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Semi Tarrasched by Giri!

by Sagar Shah - 30/05/2016

After his debacle in the third round against Sergey Karjakin, the Indian fans were hoping for Harikrishna to make a comeback against Anish Giri. However, the Dutch grandmaster had come to the game in an inspired mood. He got an interesting position out of the opening and sacrificed a pawn to launch a strong attack against the black king. It was one those thematic pawn sacrifices which you should be aware of. Have a look at the game and learn how Harikrishna could have avoided such a swift defeat.

At the Norway Chess 2016, just a month ago, Harikrishna had scored one of his cleanest victories against an Elite player. It was his game from the black side of the French Defence against Anish Giri. Naturally the Dutch grandmaster was itching for revenge when the two met once again in the fourth round of the Shamkir Chess 2016. This time Anish began the game with the move 1.d4. No more discussions in the French! Harikrishna replied with the Semi Tarrasch Defence.

Semi Tarrasch begins when Black takes on d5 with the knight
Anish Giri had come determined to win!
White gets the full blown centre with pawns on d4 and e4 while Black has long term advantage in the form of queenside majority.
Anish tried to be tricky in the opening. Instead of 11.Bc4 he went for the move Rc1. This gave him the option of developing his bishop to c4 or d3. In the end it went to d3 and took aim against the h7 point.
There is something about the move h6 and Harikrishna at this event! It just doesn't seem to work for him. While it is true that Levon Aronian mentions 13...h6 as the main move in his annotations to his game against Kramnik for CBM 154, I have my doubts about this move. You will see in the game how the bishop dropped back to b1 and the queen was threatening to come to d3 and take advantage of the move h6.
Isn't the playing hall simply majestic?
Anish's move h4 trying to gain space on the kingside and cramp Black's position is quite typical and strong in such positions
Here's the critical position of the game. Take your time and see if you can find the typical idea in such structures for White.
Anish played the move 18.d5! And after exd5 he went ahead with 19.e5!
This thematic idea does a lot of things in the position. It shuts down the bishop on b7. Opens up the one on b1 and also secures the d4 square for the knight. If you don't believe in this idea, you must definitely have a look at the game Kasparov - Najdorf, 1982 for more details!
When it comes to the classics and thematic ideas you can bank on these guys to know them
Hari's position came under tremendous pressure. It was not that he was losing, but the margin for error was very low. It's not easy to keep making the only moves in order to maintain the balance. On the other hand White's task was easy and he kept making natural moves.
The final mistake took place when the knight on d4 was taken by Hari with 24...Qxd4. White played 25.exf7 Kxf7 26.Qc7 and the game was over!
A satisfying victory for Anish and not such a great game for Harikrishna

