It did indeed prove to be “Dvoretsky’s Endgame” earlier this week, as the tributes continue to appear following the death of the legendary chess coach and author, Mark Dvoretsky. The Muscovite’s sudden death at 68 seemed to overshadow the opening round of the 10th Tal Memorial in Moscow, but now the action has started to heat-up as Ian Nepomniachtchi and Anish Giri take the early lead in the tournament.
After establishing himself as the World No.3 at the beginning of the year, and subsequently seen as a potential - and many would say awkward - challenger for Magnus Carlsen, Anish Giri lost form following an indifferent performance of drawing every game he played at the candidates' tournament. This hit his confidence, and in subsequent tournaments, Giri haemorrhaged so many Elo rating points that he surprisingly even slipped out of the Top-10.
But Giri is too talented to be anywhere other than being among the world’s top elite players, and he started to make his fightback at the Baku Olympiad - and his good form has carried over now to the current Tal Memorial, where after back-to-back wins over Boris Gelfand and Evgeny Tomashevsky, he not only shares the joint-lead but is now on the cusp of reestablishing himself once again as a Top-10 player on the unofficial live rating list.
Giri is a true product of globalisation. He’s the son of a Nepalese father and Russian mother and grew up in St Petersburg where he was born in 1994. In 2002 his father went to work in Japan, and his family followed him there, although they would still regularly return to Russia, where Giri was receiving advance chess training and represented Russia at junior events. In 2008 they moved again, this time to the Netherlands, and Giri soon switched federations. Thus Russia’s loss could be said to be Holland’s gain.
And following Dvoretsky death, in a tribute to the legendary trainer and his monumental works, Giri tweeted that his endgame manual - Dvoretsky's Endgame Manual - is always underneath his pillow. And the way he masterfully squeezes out his endgame win over Tomashevsky in today’s game, I'm inclined to believe him!
Round 3 standings: 1-2. Ian Nepomniachtchi (Russia), Anish Giri (Netherlands) 2.5/3; 3. Vishy Anand (India) 2; 4-7. Peter Svidler (Russia), Li Chao (Aronian), Levon Aronian (Armenia), Shakiryar Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan) 1.5; 8. Vladimir Kramnik (Russia) 1; 9-10. Evgeny Tomashevsky (Russia), Boris Gelfand (Israel) 0.5.
GM Anish Giri - GM Evgeny Tomashevsky
10th Tal Memorial, (3)
1.Nf3 Nf6 2.d4 e6 3.Bf4 The first ever game recorded in a London System was between those two great Victorian-era masters, Mason-Blackburne, naturally enough in London, 1883. But the tournament that was thought to have put the London System in the public eye was, in fact, its popularity during the 1922 London BCF Congress. This was an elite tournament won by then World Champion José Raúl Capablanca - but today it is the current World Champion, Magnus Carlsen, who is the one responsible for rehabilitating it at elite-level. 3...b6 4.e3 Bb7 5.Bd3 Be7 6.h3 0-0 7.Nbd2 c5 8.c3 cxd4 9.exd4 d6 10.0-0 Nbd7 11.Re1 Re8 12.Bh2 These are all well-known motifs in the London System: The Bd3, Nf3 and Nd2, and the Bf4 dropping back to h2 after h3. These are almost all automatics in the London, and crucially this makes it an ideal opening choice for those that don't have the time required for the exhaustive deep mining of opening theory. 12...a6 13.a4! If White is going to eke out anything from this equal position, then this is needed to take advantage of the queenside pawn majority. 