GM Sergey Shipov's live commentary on:

Vishwanathan Anand - Anish Giri
Tata Steel Chess 2011, Rd 12

Hello, dear chess fans and connoisseurs. This is Grandmaster Sergey Shipov, inviting you to follow the key encounter of the 12th round of the 2011 Wijk-aan-Zee super-tournament. Nakamura is in the sole lead, but it would still be too early to celebrate – Anand’s only half a point behind, and Hikaru has a very formidable opponent today. The only question is whether Vladimir will be able to recover after yesterday’s torture. I think that in any case he’ll play in his usual cautious style – it’s extremely rare for him to play really aggressively for a win with Black. It’s even less likely now, against the backdrop of fatigue. So then, we can expect a dull game and an inevitable draw? I really hope not! And my main hope is the fighting character of Nakamura. It’s unlikely that he’ll want to leave the question of tournament victory until the final day… Anand has White against Giri today – which is a good chance of catching the leader. It would also be wrong to forget about Aronian. It’s true he has the black pieces, but it’s against L’Ami – and that’s an opponent who, objectively speaking, is of a lower class. Overall, there are three contenders to win the tournament. The final stages will decide everything…

[Note: When Sergey Shipov saw Nakamura – Kramnik was heading, as the Russians say, “for a drawing harbour”, he abandoned ship and started commentating on Anand – Giri instead.]

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 The Slav Defence.

3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 e6 5. Bg5 h6 The Moscow Variation.

6. Bxf6 Vishy has decided not to show what he has prepared in the Anti-Moscow Gambit - 6. Bh4!?

6…Qxf6 7. e3 White is developing modestly, but solidly.

7…g6 Black is behind in development, but he has the two powerful bishops in reserve.

8. Bd3 Bg7 9. o-o o-o 10. Rc1 Breaking open the centre has been prepared.

10…dxc4 Black’s the first to take a decisive step.

11. Bxc4 Nd7 Now he’s ready to undermine White’s foundations in the centre either by e6-e5 or c6-c5.

  12. e4
White’s going for a storm. It’s time for Black to take counter-measures…

12…c5 A novelty! A very interesting novelty in a position that’s been studied inside-out. It seems as though Giri’s been doing some serious work before the first super-tournament of his life. He hasn’t come to the encounter with the champions with empty hands. Well done! Previously played here were 12...e5, 12...Rd8 and 12...Qe7.

13. d5 After some serious thought Anand kept the pawn on e4, though it was clearly raring to go. After 13.e5 Black would play 13...Qd8 with the idea of destroying White's centre with 14.Re1 cxd4 15.Qxd4 Nxe5!

13…Nb6 14. b3 Not worrying about the bishop. It’s more important to maintain the d5-point.

14…exd5 It seems for now Anish is playing according to his home preparation. The move’s logical – it opens up a working diagonal for the c8-bishop. I thought the brash 14...g5 was also promising.

15. Nxd5 Of course. Maintaining the hanging knight on c3 with your bare hands was a thankless task. Better to send it into action. And at the same time it’s possible to eliminate the annoying black knight, which is interfering in the life of the white bishop.

Opening up the centre has given black decent chances. His bishops can breathe freely. The e4-pawn can be attacked, and the d4-point may become the dominion of the dark-squared bishop. The price of that freedom is that White possesses the d5-point. Vishy’s thinking for a long time. The opening clearly hasn’t gone according to his plans: 1:16 – 1:35.

16. h3 A reasonable prophylactic move. No bishop attack on g4,

means no exchange on f3, and no reign of the second black bishop from d4.
However, if you have a serious look at the line 16.Re1!? Bg4 17.h3 Bxf3 18.Qxf3, then you can discover some dangers for Black. After 18...Bd4 there's both the e4-e5 advance, and the break 19.b4!? Therefore instead of rushing to put the bishop on d4, it's better to play 18...Qd6!

16…Nxc4 Another surprise from Anish. Why, you have to ask, increase White’s control over the d5-point, if it’s possible to do the opposite and increase the tension? I considered 16...Be6 an absolutely natural developing move and couldn't find the slightest problem for Black in my analysis.

17. bxc4 Of course! Together the pawns have formed an indestructible foundation for the d5-knight, and it’s still not clear whether Black’s two bishops are stronger than White’s two knights. In any case, the cavalry look convincing in the middle of the board.

