London Classic: Giri Beats Topalov With Tremendous Tactics

London Classic: Giri Beats Topalov With Tremendous Tactics

| 29 | Chess Event Coverage

Anish Giri grabbed an early lead at the London Chess Classic as the only winner of the first round. The Dutch star tricked Veselin Topalov, but a tremendous trick it was.  

The Grand Chess Tour resumed on Friday with the first round of the London Chess Classic. Now turned into a 10-player round robin, the Classic is the third and last leg of the Grand Chess Tour.

The first, Norway Chess in June, was won by Veselin Topalov. The second, the Sinquefield Cup in August-September, was won by Levon Aronian. In each tournament the first prize is $75,000 and the winner of the tour gets an additional $75,000.

A presentation of the players before the first round. | All photos by Mike Klein.

The only winner in the first round was Anish Giri, whose name is a bit bigger in the Netherlands than last week. The news that he has qualified for the Candidates’ was published in newspapers and even made it to the popular Dutch talkshow De Wereld Draait Door.

Perhaps it was this extra bit of inspiration (or the fact that chess is now even returning to Dutch advertising!) that helped Giri to win a game where he was under pressure. “I was optimistic based on the variations I saw,“ was how he put it himself.

Anish Giri: calculation-based optimism.

Veselin Topalov played the sideline 5.Qa4 in the Fianchetto Grünfeld, but Giri knew the best reply (5...Nfd7) and even came up with a new plan in the opening. He got very active play but still ended up worse, which he felt was “unfair."

“First of all it was unfair after my 17...Nd3, it was undeserved that he is better. I don't like undeserved victories,” he said. “And I felt I should be able to hold this position.”

Giri did more than that. He played accurately, centralized his pieces and then outsmarted his opponent when the tactics appeared. 35...Qd5! was a nasty shot missed by Topalov, who soon got himself checkmated.

The winner of the first leg lost his first game in the last, and with it his 2800+ rating.

“I felt like a kid; I was doing very strange things,” said Giri about seemingly playing for tricks. He was reminded of his younger years, when he was surviving his way “with cheap tricks and zero understanding,” adding: “Today it worked again!”

Of the four draws on the other boards, Alexander Grischuk vs Hikaru Nakamura was the best. In many rounds of top tournaments it would have been the game of the day in fact.

“I was completely lost,” said Grischuk afterward. “Actually I didn't see how I would lose by force, but it was terrible.”

Grischuk dodged the bullet vs Nakamura.

The Russian GM went for a risky setup in the Berlin endgame, perhaps motivated by the many wins White scored in this opening at the European Team Championship. 

He didn't expect “people” to play 13...c5! and 14...Kd8. That's what Nakamura did, and it was White who had to be careful. In a sharp and highly complicated middlegame Nakamura eventually decided to go for a move repetition where the computer still like Black.

Magnus Carlsen's draw with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave was the shortest; it was kind of a semi-rest day for these players. In an old line of the Sveshnikov Sicilian they left theory with Carlsen getting a slight edge maybe, but MVL could soon force a perpetual.

Carlsen said about his current form: “For me I just have to find the level that I’m used to playing at. As long as I’m there I can fight. Generally I don’t need extra motivation, so it’s all right. All the time you can be sure that if I’m criticized and there’s pressure I’m much harder on myself.”

The world champion attracted the most photographers but didn't play a long game.

Fabiano Caruana and Levon Aronian played a quiet game that started as a Closed Spanish with 6.d3. White had a knight against a bad bishop for most of the game, but that bishop wasn't so bad after all as it would reached the g1-a7 diagonal. A flawless top GM draw.

Fabiano Caruana kept a slight edge throughout the game.

The same can be said for the game between Vishy Anand and Mickey Adams. This was an English Opening where Black never had any serious opening problems.

A solid game by Adams vs Anand, who he had played 86 times before.

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

A good start of a great tournament!

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.

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