Reports | January 06, 2012 18:10

Reggio Emilia: Anish Giri wins his first big one - INTERVIEW!

Reggio Emilia: Anish Giri wins his first big one - INTERVIEW!

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.

Event 54th Torneo di Capodannno |  PGN via TWIC
Dates December 27th-January 6th, 2011
Location Reggio Emilia, Italy
System 6-player double round robin
Players Ivanchuk, Nakamura, Morozevich, Vitiugov, Caruana, Giri
Rate of play 100 minutes for the first moves followed by 50 minutes to finish the game with 30 seconds increment from move 1

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. 
Tournament director Roberto Mongranzini, Sopiko Guramishvili (who won the women's event) and Anish Giri

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'...
Haha, okay...
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!
Oh, yes.
Well thanks a lot, enjoy it!
Sure! Thanks a lot!

Reggio Emilia 2011 | Round 10 Standings

No. Name Rtg Score/game Tiebreak Perf
1 Giri,A 2714 16.0/10   2821
2 Morozevich,A 2762 15.0/10 SB 28.00 2775
3 Nakamura,H 2758 15.0/10 SB 24.75 2776
4 Caruana,F 2727 15.0/10 SB 24.50 2782
5 Ivanchuk,V 2775 12.0/10   2703
6 Vitiugov,N 2729 8.0/10   2600

Reggio Emilia 2011 | Round 10 Standings (classical)


Reggio Emilia 2011 | Schedule & results

Round 1 27.12.11 15:00 CET   Round 6 02.01.12 15:00 CET
Ivanchuk ½-½ Giri   Giri 1-0 Ivanchuk
Vitiugov 0-1 Nakamura   Nakamura 1-0 Vitiugov
Caruana 0-1 Morozevich   Morozevich 0-1 Caruana
Round 2 28.12.11 15:00 CET   Round 7 03.01.12 15:00 CET
Giri 0-1 Morozevich   Morozevich ½-½ Giri
Nakamura ½-½ Caruana   Caruana ½-½ Nakamura
Ivanchuk ½-½ Vitiugov   Vitiugov 1-0 Ivanchuk
Round 3 29.12.11 15:00 CET   Round 8 04.01.12 15:00 CET
Vitiugov ½-½ Giri   Giri 1-0 Vitiugov
Caruana 0-1 Ivanchuk   Ivanchuk 0-1 Caruana
Morozevich ½-½ Nakamura   Nakamura 0-1 Morozevich
Round 4 30.12.11 15:00 CET   Round 9 05.01.12 15:00 CET
Giri 0-1 Nakamura   Nakamura 0-1 Giri
Ivanchuk 1-0 Morozevich   Morozevich ½-½ Ivanchuk
Vitiugov 0-1 Caruana   Caruana 1-0 Vitiugov
Round 5 31.12.11 15:00 CET   Round 10 06.01.12 13:00 CET
Caruana 0-1 Giri   Giri ½-½ Caruana
Morozevich 1-0 Vitiugov   Vitiugov 1-0 Morozevich
Nakamura 1-0 Ivanchuk   Ivanchuk 1-0 Nakamura


Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


Anonymous's picture

well done giri! the wins over nakamura and ivanchuk were beautiful positional grinds!

columbo's picture

strange ending scenario but what a great day for Giri ! congratulations to the kid ... can't wait to see the confirmation in tata Steel

Excalibur's picture

Congrats to the kid!

Mark's picture

Solid finish by Nakamura, haha. Anyway, well done Anish!

columbo's picture

Mark ! you deserve a drink !!! LOL

FBardamu's picture

Giri for president!

Morley's picture

What a crazy tournament! Great job by Giri, he really pulled it together in the latter half of the tournament. Nakamura's collapse was unfortunate; he started off doing so well. His result of 7 decisive games and 3 draws is a good indicator that we aren't approaching the draw death anytime soon. It was great to see such fireworks and combative play each round; I am glad so many of these guys are going at it again in a week at Tata!

Louis van Meegeren's picture

What a tournament! Congratulations to Anish Giri - he makes me proud to live in the same country. Hope that Tata will be as exciting. With Giri having the home advantage and considering his learning curve, I expect dancing in the streets of Holland!

Bert de Bruut's picture

All players (even only six) winning and losing at least two games has not happened in a very long time I suppose...

Morley's picture

Also, there were 21 decisive games to 9 draws for the whole tournament, which is hugely divergent from what usually happens at this level.

Ashish's picture

Wow. That certainly didn't turn out as expected!

S3's picture

Is Giri the youngest player ever to win such a tournament?

Rbone's picture

Good ?... What cat was it 21 or 20?

Knallo's picture


columbo's picture

Carlsen won Corus in 2008 ...

Thomas Richter's picture

Maybe S3 is still right as far as clear first place goes: Carlsen shared first place at Corus 2008 with Aronian, and in Biel 2007 with Onischuk (ahead of Polgar, Radjabov and Grischuk).  Karjakin's result when he was about Giri's age of 17 1/2 was second at Aerosvit 2007 (behind Ivanchuk, ahead of Shirov and Svidler). Anyway, good company for Anish Giri ... .

Another peculiarity of the event: all four top finisher scored 50% or less with white, but better with black. Caruana won "the black tournament" (+3=2), and Ivanchuk the white one (+2=2-1) where even Vitiugov did as well as everyone else but Chucky.

S3's picture

As usual thanks for the cool info. But i can't be right since I was just asking.

