Chessable Masters: Giri reaches semis on his birthday

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
6/29/2020 – On his 26th birthday, Anish Giri reached the semifinals of the Chessable Masters by defeating Alexander Grischuk 3:1 in the second set of their quarterfinals matchup. Meanwhile, Hikaru Nakamura tied the score with Ding Liren after winning the Armageddon decider of the second set — the final set will be played on Monday. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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Nakamura wins thrilling second set

World Champion Magnus Carlsen and eleven more of the world's best chess players are competing in the Chessable Masters by chess24, the third event in the $1 million Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour, taking place from June 20 to July 5.

Although he has been around for a while at the elite of the chess world, Anish Giri still has many years to go as a professional, as he just turned 26 on Sunday. The Dutchman celebrated his birthday in style, convincingly beating Alexander Grischuk in the second set of their quarterfinals matchup and qualifying to the semifinals, where he will meet Ian Nepomniachtchi.

Meanwhile, we still do not know who will face Magnus Carlsen in the other semifinal. Hikaru Nakamura and Ding Liren will decide who gets to play the world champion in Monday’s third set of their matchup. Ding had won the first set, but saw his opponent showing great fighting spirit to level the score in a second set that reached sudden death.

It was a roller-coaster mini-match. Nakamura was ahead on the scoreboard after winning game 2, but could not put an end to the confrontation ‘on regulation’, as he failed to keep the balance in a drawn rook ending in game 4 — Ding did not miss his chance and took the set to blitz tiebreakers. Nakamura lost again in the first 5-minute game, but bounced right back with the black pieces in a must-win situation. Finally, the American used the momentum to swiftly defeat his tough opponent in the seventh encounter of the day.

Chessable Masters 2020

Nakamura* 3:3 Ding

Mini-match #2 Game 1 Game 2 Game 3 Game 4 Blitz 1 Blitz 2 Armageddon
Hikaru Nakamura ½ 1 ½ 0 0 1 1
Ding Liren ½ 0 ½ 1 1 0 0

*Nakamura won in Armageddon

Ding comfortably held draws with the black pieces in the rapid phase, but was outplayed by Nakamura in game 2, when he was not careful enough in a closed position and allowed Black’s queen to decisively infiltrate his camp.

‘Naka’ only needed a draw in game 4, and seemed to have things under control in an equal rook endgame: 


All Black needed to do in order to keep the balance was to maintain his rook on the a-file. Nakamura’s 60...Rh1, on the other hand, allowed 61.Ra2, and Black will need to give up the rook for the b-pawn after 61...Rb1 62.Ka7 Kc7 63.Rc2+ Kd7 64.b8Q. Nakamura resigned, and looked rightfully upset on the webcam.

Still shocked by the missed opportunity, Nakamura lost the first blitz tiebreaker, but his fighting spirit came to the fore when he won the rematch with black out of a Leningrad Variation of the Dutch Defence. Just when the commentators were talking about White having more than enough activity to keep things under control, Ding faltered by allowing his opponent to show a nice tactical shot:


Black has 32...Qxf2+, gaining another pawn and killing White’s attacking chances by swapping the queens with 33.Kxf2 Be6+ 34.Nf5 Rxf5+ 35.Ke2 Bxd7. Nakamura cruised to victory and took the set to Armageddon.

Now with the momentum on his side, ‘Naka’ confidently played an offbeat opening system with the white pieces to take down his opponent and level the overall score of the match.

All will be decided in Monday’s deciding third set. The winner of the match will face Magnus Carlsen in the semifinals.


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Giri 3:1 Grischuk

Mini-match #2 Game 1 Game 2 Game 3 Game 4
Anish Giri ½ 1 ½ 1
Alexander Grischuk ½ 0 ½ 0

After drawing all seven games in the first set, Giri and Grischuk kicked off the day again splitting a point. Playing black, Giri broke the deadlock in game 2. He was a pawn up in a not-at-all-trivial endgame with four rooks still on the board:


Black cleanly converted his advantage into a win from this position, and Giri was praised by none other than Magnus Carlsen, who tweeted: “Loved the game, wonderful technique!”. 

Giri safely held a draw from the worse side of a 4 v 3 rook ending in game 3 and outcalculated his opponent in a complex middlegame in the fourth encounter. The birthday boy will face Ian Nepomniachtchi in the semifinals starting Tuesday. 


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Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.


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