giri probably has the best chances to win the event. In case of a tie, there will be a two-game playoff - a pair of 5'+3" games - followed by an Armageddon game, if necessary. (I'm not sure what happens in case of a three-way [or even four-way] tie. Maybe the top two by tiebreak play the two-game match, and the third place finisher is out?)

    Finally, a quick check-in on the Challengers group. Vidit Gujrathi and Anton Korobov had been tied for a while, but in round 12 Vidit won and Korobov drew, so the former leads by a half point entering the last round. (Recall that the winner is promoted to next year's Masters tournament.) The players have approximately equally strong opponents in the last round - Vidit faces Jorden Van Foreest, while Korobov gets Dmitry Gordievsky. (Both JVF and DG are 2620-something.) But Vidit has White and Korobov Black, so it looks good for Vidit to join the top players next year.

    Tuesday
    Jan232018

    Wijk aan Zee 2018, Round 9: Man Bites Dog (Giri Wins and Everyone Else Draws)

    What is this world coming to? Anish Giri defeated Maxim Matlakov today with Black thanks to big errors on White's 25th and 35th moves, and now he's the sole leader of the Tata Steel Masters tournament. It's only a half-point lead over Magnus Carlsen and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and four rounds remain, but it's better to be half a point ahead of the field than half a point behind the leader. With four wins in total, including wins over Mamedyarov and Vladimir Kramnik, he's having a great tournament, and has a very real shot at becoming the first Dutch player to win the country's most prestigious annual tournament since Jan Timman did it 33 years ago, in 1985.

    Of the draws: not all of them were solid affairs that started equal and stayed that way. That was, however, the story of the other games featuring the pre-round co-leaders. Carlsen drew on the black side of a Breyer against Viswanathan Anand (the line they used to test around the turn of the decade), while Mamedyarov was unable to achieve anything with White against Kramnik in an Italian game. Other games had more adventures, and I'll leave their exploration to all of you. The games, with my notes to Giri's game, are here.

    Tomorrow (or today, depending on where you are) is the second road game, and will be followed by a rest day. Here's what's on tap for round 10: 

    • Hou Yifan (1.5) - Baskaran Adhiban (2.5)
    • Wei Yi (3.5) - Fabiano Caruana (3.5)
    • Anish Giri (6.5) - Sergey Karjakin (5)
    • Vladimir Kramnik (5.5) - Maxim Matlakov (4)
    • Peter Svidler (4.5) - Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (6)
    • Magnus Carlsen (6) - Wesley So (5.5)
    • Gawain Jones (4) - Viswanathan Anand (5) 
    Sunday
    Jan212018

    Wijk aan Zee 2018, Round 8: Giri Beats Mamedyarov, Carlsen Blunders a Piece and Wins Anyway; All Three Lead

    Did we jinx Shakhriyar Mamedyarov? Did he, like Icarus, fly too close to the sun? If it was too soon yesterday to crown him the heir apparent, it's likewise too soon today to say that he's getting dragged back to the chase pack behind Magnus Carlsen. What we can say is that his one point lead over the rest of the field at Wijk aan Zee is gone after a terrible game against Anish Giri. Giri started off 2-0, and after a series of mostly very short draws, apparently thought it might be fun to try to win again once again - and he succeeded. He's now tied for first with Mamedyarov, and...

    Magnus Carlsen. Just about everything about his win over Gawain Jones was absurd. First, he said he was surprised by Jones's Dragon. That would make sense if one changed one word in the last sentence: Jones (or rather, Jones's). Jones wrote two major books on the Dragon a couple of years ago, and has played more than 100 games with it that have reached the databases. It's not that Jones can't play any other opening - he does - but for the Dragon to come as a surprise to any of his opponents is crazy. Even crazier is that Carlsen just blundered a piece, full stop, on move 17. It wasn't some sort of Alpha Zero-deep idea; it was what an old friend of mine would call a stick-an-ice cream cone-on-your-forehead moment. But the biggest absurdity of them all is it hardly mattered. Jones was winning, but six moves later the position was unclear, and another six moves later Carlsen was completely winning. Jones may be the lowest-rated player in the field, but he's still a great chess player in the mid-2600s. He had an even score in the tournament coming into this game, but no matter: Carlsen can blunder a piece against a 2640-50 player in good form and still win going away. (It's reminiscent of the New England Patriots in the NFL, whose combination of excellent play and seeming deal-with-the-devil quality and quantity of good luck over the past 17 years or so is mind-boggling.)

    In other games, featuring (comparatively) normal human beings, most of the other games were drawn, and most of them were quick draws. Only one other game had a winner, and that was Fabiano Caruana coming back from a lost position against Hou Yifan to gain the full point. Caruana has had a horrible tournament, which included the first part of his game in this round, but fortunately for him Hou is having an even worse tournament. She still has just one point, and lost 19 rating points in the tournament so far.

    Here are the games, and here are the pairings for round 9, on Tuesday: 

    • Jones (3.5) - Hou Yifan (1)
    • Anand (4.5) - Carlsen (5.5)
    • So (5) - Svidler (4)
    • Mamedyarov (5.5) - Kramnik (5)
    • Matlakov (4) - Giri (5.5)
    • Karjakin (4.5) - Wei Yi (3)
    • Caruana (3) - Adhiban (2) 

    Some comments on the round 9 games, going from top to bottom.

    Jones-Hou Yifan: It's a nice opportunity for Jones to get back on track against a player who is really suffering. If he can get back to 50% it would be a terrific achievement.

    Anand-Carlsen: Anand has done pretty well against Carlsen lately, so this could well add some intrigue to the tournament.

    So-Svidler: So has been lurking close to the leaders. Svidler is not an easy pairing for anyone, but if he can win it could put him into a tie for first.

    Mamedyarov-Kramnik: Or not: Mamedyarov has a very good score against Kramnik - the ex-champ is pretty close to becoming an official "customer". As long as he's able to play his normal chess without being too discouraged from the Giri loss, he'll have excellent chances to gain a full point. (How good is his score? From 2013, including all time controls, Mamedyarov's score is +8-1=6, and four of those draws were in 2013. And just counting classical games, Mamedyarov has scored 3.5 points in the last four games.)

    Matlakov-Giri: Giri hasn't shown any ambition with Black in this tournament, so unless Matlakov self-destructs quickly a draw can be expected.

    Karjakin-Wei Yi: If Karjakin hopes to compete for first he has to start winning, and Wei Yi hasn't played particularly well so far. We'll see if Karjakin has any ambition left for the tournament, or if he's already looking ahead to the Candidates.

    Caruana-Adhiban: I'm sure Caruana will play for the full point, to boost his confidence and his rating going into the Candidates. The first half of the tournament (after his round 1 draw with Carlsen) was awful, but if he can salvage it with a strong finish he can feel good about his chess heading into the second biggest event of the year.

    A note about the Challengers' tournament. Anton Korobov had been a convincing leader, with his only real rival Vidit Gujrathi a full point behind. No longer: Korobov lost with White (from a winning position) against Bassem Amin, and now he and Vidit share first with 6/8. The winner gets promoted to the Masters' tournament next year, so there's a lot at stake for them in the last five rounds.