Giri Beats Nakamura, Moves To Shared First In London

Giri Beats Nakamura, Moves To Shared First In London

| 85 | Chess Event Coverage

It was “a little angry pussycat versus a wounded lion,” said Anish Giri after beating Hikaru Nakamura today. The Dutch GM joined Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in the lead at the London Chess Classic with one round to go. 

“If you try a little bit your imagination it reminds me a little bit of the fight between a little angry pussycat against a wounded lion. The angry pussycat is not so great but it's kind of jumping around, and the lion is so wounded from a rough fight yesterday that he is just incapable of playing well.”

Anish Giri used this analogy from the animal kingdom to describe what would be an understandable explanation for his win: that Hikaru Nakamura couldn't find his best form after suffering such a tough loss the day before against Magnus Carlsen.

However, Nakamura didn't fully agree.

A little angry pussycat is now sharing first place in London. | Photo Ray Morris-Hill.

“Yesterday was not the best day obviously, especially since I had a draw right at the end. But it didn't really didn't have that big an effect. What happened today was simply: I misassessed the position. I thought I was a little bit worse when it's probably completely equal and I tried to force things because I thought I had to go for counterplay.

“Essentially it just came down to this idea of, you know, Anish was able to get his bishop to b7 before I got my knight to d5 and I just didn't sense the danger, I thought it was all just relatively OK. And maybe it was but it was a little bit unpleasant. By the time I realized it could be quite bad it was already much too late. Things happen.”

Nakamura misjudged the middlegame position. | Photo Ray Morris-Hill.

With this win Giri moved up to world number three in the live ratings with 2793.8, although his best FIDE rating was higher (2798) and his highest live rating has been 2803. 

“There is no world number two right now, with all respect to Vladimir Kramnik. He might as well be number seven had other players played differently in the tournament. Caruana had a slump, Hikaru is unstable as well,” Giri told

“That's why you can go high and low, and you could see that Veselin dropped drastically from the position of world number to something like number eight. So you should not pay too close attention to that, but of course generally when I am winning rating I like to keep track of that website.”

Anish Giri moved up to world #3; an inactive Vladimir Kramnik is now #2.

The tournament went “back to normal” on Saturday with the other four games ending in draws. The first to split the point was in fact tournament leader Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, who decided on a move repetition in a position that was still full of life.

Michael Adams surprised the Frenchman by playing the Breyer, and the variation that came on the board was in fact seen three times in the 1992 rematch between Robert Fischer and Boris Spassky.

MVL and Adams followed an old line of the Breyer. | Photo Ray Morris-Hill.

“At first I was doing fine and then I was missing all sorts of moves,” MVL said. “I was not feeling like I was playing my best.” Adams accepted the draw arguing that “it's not really clear what either side's plan is.”

As a result, the English number one played his eighth(!) draw in a row. “It's a bit weird,” he said. “I can't remember the last time that happened.” Vachier-Lagrave didn't complain: “If my off-days look like that, it's reasonable.”

Two players on plus one kept their unbeaten status in London: Alexander Grischuk and Levon Aronian. They drew an English Opening that became really interesting but suddenly ended in a repetition in time trouble.

The press conference started with a funny dialogue between the players.

Aronian: “It's a variation we both analyzed.”
Grischuk: “Ah, you analyzed?”
Aronian: “Not that my play showed!” 
Grischuk: “It was not the best analysis of yours.” 

Grischuk teased his opponent a bit at the press conference. | Photo Ray Morris-Hill.

Black was sort of OK out of the opening, but Aronian admitted that his 15...a6 and 16...Ra7 was “a bit too much.” Grischuk got the upper hand, but then “started playing incredibly bad,” as he put it himself.

Grischuk missed a move or two from Aronian, got into his usual timetrouble and then he was lucky that Aronian “got too excited” and went ...hxg3 before taking on d5.

Aronian: “Taking on g3 was really stupid, I blinked for a second.”

Vishy Anand again had to defend but managed to stop the bleeding with a draw against Fabiano Caruana. The latter had done some strong preparation in the Open Catalan and improved upon a game Ponomariov-Karjakin from the 2010 Amber tournament.

His play involved an exchange sacrifice which was dangerous to accept. “I couldn't see that I was losing if I took the exchange, but I didn't really feel like trying it,” said Anand. “I went for ...Qd6 but this is not much more fun either.”

Caruana kept his advantage into the endgame, and at some point won a pawn. Anand hadn't seen it in advance, but after the time control he could calculate everything to a draw. “There was a lot of pressure till the very end,” he said.

A tough day at the office but a draw in the end for Anand. | Photo Ray Morris-Hill.

And so, like Adams, Caruana has now played eight draws and... these two players face each other in tomorrow's last round. “If the game has a decisive result that would be ironic,” said Caruana.

Almost simultaneously the game between Veselin Topalov and Magnus Carlsen ended, and it had a remarkable story to it. The world champion was slowly making progress in an almost equal endgame, but couldn't follow his plan because of the 50-move rule:

“The game may be drawn if each player has made at least the last 50 moves without the movement of any pawn and without any capture.” (Source: FIDE.)

The rule is intented to prevent players from aimlessly playing moves that change nothing, often in an attempt to win a game on the clock. “It's a decent rule,” said Carlsen. “But today it didn't serve its purpose.”

As Carlsen demonstrated in instructive fashion at the press conference, he was not aimlessly moving around. “It's like computer chess. It looks like I'm just moving around but every move has a purpose. This is what's absolutely ridiculous.”

