A match within the match
Yesterday I enjoyed watching one of the first stages of the chess.com 2017 speed chess championship, usually the first rounds of a knockout event is less interesting but in this case the starting field is a Super GM event with among others 6 of the top 10 players in the world live rating list. Malmö AS Georg Meier was unfortunately eliminated in the first round by current blitz world champion Karjakin. Yesterday it was time for another heavyweight duel Wesley So current number 2 in the world VS Anish Giri ranked number 12. The match was very even and the final result 15,5 vs 14,5 in Wesleys favour after a 4 hour fight. Giris strategy was clear from the start, exchanging pieces and grinding endgames but it became clear that this only favored Wesley who usually found himself up a pawn in the endgames or pressing from endgame positions with equal material.
Strong players have a quality that distinguish them from the rest the ability to adjust quickly if things don’t turn out as planned. Giri decided to change his opening choice from super solid to Kings indian attack as white with the hope of getting an unbalanced middle game positions where he could go for the opponent’s king. I was surprised to see how Giri handled this well known position. There is a famous game that is the holy grail to Kings Indian attack players, Bobby Fischer – L. Myagmarsuren 1967 Souse Inter zonal tournament, Fischer said according to Larry Evans that he actually spent more time on the move 13.a3 then on any other move of that game with the reasoning that he wanted to secure his queen side in case his king side attack failed to break through.
Giri played 3 games as white in this line with the result 1 lost game and 2 draws. Wesley choose a standard approach with a black queen side pawn avalanche with his pawns quickly reaching squares a4,b4,c5,d5 very similar to Fischers opponent.
In 2/3 games Giri decided to skip the move a3 resulting in Wesley playing the move himself creating a huge queenside space advantage.
In the second game of this Kings Indian Attack match within the match black played Nd4 and after white takes the knight he played Rc6,Qc7,Rc8 with massive pressure on the c-file Houdini evaluating the position to -1,4.
In the 3rd game Giri played more actively but was still worse as white according to the computer after the opening. Fischers handling of the position with a3 seems like a very valid and practical move still playing for a kingside attack but not burning all bridges behind you.