Giri, So Miss Chances In Chaotic Semifinals

Giri, So Miss Chances In Chaotic Semifinals


GMs Wesley So and Anish Giri almost hit the front in their respective semifinals against GMs Hikaru Nakamura and Nihal Sarin at the Global Championship on Friday but were both held to 2-2 following some resolute defense by their opponents.

Nihal, the sole participant playing from Belgrade, faced a few nervy moments against Giri in their “out of control match,” including game four that would have ended in disaster if not for a capitulation under time pressure by the Dutch GM.

Nakamura and So both played solidly to draw their first three games; however, the fourth provided ample tension, with Nakamura barely surviving after giving up the exchange to combat So’s onslaught. 

The semifinals will resume on Saturday, November 5, starting at 9 a.m. PT / 17:00 CET.

Giri asserted himself early on the first day of the semifinals and scored a crucial win over Nihal in the first game of the match. A generally unflappable Nihal found himself in trouble when his Sicilian Defense went awry and left Giri with a slight material advantage.

Don’t let the smile fool you! Nihal shows no mercy when positions get wild. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

The advantage grew after a five-minute deliberation on move 19 by Giri which paved the way for a series of precise liquidating moves that left the world number-seven with a decisive advantage. Our game of the day has been broken down by GM Rafael Leitao below.

Watching on from the commentary box, Caruana immediately spotted 25.Qd1, a tactic that was eventually played by Giri after a three-minute think.

In the second game, Nihal equalized the scores in a grinding effort that ended in resignation on move 63. Well-acquainted with defending tough positions, Giri was restricted and squeezed by his opponent who showed his positional prowess. Matters were made worse when Giri found himself with a trapped rook that was unable to reactivate for eight moves of the game.

Nihal, labeled a “magician’ by Caruana and Hess, almost kept the momentum rolling and garnered a winning position out of the Nimzowitsch Defense. The rarely-played opening gave Nihal a -5 advantage out of nowhere, although an even rarer blunder expunged his lead and left Giri a small window to repeat moves.

Giri approved of Nihal’s play on Friday, and the respect was mutual. Photo: Eric Rosen/

Although the players drew their fourth game and finished the day deadlocked, Giri came agonizingly close to giving himself a one-point buffer. A successful rebuttal of the same opening he faced in round two left him with an equal position. The game looked to be heading for a draw until the Dutchman found a brilliant tactic with time dwindling.

With seconds left on the clock, Giri tried to find the delicate path forward to convert but misplayed, resulting in a dead-drawn ending and locked scores heading into the second day.

Off the back of an electrifying performance against GM Jan Krzysztof Duda as well as a stunning result in the Fischer Random World Championship, Nakamura hoped to assert dominance over So but was held to four draws by his compatriot.

Nakamura and So couldn’t be split on the first day of the semifinals. Photo: Eric Rosen/

The match began with three Berlin draws that were hard-fought and, despite lacking the drama of the Giri-Nihal match, produced a few exciting moments. After drawing the second game from a position of strength, Nakamura’s facial expressions showed his disappointment, leading Caruana to highlight the fascinating theory that “for the most part, Hikaru’s faces are an act” of gamesmanship.

Self-proclaimed expert on Nakamura’s facial expressions, IM Danny Rensch, is yet to respond to the claims that Nakamura’s expressions are feigned, but his recent “serious” analysis on YouTube lets you review the evidence and make up your own mind!

Are Nakamura’s facial expressions part of the strategy, or is he giving away valuable information? Photo: Eric Rosen/

A 134-move tango in round three was one of the highlights of the match so far. After winning a pawn in a precarious knight-and-pawn ending, Nakamura had a brief opportunity to snatch victory but missed his shot.

The fourth game became the most imbalanced of the day for the American opponents, and it was So who was on the winning side of this game. Choosing to give up the exchange on move 30 was a perplexing choice by Nakamura who immediately walked into a worse position. Ever-resourceful and energetic though, he found a way to defend and forced a repetition on move 49.

Unable to be split on Friday, Saturday’s games will decide both finalists and ultimately who will play for the $200,000 prize and title of’s first global champion.

All games semifinals

Semifinals Scoreboard

The 2022 Global Championship (CGC) is the first global championship cycle open to all verified players. Players compete in official verified events for their share of the $1,100,000 prize fund and the Global Champion title.

Chess legends, such as GMs Viswanathan Anand, Vasyl Ivanchuk, Vladimir Kramnik, and Veselin Topalov, compete against today’s best (online) players, including GMs Hikaru Nakamura, Ding Liren, Levon Aronian, and Jan-Krzysztof Duda, and more. 

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