Giri beats Ivanchuk in Leon

by Leontxo García
6/10/2013 – The start of the three-day chess bonanza between Vassily Ivanchuk and Anish Giri did not bode well for the Ukrainian genius. After two days he was behind 5-1 and was so depressed he began speaking about retirement. Then on the last day, Ivanchuk came different, and he was a man on a mission. Though Ivanchuk ended with more points overall, Giri won due to the event scoring system. Big illustrated report by Leontxo García.

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Giri beats Ivanchuk in Leon

By Leontxo Garcia

The start of the three-day chess bonanza between Vassily Ivanchuk and Anish Giri did not forebode well for the Ukrainian genius. Day one was set to be two 45-minute games between the players, and after a draw in game one, Ivanchuk blundered a piece in game two to give the young Dutch player the lead.

[Event "26th Leon Masters g45"] [Site "Leon ESP"] [Date "2013.06.07"] [Round "2"] [White "Ivanchuk, Vassily"] [Black "Giri, Anish"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E60"] [WhiteElo "2753"] [BlackElo "2734"] [PlyCount "44"] [EventDate "2013.06.07"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. g3 Bg7 4. Bg2 c5 5. d5 O-O 6. Nc3 d6 7. Nf3 e6 8. O-O exd5 9. cxd5 Re8 10. Bf4 Na6 11. Re1 Bg4 12. h3 Bf5 13. Qb3 b5 14. Nxb5 Rb8 15. Qa4 Qd7 {Sharp and precise.} 16. Nc3 ({If} 16. Qxa6 Rxb5 17. Qxd6 Qxd6 18. Bxd6 Ne4 19. Bf4 Rxb2 {and Black is fine.}) (16. g4 {would be bad after} Qxb5 17. Qxb5 Rxb5 18. gxf5 Ne4 $1 {and the outposted knight plus pressure on b2 gives Black a clear edge.}) 16... Qxa4 17. Nxa4 Nxd5 18. Bxd6 Rbd8 19. Bxc5 $2 {An unfortunate blunder to decide what was a high quality game.} ({White had the superb resource} 19. e4 $1 {which equalizes in all lines.} Rxe4 20. Rxe4 Bxe4 21. Nxc5 Bxf3 (21... Rxd6 22. Nxe4) 22. Bxf3 Rxd6 23. Nxa6 Rxa6 24. Bxd5 Bxb2 $11) 19... Bd7 20. Bxa7 Bxa4 21. Bd4 Ndb4 22. Bxg7 Kxg7 0-1

A chipper Giri gives the sign of victory with his hands that are
the envy of every pianist.

Dr. José María López Benito, councilman of the Sports department of the city
of Leon, and Marcelino Sión, the tournament organizer.

Day two was even worse as Ivanchuk seemed to be distracted, and he lost three of the four 20-minute games as a result of appalling blunders. He was very unhappy, and began talking about retirement from chess. The score was 5-1 for Anish Giri who now led by four points. The final day was to be ten five-minute blitz games and to draw, the Ukrainian would need to score no less than 7-3.

Anish Giri chats with the arbiter Joaquín Espejo

Ivanchuk, very concentrated even between games, before the start of the day, came to the auditorium accompanied by his coach Viktor Moskalenko, wearing a baseball cap, unshaven. Among the spectators there still echoed his emotional declarations of the day before: "After an unhappy love affair, the solution is to change women. But there is only one chess, which I no longer care for, so my problem has no solution."

Ivanchuk came focused and motivated on the last day

López Benito plays the first move

Viktor Moskalenko, the second of Ivanchuk

But Giri immediately realized that today was another Ivanchuk, who was possibly protected by the speed of the game that would not let him wallow in his depression. The great Ukrainian won the first game dramatically, tied the second without much trouble and also won the next two. The Dutch did not give up, and drew the fifth game and won the sixth, but his defeat in the seventh and eighth left the duel decided.

