Reports May 22, 2022 | 10:38 AMby Colin McGourty

Chessable Masters 3: Giri leads as Magnus plays 1.d3, 1.h4

Anish Giri stormed into the lead with three wins and a draw on Day 3 of the Chessable Masters, while Magnus Carlsen is 2nd after beating Vidit with 1.d3 and almost taking down Wei Yi with 1.h4. It was a day of reversals, with Jorden van Foreest going from top scorer on Day 2 to losing all four games on Day 3. Wei Yi also suffered, while winless Arjan Tari suddenly won three games in a row as the race to finish in the Top 8 heated up.

Anish Giri is out in front with one day of the Chessable Masters Prelims to go

You can replay all the games from the Prelims of the Chessable Masters, the 4th event on the $1.6 million Meltwater Champions Chess Tour, using the selector below.

And here’s the day’s live commentary from David Howell, Jovanka Houska, Sverre Krogh Sundbø and Simon Williams…

…and from Daniel King and Andras Toth.

Giri takes over the lead

Jorden van Foreest had top-scored with 9 points on Day 2 of the Chessable Masters, but on Day 3 no less than four players won three games and drew one to score 10 points. They were Ding Liren, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Aryan Tari and Anish Giri, with Anish taking over as the leader.

The Dutch no. 1 had been playing well in the first game against Dutch no. 2 Jorden van Foreest, but was ultimately gifted the win with 39.Rc7??

39.Ke4! and the white rook was suddenly trapped. Giri commented:

He’s been a difficult opponent for me, Jorden, he has certain qualities, but I think today was not his day. I think he played badly overall, and then if you give me a rook, I’ll pick it up!

Giri would also draw against Sam Shankland and beat Vidit, but perhaps his most aesthetically pleasing game of the day came against 13-year-old Abhimanyu Mishra. An exchange sacrifice had already given Anish a very harmonious position, but here he set about improving his bishop on c1.

20.Bd2! a5 21.Be1 Bf5 22.Bg3 Kh8 23.Qd2 Rfe8 24.Be5 and the bishop had reached its perfect square. By the end of the game it got to sacrifice itself on g7 to win the black queen.

Giri put his success down to his mindset, and then contradicted himself in the same flow of speech!

I decided for this tournament to try a different mindset than the one before, because the last one I felt it was going to be bad, and it was bad, so for this one I forced myself to believe that everything is going to be great, while nothing particularly changed. I came in today thinking everything’s going to be great and it turned out well, so I’m lucky! I think it doesn’t matter. From my vast experience of playing, whatever your mindset, there are books about it, but all this stuff is nonsense. At the end of the day, a few good players come into the tournament and then the lucky ones prevail.

Magnus continues his opening experiments

It had looked as though Magnus Carlsen would end the day as the sole leader, and the World Champion was happy with his play.

I felt like my play was a lot better today than it was yesterday and the day before, so it’s still looking up.

It was clear Magnus was willing to mix things up in the first game against Gawain Jones, where there was absolute chaos on the board. 22.Qg5! would, the computer claims, have held a draw, while the tempting 22.Bxd6+, as played by Gawain, turned out to be losing after 22…Kd8!

Then against Vidit, Magnus showed us his theme for the day by going for 1.d3!? after earlier in the tournament playing 1.c3. The game continued 1…c5 2.e4 Nc6 3.f4 and later the f-pawn would become a battering ram.

25…Bxf6 runs into 26.e5, hitting the queen, so Vidit instead chose 25…cxd3 26.fxg7 Kxg7 27.Bxc7 Qxc7 28.Qxd4+ Kg8 29.Qxd3 and Magnus emerged a piece up. Vidit had two pawns for the piece, meaning there were still good drawing chances, but Magnus managed to squeeze out a win.

Magnus then had to defend carefully to draw against David Anton, before he got to have some fun again in the final game of the day!

Wei Yi had lost on time to Mishra and then fallen to Vidit as well, but he’d still been leading the tournament for the first two days, so this looked like a risky try. Magnus explained, however, that it was far from just a spur-of-the-moment decision.

