“…was a heart-breaking news for the chess-community that Big Vlad had decided to call it a day and quit his professional career…”
Anish on TATA Steel Chess 2019 with game analyses


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Last year started for me with a very pleasant surprise. Scoring +5 in the traditional Tata Steel Chess Tournament in Wijk aan Zee was a result I couldn’t have dreamt of. This year, once again somewhat unexpectedly, I was fortunate enough to do almost just as well, finishing once again a top of the pack and only second to Magnus Carlsen, who once again showed tremendous for in what they call The Wimbledon of Chess.

Without doing much of the story telling, let’s go of my ‘highlights’.

A bad start!
My start could have hardly been worse as I didn’t get out of the opening with the white pieces against Ian Nepomniachtchi.

Game Fragment: A. Giri - I. Nepomniachtchi (Click here to view in Chessbase viewer)

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A heart-breaking news..
I was ready for one more, as I was facing my old nemesis Vladimir Kramnik, who has taught me far too many lessons in my early days. Recently I have won two games against him, but seeing my first-round game, I am pretty sure the Russian legend was out for blood. Fortunately for me, things started slipping out of Big Vlad’s control.

Game Fragment: V. Kramnik - A. Giri (Click here to view in Chessbase viewer)

It was a heart-breaking news for the chess-community that Big Vlad had decided to call it a day and quit his professional career. In any case, he has pretty much achieved all a professional player wishes to achieve, so in that regard it is understandable. At that point in time, however, there was no thought of Vladimir quitting and I was very happy to have made a comeback. In fact this was not my last victory with the black pieces.
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Better with black pieces!
In round 3, after Shakh played an interesting novelty in the Grunfeld, things fizzled out quickly.

Game Fragment: A. Giri - S. Mamedyarov (Click here to view in Chessbase viewer)

My second victory came out of pretty much from nowhere.

Game Fragment: R. Rapport - A. Giri (Click here to view in Chessbase viewer)

In round 5 (in Alkmaar, as we played on tour) it was Vishy, who introduced a new idea this time, neutralizing my attempt with the slow Italian.

Game Fragment: A. Giri - V. Anand (Click here to view in Chessbase viewer)

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After a rest day
After a restday in round 6 I managed to win one more with the Black pieces, against the new rising start JK Duda.

Game Fragment: J. Duda - A. Giri (Click here to view in Chessbase viewer)

I didn’t get much in my next white game either. It isn’t easy, playing well prepared players, who are also in good form! Ding managed to neutralize the Catalan pressure nicely.

Game Fragment: A. Giri - L. Ding (Click here to view in Chessbase viewer)

Fortunately there were more black games to be played, but facing the ever-solid Vidit I didn’t get far.

Game Fragment: S. Vidit - A. Giri (Click here to view in Chessbase viewer)

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Time for my white, but again!
It was time for my white to strike and finally I got something going, surprising Jorden van Foreest in the opening with an idea that was already used earlier in the tournament by Ding against Vidit. Unfortunately though, as I was on my way to putting some pressure, I stumbled.

Game Fragment: A. Giri - J. van Forest (Click here to view in Chessbase viewer)

After a miss against Jorden I was ready for a fight against Fedoseev, as we went on tour, this time to Leiden.

Game Fragment: V. Fedoseev - A. Giri (Click here to view in Chessbase viewer)

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Fortune did not help much!
Things were looking good, but as often in Wijk, there were more players who were doing well, so I needed to score some victories on the finish as well, if I were to fight for the first place. This time I really needed a gift from above, but it came.

Game Fragment: A. Giri - S. Shankland (Click here to view in Chessbase viewer)

I felt invincible after this game and maybe my aura helped, as while my next opponent Teimour Radjabov played an excellent game from start to finish, while he was converting, he suddenly slipped and offered a draw, which I obviously took.

Game Fragment: T. Radjabov - A. Giri (Click here to view in Chessbase viewer)

I was very happy to escape, but regardless of the penultimate round, things would be decided in the final round as I had the white pieces against Magnus Carlsen.

Unfortunately for me, the opening didn’t go entirely my way, despite the fact that Magnus has become very predictable lately.

Game Fragment: A. Giri - M. Carlsen (Click here to view in Chessbase viewer)

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No complaints!
I was obviously hoping for more, before the last round, as the second place was pretty much secured (finally I ended up 1½ point ahead of the third finishers), but all in all I didn’t complain much about my result of 5 wins 1 loss and 7 draws. Playing a lot of interesting games as well as gaining quite some rating points, I was very content with the tournament and feel ready for the upcoming fights. The year starts off somewhat slowly for me, as I am facing two quiet months after Wijk aan Zee, but after that things are going to take off, with the World Championship Cycle as well as the Grand Chess Tour events all taking place one after another.

Looking forward to the upcoming challenges!

THE END

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