Xeno's picture

Carlsen won Aerosvit 2008 when he was 17.5 one point ahead of Ivanchuk, and players like Svidler, Shirov and even the mighty Volokitin etc

Thomas Richter's picture

Yeah but if I am not mistaken Carlsen was then about one month older than Giri is now ... . Happy nitpicking but such statistics are meticulously kept for youngest-ever GMs.

@S3: Your suspicion or suggestion may still be right ... .

S3's picture

Ok..pretty cool that Giri is probably the youngest ever to win such a strong tournament. What's the limit?!

Xeno's picture

Of course excluding the much stronger Wijk 2008 because shared firsts don't count is dubious enough, but there players like Anand and Kramnik were in the field and Carlsen was younger than Giri is now.

S3's picture

You do realize you are saying nothing new here, do you?

S3's picture

p.s. there is a difference between first (= above ALL others) and equal first.
There is nothing dubious about making that distinction.

Xeno's picture

It's a ridiculous distinction, 0.5 ahead of Moro can't be compared to far ahead of Anand and Kramnik, but I'm not trying to discourage you two from continuing debating Carlsen in a meticulous way. Great tournament for Giri, by the way.

S3's picture

We are just establishing that Giri broke a record and may be the youngest player ever to win a category 20 event outright.
What really is ridiculous and sad is that you can't handle that and perceive it as some kind of threat to another player.
Now, if you know another player younger than Giri to win a cat.20 outright I'd be most interested and not offended in the least.

redivivo's picture

The question you asked was if any player had won a tournament this strong at Giri's age. Thomas writes that your suspicion/suggestion may be right since Carlsen's winning Wijk 2008 isn't the same thing as winning outright (notice the suddenly changed definition of "tournament winner"). Carlsen was younger and Wijk had all the top players while no top five players were present here. By the way, Kamsky won Tilburg 1990 (shared first) in a field with three top five players (Ivanchuk, Gelfand, Timman) when he was sixteen.

Alfonso's picture

I would say that sharing first among 14 players has more merit than winng first alone among 6 players. Wijk aan Zee 2008 was a ridicously stronger tournament than Reggio Emilia 2011-2012 and Carlsen was then younger than Giri is now. Yes, you are right, no one won alone a Cat 20 Tournament being younger than Giri. But I find more impressive Carlsen in Wijk aan Zee 2008 and Kamsky in Tilburg 1990

S3's picture

"far ahead of Anand" = 0,5 point. Hah!

archimedes's picture

What a lack of focus in response! I suppose this is the internet generation.

Winning a shared first is not outright. A complete distinction garnering no comparison. In response to S3:

"Yes! What a historic tournament win!"

columbo's picture

and was 2nd in linares in 2007, so it's about the same talent we are talking about

columbo's picture

TATA will be a hell of a test for Giri, but my idea is that he is gonna fly high, very high

columbo's picture

And Giri was the lowest rated player, that gives some sweet savor to the whole too !

UtrechtsurMer's picture

Not only did he win after a bad start, his games were also very inspiring, including quality sacrifices to obtain better positions with strong bishops. Especially the game against Vitjugov I found very entertaining.

Horst Honken's picture

A quality ... lol :-)

UtrechtsurMer's picture

exchange sacrifice, ok ok.

Thomas Richter's picture

These were "quality sacrifices" by Giri - as opposed to Ivanchuk's quantity sacrifices at the end of his game against Caruana smiley

Juan Castillo's picture

In some languages "exchange sacrifices" also mean "quality sacrifices", so it is a good idea not to use the word quality when chess is realated :)

Simple Pole etc.'s picture

Interesting discussion. Both in Polish and Russian ("ofiara jakosci" and "Жертва качества" respectively) the phrase means the act of sacrificing quality rather than a quality act of sacrifice. How does one express it in Spanish or French?

UtrechtsurMer's picture

In some of the first chessbooks I read it was called a "Russian" Exchange Sacrifice because the Russians chess players in the past used this quite often as they understood beter then others in that time that in certain positions bishops outperform rooks.

In Dutch it's also sacrificing quality (kwaliteitsoffer). That's why it's funny as I translated this bluntly from Dutch to English.

Anthony's picture


Anonymous's picture

Go get "em. Giri, another young buck with class movin' up.

Hughbertie's picture

Its great to see the arrogant american choke....early in the tourney he was all cocky saying how great he was playing, then when he starts losing suddeny looks for lame excuses, im tired boo hoo etc etc. Elite player....I DONT THINK SO.
Chuky now there is an elite player, no complaints when interviewed even when -4 from 4 games, just accepts it and crushes the yank in the last round. Chuky RULES!

pat j's picture

ha, chuky only has total meltdowns and sacs all his pieces, looooool

Horst Honken's picture

you are funny ... and certainly not in the position to make fun of Ivanchuk.

Horst Honken's picture

Yeah ... I LOVE CHUKY!

Abbas's picture

What a funny tournament!!

hatsekidosie's picture

Do I recall someone calling Giri arrogant?

columbo's picture

a naka fan probably :)

redivivo's picture

Maybe it was based on this quote collection, a few picks:

"Unfortunately in our post-mortem Kramnik didn't reveal a lot of ideas and was mainly trying to put me on the wrong track."

"…is what Kramnik claimed to be the point. Pretending that g3 was very useful"

"15...Nfxd5?? was what Kramnik said was strong"

"One would expect Kramnik to be an expert in those positions, but in fact he hardly plays them and his score is far from impressive"

"It was funny, but here too, Kramnik and Vachier were trying to convince me that I am worse"

columbo's picture

that's no arrogance ! and i can imagine kramnik playing tricks on youngsters ... even if i am great fan of kramnik ...


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