Reports Nov 17, 2020 | 12:04 AMby Colin McGourty

Artemiev defeats Giri to set up Carlsen showdown

When Magnus Carlsen beat Parham Maghsoodloo he responded to the question of who he’d like to meet in the Speed Chess quarterfinals: “I would rather play Artemiev - I think he’s by far the stronger blitz player of those two!” Well, Magnus got his wish after Vladislav Artemiev was the second 22-year-old in two days to go into the bullet section with a one-point lead before blowing his more experienced opponent away. Vlad won four games without reply and eventually cruised to a 15.5:11.5 victory.

You can replay all the games from the Artemiev vs. Giri Last 16 game using the selector below.

And here’s the live commentary from 2-time French Champion and Magnus Carlsen second Laurent Fressinet, who didn't hide that he was rooting for Anish! 

Artemiev gets off to a flying start

Although Anish Giri has put serious work into his blitz chess since chess moved online this year, the feeling before this match was, as with Fabiano Caruana a day earlier, that the shorter the time control the greater young Vladislav Artemiev’s chances would be. If Anish was hoping to start fast, however, it didn’t work, as Vladislav won a dominant first game.

Game 2 also didn’t go the Dutchman’s way.

24.g3! might look dangerous for the white king with Black’s bishop and queen threatening to take over the h1-a8 diagonal, but Bh5 next hits the black king first. Instead after 24.Bf3!? Bxf3 25.Qxf3 Rg5! Vladislav managed to reach a rook ending that was ultimately drawn.  

It could have gone from bad to worse, as Artemiev was completely winning in the next game, but he couldn’t find the killer blow and Anish hit back to win his first game and level the scores. From there on, however, Vladislav took control, winning two and drawing four of the remaining 5-minute games to take a 5.5:3.5 lead into the 3-minute section. 

Giri strikes back

He extended the lead to 3 points in the first game, with a dubious piece sac that was nevertheless justified by 22.Qg3? (22.Qe3!), allowing the shot 22…Nf3+!

By itself that wasn’t game over, but Artemiev went on to win convincingly. Match over? Not at all! Giri struck back immediately with his most resounding win of the day.

Anish would go on to score 4 wins to Vladislav’s 3 in 3-minute games, with the difference a game in which Vlad lost on time after suffering some connection issues. The gap had been reduced to just one point going into the bullet section, but there was a bad omen for Anish, since it was exactly the same 9:8 scoreline as in Duda-Caruana the day before.

Artemiev does a Duda

What followed wasn’t the 8:1 bullet massacre as we saw in that match, but Vladislav was in control from the start.

33…Nxg3! turned the tide of the first game, and in a tricky position Giri ultimately found himself mated.

Surprisingly for such a time control, three draws followed, but Artemiev’s win in Game 5 was one that had to hurt. Giri went down in flames after losing his way in what had objectively been a winning position.

The wheels had come off, and two more wins quickly followed for Artemiev, removing all doubt as to the outcome of the match. Magnus, who would rank highly on any list of Greatest Chess Trolls of All Time, added some salt to fresh wounds with a tweet referring to the sign behind Anish (seen here during his recent Banter Blitz session).

Anish commented to Danny Rensch and Robert Hess afterwards.

In general Magnus should behave very well because now that his company, or at least the one he’s heavily invested in, is so public, one tweet and I can drop the stock completely, so he should really be nice and treat me nice… and I think so far he’s doing it quite well.

Meanwhile back on the board we nearly got a comparable finish to the Duda-Caruana match.

33…Rd5+! would have recalled Duda’s 38…Rd5! the day before, weaving a mating net. After 34.Kxe6 Rxc5!! there's no good defence against the threat of Rf6+ and Rf7+, winning the white queen. Instead after 33…Rf6 34.Nd4! Giri went on to get a consolation win, but he still lost the bullet section 6.5:3.5, giving Artemiev a 15.5:11.5 victory.

The young Russian, who admitted he hadn’t expected 1.e4 from his opponent, had varied his openings all match.

I think that it was very logical because Anish is famous as a player with good opening preparation, so I tried to find something interesting, just for playing, no more. If true, I was not prepared today, but I have good health and good emotions!

Giri was of course disappointed, and said of his watching fans, particularly in India:

It’s very embarrassing and unpleasant to lose in front of your children, so I’m really disappointed with that, but otherwise I’m of course happy with the support I get, for sure. But in sports you have to, like Vladislav said, just deliver every day, and that’s what I have to do, and right now I feel like I lost the match, but ok, once I’ll be a little bit more rested I’ll probably appreciate the beauty of life again!

For Vladislav the beauty of life now includes a quarterfinal against Magnus Carlsen.

Artemiev commented:

Probably it should be a very interesting, and also difficult, match for me, but it was good motivation today for me, because it was clear that the winner of our match with Anish would go to Magnus, and I’m happy. Probably I will prepare a few hours, maybe! I think that for blitz every aspect of the game is very important. It’s your health, and how you sleep before, and you must find your best chess in every day. Because it’s not important how strong you are in blitz, if you’re in very bad form in one day you can lose to every player!

Anish Giri will soon be back, and have a chance to show Magnus what makes him happy, when both play in the Skilling Open, starting Sunday!

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