I think if you’re going to play a weird first move it’s no less important to be well-prepared, so I kind of knew which lines it’s possible to go for, where it’s a bit less of a liability than in others. Obviously it’s not a great move, but it seemed to work very well. I think he tried to play it a little bit too superficially, maybe, and he quickly ended in a pretty unpleasant ending.

Giri is hoping Magnus keeps experimenting, but defended the choice of move.

I think a little handicap is what we all need against Magnus! I saw the game now. Very quickly he got a huge advantage, by move 20 he is half-winning, that was a tremendous achievement, but 1.h4 is not so bad, not so bad. The first time he did it was against Radjabov in blitz, with 1.a4, people were shocked, wow. It was sort of a taboo back then, but given how much theory has evolved, and how many Chessable courses are out there, at the end of the day objectively it’s all anyway more or less equal, and chess turns out to be a game of skill, a game of luck and a game of psychology as well, so why not? h4 is good, I like it more. f3 was too much, but h4 is very fine.

Giri had recently been very busy in the Chessable office in Barcelona...

Meanwhile the game went like a dream for Magnus, until the very end, when he couldn’t find the winning touches. He summed up:

It was a bit surprising indeed. I think he defended very well to a certain point, and I think he had very clear drawing chances, and then it seemed like I was about to wrap it up and he had this last trick, which is very nice. I hadn’t calculated that properly, and then I couldn’t see a win anymore. Apparently there is a win, but I couldn’t find it. Clearly it was a bit of a disappointing way to end the day.

The study-like finish emerged after 50…Kxh5.

At first glance 51.Rf5+ Kg4 52.Re5, getting the rook behind the pawn, appears to be a simple win, but in fact after 52…Rd3+ Black holds a draw. Magnus found the only winning move 51.Rg7! but he couldn’t see the follow-up — and the commentators also struggled, even with some computer help — until on move 70 Magnus gave up.

It turns out here as well Magnus is winning, again starting with 70.Rg7!, but instead with 70.e8=R Rxe8+ 71.Kxe8 he accepted a draw, since he was forced to give up his rook for Wei Yi’s h-pawn.

With Carlsen-Giri to come on the final day Anish says 1.g4 will be top of his list of things to prepare, though Magnus commented:

1.g4 is a lot worse than 1.h4! I think g4 is pretty bad, and then f3 is the second worst move, and the others are not too bad.

The fight for the qualifying spots

The main focus of the final three rounds of the Prelims on Sunday, however, will be who qualifies for the 8 spots in the Knockout. In terms of odds, it’s only Harikrishna of the current Top 8 who looks in serious danger.

David Anton and Praggnanandhaa really need at least one win to feel safe, however, with Pragg owing his current position to a fortunate turn of events against Eric Hansen. Eric had been winning a knight endgame, but then got to this position.

All Eric needed to do with Black to at least draw is eliminate the white pawns on g6 and c5. The only way to do it, however, was 57…Kxc5! and then e.g. 58.Kf6 Kd6 and the knight can come to e7 to stop the pawn queening. Instead 22…Ne5?, played after 22 seconds, simply lost on the spot to 23.c6! Nxc6 24.Kf6! and the knight could no longer stop the g-pawn.

That left Eric out of the running, and a first two wins for Gawain Jones also came too late to make a difference, but for one player, Aryan Tari, it was all change on Day 3. A draw against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and wins over Jorden van Foreest, Abhimanyu Mishra and Sam Shankland mean finishing in the Top 8 is now a realistic goal. He summed up:

Today I couldn’t be more happy with my play and everything just worked out… This tournament I’ve been missing so many chances the two first days, a lot of winning positions which I messed up, and those games I lost I could have saved them, so it felt like a lot of missed chances, but today I took all my chances, so it feels so much better!

Don’t miss the final day of the Prelims of the Chessable Masters here on chess24 from 18:00 CEST!

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