17…Re8 The e4-pawn is under attack. But with appropriate piece support it’ll not only survive, but also advance – going onto the attack.

18. Re1 And there’s the promised support.

Black is finishing his development. The bishop will go to c6… or organise the b7-b5 break.

19. Qd2 The champion is demonstrating his aggressive intentions. It seems as though he’s planning on bringing the queen to f4. If you fantasise a little and also imagine the moves Rc1-d1 and e4-e5 then you have to be worried for the young… I almost said Russian :) Worried for the young Dutch Champion!

19…Rc8 You won’t believe it, but Anish really is preparing the b7-b5 blow! That’s the only way you can understand this move – Black’s defending the c5-pawn in case of an exchange on b5. It’s possible, of course, to suppose that he doesn’t want the white pieces to infiltrate after Qd2-f4. But that second consideration is unlikely to convince anyone. There’s also a third idea: Rc8-c6-e6! By the way, that one’s worthwhile. Vishy is also trying to work out what Black’s idea is. He’s behind on the clock: 1:00 – 1:23.

20. Qf4 If you’ve started then you have to continue. That’s the psychology here. But the objective chess picture is much more complex. I also looked at the immediate 20.e5 Now after 20...b5 there's the cold-blooded 21.Rcd1! bxc4 22.Qc3 with unpleasant pressure from White. Therefore after 20.e5 you have to look for something else. But what? If 20...Bc6 then the position of the rook on c8 looks strange. Of course, that's again just psychology - but in a battle between living people it's of great significance.

20…b5 The players are stubbornly carrying out their plans, paying almost no attention to the actions on the other side of the board. Here, for example, White’s within his rights to ignore the appearance of the pawn on b5 and continue his own play with: 21. e5 or 21. Rcd1. The position is rapidly becoming more critical. Asking to be played was 20...g5, clarifying the intentions of the white queen. I think such a weakening of the kingside would be quite acceptable.

21. e5 So then, the g7-bishop is blocked, and a knight invasion on f6 is also possible, if the chance arises.


This is now already an absolutely essential element of Black’s defence. You have to push the white queen further away from the black king. If 21...bxc4 the most dangerous reply was 22. Rcd1!

22. Qg3 Anand makes his intention to mate Black more than obvious. He’s only focussed on winning today! Of course it was more reliable to play 22. Qe3

22…bxc4 Giri is stubbornly following his own path. Black already has passed pawns on the queenside, which, it’s true, are going nowhere for now. On the other hand it’s suddenly turned out that the d5-knight has again lost its support. But is that necessary for someone who’s planning to die on f6?

23. Red1 Before offering the knight up on the altar White organises an opposition on the d-file that’s unpleasant for Black. The fact that the champion has put a rook on d1 from e1 and not c1 suggests that he’s not sure at all about the success of the coming attack, and therefore he doesn’t want to burn all the bridges behind him. The rook has remained on c1 to keep watch over Black’s rogue passed pawns… The champion of a realm not quite as expansive as the whole Earth has sunk into thought. Needed from him now are accurate play, accurate calculation and a sensible combination of bravery and caution. Let’s look at the clocks: 0:47 – 1:05.

There it is, the ideal defensive manoeuvre. The rook controls important squares on the sixth rank. In any case, White’s direct attacks don’t work for now. Black also now has an idea for reorganising his pieces: the queen’s ready to go to b8. The careless 23...Qa5 was no good, as the queen gets too far from its king - 24.h4! g4 25.Nf6+ Bxf6 26.Rxd7 Bg7 27.Qxg4 Qxa2 28.Rxc4 Qb1+ 29.Kh2 Qg6 30.Qf4 and so on.

24. Ne3 To be expected. The knight’s either going to f5 or to c4. But
in any case he won’t refuse the chance to eventually switch to d6, while for now the knight might play a role in the h3-h4 break. The thing is that in all lines Black is planning to react to that by g5-g4! And now… And now as well! After all after Ne3xg4 the knight will be disturbed by the ubiquitous rook: Rc6-g6!

24…Qc7 You have to get out of the pin. And it does no harm to put pressure on the e5-pawn.

   25. Nxc4 The pawn has been won back. A trifle, but still pleasant.
At last the bishop has taken over the square which was always intended for it. It seems as though Black is within his rights to ignore the white knight being placed on d6. And really, what will it do there? Black will put the rook on d8 and then there’ll be the threat of breaking through with the Bg7xe5 combination. For now Giri is confidently holding the defence. His opponent, of course, is fearsome. White’s attack looks visually dangerous. But those are only emotions for now. White has no tangible advantage.

