Chessable Masters: Giri takes down Nepomniachtchi

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
7/3/2020 – Anish Giri defeated Ian Nepomniachtchi in three sets to reach the final of the Chessable Masters. Giri and Nepomniachtchi traded wins in the rapid phase of the third set, but the Dutchman was stronger in the blitz tiebreakers. The final, in which Giri will face world champion Magnus Carlsen, starts on Friday. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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“I’ve gained a lot of confidence”


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.


Once the Anish Giri vs. Ian Nepomniachtchi semifinal had finished, commentator Yasser Seirawan noted that it had been “a wonderful match to call”, and it’s hard to argue with his assessment. It was an evenly-matched confrontation, with plenty of ups and downs, and two players that never shied away from entering rich, complex struggles.

Giri came out on top in the end. He started the day with a loss, but bounced back immediately, and the score remained tied in the last two rapid encounters of the third set. Nepomniachtchi did not get much with white in the first blitz tiebreaker and was duly outplayed in the second 5-minute game of the day. Giri did not expect to get this far in the tournament:

I’ve been assuming that I’d be fully developing my YouTube channel by now. I was really not planning to stay here for so long. 

His next rival? None other than world champion Magnus Carlsen, who had curiously foretold that he would meet Giri in the final! Giri quipped:

He’s a favourite always, and he’s shown good chess in this tournament so far, at least from what I’ve seen — I mean, he beat Fabi and Ding like they are babies. But, well, they don’t have active Twitter accounts and they haven’t got the social media skills that I possess, so we’ll see what happens.

Although he acknowledges that his opponent is a favourite, the Dutchman feels he has a chance to beat the world number one:

I’m looking forward immensely. I’ve gained a lot of confidence in these last few rounds, particularly today. I’ve proven that I can also beat someone in a game of chess — I don’t need any preparation, I don’t need any extra equipment. [...] It’s gonna be challenging.

The final, to the best of three sets, kicks off on Friday!

Chessable Masters 2020

Giri 3½:2½ Nepomniachtchi

Third set Game 1 Game 2 Game 3 Game 4 Blitz 1 Blitz 2 
Anish Giri 0 1 ½ ½ ½ 1
Ian Nepomniachtchi 1 0 ½ ½ ½ 0

‘Nepo’ had white in game 1, and showed he was in for a fight early on:

 

White went for the forcing 12.Bxe6 before castling. Giri quickly responded with 12...Nxe4 instead of the critical 12...fxe6. Shortly after, Black forced the white king to remain uncastled, but by then Nepomniachtchi had already pushed his h-pawn down the board, opening up lines for his better-developed pieces. The Russian’s uncompromising attitude worked wonders, as he obtained a 33-move win to get ahead on the scoreboard at the outset.

Giri evened the score in the very next game:

 

Black failed to foresee a tactical trick when he placed his rook on h1 — 37.Rxf5 exf5 38.Nf2+ and White gains a piece. Giri carefully converted the ensuing technical endgame.

Three well-played draws followed (two ‘on regulation’ and the first blitz tiebreaker). But in game 6 Giri’s tactical alertness gave him match victory:

 

By this point, the computer already shows a big edge for White, but in a tense 5-minute game with the h-file opened up for an infiltration of the opponent’s heavy pieces it is never easy to calculate all lines properly. Luckily for Giri, he noticed that after 40.Bxh8 Qxh8 41.dxe6 his queen is covering the key h1-square — once he knew Black’s last-ditch attempt to mate him was under control, he carried on his attack until getting the all-important win.

 

Select an entry from the list to switch between games

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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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