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The beautiful world of Anish Giri and Sopiko Guramishvili

by Sagar Shah - 24/02/2024

After an intense tournament at Weissenhaus, Sagar and Amruta had a week before they went to the Prague Masters. They decided to use this time to visit the residence of Anish Giri and Sopiko Guramishvili in the Hague. The plan was to record an opening video course for ChessBase. This was done quite efficiently in the 3 days and the course is 7 hours long covering all the openings of chess. However, the trip turned out to be much more than just recordings. For the author it was experiencing the life of a beautiful family and how one combines ambition, love and respect together.

3 days with Anish Giri and Sopiko Guramishvili

They call him the family man in the chess world and I got to experience it up close. After the Weissenhaus Freestyle Chess tournament ended, Amruta and I had a week before the Prague Masters would begin. We decided to spend that time in Hague, Netherlands - the city where Anish Giri lives. The idea was to record a video series on openings with Anish. It was an ambitious project as we had to cover all the openings and get Anish's viewpoint on each one of them - this included the Sicilian, the French, the Nimzo Indian, the London and so many more.

Amruta and Sagar on their way from Hamburg in Germany to the Hague in the Netherlands

Editing a video at the Hengelo railway station waiting for our connection

Sleeping is very important

Finally meeting the man - the family man!
Just in case you are wondering why we call Anish the family man

On day 1 we sat down to structure the material. I asked Anish if we could have one of his favourite games in each of the openings that we were going to discuss. And with that at the end of each opening discussion he could tell a story about the game. Anish liked the idea and I thought he would think about it in the night and then when we would sit down to record it next day he would have it ready. Well, turns out that wasn't the case. Anish began instantly. He opened his database of games from both colours, put in the moves of the Ruy Lopez - and then exclaimed "Ah yes, this one against Magnus! from Norway Blitz. I went on an attack and that was a big surprise for him. Let's add this one." I started noting down the games on a pad and he moved to the next opening. Before you knew it, in around an hour he had gone through hundreds of his games, and had found a special one in each opening!

Recording the video course with Anish was an absolute joy

Enjoying a game of chess with Danny who more than a player is a fan of the game

Our first tester - Danny listening to Anish's take on the openings!

If she starts playing the Caro Kann when she grows up, you know why!

I learnt from Anish that in order to be a family man and world no.5, you have to have the ability to focus and make use of the best of your time that is on hand. That is the only way you can take your eldest son for the skiing class in the morning, then record for 2.30 hours for a video course, babysit the kids, be there on the stream for chesscom playing as a pair with Danny Rensch, or commentating on their community Najdorf event or winning Titled Tuesday. And amidst all of this you can see him active on all platforms - Twitter, Instagram and of course not to forget Wildr. The secret to all of this is the intensity. The ability to zone in to the task on hand and do it with 100% focus. And when the time is over, to zone out from that task and focus on the next one at hand. Truly, an amazing skill he has managed to develop.

After our recordings Anish would be busy baby sitting the kids and making sure that Danny did his homework

Playing with Michael and his toys!

Anish Giri just before his Titled Tuesday stream. It was the first ever title for him. He scored 10.0/11.

Little Danny enjoyed the stream on the big TV watching his dad play and rooting for him

When Anish is busy playing titled tuesday, how do we get a group selfie? This is how!
Anish's entire stream of winning the Titled Tuesday
This 1 minute video covers Anish's Titled Tuesday victory

While Anish's abilities are extraordinary, the person who inspired me tremendously in the house was Sopiko Guramishvili. An IM, and one of Georgia's finest players, Sopiko had a career high rating of 2430. At some point she was one of the best commentators in the world of chess, being part of the official commentary team for the World Championship 2014 between Carlsen and Anand. Known for being miss tactics along with Anna Rudolph (who was miss strategy) for chess24, recording courses, playing in tournaments, commentating - Sopiko was an extremely well-recognized face in the chess world. But then she stopped everything. Being a mother to 3 kids - Daniel (7 years), Michael (2 years) and Rianna (6 months) is a full-time job. And not just a mother - being a mother who is 100% present for her little ones. This is where Sopiko found her peace. This is what she loves doing. This is what brings a smile on her face every morning she wakes up (if she manages to get some sleep!).

A multi-tasker like no other - Sopiko Guramishvili

Sopiko's culinary skills are absolutely amazing. Try her ramen and you will be in heaven! She manages to cut the vegetables, boil the noodles, make the broth - all of this, she manages to do in less than 20 minutes and having one eye on the kids all the time. And not to forget the Television in the living room is all the time running with some chess show where Anish is taking part. Miss Efficiency is a fitting name for her. But this is not lifeless efficiency that we so often see in this modern world. This efficiency is filled with warmth and love. This efficiency is very human - or more super human I would say.

Sopiko making her world famous Ramen!

Absolutely delicious Sopiko Ramen

What Sopiko and Anish are building together is just amazing. Their home is a place filled with love. The kids are full of energy, ideas and enthusiasm. They have all the freedom in the world and yet one stare from Sopiko and they know they are in trouble. While Anish is busy being one of the best players in the world and maintains his place at the top, Sopiko is the backbone of the family. They both make me believe that if you respect each other in a relationship beautiful things can happen. While I did record 7 hours of video course with Anish and this will be enjoyed by chess enthusiasts all across the world in due course, for me this trip was a lot about experiencing the dynamics of a family life filled with love, respect and understanding.

This selfie accurately describes our mood at the Anish-Sopiko residence

We end this article with one of the most beautiful pictures - Vidit giving Rianna, the nickname of Rasagulla!
A short interview with Anish Giri

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