Detailed analysis of Anish Giri vs Harikrishna

[Event "Vugar Gashimov Mem 2016"]
[Site "Shamkir AZE"]
[Date "2016.05.29"]
[Round "4.1"]
[White "Giri, Anish"]
[Black "Harikrishna, Pentala"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "D41"]
[WhiteElo "2790"]
[BlackElo "2763"]
[Annotator "Sagar Shah"]
[PlyCount "53"]
[EventDate "2016.05.26"]
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 c5 $5 {The Tarrasch/Semi Tarrach is not a
frequent guest at top level tournaments. One of the main reasons for that is
the fact that White's play seems to be quite easy against it. But nothing can
be farther from the truth as the imbalanced pawn structure is not something
that everyone can understand easily.} 5. cxd5 Nxd5 {The Semi-Tarrasch. Mihail
Marin recently released a DVD for ChessBase on this topic. Could it be the
reason why Harikrishna opted or this?} (5... cxd4 6. Qxd4 exd5 7. e4 Nc6 8. Bb5
{is also an interesting line.}) (5... exd5 {Leads to the Tarrasch.}) 6. e4 {
This is the most ambitious way to play. Although moves like e3 and g3 are
possible.} Nxc3 7. bxc3 {White has the powerful centre. It makes sense to
exchange a few pieces.} cxd4 8. cxd4 {Did you know this opening was also tried
by Fischer in his ninth game against Spassky in the famous World Championship
of 1972? He was able to equalize and comfortably draw the game.} Bb4+ (8... Nc6
9. Bc4 b5 $5 {was the way Fischer played it.}) 9. Bd2 Bxd2+ 10. Qxd2 O-O 11.
Rc1 $5 {After seeing the games Spassky-Petrosian and Polugaevsky-Tal it can be
said that the rook belongs to d1 and the other one on e1. However, moving the
rook to c1 has its own advantages. The bishop on f1 now has an option of
developing on c4 or d3 based on the situation.} (11. Bc4 {is the main move in
this position.}) 11... b6 {Hari was in the mood to try something new.} (11...
Nc6 {Now the bishop cannot be developed on d3. This has already been tried
thrice by Harikrishna against opponents like Ding, Gajewski and Dominguez.} 12.
Be2 {In his annotations to the game against Kramnik, Aronian mentions that
after Be2 Black loses the right to develop his bishop on the most natural
square on b7 but maybe after} Ne7 13. O-O b6 $14 {/=. Black's position looks
not so bad.}) 12. Bd3 Bb7 13. O-O h6 {This move is committal but it is waiting
in a way for White to show his cards. Black wants to decide whether he would
like to put his knight on d7 or c6.} (13... Nd7 {was played by Kramnik against
Aronian and after} 14. Qe3 Rc8 15. e5 {It was not very easy to get the knight
on d7 into the game.}) (13... Nc6 14. d5 $5 {Leads to interesting play.}) 14.
Qe3 {Players are following the game Mamedyarov - Kramnik.} Nc6 15. h4 $5 {
Mamedyarov had used time to play Rfd1 against Kramnik. Giri sees no need for
this and instead goes ahead with the plan of h4-h5 and fixing the pawns on the
kingside.} Rc8 16. h5 {Imagine the bishop going back to d1 and the queen
coming to d3 followed by e5. This h5 pawn will play a huge role at that point.}
Qe7 17. Bb1 Rfd8 18. d5 $5 {Giri of course, knows this thematic idea in the
position. One cannot be sure about how good it is but it is definitely worth a
shot because it makes Black's task of defending not at all easy.} exd5 {
The most natural move.} 19. e5 {Qd3 would be quite strong and hence Black
stops it with} Ba6 $1 20. Rfe1 Qd7 (20... d4 {It could have been an
interesting idea to push the central pawn. But you require some excellent
calculation to make it work.} 21. Qe4 f5 $1 {A very nice idea. Deflecting the
queen from the attack on the c6 knight.} (21... d3 $2 22. Rxc6 $16) 22. Qxf5 (
22. exf6 Qxe4 23. Bxe4 Na5 {Black should be able to hold this.}) 22... d3 $1
23. Rcd1 Nb4 24. Re4 Nc2 {is just an indication of how crazy the play can
become.}) 21. Qf4 {Bf5 is threatened now.} Ne7 22. Nd4 Rxc1 23. Qxc1 Qa4 (23...
Qc8 24. Qd2 $14) 24. e6 $1 {Alert play by Giri.} Qxd4 $2 (24... Rf8 {is not an
easy move to find but was the only way to stay in the game.} 25. exf7+ Rxf7 $14
{And although White is dominating here he still a long way away from winning.})
25. exf7+ Kxf7 (25... Kf8 26. Qc7 $18) 26. Qc7 {Perhaps Hari missed this move.}
Re8 27. Bg6+ {And it's all over. One has to congratulate Giri for a fantastic
game and for scoring a nice revenge victory for his Norway 2016 defeat to Hari.
} 1-0


If you are interested to learn the Semi Tarrasch system with the black pieces you must definitely have a look at the recently released ChessBase DVD on that opening by Mihail Marin. We have the DVD in the ChessBase India shop and if you are an Indian resident you can buy it for Rs.999/- Write to us at

Crosstable after round four

Harikrishna now faces Pavel Eljanov with the white pieces in the fifth round. You can watch the game live here.

Pictures from the official website

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