Giri and Jobava imperial at Unive

by Albert Silver
10/21/2014 – The 18th Unive Chess Tournament was held from October 11-18 with two matches featured as the main attractions. In the first match, top Dutch player Anish Giri faced off against Alexei Shirov over six games played at standard time controls, while in the second, Dutch legend Jan Timman played against Baadur Jobava. Both duels saw plenty of exciting chess.

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While exciting pairings in and of themselves, for both Anish Giri and Baadur Jobava it was a welcome warmup before playing in the Grand Prix event in Tashkent a couple of days later. In fact, Anish Giri commented that he really commiserated with Jobava, since while he had known he would play and had ample time to prepare, Jobava learned of his participation at the last minute, giving him no time to ready himself for such elite competition.

Baadur Jobava vs Jan Timman

On paper, the match between the two was not only the most lopsided, but potentially the least attractive if one were to only stare at numbers and ratings. For the aficionados however, nothing could be further from the truth.

It is true that the great veteran Jan Timman is nowhere near his former peak when he was
a regular fixture in the top five, but the optimistic player has never lacked ambition at the board,
and one could count on him to make a fight of it.

Baadur Jobava is one of the true talents in chess, and his highly imaginative chess can
be a handful for anyone and he beat Magnus Carlsen even, when he was already world no.1

The playing hall was both simple and elegant

Here is an example of Jobava's dynamic play:

[Event "Unive Timman-Jobava 2014"] [Site "Hoogeveen NED"] [Date "2014.10.18"] [Round "6"] [White "Jobava, Baadur"] [Black "Timman, Jan H"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A29"] [WhiteElo "2717"] [BlackElo "2601"] [PlyCount "67"] [EventDate "2014.10.12"] 1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. g3 Bc5 5. Bg2 d6 6. d3 h6 7. a3 a6 8. b4 Ba7 9. O-O O-O 10. Be3 Bxe3 11. fxe3 Be6 12. Nh4 Ng4 13. Qc1 Qg5 14. Bxc6 bxc6 15. e4 Qh5 16. h3 Nf6 17. Kg2 d5 18. cxd5 cxd5 {Diagram [#]} 19. Rxf6 $1 {A powerful exchange sacrifice that throws Black's position into chaos.} gxf6 20. exd5 Bd7 21. Qe3 Qg5 $2 (21... f5 {was more resilient, but Black still has trouble fighting the powerful knights.} 22. Rf1 f4 $6 23. Qf3 $1 Qxf3+ 24. Nxf3 Rae8 25. gxf4 exf4 26. Nd4 {and White has an edge thanks to the strong knights and many pawn targets. Notice how Black's pawns are broken into four islands. Ex:} Re3 27. Rxf4 Rxh3 28. Ne4 Bc8 29. b5 axb5 30. Nxb5 Kg7 31. Nxc7 $16) 22. Qc5 f5 23. Qxc7 Rad8 24. Nf3 Qh5 25. Nxe5 Bb5 26. Nc4 Rfe8 27. Rf1 Rd7 28. Qf4 Rxe2+ 29. Nxe2 Qxe2+ 30. Rf2 Qxd3 31. Ne3 Re7 32. Nxf5 Qxd5+ 33. Kh2 Rd7 34. Qg4+ 1-0

Jan Timman reviews the game with Loek Van Wely after

The games were made visible to spectators via classic display boards, meaning also a manual handler

Final standings

Anish Giri vs Alexey Shirov

This is already the second match by Shirov in the last month, having won the previous one in rapid games over Evgeny Sveshnikov. In the past year, Anish Giri has been climbing the Elo ladder quite steadily and is now at an impressive world no.7.

Despite being a favorite, Giri had a minus score against Shirov prior
to the match, having lost to him precisely at Hoogoven in 2010

Alexei Shirov has never deviated from his no-holds-barred brand
of chess, which is what makes him so popular to this day. There
is no such thing as a dull Shirov game.

Nevertheless, Anish Giri's preparation was second to none, and it showed in the match

Here is a spectacular win by Anish in game six:

[Event "Unive Giri-Shirov m 2014"] [Site "Hoogeveen NED"] [Date "2014.10.18"] [Round "6"] [White "Giri, Anish"] [Black "Shirov, Alexei"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B33"] [WhiteElo "2768"] [BlackElo "2691"] [PlyCount "91"] [EventDate "2014.10.12"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e5 {Shirov recently won a friendly match against the father of this line, Evgeny Sveshnikov himself, so it is safe to presume he will be well-booked on this. On the flip side, Anish will know this also and can be equally expected to be ready.} 6. Ndb5 d6 7. Bg5 a6 8. Na3 b5 9. Nd5 Be7 10. Bxf6 Bxf6 11. c3 Bg5 12. Nc2 O-O 13. a4 bxa4 14. Rxa4 a5 {An example of just how heavily-trodden this line is, after 14 moves, the online database still contains well over 5000 games.} 15. Bc4 Rb8 16. b3 Kh8 17. Nce3 g6 18. h4 {Still completely theoretical, this very aggressive move aims to open the h-file one way or the other as quickly as possible. if Black takes with} Bxh4 {the file is opened with} 19. g3 {and if not, then h5 would follow.} Bg5 20. f4 exf4 21. gxf4 Bh4+ 22. Kf1 {This move is more than a little surprising. Of the nearly 300 games in the online database, less than ten chose anything other than Kd2, and the six games with Kf1 did not end well for White.} f5 23. Ra2 {This is the point of Kf1 instead of Kd2. While Kd2 brings the king to a safer part of the board, Kf1 allows this rook lift with Ra2-h2 to quickly attack the h-file. In spite of the poor track record in the games, one cannot argue with the consistency of this choice, and it should be noted the engines do not chastise it either.} fxe4 24. Rah2 g5 25. Qh5 {This key move in Giri's preparation is what ensures a very difficult struggle for Black. Shirov later noted that the more he looked at this position, the less he liked it.} Rb7 26. Ke2 Be6 27. Qh6 Bg8 28. Rg2 Rbf7 {[#]} 29. Rxh4 $1 gxh4 30. Nf5 $1 {The knight cannot be taken because of Qg7 mate.} h3 31. Nh4 $1 { The threat is the not-so-subtle Ng6 mate!} Qxh4 32. Rxg8+ Rxg8 33. Qxh4 Rg2+ 34. Kf1 Rh2 35. Ne3 Rg7 36. Qf6 Rh1+ 37. Kf2 Rh2+ 38. Ke1 Rh1+ 39. Kd2 Rh2+ 40. Kc1 Ne7 41. Nf5 Rhg2 (41... Nxf5 $2 42. Qf8+ Rg8 43. Qxg8#) 42. Nxg7 Rxg7 43. Qf8+ Ng8 44. Bxg8 Rxg8 45. Qf6+ Rg7 46. Qh4 {The h-pawn fall and there is nothing to hope for, so...} 1-0

Try as he might, Shirov had no answers in the match

The spectators were treated to great fun

The world seen through chess

Final standings

The classy matches rewarded the winners with these beautiful glass trophies

Despite giving Timman a route, Jobava showed his appreciation at playing such a great player

Anish will be arriving in Tashkent full of confidence after his 4.5-1.5 victory. His live rating
is also at a lofty 2776.

Photos by Peter Doggers


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Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications, and the content creator of the YouTube channel, Chess & Tech.


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