“Life however goes on and with many more exciting tournaments to come, it can still go both ways”
Anish on Qatar Masters, London Classics and Wijk aan Zee with game analysis

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As saying goes, it's better late than never, and so I decided to have a quick look back at my recent tournaments, including Qatar Masters Open, London Chess Classics and the very recent Wijk aan Zee, which I played in the brand new year of 2015.

Spectacular Qatar Masters
The event in Qatar was a spectacular happening in its own, featuring names such as Kramnik, Mamedyarov, Vachier-Lagrave and many more. For those interested, I strongly advise the marvelous article written by my Dutch colleague Robin van Kampen and published in NewInChess, the best chess magazine around and one I am in the capacity of the contributing editor.

My tournament was very exciting from the beginning till the end. I started with 6 straight forward victories, all earned in hard fights with my fellow grandmasters, including the mighty Mamedyarov. All of those games were quite interesting, but for my website I decided to annotate the most spectacular two, my quick victory over a strong Ukrainian GM Oleksienko and my win against the aforementioned mighty Mamedyarov.

Game 1: A. Giri - M. Oleksienko (Click here to view the game analysis in Chessbase viewer)

Game 2: S. Mamedyarov - A. Giri (Click here to view the game analysis in Chessbase viewer)

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What followed was a cold shower- (yet another) opening disaster against Vladimir Kramnik (once again, I strongly advise the NIC article, Big Vlad used up quite some pages to explain that game, clearly not without pleasure). And one more opening disaster, this time with white against the upcoming Chinese Yu Yangyi. In my game with Yu I managed to fight on, but at the end in a very unpleasant endgame and in an even more unpleasant time trouble, I finally cracked. This ended my hopes for the first place, but very fortunately I managed to win my last round game, against the solid Akopian from Armenia. That eventful game I chose to analyse for the NIC magazine and here I will just briefly mentioned, that fortune did smile to me on that sunny day in Doha.

This win brought me the shared second place together with Kramnik and behind Yu Yangyi, who finished strongly, beating Kramnik in the last round.

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From the heat of Doha to the cold and rainy London
Right from the heat of Doha I travelled to the cold and rainy city of London, where the London Chess Classics was awaiting us. The 6th edition of the festival was full of different events. My colleagues and I were to meet in all possible formats- rapid, pro-business event (I will explain later), blitz and finally the classical chess. The rapid tournament was an open tournament with an incredible amount of participants, mounting up to altogether of 400 chess lovers, eager to beat the very best of the world. The first day therefore was a relatively quiet day of 5 unevenly matched rounds. Most of the grandmasters, including me, finished that day on the undefeated 5/5. The next day, however, was bound to bring more excitement. And indeed, I had to face Kramnik, Caruana, Nakamura, Adams and Sadler, practically all the top seeds (all except Vishy Anand). Finally I finished second behind Nakamura, who beat me in a very long positional game. Nevertheless, having played some good games I was satisfied with my second place. I was particularly glad with my little "revenge" against Kramnik.

Game 3: A. Giri - V. Kramnik (Click here to view the game analysis in Chessbase viewer)

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Lucky chess socks
The pro-business cup was an original event, where the top players were coupled with the businessmen (very strong chess amateurs). The system was the knockout, with 8 couples playing against each other in a creative way- the businessman would make one move and 'his' grandmaster would make the next one. That obviously let to quite some interesting games, with some ups and downs. I was paired to be in team with a very strong yet very friendly Rajko Vujatovic. I was astonished with the depth of his theoretical knowledge and understanding of the game. It immediately became clear to me, that this was not going to become a restday for me. We were there to stay till the end.

After beating Mr. Short with Mr.Baptie, Mr.Anand with Mr.Harasic (that was a very charismatic team btw!) we were to meet Mr.Kramnik with Mr. Picot in the final. This match, just like all of our previous matches went into the tiebreak. On the tiebreak, 'my' (I say that with pride!) businessman was stronger and so after a long day of hard work, we were to take the winners trophy. Our secret was revealed to me only towards the end, when Rajko showed us his lucky chess socks! By the way, he gifted me my own pair as well. I am still a long way from qualifying for my world championship match, but at least I do know what socks to wear for the decisive game!

Following the pro-biz, we had a blitz tournament to decide who will get more whites in the 5 classical games. I was on track to win the tournament, only to lose my last 3 games and end up with 3 blacks and 2 whites, something that can be a rather unpleasant nuisance at this level.

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“London defense”
Fortunately the classical tournament turned out fine. I scored an undefeated +1, beating Michael Adams with the white pieces. This was enough to share the first place, but it was Vishy Anand, who surprised everyone on the last day by beating Michael Adams with the Berlin defense. This opening, kept occurring in the tournament often enough that someone suggested renaming it into the London defense. One way or the other, in my white game against Michael Adams, I chose to avoid the Berlin/London defense. And it did me good too!

Game 4: A. Giri - M. Adams (Click here to view the game analysis in Chessbase viewer)

And so that was it for the year 2014. Truth be told, I did hesitate to play one blitz tournament during my Christmas holidays, but finally the sober part of my brain took over and I had my proper share of rest as well.


Wijk aan Zee 2015
My most recent tournament was the giant amongst the elite tournaments, the annual Wijk aan Zee tournament. My last 7 years started with this tournament and I am always glad to be back in the windy town, known for its special chess atmosphere, where every inhabitant will know exactly who you are and where you missed your advantage today.

The tournament was a mix of young and old, elite and sub-elite and so I was eager to score some victories. My start was solid, as I was facing the very best in the first three rounds. I drew Carlsen with white, defended my own against Aronian with black and pushed against Caruana, but that ended in a draw as well. My first victory came in round 5 against Jobava (in round 4 I drew women world champion Hou Yifan), when we played in De Rotterdam. He found a spectacular shot, but he wasn't himself during those two weeks and at some point he completely lost control over the game. Following a couple of tough draws (including a missed brilliancy against Ivanchuk in a queen endgame), I cracked against Vachier-Lagrave. In a quiet position I went astray and lost the game quite effortlessly.

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Winning streaks!
The rest day came in handy and it was well spent, but nevertheless, winning the next four games all in a row was beyond any expectations. I was happy with all of these four, but my win against Saric with the black pieces was especially satisfying.

Game 5: I. Saric - A.Giri (Click here to view the game analysis in Chessbase viewer)

Beating the rising Filipino-American star Wesley So in the 12th round meant that I was just half a step behind the leading world champion, who I must admit didn't too quite badly either, winning a total of 6 games in a row.

I did have some hopes for a miracle, facing Wojtaszek in the last round with Black. Radoslaw has had an edgy tournament, beating Carlsen and Caruana, but losing some games rather unneccessarily, including one against Jobava. Nevertheless in my game the excitment vanished pretty quickly and while Magnus did end up symbolically worse against Saric, he was never in real danger and so his victory was no longer in doubt.

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In the end I shared 2nd-5th place, as all of my chasers won their games (Ding beat Aronian, Vachier beat Caruana, both with black and So beat Van Wely with white). The result of 8.5/13 (+4) meant quite some rating gain for me and it put a step closer to the top in the world rankings. Life however goes on and with many more exciting tournaments to come, it can still go both ways.

One way or the other, I will let you know. **************************************************************************

Official Website of Qatar Masters Open 2014

Official Website of London Chess Classic 2014

Official Website of Tata Steel 2015