26. h4 It’s as if Anand’s reading my commentary – and decisively rejecting it! Here I looked at the philosophical rook foray 26.Rd6 and there might follow 26...Bxc4 27.Rxc4 Rxd6 28.exd6 Qc6 with the idea of 29.h4 Qd5! Another possibility of strengthening the position was - 26.Re1!? The stronger the e5-pawn, the more chances of creating a mating attack.

26…g4 The most accurate move, and the most interesting. The attempt to simplify the situation by 26...Bxc4 27.Rxc4 Bxe5 led to a serious white initiative after 28.Qg4!

27. Nfd2 On the one hand, the knight supports its counterpart and is heading for e4 itself. But on the other hand, it no longer controls the vital d4-square, which the e8-rook could and perhaps should set off to occupy right now.
Switching the knight to f4 was exactly a tempo too slow: 27.Ne1 Rd8 28.Nd3 Rd4! 29.Nd6 Bxe5 30.Nxe5 Rxd1+ 31.Rxd1 Rxd6, true, here White still has some compensation for the pawn - 32.Re1!

27…Rd8! Yes. You can’t praise Anish enough for how well he’s handled this part of the game. I’ve got the suspicion that White is just about to come up against serious problems. The queen doesn’t look convincing on g3. It’ll be hard to maintain the knight on c4. The e5-pawn is weak. Black’s passed pawn is potentially dangerous…

28. Re1 There was no point in doing nothing behind the knight, and it’s extremely important to reinforce the e5-pawn.

   28…Rd4 So then, the white knights find themselves under fierce pressure from the black rook. The clock situation is also in Black’s favour: 0:26 – 0:41. Now Anish needs to activate his queen (let’s say, by sending it to d7) and c6-rook (it can be dispatched to a6), and then it’ll be hard for White to maintain parity in the centre.

29. Qe3 Vishy is making things more compact. And, of course, he has one eye on the h6-pawn – so that the g7-bishop won’t dare to leave the defence.

29…Qd8 Putting pressure not only on the d2-knight, but also on the h4-pawn. Perhaps the champion will blunder it?

30. g3 A bitter necessity. The light squares around the white king are wide open. For now that factor has no significance, but in the future – who knows…

30…Qd5 By the way, the future is much closer than it seems. If the c6-rook and e6-bishop changed places then the weakening g2-g3 would tell. But for now the next portion of unpleasantness is being doled out to the c4-knight.

31. Na5 Vishy is urgently reorganising his cavalry. One of the knights should go to b3 in order to dislodge the powerful rook from d4. In the meantime Carlsen has beaten Wang Hao with apparent ease, significantly improving his tournament position. He has a wonderful chance of getting into the top-three, as Kramnik has come to a halt, and Aronian is now experiencing serious problems in his battle with L’Ami. Even the indestructible Anand at the given moment is standing… let’s say, dubiously. The tournament intrigue is reaching fever pitch! Only Nakamura can feel at ease.

31…Rc8 It would be a crude blunder to play 31...Rxd2? 32. Nxc6 Rd3 because of 33. Ne7+! But it was worth considering the more aggressive 31...Ra6!

   32. Ndc4
The knights will jump around and it’s not easy to pacify them.

32…Rb8 Realising that in the bigger picture his rook is doing nothing and is also under threat from a knight blow on d6, Anish moves it to a more promising file. But… it seems to me that the weakening of the c5-pawn might be a factor.

33. Qe2 Vishy has started to play quickly and very inventively – he’s threatening Nc4-e3, after which the e5-pawn will turn out to be
poisoned because of the fork on c6. When a tiger’s pressed up against a wall it’s terrifying! By the way, on that speed. The bold tiger cub is in no way inferior to his older comrade, and is even on top: 0:18 – 0:32.

33…Bf8 The most reliable and solid move. It allows you not to worry about the fate of the c5-pawn and makes it harder for a knight to get to d6.

34. Ne3 Now it’s important not to be tempted by the pawn… Or rather, by either! You can’t take either on a2 or e5 because you’ll lose the exchange.

Again the strongest move. In my view Black maintains a small advantage.

35. Nb3 Another instant move. Anand is playing very well at blitz speed! While before that he was thinking for a long time and sometimes making dubious decisions.

