Anish Giri emerged as the sole winner in Reggio Emilia on Friday. At the 54th Torneo di Capodanno he drew with Fabiano Caruana and saw his two main rivals Alexander Morozevich and Hikaru Nakamura lose against Nikita Vitiugov and Vassily Ivanchuk respectively.
As we noted yesterday, a lot of scenarios were possible for the last round in Reggio Emilia. Eventually the tournament did get a sole winner: Anish Giri, in fact the youngest and lowest rated player in the tournament. It was the biggest succes so far for the 17-year-old grandmaster, who was born in St. Petersburg but has been living in The Netherlands since early 2008 and plays under the Dutch flag.
The funny thing was that Giri didn't even win in the last round: with White he was held to a draw by Fabiano Caruana, who played a very solid set-up against Giri's English Opening.
This meant that both Alexander Morozevich and Hikaru Nakamura could still finish ahead by winning their games, or at least share first place with a draw. Instead, these two players lost.
For Morozevich especially it was a disappointing affair: the Moscovite had the best SB score going into the final round, and in fact he reached a winning position against Nikita Vitiugov. Just before the time control, two mistakes changed a winning position into and ending an exchange down, and then a third mistake led to a theoretically lost position.
But Hikaru Nakamura also had enough reason to feel disappointed. The American grandmaster was leading by 4 points after 7 rounds, but then lost all three games in the final 3 rounds. On Friday it was Vassily Ivanchuk who beat him, finally recovering from a very bad series. History repeated itself, because last year in Bazna Ivanchuk also won against Nakamura in the final round after many losses.
Interview Anish Giri
It was a remarkable tournament where only a few games ended in draws. After the round, and after the closing ceremony, we conducted an interview with the tournament winner via Skype Chat. After we congratulated him, Anish Giri was the first to admit that he had been lucky finishing sole first in Reggio Emilia. Here's the interview:
[Peter Doggers:] So... will this be our last interview in English?
[Anish Giri:] Hahahaha. Not sure... It's not Wijk that I won, so sorry, no promises!
Never mind, about the tournament, it's one with two 'faces'. Two losses and two draws, before the engine started rolling, what went wrong at the start, if anything?
If I were you, I would ask what went right at the end...
That was my next one.
But to be honest, it's pretty clear. I mean in my white games I was just getting positions I didn't like. I wasn't too familiar with variations I played.
Even the KID against Hikaru?
Yes, I had the advantage, but I didn't understand the position that I had gone for. In fact I don't need any d6 after Nc5, with one knight gone White is pretty much better anyhow as as the g4 plan loses it's strength dramatically, I can even try g3 myself.
Did you miss the Qd4+ in that line?
Yes, I missed Bxc5. I was calculating Qb6 like a maniac. Once I played Bxc5 I saw Bxc5 and Qd4+... That was awful. And with Morozevich I followed my OOOOOLD analysis and it just was bad, as I didn't understand the position back then.
So I guess you weren't 100% sharp yet - this might worry a chess player, but then you got a game where Fabiano played perhaps his worst of the tournament? Something very welcome to get into the tournament? Or am I underestimating your play in that one!?
Yes, but I must say my head started working finally. I was very unconfident, but I did make some good, healthy moves. But then again, the position played itself. I love this kind of games, when it just goes naturally, all you need is to listen to the position.
I love this kind of games, when it just goes naturally, all you need is to listen to the position.
And then Chuky, did this go natural as well? It looked like it.
Yeah, he played terrible. h5?? and Rg8, Ra7, all those moves. It just wasn't his day. But it started there I suppose.
Yes, it's still Chuky, you haven't beaten many players yet like him, how did you feel afterwards?
Okay, it always feels great, but I felt confused as he played far below his level. I mean seriously, moves like h5, something is just wrong. It's not even a miscalculation.
Right. And then something interesting. You've recently added 1.e4 to your repertoire, and with success!
Recently? My goodness, I play it since I was 7. I added d4 when I was around 12 I think. Everybody just freaks out when I play 1.e4, tell me, WHY?
But I haven't seen 1.e4 in many of your games in the last few years. But OK, I will check the stats.
OK, recently I started playing it a bit more, as I discovered some unseen ideas in topical lines. And 1.d4 is having some crisis sometimes.
