Giri Beats Mamedyarov In Thrilling Speed Chess Match

Giri Beats Mamedyarov In Thrilling Speed Chess Match

| 22 | Chess Event Coverage

The first round of the 2018 Speed Chess Championship was completed with Anish Giri's 17-15 win against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov on Friday. The latter almost came back from a seven-point deficit, and played lots of fun openings.

It was the eighth and last match of the tournament's first round, between two world class players. Mamedyarov (@Azerichesss) is the world number three, Giri (@anishgiri) the world number seven in the September FIDE rating list.

That would make Mamedyarov the slight favorite perhaps, even more as Giri himself said he considers him the better blitz player, but it is the Dutch grandmaster who has a plus-one lead in seven over-the-board blitz games against the Azerbaijani!


On all other accounts, Mamedyarov was indeed considered the favorite according to the SmarterChess prediction.

As if he wanted to make a strong statement right away, Giri started with a crushing win. He just killed Mamedyarov's Pirc with a devastating attack.

Giri also won the second game, from an equal endgame. Things remained the same with two draws, when Giri won another couple to double his lead.

So far, Mamedyarov had played 1.Nf3, 1.Nc3 and 1.g3 in his white games. He would continue with 1.h3, 1.b4, 1.e3 and 1.f4 before finally turning to 1.d4 and 1.e4!

"I know Anish's openings are better than my openings, so I just played something just for fun," Mamedyarov said afteward. "I wanted to try all White's first moves but that's not easy!"

Giri pointed out that, ironically, the game with 1.h3—Mamedyarov's first win of the match—saw one of his opponent's most successful openings! With only five minutes on the clock, it's not easy to play 'white' with black having his pawn on h6, so to speak.

Giri killed any new hopes with a win in the last 5+1 game, setting the score at 6.5-2.5. An excellent head start for the Dutch GM.

5+1 segment | Score

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Score
1 Giri 2988 3002 1 1 ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 0 1 6.5
2 Mamedyarov 2837 2823 0 0 ½ ½ 0 0 ½ 1 0 2.5

Giri, who was listening to Nicki Minaj and Dutch rapper Kraantje Pappie while playing, duly continued with two more victories at the start of the 3+1 segment, making it 8.5-2.5. This was starting to look like a walkover, especially taking into account that, in his second attempt at the Pirc, Mamedyarov got crushed even harder:

Anish Giri Speed Chess

Mamedyarov managed to stop the bleeding with six (!) draws in a row, although he lost one more after that. It could have been worse for him, though:

Being seven points down, Mamedyarov managed to make it a match again by winning games 19-21, the last three in the 3+1 portion. Especially in the last one, Giri had a rare case of lacking concentration, twice in the game, although even here Mamedyarov made an odd decision as well.

In what was the longest 3+1 segment ever played in Speed Chess history (12 games), the players actually tied.

3+1 segment | Score

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Score
1 Giri 2994 2834 1 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 0 0 0 6
2 Mamedyarov 2834 2994 0 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 1 1 1 6

Mamedyarov turned out to be the better bullet player, but not by a high margin. He won this segment, which also included a series of three straight wins in the middle, but Giri's lead was too high to overcome.

Game 23 was a very interesting draw that started with yet another off-beat opening by the Azerbaijani: 1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Ng8. His black openings also included the Budapest Gambit, 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 b5, 1.d4 N6, 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nd7 and the Hippopotamus!

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov Speed Chess

The next one was odd. Black had been playing with a pretty impressive pawn center (d6, e6, d5 and e5!) for quite some time, and was the only one with hopes of winning. But anything can happen in bullet...

Even Mamedyarov's Pirc started to bring him some points, although things still looked dodgy. In this one, Giri was completely winning again, but mixed up the move order:

It wasn't all disaster for Mamedyarov. He won a few good games, for instance this one:


1+1 segment | Score

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Score
1 Mamedyarov 2778 3019 0 ½ 1 ½ 1 1 1 ½ 0 ½ ½ 6.5
2 Giri 2956 2715 1 ½ 0 ½ 0 0 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ 4.5

Replay the live commentary with GM Robert Hess and IM Danny Rensch.

Giri won $1,607.00 with his victory whereas Mamedyarov got $544.50. A total amount of $151.50 was donated by the chess community on Twitch.

Mamedyarov: "I was very happy to play this match, it was very nice." About the large variety of openings, he said: "I just tried to play some interesting chess."


The bracket now has the matchups Nakamura-MVL, Aronian-Giri, Duda-Grischuk and Vidit-So. The dates for these are September 20 and 21, October 9 and 11. Which matches will be played on which days, will be decided soon. Do keep track of our Events Calendar!

Giri, whose next opponent is Levon Aronian, said he had seen one minute of his match with Fabiano Caruana, which happened to be the moment when Aronian was interviewed by IM Danny Rensch, and the Armenian GM was trash talking Giri a bit.

"I am very happy that I showed Levon that I can beat Shakhriyar," said Giri, who noted that Aronian is the top GM he has the worst score against. "Three hours will be good to get to know him a bit better! It was incredible how much the match with Wesley [So] gave me insights into his strengths and weaknesses."

On Twitter, the match between Aronian and Giri has already begun:

Find all information about the Speed Chess Championship here.

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