35…Bxb3 It’s time to exchange one of the bishops. After 35...Ra4 White had the clever resource 36. Rxc5!

36. axb3 Rxb3 Giri accepts the sacrifice. Now Black has two passed pawns on the queenside, but it’s important not to allow a mating attack from White during time trouble. It also didn't look bad to play 36...Qxe5, for example: 37. Qb2 Qe6! 38. Nc4 Re4.

37. Qa2 White is developing a serious initiative with his pieces.

37…Qb7 But Black holds on to the extra pawn! And, by the way, creates the virtual threat of entering with the rooks on the second rank. The players have enough time to make the time control in comfort: 0:15 – 0:20.
   It seems that White has a promising pawn sac here with e5-e6!, which will help him to open up the black king.

38. Qc2 No, Vishy didn’t go for it. However, anyone can sacrifice other people’s pawns. It’s tougher to give up your own, particularly when you’re already one down. With the move in the game the champion is sending his queen to the kingside – closer to the desired goal. After 38.e6!? you might get 38...fxe6 39.Qc2 Kh8 40.Qg6 Qf3! 41.Nc4 Qf5 - Black defends, maintaining roughly equal chances.

38…Rb2 Well done, Anish! He’s fearlessly carrying out his own ideas. His response to his fearsome opponent’s activity is activity.

39. Qf5 The queen has advanced, but its counterpart won’t delay making a reciprocal manoeuvre.

39…Qe4 Another bold move. If Giri wanted to guarantee the exchange of the strongest pieces he would have chosen
39...Qf3 True, then there would follow 40.Qxf3 gxf3 41.Ra1 and, it seems, Black can't hold all his weaknesses. The game would most likely end up as a draw.

40. Qxe4 Anand is dreaming only of saving the game. More principled and interesting in terms of play was 40. Qh5, but with your flag about to fall it would be hard to accurately evaluate all the consequences.

The time control has passed. I’ve already drunk my cup of coffee – I couldn’t resist the temptation… Now I’ll do the same again! I hope you also do that, dear viewers. There’s a complex endgame on the board, in which Black has a small advantage. But it’s possible that in the end White should achieve a drawn outcome. Moreover, that will probably be due to activity! A passive strategy would be out of place here.

41. Ra1 It seems Anand decided not to be distracted by coffee. But hasn’t he been too hasty? Now that the white rook has left its guard post on c1 Black has the alluring possibility of activating his bishop via c5-c4 and Bf8-c5. I looked at sending the other rook into Black's rearguard: 41.Red1 Then a line approximately like this would follow - 41...Rd4 42.Rxd4 cxd4 43.Nxg4 d3! 44.Nf6+ Kg7 45.Nh5+ Kh7 (45...Kg6? 46.Nf4+) 46.Rd1 d2 47.Kf1 a5 48.Ke2 Bb4 (48...a4 49.Nf4 a3 50.Nd3 Rc2 51.Ra1!) 49.Nf6+ Kg6 50.Nd5 Kf5 51.Nxb4 axb4 (51...Rxb4 52.Rxd2 Kxe5 =) 52.f4 b3! 53.Kd3! (53.Rxd2? Ra2! 54.Kd3 b2 55.Kc2 b1=Q+!) 53...Ra2 54.Rb1 Kg4 55. Ke2! and White nevertheless survives.

41…c4! Yes! After careful examination of the position Giri has made objectively the strongest move. When the bishop comes out to c5 the white knight and the f2-pawn will both find themselves under uncomfortable pressure. And the c4-pawn isn’t so far away from the queening square… The players have already used up almost half of the time allotted for the next 20 moves: 0:39 – 0:35.

42. Rxa7 The World Champion is a cagey old bird. And you can’t scare him into submission. He sat down, calculated the lines – and decided to test out his opponent’s idea.

42…Bc5 An important question: is it worth White including the check on a8 before returning the rook to a4? On the one hand, at some point the f7-pawn might hang. On the other hand, it’s terrible to drive the black king forward… Vishy is going to have to work to save himself.

43. Ra8+ Nevertheless he decided to include it.

43…Kh7 Of course not 43...Kg7? 44. Nf5+

   44. Rf1
A surprise. Perhaps a pleasant one for Anish’s fans. Vishy is preparing for the exchange on e3, after which the weakness of the f7-pawn will tell. But at the same time he’s allowing the black passed pawn to take another step towards its goal. After 44. Ra4 I couldn't find a clear path to victory for Black. Perhaps because there wasn't one.