13...Nf8 14.Ng5 Qd7 15.Qe2 Another good follow-up move, as it ties Black's rook and bishop down to defending a6. And rather than being tied down, Black opts for a radical solution that leaves him with a weak and isolated b-pawn - but Tomashevsky is hoping that the forced exchanges of pieces will leave him with an endgame he can hold with a rearguard action. 15...Bc6 16.Bxa6 Bxa4 17.Bd3 Bc6 18.Nc4 Simultaneously hitting b6 and d6 - and never forget about the power of that 'London' bishop hidden back on h2! 18...Qc7 19.Na3 Qb7 20.Nb5 Qd7 21.Nf3 Rxa1 22.Rxa1 Ra8 23.Rxa8 Bxa8 24.Na3 Bc6 25.Bb5 Ne8 If Black can get ...Nc7 in to fight for control of White's grip of the b5 outpost, then this would go a long way to getting the draw - but Giri doesn't allow this. 26.Bxc6 Qxc6 27.Qb5 Qxb5 28.Nxb5 We're only left with a symmetrical set of minor pieces, but Giri's masterful handling of the ensuing ending is simply sublime. 28...Nd7 29.Kf1 Given a free hand, what Giri would like to do is Ke2-d3-c4-b5 and pick off the b-pawn to win. Not as easy as it looks, though. 29...f6 30.Ke2 Kf7 31.Ne1 Nb8 32.Na7! Keeping Black's knight restricted to his own back-rank by preventing ...Nc6. 32...Bd8 33.Nc2 Ke7 34.Nb4 Kd7 35.d5! The squeeze is on, as Tomashevsky can't allow Giri to have total control of the c6-square for his knights. Faced with this, Tomashevsky does what everyone should be looking to do under such a difficult endgame scenario by looking for exchanges - either pawns and pieces and preferably both - to lessen White's grip on the position. 35...exd5 36.Nxd5 Nc6 37.Nb5 Ne7 At least for the added burden of the d-pawn now being weak and isolated, Tomashevsky has some freedom now for his pieces. 38.Ne3 d5 39.Kd3 Nc7 40.Nd4 g6 It's a marginal call, but also an option here is 40...Ne6. 41.c4 dxc4+ 42.Kxc4 Nc6 43.Bxc7 If Giri is going to make a breakthrough here, he has to stop Black using pieces to build a fortress to stop White from penetrating the queenside. However, it does come with the added risk of more pieces being exchanged off the board. 43...Bxc7 44.Nf3 Bd8 45.Kb5 Kc7 46.Nd5+ Kb7 47.b4 f5 48.Kc4 Kc8 49.Nf4 Bc7 50.Ne6 Bd6 51.b5 Ne7 52.Nfg5 h5 This does weaken g6, but if 52...h6 53.Nf7 Bh2 54.Nf8! (Keeping the king from entering the game, and not 54.Nxh6 Kd7 55.Ng5 Bg1 56.f3 Nc8 and Black has chances to save this, as his pieces have freedom, and those White knight on g5 and h6 have difficulty in getting back into the game.) 54...Bg1 (54...h5 will simply lead to what happens in the game.) 55.f3 Be3 56.Ne5 and Black will have let the g-pawn go, as 56...g5 57.Nc6 gives White a winning advantage, as the knight has to retreat to g8 allowing the king entry into d5. 53.Nf7 Bh2 54.Nf8 Bg1 55.f4 Be3 56.Ne5 g5 57.fxg5 Bxg5 As we said earlier, Tomashevsky is doing the best he can to reduce the pieces and pawns on the board to lessen Giri's winning chances. But as he does so, he's left himself with three weak and isolated pawns that will ultimately decide the game. 58.Nfg6! (See Diagram) Clearing the way for Giri's king to come to d5 and to start hitting those weak pawns. 58...Nxg6 59.Nxg6 Kd7 60.Kd5 Be3 61.Nh4 Forcing Black to play ...f4 where the pawn becomes fixed and vulnerable. 61...f4 62.Ng6 Bc1 63.Ne5+ Ke7 64.Nc4 Tomashevsky can't defend all his pawns at the same time - something now has to give. 64...Be3 65.g3! Bc1 66.gxf4 Bxf4 67.Nxb6 Bg3 68.Nc4 Kd7 69.b6 h4 70.Kc5 Kc8 71.Kc6 Kb8 72.Kb5 Kc8 73.Kc6 Kb8 74.Nd2 Bf4 75.Ne4 Bg3 76.Nc5 The only thing Giri has to be careful about, is pushing his b-pawn home too early, as in certain positions, if you get a scenario of b7, Nd7, b8 ...Bxb8 Nxb8 and ...Kb8, the resulting king and pawn ending - although White will capture Black's h-pawn - is not necessarily a won game. 76...Bh2 77.Kb5 Bg1 78.Nb3 Bh2 79.Ka6 Bg3 80.Nd4 Kc8 81.b7+ Kd7 82.Ka7 1-0