After beating the on-tilt Hikaru Nakamura, in the only decisive game of the penultimate round, Giri is now in the joint lead alongside Maxime Vachier-Lagrave; and crucially, he now moves into the lead in the overall tour standings. Giri has also climbed five places in the unofficial world rankings to No.3, and within easy striking distance of No.2 - and so far, going into the final round of the final tour event, he’s also the only one of the core nine elite players not to have lost a game.
So will Giri finish the London Chess Classic with a double victory, to be the coming man for 2016, the player who steps up to the plate to mount a serious challenge for Carlsen? Will he become the first Dutch player to challenge for the world crown, since Dr. Max Euwe? More importantly, will he become the first Dutch player to capture the world crown since Euwe? Only time will tell - but he looks to be on that trajectory.
But if you think Giri has been working on some sort of secret 10-year plan to become world champion, then a recent major interview in The Asian Age should dispel that, when he replied: “I barely know what my plans are for tomorrow, but I hope chess will remain a major part of my life.”
Giri 1-0 Nakamura
Topalov draw Carlsen
Grischuk draw Aronian
Vachier-Lagrave draw Adams
Caruana draw Anand
Round 8 Standings: 1-2. Anish Giri (Netherlands), Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (France) 5/8; 3-5. Magnus Carlsen (Norway), Alexander Grischuk (Russia), Levon Aronian (Armenia) 4.5; 6-7. Fabiano Caruana (USA), Michael Adams (England) 4; 8. Hikaru Nakamura (USA) 3.5; 9. Vishy Anand (India) 3; 10. Veselin Topalov 2.
Anish Giri - Hikaru Nakamura
London Chess Classic, (8)
King’s Indian Attack
1.Nf3 d5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 e6 4.0-0 Be7 5.d3 0-0 6.Nbd2 c5 7.e4 Nc6 8.Re1 Who could forget Fischer's handling of the King's Indian Attack? It was generally played with 8.e5 followed by h4, Nf1, Bf4 and launching a vicious kingside assault - his most famous being: 1.e4 e6 2.d3 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.g3 c5 5.Bg2 Nc6 6.Ngf3 Be7 7.0-0 0-0 8.e5 Nd7 9.Re1 b5 10.Nf1 b4 11.h4 a5 12.Bf4 a4 13.a3 bxa3 14.bxa3 Na5 15.Ne3 Ba6 16.Bh3 d4 17.Nf1 Nb6 18.Ng5 Nd5 19.Bd2 Bxg5 20.Bxg5 Qd7 21.Qh5 Rfc8 22.Nd2 Nc3 23.Bf6 Qe8 24.Ne4 g6 25.Qg5 Nxe4 26.Rxe4 c4 27.h5 cxd3 28.Rh4 Ra7 29.Bg2 dxc2 30.Qh6 Qf8 31.Qxh7+ 1-0 Fischer-Myagmarsuren, Sousse Interzonal 1967. 8...Qc7 9.Qe2 b5 10.a4 b4 11.exd5 exd5 12.Nb3 Re8 13.Bf4 Qb6 14.a5 And this ends up being the cause of all of Nakamura's problems, as the advanced a-pawn goes on to become a thorn in his side. 14...Qb5 15.Qd2 Be6 16.a6 Bf8 Picking off the pawns isn't so easy: 16...Bc8 17.Bg5 Bxa6 18.Nh4 and White should easily regain the pawn, as well as keeping the active pieces. However, that said, perhaps better for Nakamura would have been to have centralised his pieces with 16...Rad8. 17.Ne5 Nxe5 18.Bxe5 Nd7 19.Bf4 Qb6 20.c3! A nice move that undermines Black's position, and chips away at those advanced pawns - and threatens to open the e3-a7 diagonal for his bishop. 20...Rac8 And, of course, the knight is indirectly defended after 20...bxc3 21.bxc3! Qxb3 22.Reb1 winning the queen. 21.Qc2 d4 It's hard to keep the tension in this position, but perhaps this just helps Giri by opening up the position for his pieces - and making that a6-pawn even more of a threat than it should have been? 22.Nd2 h6 23.h4 dxc3 24.bxc3 bxc3 If 24...b3 25.Qb2 and the b-pawn will soon be surrounded and captured. 25.Qxc3 Nf6 26.Nc4 Qd8 27.Bb7 Nd5 28.Qd2 Nxf4 29.Qxf4 Qxd3 Nakamura looked as if he was getting a bit frustrated here, and looked to complicate the game - and no matter what the engines say, this is a difficult position for Black to play. Perhaps more cautious would have been 29...Rc7? 30.Ne5 Qd6 31.Rad1 Qc7 32.Nc6! The a-pawn is worth more than the exchange! And perhaps frustrated by being pinned back, Nakamura now cracks and decides to lash out. 32...Qxc6?! It's hard to be judgmental, but it could well be Nakamura lashed out as he was beginning to realise his position was bad. The alternatives don't look any better: 32...Qxf4 33.gxf4 Rxc6 (33...Bg4 34.Bxc8!) 34.Bxc6 Rb8 35.Bd5 Rb6 36.f5! Bxf5 37.Re8 Rxa6 38.Bf3! and White's winning. Perhaps Nakamura thought he had the right idea, sacrificing the queen, but found out late in the day that it didn’t work? Perhaps he intended 32...Qb6 33.Bxc8! (Sacrificing the queen after 33.Rb1?! now looks like Black can survive: 33...Rxc6 34.Rxb6 Rxb6 with excellent saving chances here. Maybe this what Nakamura was relying on, and then noticed Giri had a simple win with 33.Bxc8?) 33...Rxc8 34.Rxe6!! fxe6 35.Ne5 and this kills Black dead. 33.Bxc6 Rxc6 34.Qa4! The skewer on the rooks proves critical, as Giri retains the powerful a-pawn. 34...Rec8 35.Rd8! (See Diagram) 35...c4 36.Rxc8 Rxc8 37.Rxe6! Giri polishes the game off now with a flourish. 37...fxe6 38.Qd7 Rc5 39.Qxe6+ Kh7 40.Qf7 Bd6 41.h5! The c-pawn now can't be pushed as the bishop will be lost to Qg6+, also attacking the rook, and gaining time to stop the further advance of the c-pawn. 41...Rg5 42.Kg2 Giri isn't even interested in the c-pawn - he goes right in for the kill. 42...c3 43.f4 1-0 The advanced c-pawn can't save Nakamura: 43…Ra5 44.Qg6+ Kg8 45.Qxd6 Ra2+ 46.Kf3 c2 47.Qd5+ and the queen gets behind the c-pawn in all lines to win. 47...Kh7 (47...Kf8 48.Qa8+ Ke7 49.Qxa7+ Kd6 50.Qd4+ Kc6 51.Qc4+) 48.Qc4.