"I was satisfied with the chess that I played and left the tournament with a good aftertaste."
Anish on TATA Steel Chess 2014 with his game analyses.
Just like pretty much every year, for the past 6 years, this year started for me with the Wijk aan Zee tournament. This time it was especially important for me to play good chess for once and so I was looking forward to the tournament like never before.
The event is famously known as the Wimbledon of chess, although I do hope that one day, they will call Wimbledon a Wijk aan Zee of tennis. Although there had been rumours that Tata Steel was having serious doubts about continuing the tradition, and eventually it seemed that the budget had gone down quite a bit, the organizers still managed to create an event, which was as big, if not bigger than in all of the previous years. The amount of players though were reduced to 12 (with the fashionable, yet absurd 4-6 player format, this is still a luxury!), but as the quality, unlike quantity, stayed the same, there were no reasons for anybody to complain. To create some extra media attention the tournament went 'on tour', having one round in Amsterdam Rijksmuseum and one in HighTechCentrum Eindhoven, which was an experience on its own. A lot can be said about that, but in this article I would like to focus the chess-part of my tournament and so in case you are interested in all the organizational details, I am happily referring you to various articles and reports posted online.
My preparation consisted of a good Christmas holidays in Japan and a short training session with my new trainer, experienced grandmaster Vladimir Tukmakov. In hindsight it all worked out and I was ready and full of ambitions right from the start of the event.
My pairing was such that I would have pretty much of the favourites towards the end and so I felt ready to have a good start and indeed, that goal was more or less accomplished.
My quick draw with black in the first round was nothing my opponent, Lenier Dominguez could be proud of, as he managed to pose me zero point zero problems in a Berlin endgame. Fortunately, already in the second round my game took an exciting course and I managed to achieve my first victory.
Game analysis: A. Giri - A. Naiditsch(click arrows to view)
This win brought me in good spirits, but already in the next game, my plus score was in doubt.
Game fragment: L. van Wely - A. Giri(click arrows to view)
That was a close call and I was incredibly happy to meet the first rest day in a good mood.
Rijksmuseum was fun and too overwhelming, with many photo-shoots and interviews. Fortunately my game with Wesley So took a good course and I managed to press throughout, though I did miss an opportunity. I have to say, though, that my opponent defended very well and so I didn't feel too bad about the game anyway.
After another rest day I was expecting a calm game with Harikrishna, but he chose a double edged set-up in the calm Italian and we got a complicated game going. I missed some opportunities before the time control and after the 40th move I realized I lost pretty much all of my advantage. Fortunately my opponent was not up to the task and I got the edge back again. When I was already about to win, I started to complicate the matters and ended up in an interesting rook endgame, which I fortunately managed to convert quite neatly.
Game fragment: P. Harikrishna - A. Giri(click arrows to view)
After this game I made all draws, spoiling it somewhat for the reader of this article. Yet, I had some fun games here and there.
I missed a golden opportunity against Gelfand, after a well played endgame. Next, I saved a difficult position versus Caruana. With the leader Aronian I was on the pushing side again, but didn't get too far. Game with Rapport took a fun course, but after a hurricane we entered a drawn rook ending. With Karjakin I got nowhere with white and in my last game I had to show some creativity to solve my opening problems.
Game fragment: H. Nakamura - A. Giri (click arrows to view)
And so I scored a solid and modest +2, which was not enough to put the leader and winner of the event, Levon Aronian under any pressure. Yet, I was satisfied with the chess that I played and left the tournament with a good aftertaste. After that I took a week of holidays and now, writing this article is the first step of my comeback to my work on chess! Looking forward to my next events, even though it's not yet known what they will be!
P.S. You will be able read my extensive article about this tournament in upcoming number of NewInChess, in which I look at the tournament from a broader perspective, focusing on Aronian's great result and so forth.
Official Website of the TATA Steel Tournament