“Resuming my webpage with an article about my activities so far in 2018…”
Anish resumes writing for his website and starts with his activities so far in 2018, namely about Tata Steel Chess, Shamkir Chess as well as briefly about working with Vladimir Kramnik including brief annotations of some games.
It’s been quite a while ago when I last updated my website.I have been quite occupied writing regularly for New in Chess in the capacity of the contributing editor as well as for my sponsor Optiver. Nevertheless, taking into account the requests of my followers and well-wishers with deep respect, I have decided to resume writing some articles including game annotations for my webpage as regular as possible.
Start of the 2018 with home tournament
This year has started off well for me, as I was fortunate enough to peak at my home tournament TataSteelChess.
After some tough results at the end of last year (-1 in Mallorca after a good start, last round loss to Lenic in European Team which also started off very well), I had a quiet month of December, in order to rest well and prepare for the important tournament in the town of Wijk aan Zee.
Perhaps I was a little rusty at the start, but I was very fortunate in the first round that after defending very well in the queen endgame, my opponent Hou Yifan got confused in a rather curious pawn endgame.
Game Fragment: A. Giri – H. Yifan (Click here to view in Chessbase viewer)
The second round too, I couldn’t have hoped for more. I was paired against Vladimir Kramnik, against whom I had a score of -7 without wins.
At some point, he made a mistake which is unfortunately rather common for the Russian legend as of late- his sense of danger had left him, and in a rather comfortable opening position, he went astray very quickly. The finish of the game was very elegant.
Game Fragment: A. Giri – V. Kramnik (Click here to view in Chessbase viewer)
After the good start I had slowed down a little bit. My opening duel in the sharp winaver variation with World Champion was quite fascinating, but as he had repeated his lines the same day and I, perhaps a few months ago, I had spent a lot of time and at some point, chose the wrong continuation which led straight to a draw.
Game Fragment:A. Giri – M. Carlsen (Click here to view in Chessbase viewer)
My third win came against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, who was leading the event at that point. He played too quickly in the opening and didn’t spot an important nuance. After that things went downhill for him quickly.
Game Fragment:A. Giri – S. Mamedyarov (Click here to view in Chessbase viewer)
As both Magnus Carlsen and Shakhriyar kept getting more and more points, in order to stay in the race, I had to keep winning some games and I actually was fortunate enough to beat Matlakov with Black. At a critical moment he had an idea that we both missed, which could have put me on the verge of a defeat, but as he followed the most obvious continuation, he found himself under pressure and I managed to eventually win.
Game Fragment: M. Matlakov – A. Giri (Click here to view in Chessbase viewer)
With two rounds to go, myself, Magnus and Shakh were on +4, but given the pairing we all had, it was likely that at least one of the three will win one more game.
My game against Adhiban in the penultimate round didn’t start off all too well, but when the position was about to be fully equalized, it suddenly got very interesting. The game was pretty as it was, but at some point, a very beautiful combination was left behinds the scenes.
Game Fragment: A. Giri – B. Adhiban (Click here to view in Chessbase viewer)
After this game I thought I was likely to win the tournament alone, but just like So did earlier in the tournament, Matlakov also crumbled under the pressure in his game against Magnus Carlsen which featured an opposite colored bishop endgame. I had been at both ends of this phenomenon, when somehow a position one would normally be able to defend no longer deems itself defendable when facing a great opposition.
In the final round I did not intend to take big risks with black against Wei Yi, whom I lost to once as black and have so far never beaten (true that we hadn’t played too much). Magnus also made a draw against Karjakin and as Shakh drew his game too, the first place was shared between me and Carlsen. The new rules of the tournament stated that there was to be a blitz tie-break between the players. Magnus Carlsen has some remarkable record of winning by now many, many tiebreaks in a row. But, as good as he is, I did not think that I was doomed to lose it.
At the end of the day, there aren’t many things in this world more random than an outcome of a blitz game between two fine players, but as faith had it, I did lose the tie-break and had to be satisfied with the final score of +5, comeback to top 10 and a much needed confidence boost for the rest of the year.
Seconding the Russian legend
I spent most of the next two months helping Vladimir Kramnik prepare for the Candidates tournament, as I had unfortunately not managed to qualify myself. I had my chances in the Grand Prix series and in the World Cup, but a few pivotal games did not go my way.
It was fascinating to witness the approach and performance of the Russian legend from up-close, but unfortunately at a few key moments he had taken some irrational decision and in the end could only be satisfied with a modest score of -1, and a lot of praise from the commentators and the chess fans for his enterprising and uncompromising play.
He did start with two wins and the game against Aronian will definitely go down as one of the modern classics, as Levon fell into a positional opening trap.
Game Fragment: L. Aronian – V. Kramnik (Click here to view in Chessbase viewer)
My second tournament this year was Shamkir Chess. At the start things didn’t go near as smooth as they did in Wijk aan Zee. In fact, in most of the games I was on the verge of a defeat and only with a lot of luck did I manage to keep my head above the water in the first half. The endgame we got with Ding Liren was truly study-like.
Game Fragment: A Giri – D. Liren (Click here to view in Chessbase viewer)
After the restday though, I did manage to get into the plus, as I had beaten David Navara straight out of the opening thanks to my preparation.
Game Fragment: A Giri – D. Navara (Click here to view in Chessbase viewer)
Against Rauf with black I didn’t have too much hope, as he has shown himself to be a very solid player, but at some point, I could have had him tied down in the endgame.
Game Fragment: R. Mamedov – A Giri (Click here to view in Chessbase viewer)
As I failed to win this game, I was half a point behind Magnus Carlsen, who in his turn had his share of fortune against the leader Veselin Topalov and going into the final two rounds took the lead. I did not look for a principled fight in the opening, but rather ironically, I did end up in a very theoretical variation and at some point, went astray. I got a couple of chances to get back into the game, as pretty much always, but unfortunately this time around I was not able to exploit them.
Game Fragment: A. Giri – M. Carlsen (Click here to view in Chessbase viewer)
Going into the final round with fifty percent there was not much to play for, both for me and for my opponent Wojtaszek. Therefore, we met each other in a theoretical line, where I recovered my reputation as a well-prepared player, in a Catalan system that I haven’t played in a long while.
It is very hard to judge how “fair” the score of 4.5/9 finally was, as on one hand I could have easily got into minus from the start, but just the same I could have taken the lead in round 7 and by no means had to lose the white game in round 8. In any case, not much can be done about that at this point and I am looking forward to start preparing for my next tournaments. First in line is rapid and blitz in Leuven in June and then Dortmund in July.