44…c3 Correct. You should only exchange minor pieces if that means converting to a clearly won rook ending.

This is what you'd have ended up with here: 44...Bxe3 45.fxe3 Rb7 (45...Kg7 46.Ra7!) 46.Ra3 (the computer suggests giving up the pawns on e3 and g3 with 46.Ra4!?, but that's not for humans) 46...Rxe5 47.Rf4 Rd5! 48.Ra1! (48.Rxc4? Rb1+ 49.Kf2 Rd2#) 48...c3 49.Rc1 Rc7! 50.Rxg4 c2 51.Rd4 Rb5! 52.Rf4 Rb1 53.Rff1 Rxc1 54.Rxc1 h5! 55.Kf2 Kg6 and... it's not clear how White can survive. But calculating something like that at the board is simply impossible.

45. Rc8 Rook behind the passed pawn – an essential element of White’s defences. The second element should be a counterattack directed at the h6-pawn. I have in mind the knight jumping to f5 combined with the h4-h5 squeeze.

45…Bd4 Correct. The e5-pawn falls. If Black could also still manage to play h6-h5! he’d have a won position. While as it is… It’s hard to say for sure. A struggle! There’s less and less time: 0:27 – 0:17.

46. Rc7 No. Anand is interested above all in the f7-pawn. Also an option.
I looked at 46.Nf5 Bxe5 47.h5 and in my analysis got to an ending where Black is up an exchange but White still has chances of survival. In general that means nothing. There are lots of lines - you can't study them all.

   46…Rxe5 The only means of maintaining the intrigue. Which pawn should White take?

47. Rxf7+?! It seems Anand didn’t guess correctly. White would survive after 47.Nxg4 Ree2 48.h5!, for example, 48...Kg7 49.Kg2 Rbd2 50.Kf3! c2 51.Ne3 - the black pawn doesn't promote.

47…Kg6 48. Rd7 Now it’s worth Black entering a rook ending, where his passed pawn will be very strong. Everything will be decided by concrete nuances!

48…Bxe3 49. fxe3 Now Black’s next move is extremely important. Giri has very little time left to think: 0:21 – 0:06.

   49…Rd2 And he didn’t find it! Time trouble and fatigue have played a fateful role. 49...Rb6! would have given Black good winning chances. True, analysis shows that it remains a complex battle on the verge of survival:
50.Rc7 Rxe3 51.Rf4!! Rxg3+ 52.Kf2 Rd3 53.Rxg4+ Kf5 54.Rgc4 Rb2+ 55.Ke1 Re3+ 56.Kf1! Rh3 57.R7c5+ and perpetual check.
It seems that after
49...Rb6 50.Rc7 Rxe3 51.Rf4 it was better to play 51...h5 52.Kf2 Rd3 and it's hard for White. After the waiting 53.Rc5 then 53...Rb2+ 54. Ke1 Rb1+! 55. Ke2 Rd2+ 56. Ke3 Re1# wins.

50. Rc7 White survives due to the possibility of perpetually troubling the black king. Here it’s blatantly obvious how important control of the sixth rank was for the outcome of the game. DRAW! The thing is that if

50…c2 51. Rc6+ Kh5 White would play

52. Rff6!, actually forcing Black to save the game. However, that’s not tricky:

52…Rd1+ 53. Kf2 Rd2+ 54. Ke1 c1=Q+ 55. Rxc1 Rd3 56. Rcc6 Rdxe3+ 57. Kd2 Re2+ with perpetual check. Well…

Today Anish Giri played the game of his life, but he couldn’t bring it to its logical conclusion. He sprung an unexpectedly early surprise on his opponent in the opening, skillfully beat off White’s attack, switched to counterattack, and then in a complex struggle achieved a big advantage, but didn’t have the energy to convert it. He’s still a little wet behind the ears… But fans of Giri (and himself) have no need to get incredibly upset. With play like that at 16 years of age (and the World Champion barely managing to escape as White) you can face the future boldly. This guy will go far… While this is me, Grandmaster Sergey Shipov, ending my report. Thank you, viewers, for your interest and patience. I’ll be waiting for you tomorrow for the last round, which – please note! – begins an hour and a half earlier than usual. ½-½