Carlsen felt seriously hampered by the 50-move rule. | Photo Ray Morris-Hill.

Commentator Chris Ward's question was to the point: why didn't Carlsen try to bluff, and just continue playing? Maybe Topalov wasn't counting the moves? Carlsen smiled. He felt he had some tiny chances in the rook ending too.

Carlsen gave some more examples of endings where one should be allowed to try longer than 50 moves, such as BB vs N (which could have appeared in his game against Nakamura) or RB vs BN (which could have appeared in his game with Adams). “That's the way I try to win chess games.”

And so the tournament awaits an exciting final round. The players are playing fo a $300,000 prize fund, with $75,000 going to the winner. The winner of the Grand Chess Tour gets an additional $75,000. The regulations state for next year:

The top-three players from the 2015 Grand Chess Tour qualify automatically for the 2016 Grand Chess Tour. The next six players by rating shall also be invited to participate in the 2016 Grand Chess Tour. Ratings will be the average of each monthly FIDE supplement from February through December inclusive , as well as the live ratings after the 2015 London Chess Classic.

In case of a tie for first place there will be a playoff, consisting of two rapid games and if necessary an Armageddon game. For the other places in the crosstable the following tiebreaks apply:

  1. Number of games won by each of the players in the tie.
  2. The results of the games between or amongst the players in the tie.
  3. The Sonneborn-Berger System
  4. The Extended Koya System, as follows: 
    the number of points scored against players who have scored 50% or more;
    the inclusion, step by step, of each score group below 50% in turn.

2015 London Chess Classic | Pairings & Results

Round 1 04.12.15 16:00 GMT   Round 2 05.12.15 14:00 GMT
Topalov 0-1 Giri   Giri ½-½ Adams
Grischuk ½-½ Nakamura   Aronian ½-½ Anand
Vachier-Lagrave ½-½ Carlsen   Carlsen ½-½ Caruana
Caruana ½-½ Aronian   Nakamura ½-½ Vachier-Lagrave
Anand ½-½ Adams   Topalov ½-½ Grischuk
Round 3 06.12.15 14:00 GMT   Round 4 07.12.15 16:00 GMT
Grischuk ½-½ Giri   Giri ½-½ Aronian
Vachier-Lagrave 1-0 Topalov   Carlsen ½-½ Adams
Caruana ½-½ Nakamura   Nakamura 1-0 Anand
Anand ½-½ Carlsen   Topalov ½-½ Caruana
Adams ½-½ Aronian   Grischuk ½-½ Vachier-Lagrave
Round 5 08.12.15 16:00 GMT   Round 6 10.12.15 16:00 GMT
Vachier-Lagrave ½-½ Giri   Giri ½-½ Carlsen
Caruana ½-½ Grischuk   Nakamura ½-½ Aronian
Anand 1-0 Topalov   Topalov ½-½ Adams
Adams ½-½ Nakamura   Grischuk 1-0 Anand
Aronian ½-½  Carlsen   Vachier-Lagrave ½-½ Caruana
Round 7 11.12.15 16:00 GMT   Round 8 12.12.15 14:00 GMT
Caruana ½-½ Giri   Giri 1-0 Nakamura
Anand 0-1 Vachier-Lagrave   Topalov ½-½ Carlsen
Adams ½-½ Grischuk   Grischuk ½-½ Aronian
Aronian 1-0 Topalov   Vachier-Lagrave ½-½ Adams
Carlsen 1-0 Nakamura   Caruana ½-½ Anand
Round 9 13.12.15 14:00 GMT        
Anand - Giri        
Adams - Caruana        
Aronian - Vachier-Lagrave        
Carlsen - Grischuk        
Nakamura - Topalov        


2015 London Chess Classic | Round 8 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts SB
1 Giri 2778 2872 phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 5.0/8 18.75
2 Vachier-Lagrave 2765 2877 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 5.0/8 17.75
3 Carlsen 2850 2826 ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 4.5/8 17.25
4 Grischuk 2750 2825 ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 4.5/8 17.00
5 Aronian 2781 2832 ½ ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 4.5/8 16.25
6 Caruana 2787 2790 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ ½ 4.0/8 16.00
7 Adams 2744 2790 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ ½ 4.0/8 16.00
8 Nakamura 2793 2739 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png 1 3.5/8
9 Anand 2803 2696 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 phpfCo1l0.png 1 3.0/8
10 Topalov 2803 2592 0 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 phpfCo1l0.png 2.0/8


Virtual Standings Grand Chess Tour

# Title Name Rating Fed Points London Virtual
1 GM Anish Giri 2773 NED 13 12 25
2 GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave 2723 FRA 12 10 22
3 GM Magnus Carlsen 2876 NOR 14 8 22
4 GM Levon Aronian 2780 ARM 15 6 21
5 GM Hikaru Nakamura 2802 USA 16 3 19
6 GM Veselin Topalov 2798 BUL 17 1 18
7 GM Alexander Grischuk 2781 RUS 8 7 15
8 GM Viswanathan Anand 2804 IND 12 2 14
9 GM Fabiano Caruana 2805 ITA 9 4,5 13,5
10 GM Adams Michael 2744 ENG 0 4,5 4,5
11 GM Jon Ludvig Hammer 2677 NOR 1 0 1
12 GM Wesley So 2779 USA 1 0 1

The London Chess Classic takes place in Kensington Olympia, London and runs until Monday, December 14. December 9 is a rest day. You can watch live streaming commentary daily at with GMs Jan Gustafsson and Daniel King. phpfCo1l0.png

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