“Now with many important and exciting events coming up it is yet to be seen, what this ranking is worth!”
Anish on Spanish league and European Club Cup with his game analysis

©Official website
Spanish league with Sestao Naturgas
After the Olympiad, the season of a team chess player has continued, and soon I found myself on the way to Spanish Team Championship in Linares followed by the European Club Cup in Bilbao.

With my Spanish club Sestao Naturgas we have successfully won the last two Spanish titles, but this time the opposition got even stronger and so the challenge we were to face was even tougher than before. Running ahead, we didn't manage to catch the club "Merida" packed with stars as well, but we did give it a good shot. Our line-up was as always quite good, though missing Dominguez and MVL we were no doubt weaker this time than before. My teammates were the French duo Laurent Fressinet and Romain Edouard (although from the same country and on the same team, the two always find some reasons to argue about..), Maxim Rodshtein from Israel and the Spanish players, powerful Salgado Lopez, Alfonso Romero, Gabriel Del Rio and Sergio Trigo.

©Z. Peng (Schaaksite)

‘Shaky’ rounds
In the first round we drew a decent team "Magic" and I can't say I would complain, having barely survived against Gabriel Sargissian with the black pieces. My shaky form continued in the second round too, when I misplayed the opening against Iturrizaga (once again I was playing with the black pieces). He didn't play the best way, giving me some real hopes of equalizing. Instead I started looking for a way to complicate matters only to complicate my own life and eventually my desperate, speculative pseudo-positional queen sacrifice backfired and I lost. Fortunately that didn't affect the final outcome of the match and we won comfortably. In the third round we were facing the last seed, a lot weaker than us on paper, but with a secret weapon on board 4, being my girlfriend. With a lot of luck and difficulty I managed to overcome my opponent GM Narciso Dublan, who was on the right track for the biggest part of the game.

The 4th round turned out to be crucial for us. By the thinnest of the margins we lost to "Merida". The main action turned out to be happening on the lower boards, and so my quick draw with Black against Ivanchuk was not the central game of the match. One way or the other, the desirable 3-3 slipped away from us at the last moment and we were left with pretty much no real chances of the first place. This wasn't the best of the news, but nevertheless the mourning and sorrow of our passionate Basque supporters of our club felt somewhat exaggerated.

The next round we were playing one of the outsiders of the tournament, a team from Barcelona and although I failed to exploit my advantage against GM Rakhmanov our team nevertheless won.

©Official website
Gaining points and second place!
Quite unexpectedly I managed to win the next two games, not only to limit the damage I was causing to my rating but even gaining a couple of rating points instead. In round 6 we were fighting a Basque fight with the team 'Gross' from San Sebastian. We managed to win that fight and I was fortunate to get a chance in what seemed like a dull position, against Etienne Bacrot.

Game fragment: E. Bacrot - A. Giri (Click here to view the game analysis in Chessbase viewer)

The last round starting something like 7 hours earlier than usual (think of Wijk aan Zee having the last round at 7AM!?), was not as early as it may sound. In fact the usual starting time in Spain is 17:00 o'clock and so it was 'just' 10AM which probably felt like a midnight to some. Nevertheless, we managed to overcome a very strong team 'Solvay' and I won my game as well, this time against Harikrishna.

Game fragment: A. Giri - P. Harikrishna (Click here to view the game analysis in Chessbase viewer)

The second place was hardly something our club was striving for, nevertheless, we again achieved a score of 5,5/7 (11/14), just like last year, when it was enough for the first place. The victory this year went to "Merida" who faced all of the strongest teams in the first four rounds and emerging with 3/4 basically secured the title by that point already. A pity for us, but better luck next time!

©Z. Peng (Schaaksite)

European Club Cup Bilbao
Just a day after the last game more than half of our team went on to the next stage of the Spanish adventure. Although playing for different teams, we all went together to Bilbao by car. The ride was a long one (7 hours!), but somehow we managed to pass the time, thanks to some stops, some talks and some thoughts, (though towards the end Romain Edouard finally found his lucky pillow-toy that he uses every year in the long Spanish trips) and so for some thanks to some sleep as well.

In the European Club Cup that would start in some days, I was once again playing for the powerful team of SOCAR, this year side by side with Mamedyarov, Topalov, Adams, Radjabov, Wang Hao, Korobov and Safarli. You can find my explicit tale in the next issue of the magazine NewInChess, for which I am regularly contributing, so here I will be brief and merely touch some of my own games.

©Z. Peng (Schaaksite)

With the legendary players!
First there were some days of rest, which I struggled not to fill up with chess (fortunately I was able to focus my attention on other important aspect of life, such as literature, music, physical exercise, though mostly 'doing nothing').

And before I knew I was back on the chessboard, side by side with the legendary players- my teammates. First round was easy for my team, though not for me. It was only luck that saved me from what could have been a painful game. It was quite ironic that this game made me 'enter' the virtual 'top 10' of the live rating list, as playing a Swedish player Lindberg1984,Bo rated 350 points lower than me turned out to be a gigantic struggle indeed, worthy of a fight for the top 10 spot. While you can try to come up with all possible jokes about the peculiar name of my opponent (your brainstorming could include ICC handle, George Orwell etc.), I found out that there are near to 30.000 Swedish people named Lindberg and two Lindberg,Bo are playing chess, so that explains why FIDE website decided to add the birth year to my opponents name.

In the second round we met a strong team of SHSM and although I spoilt a nice advantage against solid Boris Grachev, we won the match as well. In general, since we won all (!) the matches, from this point onwards I might as well stop mentioning that (for details once again - NewInChess!).

In the third round we were once again paired with the Scandinavians and this time, contrary to the first round, I managed to win my game quite convincingly.

©Z. Peng (Schaaksite)

Title with a bonus
There followed an important match with last year's champions NovyBor and I managed to win a nice game with the black pieces against Laznicka which I have already commented for the NIC magazine.

In the next round I was once again playing against Bacrot (who was representing the strong Italian team with Caruana, Nakamura, MVL..). This time I was playing with the white pieces and I was actually lucky to have made a draw.

The sixth round we were paired with the mighty Russians and once again (after Grachev) I was paired with a tough Russian player. Malakhov however, made a major mistake in the opening and I went on to win a fine endgame.

Game fragment: A. Giri - V. Malakhov (Click here to view the game analysis in Chessbase viewer)

The last round was no longer decisive as we won all the six matches. However, we did it again, even though I spoilt a large advantage against the Cuban Leinier Dominguez (as in many instances during the point, the crucial victory was scored by Topalov who went on to re-gain his 2800 rating).

And so we were ecstatic, having won the title in such a convincing manner! That certainly ensured a good mood and as a bonus I found myself rising in the world ranking.

Now with many important and exciting events coming up it is yet to be seen, what this ranking is worth!


Official Website European Club Cup 2014