Maybe it's surprising not because of you, but because it's sort of the other way around, a lot of 1.e4 players went 1.d4, but OK, again, I will do a '1.e4 Giri' search!
Yeah, actually it's all about fresh ideas, and inspiration. Somehow I am often inspired by 1.e4, and vice versa.
Did you prepare the exchange sac in that game?
Well, he played only French lately, so I was surprised sort of, but I had a look at that line a long time ago. I prepared this Be2 year or two ago, in fact.
Yeah, it's tricky.
It's a nice surprise weapon, especially for those unfamiliar with Scheveningen (as Black).
Then, ...exf5 was indeed wrong I guess? Or is White better anyway?
No, no. I was far from sure. I underestimated this Qd2! idea. Instead of f4, I liked Qd3 at first, but it was also nothing, as after Bxe5 Rad1 Bxd6 Qxd6 he has very strong f6! so after Qd2 I felt it was around even. He could go c5 on next move or one after and OK, a4! and f5! were just to throw some wood into fire, in time trouble. I was sure it's full compensation.
And then the 'big game'...
How did you go into the second one against Hikaru, Petroff... a draw was fine?
Well, lately people forget that the Petroff is not for two results. And against Hikaru it's not really about that.
Right, you know he will always play.
Yes he always plays, and gives people play. And, I just felt comfortable with my opening choice. And when I feel comfortable it doesn't matter what opening. I mean if I go Najdorf it was more probably likley I would lose. And to be honest, I didn't mind draw with black so much. I would take my chance. But otherwise, I can't squeeze something out of nothing, and don't forget I started with -2.
Right. And he lost the day before... Did you feel he wasn't in top shape anymore? During the game?
Well, I felt, or better to say witnessed, that he misunderstood the position we had. Ng5, h5, all those moves...
Well, I felt, or better to say witnessed, that he misunderstood the position we had.
They were just not good, in that position. At least that's what I thought.
That's interesting because he had something very similar against Kramnik. And still he misunderstood it somehow?
Well, I played a new concept. I waited with Nf6 for one move. It's not popular, so he thought Ng5 is still good but with knight on f8 it just loses the point. I can always kick it out with h6 or f6, whereas there he can sac it, like Karjakin. The position is very complex, needs a lot of analysis.
Did you find this idea before the tournament, or during?
Oh, it's Petroff, do you take me seriously? Ok, I am joking, but I had a look at it long in advance. I analysed it quite a lot, but it's too complex anyway. Weird line.
And I guess your last-round psychology was similar: not losing was more important than winning?
No, I felt like I was going to win. I was very confident, like never before (before the game), but during the game, once I got into time trouble I started getting nervous. I was afraid to blow the advantage away, and then with pressure and time trouble I just misjudged the position. I thought it was equal, while I had a pleasant edge.
24...c5 looked very strong.
Yes, I saw it, it seemed kind of equalizing but in fact I had a strong plan, to play f3, triple, and once he has a rook on e6 to go h4, Bh3. We both missed it and thought Black was just equalizing. OK, easy, but I just was under too much pressure. I am not used to be so close to win a tournament, I guess...
I am not used to be so close to win a tournament, I guess...
Sure. Well luckily it didn't matter in the end - you stayed to watch the other games I guess?
No, I left the hall OK, yes, it may even seem like I made a genius decision, but to be honest I thought it wouldn't matter, as I expected Morozevich to win. His position looked very good And Vitiugov was playing unconfidently in the beginning. So I thought Moro was first anyway, and I thought second place is fine, and the tournament was good. But then Vitiugov used all the chances. Very nice tricks at the end. Maybe if Morozevich avoided trading bishops it would still be a draw. With Hikaru we discussed it briefly afterwards, we both felt it was drawish. So I would become 2nd after all :-) So too much luck, really. :-)
But in any case +2 in such tournament after -2 would be fantastic for me.
Yes, it's always tough to recover DURING an event I think, but this was more than just recovering!
Well, I am usually OK with losses, but this was too much indeed.
So does this result make you more confident for Tata, or do you feel the same?
Of course it does. But I start with +0 like all the others, so it can go either way. But a nice boost for sure, I hope.
And the next few days, rest, prepare, school, none of the above?
Rest and prepare. School is for after Wijk!
Well thanks a lot, enjoy it!
Sure! Thanks a lot!