Superbet: Giri lives dangerously, escapes

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
6/5/2021 – A rather quiet round on opening day saw all five games finishing drawn at the Superbet Classic in Bucharest. The one exciting encounter of the round saw Anish Giri going for complications at every turn against late replacement Bogdan-Daniel Deac. In the end, it was the Dutchman who needed to tread lightly to save a half point. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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A dangerous late replacement

Just two days ago, the organizers of the Grand Chess Tour announced that Richard Rapport would not be able to participate in the Superbet Chess Classic due to a last-minute illness. Fortunately, Romania’s number 2 Bogdan-Daniel Deac was available and quickly took the place of the Hungarian star.

Deac recently qualified to the World Cup via the European Hybrid Chess Qualifier, and will certainly gain valuable experience from facing top opposition in Bucharest prior to making his way to Sochi, where the all-important knockout tournament is projected to take place in July. A chess prodigy, Deac earned the grandmaster title at the age of 14 years, 7 months and 27 days. Five years later, he is the fourth highest-rated junior player in the world (under 20), ranked above the likes of Nihal Sari and Amin Tabatabaei.

Bogdan-Daniel Deac

19-year-old Romanian grandmaster Bogdan-Daniel Deac | Photo: Lennart Ootes

The youngster’s first rival in Bucharest was none other than Anish Giri. The Dutchman comes from having great performances in Wijk aan Zee and Yekaterinburg, as his renewed, riskier approach has prompted pundits and colleagues alike to enthusiastically praise his play. Already an experienced member of the elite at 26, Giri is certainly expected to remain as a strong contender to become a challenger for the World Championship title in the future.

Under these circumstances, it was not shocking at all that Giri tried to complicate matters against his young opponent.  


Giri deviated from theory with 13...Bg7, after his opponent had already spent almost 15 minutes on his previous move. The game continued 14.e5 Qe7 15.Ne4 and after 15...0-0-0 the young Romanian again spent close to 15 minutes on 16.Nd6+


16...Kb8 is the most natural continuation, but Giri chose to enter an imbalanced position with the also playable 16...Rxd6

Of course, it is Black who needs to prove he has compensation for the exchange. Giri pushed his h-pawn down the board as Deac continued to play precise moves and the computer evaluation increasingly favoured White’s position. A crucial point was reached on move 28.


In line with his plan of opening up the position against White’s king, Giri went for 28...c5, creating threats along the light-squared diagonal. Objectively it was a mistake, though, as White here had the forceful 29.Re5 — the idea is that after, for example, 29...Qxg3 there is 30.Rh5 and the rook cannot be captured because of the threatened mate on e8.


White controls both the e and h-files, so Black is forced to go for 30...Qxd6 31.Rxh8+ Kd7 32.Rxd6 Kxd6 33.Bxb7 entering an endgame with three pawns for a rook. Perhaps the conversion is not trivial, but it is very likely that Deac would have managed to get the full point.

None of this happened, however, as 29.Qd7+ was played in the game, leading to simplifications and an eventual 47-move draw.


Bogdan-Daniel Deac, Anish Giri

A picture is worth a thousand words | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Three games had finished in rather quick draws, while Wesley So and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov did reach the time control before agreeing to split the point. One of the three short draws of the day saw fellow Candidates Alexander Grischuk and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave quickly exchanging down to bare kings out of a highly theoretical Grünfeld Defence. MVL confessed:

I want to come back to the top 10. For the first time in 5 years I’m not there, because of my tournament in Wijk aan Zee.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave | Photo: Bryan Adams

In other news, it was announced that former world champion, who participated in the opening ceremony and played the honorary first move on Saturday, will be among the participants in the blitz section of the Croatian Rapid & Blitz Tournament starting on July 5.

Superbet Chess Classic 2021, Bucharest

A socially distanced live audience in Bucharest | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Standings after round 1


All games



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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