“Some milestones have been reached, and I am looking forward to the new exciting challenges…”
Anish on his 2015 adventures
It's been a while since I have written something for my personal website, as my busy schedule took the hold of me and my written accounts on my countless adventures have been documented only in the NewInChess magazine, where I am featured in every issue being a contributing editor (plus the 140 character tales on twitter @anishgiri).
Nonetheless it's time for a new update, and a rather big one, considering there is a full year to cover.
Wijk aan Zee
The year started as always with Wijk aan Zee. Wijk 2015 was one of my best events as I managed to win 5 games, all against a very respectable opposition. In fact, before the last round I had some reasonable chances to fight for the very first place, but unfortunately not being able to unbalance the position much against the solid Polish GM Radoslaw Wojtaszek, my draw was only enough for the second place. Most of my wins were very interesting, but I have especially sweet memories from my game against Ivan Saric from Croatia. Perhaps due to the fact that my recent game gave me a dejavu (but, more about this later).
Game Fragment: I. Saric - A. Giri (Click here to view the game analysis in Chessbase viewer)
My next event was the FIDE GrandPrix in Tbilisi. I thought I shook of the GrandPrix curse (my previous series has been absolutely awful, with many losses and just a couple of wins). Indeed I won my first round game against Peter Svidler, which sent me into the stratospheric heights of 2800+. From there onwards it went downhill for a while. I was playing with a lot of energy and determination, but the wins weren't coming (I almost beat the leader of the event, but Zhenya Tomashevsky was tough!) until I lost my patience.
Going for the Dutch against solid Jakovenko was by no means fatal, but during the game I suddenly started drifting. Many inexplicable inaccuracies probably caused by lack of emotional energy and my refusal to be satisfied with a draw. An unnecessary loss and all draws in the games to follow was a mediocre to bad result for me with a 50%.
Shamkir tournament started badly as well, I lost to Wesley So. The game was in fact incredibly interesting and Wesley's play was exemplary. The 'bullying' by local 'chess experts' and 'commentators' didn't contribute to my overall mood and the rest of the tournament followed in the same fashion. My attempt to come-back into the tournament by profiting from the bad shape of the British legend Michael Adams was punished with a swift attack. Final score was minus two, which can never be satisfactory.
One more GrandPrix, this time in Khanty Mansiysk, and oh no, another bad start. At some point I was on minus two, but then suddenly things turned. I was to face Evgeniy Tomashevsky, the leader of the GrandPrix series. Opening went wrong, as usual, but then suddenly the trend has changed.
Game Analysis: A. Giri- E. Tomashevsky (Click here to view the game analysis in Chessbase viewer)
This was a big win for me and when I won one more against Jobava and finished the tournament on 50%. I was quite satisfied with this.
Then came the French league. I lost in the second round to Solodovnichenko, rated under 2600, soon after I drew in 10 moves against Salgado with black, repeating moves in a theoretical position. This got me quite frustrated with myself, to the extent that I asked my team captain to put me into the lineup again, when the original plan was for me to sit out. I won this game and when the time came for the crucial match of my team Bischwiller against Clichư, in which I had to face Fressinet with white. A smooth victory for me and my team got us all in a great mood, and after that I beat few other French grandmasters as well. The temporary slump was already behind me.
NorwayChess was a big test, but things went quite well there. While most of the attention was on Magnus Carlsen, who had a first bad event ever, in the shadow I managed to reach an undefeated score of +2. My Catalan win against Topalov was very sweet. Later in the year I managed to win a twin game, this time against Leko in the World Cup.
Game Fragment: A. Giri - V. Topalov (Click here to view the game analysis in Chessbase viewer)
Game Fragment: A. Giri - P. Leko (Click here to view the game analysis in Chessbase viewer)
NorwayChess was in fact a part of the GrandChessTour, the series of already existing tournaments, united together thanks to efforts of Kasparov. The unity means the same format, players and the prize fund for all three events, NorwayChess, Sinquefield Cup and London Chess Classic. This was a great news for me, since I qualified to all of the events based on the average rating, meaning that most of my schedule for the year would already be settled. That however wasn't the case for many players just outside the top10 as then if they wouldn't make it to all of the events, they would make it to none (with the exception being the wildcard which was given to the local player in each event). Anyhow, the tour was an interesting idea and it will continue in the year 2016 and hopefully in the years to come. The idea, as I heard, is to expand it even further, with new events to appear and more players to be able to join the party (although I have just read the news that the NorwayChess is out of the ‘TOUR’ in 2016).
After NorwayChess my initial plan was to take a big break and focus on settling my private life. Instead, the organizers managed to persuade me to play the Dutch Championship. There wasn't much to win for me in the tournament, so it was anything but a feeling of relief when I won the event with a reasonable score of 5.5/7. In fact, for a big part of the event Loek van Wely was playing very well and had he won his last round game we would face of in a tiebreak. That didn't happen and I managed to win the tournament being a full point ahead.
This victory would follow up with my biggest trophy. July 18 I married my wonderful wife Sopiko Guramishvili from Georgia. A strong player herself, she is nowadays widely known as Miss Tactics from the Miss Strategy (Anna Rudolf) & Miss Tactics duo on chess24. :) The wedding was a fantastic celebration in Tbilisi and after our honeymoon in Italy I had a little break before returning to the chessboard.
For my next event which was Sinquefield Cup (2nd leg of GrandChessTour) I did some special preparation, in order to shake myself up from the holiday mode. It worked well. I once again stayed undefeated, though this time there was only one victory. This made me share 2-5th place, but due to a bad tiebreak (they don't reward you for NOT losing these days :), I finished 5th meaning that I would have to score very high in the last tournament of the tour to end in the top 3 of the overall standing (those top 3 would get extra prizes!). Running ahead, I was fortunate to manage that as well.
