Belgrade GP: Andreikin knocks out Giri

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
3/12/2022 – Dmitry Andreikin will face Richard Rapport in the final match of the FIDE Grand Prix’s second stage, taking place in Belgrade. The Russian grandmaster got a 1½-½ win over Anish Giri in a rapid tiebreaker to remain in the fight for overall victory in Serbia’s capital. It was a heartbreaking loss for Giri, who had winning chances in both rapid encounters played on Friday. | Photos: Mark Livshitz

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“I started missing many things”

So far no tiebreak in this year’s Grand Prix series has been decided in blitz encounters. Both in Berlin and now in Belgrade all playoff winners managed to reach the next stage by prevailing in the initial 2-game rapid matchup. In the fight to reach the final of the second stage, Dmitry Andreikin defeated Anish Giri by a 1½-½ score to become Richard Rapport’s rival in the tournament’s final.

It was a nervy battle between the two experienced grandmasters. Giri had the black pieces in the first game and agreed to enter a threefold repetition from a favourable position as early as on move 18. The Dutch star failed to notice that he had chances to create problems for his opponent, whose pieces were somewhat over-extended.

 

Giri perhaps considered that getting a quick draw with black to start the match was a good result, and here went for 18...Ng6 19.Ne6 Nf8 20.Nd4, repeating the position.

Instead, in the diagrammed position, Black can try for more with 18...Qg4, preparing to attack the h2-pawn later on, or with 18...Bc5, activating the bishop. Giri later lamented not having made these ideas work in his calculations.

Anish Giri, Dmitry Andreikin

The ever-eloquent Anish Giri

In game 2, Andreikin proved he wanted to fight despite having the black pieces. The Russian played the Sicilian Defence and deviated from theory by pushing his h-pawn on move 11.

 

11...h5 meant Black’s kingside was going to be weakened permanently, and after 12.h3 Andreikin immediately played 12...Kf8, losing the right to castle.

Giri’s play from this point on was tenacious, positionally upping the pressure against his opponent’s somewhat uncoordinated setup. Andreikin kept one of his knights on the kingside, strongly defending that side of the board, which prompted Giri to look for an opening on the opposite flank.

By move 31, White had doubled his rooks on the b-file, and had his rival up against the ropes.

 

Here the best for Giri was to bring another piece to the attack with 32.Nb5, gaining a tempo against the black queen to jump to d6, looking at the f7-weakness. White’s 32.Rxf8+ was not a blunder per se, but it did make his job of converting his advantage much harder.

There followed 32...Qxf8 33.Nc6 Qc5 34.Rb7 Nf5

 

35.Ne7+ here was a very nice shot by Giri, since 35...Nxe7 is bad due to 36.Qg6. Black has 35...Kg7 though — and it was in this position that Giri blundered decisively.

 

The Dutchman later noted that at some point, when he was running out of time, he “started missing many things”. When a sharp position appears on the board, especially during a rapid game, it becomes necessary to combine precise calculation with instinctual play, and this time around it was Giri who lost the thread amid the complications.

36.Nxg6 is another good-looking idea, as after 36...Kxg6 White has 37.Qg4+, with a perpetual check. Andreikin, however, found the refutation — 36...Qc6, attacking the rook first.

Giri continued with 37.Rxf7+

 

37...Kxf7 38.Nxh8+ Kg7 leads to a winning queen and knight endgame for Black. Instead of grabbing the f7-pawn, Giri could have got better practical chances with 37.Ra7, keeping the pin and forcing Black to find a winning plan while low on time amid a tense struggle.

In the game, Andreikin kept his cool and showed good technique and a suitable pragmatic approach to convert his advantage into a 63-move victory. Starting Saturday, the Russian will face an in-form Richard Rapport in the final of the series’ second stage.

 

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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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