"The first round, however, quickly put me back to Earth..."

Anish on TATA Steel Tournament with analysis of his games (Part-1)

Opening ceremony
My chess year has yet again begun with Wijk aan Zee. It is slowly becoming a tradition for me and I must say I start liking this tradition more and more...
Before the tournament I obviously had a specific training for the actual event, but in fact, since I was playing quite a lot the whole year before the event and a lot of things were left unused, I arrived to the 'Seaside Village' more than ready to meet 'The Big Guys'. Anxiousness is maybe a more suitable word even.

A friendly dinner
As usual, it started with two opening ceremonies. I do enjoy those quite a lot. The sphere is very relaxed, with lots of people you already met and those you still haven't. It is nice to get some social doze before fully diving into the world of Anand's and Carlsen's and their opening repertoires.
At first there was the opening of the group-C. I remember two years ago it was of a more importance to me, as I was a participant myself, yet I was there again, as all the players, also from the top group, usually do attend the evening. The friendly dinner followed by the drawing of lots pulled us all into the 'tournament modus', not even talking about the participants of the C-group, who already knew who their opponents in the first round will be and were probably already dreaming of going back to room and start preparing...

Garry's lucky number
The next day there was the opening ceremony, for us, the players of A and B group. A cup of tea was followed by the simple traditional procedure of pushing on the red button. It isn't the most complicated way to decided the colours, but I guess to have 42 chess players doing something complicated, must inevitably lead to some trouble (may chess players forgive me some irony?), so the red-button is more than understandable.

Pushing the button
I tried my best while pushing the button, yet it gave me the number 13, which was the only one left with 7 blacks and 6 whites. However as experienced Vishy instantly pointed out- '13. Number of Garry'.

Sherlock Holmes
The pairing is in fact, probably of a lesser importance than it feels right after the opening ceremony. I had mixed feelings about my 'Dutch start' (my first two opponents were Erwin and Jan) and my feelings about 7 blacks, among which were those against Anand, Kramnik and Carlsen, were a bit less mixed, to put it mildly. Yet, I was happy with the tournament getting closer and closer and my fighting mood was only getting better and better with every minute. The opening ceremony wasn't very eventful for me, besides the official, drawing of lots part. Or well, it maybe was. Unlike my previous experience, when it was all very quiet, peaceful and friendly, this time I was travelling through the 'tent' (place where the opening ceremony took place. Not to be confused with the one you take to the camping, also being the one from the Sherlock Holmes joke *hyperlink*.), from one interviewer to another, getting wet in between, with no jacket on, because a newspaper photographer (obviously not Fred Lucas), told me 'the lighting was beautiful outside' ...Anyway, it was an unusual 'media' experience and as Dutch people like to put it 'naja, dat hoort er ook bij', what would mean something like 'well, it's also a part of it'. And that's right.

Well, as I said I was more than waiting for the tournament to start and the feeling of something big and special to come was in the air.

The first round, however, quickly put me back to Earth...

Erwin l'Ami - Anish Giri   

Erwin l'Ami - Anish Giri (½-½)
After this game the feeling of that 'something big and special' left me and I just realized that it's a usual tournament , at least for me and I am still my usual self... and that it's time to switch the brain on. Thankfully I was also with my coach, Vladimir Chuchelov, at the tournament, who did his best to pull this switch.
My second game, the one against Jan Smeets, with white by the way (after more or less10 moves of that game, I forgot who was white and who was black...), was really a tough one...

Anish Giri - Jan Smeets   

Anish Giri - Jan Smeets (½-½)
This struggle, which was for the most part with myself (literally as for the first one and a half hour Jan was just sitting behind the board for the aesthetic reasons), was the last step for me to get into the real tournament. Now the head was working (well, according to my standards...) and my preparation didn't let me down.