Following a quick draw in the first game of the tiebreaks, Andreikin won as Black against Giri in the second game, despite having an inferiour position.
In the finals of the second leg of the Grand Prix, Dmitry Andreikin will be playing a two-game match against Richard Rapport on the 12th and 13th of March.
Game One: A quick draw
In the first game of the tiebreaks, Dmitry Andreikin was White. In the Bishop’s Opening, the position was pretty even from the onset. Anish Giri played fast, suggesting that he was very confident in the line he opted for. By move 13 Andreikin had just eight minutes while Giri had over 14.
White castled short early and launched his f-pawn, opening the f-file. However, the advance took time and Black got an upper hand in development. With his 14thmove Giri castled long, leaving his knight unprotected but this piece was taboo for Andreikin. After an overambitious move 15.Qb3 by Andreikin, Giri emerged better but just a few moves down the road the game came to an abrupt halt as the two agreed on a draw following a threefold repetition after just 22 minutes of play.
Giri, later on, said that he wasn’t fully sure about the advantage the position gave him and, at the time, he thought a draw was a good outcome as he’d be leading the white pieces in the second game.
In the break between the games, both players went their separate ways: while Giri was pacing up and down a part of the playing hall, Andreikin was in the restroom for players, psyching himself up. After the clock showed there was under a minute before the start of the second game, the two players approached the table, took off their jackets and set across from one another. As the final second of the break expired, Chief Arbiter Nebojsa Baralic pressed the clock and the second game of the tiebreaks began.
Game Two: A surprising twist
Giri was white this time and he opted for 1.e4. In the Taimanov variation of the Sicilian, White quickly castled on the kingside while Black left his king in the centre and pushed h-pawn to h4.
Giri reacted in a simple but very effective way, by arranging his pieces in the centre, preparing for any course of action. In the following play, Giri decided to close the centre (opening it up was a viable option) and made a breakthrough on the queenside as Black’s minor pieces were misplaced and the rooks disconnected.
White soon managed to penetrate with his rook along the b-file, putting Black under pressure. After Andreikin snatched a pawn with 31…Qxa3 he found himself on the brink of defeat. However, instead of playing 32.Nb5 with the idea of bringing the knight into attack via Nd6, Giri dropped his advantage by exchanging rooks on f8, followed by 33.Nc6. At this point, Giri had to demonstrate accuracy to maintain balance but it was a difficult task given that he was in severe time trouble.
On move 36 White made a serious blunder, allowing the tables to turn. Most likely the Dutchman missed an in-between move 36…Qc6, expecting just a natural capture of the knight. From that point on Black was in full control.
Giri had some slim hopes for a perpetual but Andreikin quickly shattered them by trading the queens with a nice tactic. The game transposed into a knight endgame where Black had two unstoppable “a” and “d” passers. As soon as the latter reached the second rank the Dutchman threw in the towel.
With this somewhat surprising victory, Dmitry Andreikin is set to play in the finals against Richard Rapport, who defeated Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in the semi-finals.
The first game (out of two) of the finals will take place on 12th March at 3 PM local (CET) time. Dmitry Andreikin will be leading the white pieces in the first game, and Richard Rapport will be Black.
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Text: Milan Dinic
Photo: Mark Livshitz