Next challenge for me was the World Cup, which was a qualifier to the Candidates. I already knew that my chances to qualify to the Candidates by rating were extremely high, but still I was quite motivated to show my best chess in this very exciting event. My start was very shaky and I was quite certain that I would have to say bye to my beautiful junior suite in the Flame Towers. Indeed my first game against Ssegwanyi from Uganda went badly. In his own words, I am a good player, but he is a little bit of a good player as well. I managed to overcome the first round with quite some difficulty, but the junior suite had to go indeed. One way or the other there was some ventilation issues and my room was as stinky as my play.
Second round was shaky too, but after I won a rapid tie-break against Motylev with a crushing 2-0, I gained the momentum and managed to also beat Leko, Wojtaszek and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. I stumbled against Peter Svidler, who qualified to the Candidates thanks to his victory against me. Fortunately, I managed to do so by rating as well, but at that point I was not exactly happy with my final result.
My next three events were very important, very much so because of the rating average that was now my last chance to qualify for the Candidates tournament. My odds were very good, but I got quite angry at myself when I lost rather unnecessarily against Babula in the second round of the European Club Cup. My opening in that game was extremely risky, but in fact it paid off. In already a good position (true it was still highly complicated) I went for a very unnatural move, which turned the tables around and from then on I no longer had a chance to fight back.
I wasn't that much worried about my spot in the Candidates tournament as I was about myself starting to play much too timid. When to win you need not to lose too much, similar to a must-draw situation, one might often find himself losing ground step by step. As I feared, I finished the European Club Cup with a few solid draws against strong, but still somewhat lower rated players. Unfortunately my team, SOCAR, also wasn't able to show its best form, we had to give way to new Russian super-club Siberia, which was neither stronger than our team nor weaker.
My next tournament was Bilbao and there I managed to combine the solid play with high quality chess again. I won just one game, but that was against Vishy Anand. In the opening Vishy missed a lovely unexpected tactic.
Game Fragment: A. Giri - V. Anand (Click here to view the game analysis in Chessbase viewer)
This was even enough for a share of second place. In fact I lost on tiebreak due to lack of energy. One tournament later I learnt from this mistake, but made another one, though let's not skip to the end just yet.
Representing the Dutch team went fine as well. At the European Team Championship we started by beating the Icelandic Legends (I won my game against a solid veteran Olafsson Helgi). Then it turned out that one of the teammates was not in the best shape, losing one game after another. Nonetheless, couple of rounds before the end we were very much in business and if not the last round loss against France, we would have had a very successful event. I played very reasonably, scoring +3 and my qualification for the candidates was never in any doubt. In fact it was almost entirely forgotten, considering how unexciting the final race was, with Kramnik (who was the rating runner-up) pulling out of the European Team Championship and me in fact needing to lose like 40 Elo points on my own.
This meant that I were to qualify to the biggest tournament of the year 2016, the Candidates. A big challenge, but before that there was still the end of the Grand Chess Tour, Qatar Masters and the Wijk aan Zee tournament which I am preparing for at the moment.
The final leg of the Grand ChessTour was bound to be exciting. Due to the way the tour-points were being distributed, basically everyone had a shot at the overall victory, even the World Champion who has a disastrous tour so far, having a minus score. The event started well for me with a very pretty little trick that my opponent fell into in the time-trouble.
Game Fragment: V. Topalov - A. Giri (Click here to view the game analysis in Chessbase viewer)
Later in the event I won one more game when I had to, against Hikaru Nakamura, tying for first with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, also on +2. We were waiting for the end of the game between Carlsen and Grischuk. Magnus seemed to have underestimated a very smooth counter-play aimed towards his king, but suddenly Grischuk blinked. He then blinked again and all of a sudden me and Maxime found ourselves sharing the first place with the World Champion. The tiebreak went badly for me. I won a very classy game with Black in the first round in the beloved Berlin defense. I then somehow got slowly outplayed with White in the second game and failed to force a draw on few occasions, with my time constantly ticking away. The victory in the Armageddon wasn't mean to be for me, and so I had to let go of any hope to win the series. Magnus later won his mini-match against Vachier, and thus it meant that I would end 2nd in the overall tour. Not a bad result for me, with +5 undefeated, considering that my GrandPrix experience was closer to -5 without wins just a couple of years ago.
Qatar Masters was the final tournament of the year for me and most of my colleagues. I started well, winning a nice game in the second round against Grandelius, echoing my victory against Saric.
Game Fragment: N. Grandelius - A. Giri (Click here to view the game analysis in Chessbase viewer)
Later, on +3, I had to win one more game and I was close, once again the similar pawn structure appeared in the sicilian.
Game Fragment: S. Ganguly - A. Giri (Click here to view the game analysis in Chessbase viewer)
Unfortunately after this game I no longer got any winning chances and had to be satisfied with a couple of rating points and a very very modest 8th place.
Happy New Year 2016!
The year 2015 was overall exciting with lots of ups and some occasional downs (far more ups, fortunately!). Some milestones have been reached, and I am looking forward to the new exciting challenges that 2016 has to offer.
Happy New Year 2016!
Official Website of TATA 2015
Official Website of FIDE GrandPrix in Tbilisi 2015
Official Website of Shamkir tournament 2015
Official Website of GP in Khanty Mansiysk
Official Website of French League 2015
Official Website of Norway Chess 2015
Official Website of Dutch Championship 2015
Official Website of Sinquefield Cup 2015
Official Website of World Cup 2015
Official Website of European Club Cup 2015
Official Website of Bilbao 2015
Official Website of European Team Championship 2015
Official Website of Grand Chess Tour London 2015
Official Website of Qatar Masters Open 2015