[Event "26th Leon Masters g5"] [Site "Leon ESP"] [Date "2013.06.09"] [Round "4"] [White "Ivanchuk, Vassily"] [Black "Giri, Anish"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E60"] [WhiteElo "2753"] [BlackElo "2734"] [PlyCount "95"] [EventDate "2013.06.09"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. g3 Bg7 4. Bg2 O-O 5. Nc3 c5 6. d5 d6 7. Nf3 e6 8. O-O exd5 9. cxd5 {Now in Benoni territory, though the Fianchetto system is not White's strongest option as a rule.} Re8 10. Bf4 Na6 11. Re1 Bg4 12. e4 Nh5 13. Be3 Nf6 14. h3 Bxf3 15. Bxf3 Nd7 16. Bg2 Nc7 {The engines say this is not best, but there is little point overthinking a five-minute blitz game.} 17. a4 Rb8 18. Qd2 Ne5 19. b3 b5 20. Bg5 Qc8 21. Bh6 Bh8 (21... Bxh6 {was much better since after} 22. Qxh6 {the queen is hardly going to mount a mating attack all by itself.}) 22. f4 Nf3+ {Extremely creative.} 23. Bxf3 Qxh3 {Black's idea is that h6 is hanging as well as g3.} 24. e5 (24. f5 Qxg3+ {and Black wins back the piece with interest.} 25. Bg2 Bxc3) 24... Qxh6 25. exd6 {This is the problem. The knight has no good squares.} Qh3 26. Ne4 Nxd5 27. Qxd5 Bd4+ { Black wins?} 28. Qxd4 cxd4 29. Bg4 {No indeed!} Qh6 (29... Qxg4 30. Nf6+ Kg7 31. Nxg4) 30. Nf6+ Kf8 31. Nxe8 {Missing an opportunity for a brilliancy, though 30+ moves into a blitz, it is understandable.} ({White had the spectacular} 31. Rxe8+ Rxe8 32. d7 Rd8 33. Re1 {and the point is that after} Kg7 34. Re8 Rxd7 {What else?} 35. Ng8 $3 {An amazing move that captures the queen!}) 31... Rxe8 32. axb5 f5 33. Bf3 Rd8 34. Rxa7 Rxd6 35. Ree7 Qh3 36. Kf2 Qh2+ 37. Bg2 d3 38. Rf7+ (38. Rxh7 {was winning.}) 38... Kg8 39. Rg7+ Kh8 40. Rgd7 Rxd7 41. Rxd7 Qh6 42. b6 Qf8 43. b7 Qc5+ 44. Kf1 Qc1+ 45. Kf2 Qc5+ 46. Kf1 Qb5 {Giri declines the repetition and loses.} 47. Rd8+ Kg7 48. b8=Q 1-0

In the subsequent press conference, Ivanchuk was energetic, recognized that he now saw life in another color and apologized for his depressing statements on the previous eve. Asked about the key to his transformation, the Ukrainian replied with another pearl: "Today at noon I had a delicious, and this relaxed me a lot. Since the sum of the previous days had left me with a negative score of four points (1.5-0.5 and 3.5-0.5) my plan was to win the final blitz match with five points difference, which I succeeded in doing."

In spite of winning more games overall, 8.5-7.5, Anish Giri nevertheless won the event as the point system awards two points per day (or time control), and since he won the 45-minute games, and the 20-minute games for four points, to Ivanchuk's two, the Dutchman is the overall winner.

Anish Giri awaits Ivanchuk's first comments

"But yesterday! Yesterday and before yesterday! That was the end of the world!"

(Such theatrics)

"Sometimes I just do not know what is happening to me!"

"It is not the first time this happens, so..."

A rapt audience follows the press conference

Leontxo García with Anish Giri and Vassily Ivanchuk after the match

The young Dutchman, number one in the world under-20, just finished his high school education, and now plans to devote the next two years to playing chess full time: "I want to see what the life of a true professional is like. But I do not rule out combine my chess career with a university degree. I would like to study psychology. In any case, my next goal is to be world champion, but I'm afraid there are other candidates, also very young, like Carlsen and Caruana, who want the same as me, and are stronger now."

Good-naturedly, Giri accepts Ivanchuk's histrionics and looks ahead

After enjoying a midday meal in Leon, Giri was explicit in describing how good it feels in Leon: "Here I won the Spanish Team Championship with Sestao in 2012, and I won my first City of Leon 2013. If I ever have the option of choosing where to play the final of the World Championship, I will propose Leon."

The final standings

Pictures from the official site


The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

Leontxo García is a renown Spanish sports and chess journalist.


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