A Day of Masterpieces: Giri Claims First Victory vs. Carlsen in 12 Years

A Day of Masterpieces: Giri Claims First Victory vs. Carlsen in 12 Years


On Tuesday, GM Anish Giri overcame GM Magnus Carlsen in classical for the first time in over a decade in round four of the 2023 Tata Steel Chess Tournament. GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov displayed unstoppable precision to defeat GM Parham Maghsoodloo. These victories have leapt Giri and Abdusattorov to the tournament lead.

Additionally, GM Praggnanandhaa R. achieved the highest classical win of his career vs. world number two, GM Ding Liren. He shares a tie for third with GM Fabiano Caruana

In the Challengers group, GMs Mustafa Yilmaz, Velimir Ivic, and Alexander Donchenko each won to slice the leaderboard in half to just the three of them.

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The first game to finish was the double American matchup, GM Levon Aronian vs. GM Wesley So. Aronian equalized easily in the opening with 10…e4, exchanging pawns in the center and opening the d-file. The game remained balanced from then on, and the players agreed to a draw on move 46 in an opposite-color bishop ending. 

Mirroring GM Richard Rapport‘s own creative style, Caruana surprised the Romanian grandmaster in the opening with aggressive kingside pawn advances, g5 and h5, in the opening. As Sachdev described: “This is incredible stuff from Fabi! You know Fabi is one of the most principled players who’s so well prepared in openings, and we expect these theoretical battles from him where he’s got these amazing ideas he comes up with. But this is aggression.”

Despite the exciting opening, the game remained equal, and many of the pieces were traded. With an exchange of all the rooks down the h-file looming, the game seemed to be fizzling to a draw. Peculiarly, Rapport began to make a few dubious moves, Caruana gained a significant advantage in the ending, and then the players agreed to a draw.

In his post-game interview, Caruana explained this unusual circumstance: “We reached an equal endgame, and he offered a draw around move 19… and I was ready to accept the draw because it was completely equal… But I realized it wasn’t exactly in the rules that you can draw before move 30. So we asked the arbiter, and the arbiter said we should play a few more moves. But then with every move that he played, he started to get worse and worse. Until soon, his position was extremely dangerous.”

Rapport offering a forbidden early draw to Caruana. Photo: Jurriaan Hoefsmit – Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023.

Giri dealt a sensational rare loss to the world champion. With fantastic piece coordination, the Dutch grandmaster twisted Carlsen’s pieces into knots and created crippling pins down the center of the board. At one point, he played what Sachdev called “the messiest move you can play against Magnus here” to add fire to his attack. Can you find it?

Giri’s masterpiece is our Game of the Day, analyzed by GM Rafael Leitao

GM Rafael Leitao GotD

After the game, Giri shared his belief that another victory against Carlsen was inevitable: “It was clearly going to happen sooner or later because I have been playing very badly vs. him lately. And every time he ups the level of risk. It was clear to me that: Ok, I keep losing to him, but I thought, you know, there might be a light at the end of the tunnel because he is back to taking enormous risks against me just like back when I was a little baby boy.”

Before this win, Giri’s most recent classical victory vs. Carlsen was 12 years ago when he was just 16 years old at Tata Steel 2011. Check out the footage of Giri showing this monumental victory as a young prodigy.

The spectators are entranced by this epic matchup. Photo: Lennart Ootes – Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023.

GMs Vincent Keymer and Arjun Erigaisi played a very solid game against each other, making sure to have no poorly placed pieces or weaknesses. They eventually agreed to a draw in a level endgame. Their balanced strategic game has been analyzed by IM Adrian Petrisor.

GM Jorden van Foreest vs. Gukesh D. started with a spirited Sicilian where van Foreest castled long, and Gukesh left his king in the center and advanced his kingside pawns. But the position winded down when Gukesh castled by hand to the queenside, and some exchanges took place in the center. The players agreed to a draw in the queen and minor piece ending. 

Abdusattorov imbued fresh ideas into the Ruy Lopez with 16.Bg5 and gained pressure on Maghsoodloo’s king with energetic attacking play. Maghsoodloo fought back, managing to keep the game fairly balanced. But when the Iranian grandmaster passed on the opportunity to exchange queens on move 38, Abdusattorov trapped his opponent’s king in the center, conjuring an attack that lasted throughout the complex queen and rook ending. 

After the game, Abdusattorov shared his thoughts on the critical position: “After Qh4 when he decided not to exchange queens, I thought it’s very dangerous for him because I get free attack against his king, and I have no risk.” 

Maghsoodloo defended well, using his queen and rook to provide some cover for his otherwise open king. However, the Uzbek grandmaster pressed with one precise move after another, and as Abdusattorov explained: “practically, it’s impossible to defend.” The 18-year-old checkmated his opponent on the board on move 64. 

Praggnanandhaa was again the last game to finish. His persistent fighting spirit earned him his strongest classical chess victory to date vs. 2800+ Ding with the black pieces. Ding and Praggnanandhaa gained a symmetrical pawn structure from the Italian game, each with doubled pawns on the e-file and an open f-file. The players traded into an equal double rook and double knight ending. Despite having such a level position, Praggnanandhaa prepared a pawn break in the center and gained greater activity for his pieces. He won a pawn and grinded his opponent down for 74 moves.

The face of determination. Photo: Jurriaan Hoefsmit – Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023.

In the Challengers section, Donchenko gained a commanding position vs. GM Jergus Pechac with the black pieces, pushing his passed d-pawn down the board, supported by his highly active long-range pieces. Additionally, Ivic ventured his king up to f3 instead of castling against IM Vaishali R‘s Taimanov Sicilian and then won the arising two rook ending by achieving doubled rooks on the 7th rank. Lastly, Yilmaz outplayed GM Max Warmerdam in a queen and bishop ending.

Results – Masters Round 4

Current Standings 

Pairings – Masters Round 5

All Games – Masters Round 4

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