Photo by Lennart Ootes via FIDE

Anish Giri breaks runner-up curse to win Tata Steel after falling short five times

Heartbreak for Abdusattorov.

Dutch grandmaster Anish Giri overtook Uzbek youngster Nodirbek Abdusattorov in an exciting conclusion to a topsy-turvy super-tournament. Scoring an impressive win over the volatile Richárd Rapport while Abdusattorov fell unexpectedly short against Jorden van Foreest, Giri also managed to hold off Carlsen’s late scramble as the world champion almost made up for his shocking back-to-back losses in the middle of the tournament.

Recommended Videos

After finishing as the runner-up on five different occasions in the most prestigious chess event of his home country, Giri finally broke through in spectacular fashion, catching up with Abdusattorov at the last possible moment to win Tata Steel 2023.

Giri had to win on demand against the ever-dangerous Richárd Rapport, and he did so in a very impressive style, serving up a super-complicated attack against his Romanian opponent. 27. f4 may not have been the computer’s first choice, but from a practical perspective, it served as four extra balls to juggle in an already difficult scenario.

Position after 27. f4 | Image via lichess.org

With twelve minutes on the clock to make his last ten moves in the middle of a minefield, Rapport eventually cracked and blundered away the game. Giri lured out the Black king and set up a devastating sequence of attacking moves, swiftly ending the game in his favor.

This meant that Abdusattorov had to get at least half a point out of his game against Jorden Van Foreest: a draw would have meant a blitz tiebreaker against Giri, while a victory would have immediately secured him the trophy.

Instead, disaster struck. Abdusattorov overextended in a complicated middlegame and failed to find the right continuation as the time control approached, making devastating blunders on the 37th and 38th move that ended up capsizing his entire tournament.

Position after 38. Be2 | Image via lichess.org

Van Foreest ruthlessly exploited the emerging pawn weakness in the position and crashed through on move 49 to end the game and gift his compatriot a memorable tournament victory.

Magnus Carlsen had a very impressive recovery after his first back-to-back classical defeats since 2015, but it wasn’t enough to fully overhaul his rivals in the end. Despite his win over the struggling Gukesh in the final round of the tournament, exploiting his inaccurate moves in a complicated endgame, Carlsen finished half a point short to force a tiebreaker, ending the event in third place. His goal of hitting the impossible 2900 rating threshold remains elusive.

Meanwhile, it was a tournament to forget for Ding Liren. The world No. 2 and classical world championship contender finished eleventh in the fourteen-player field, with just a single victory to his name and a score of 5.5/13. With three losses and no notable match, the Chinese grandmaster has fallen below 2800 ELO on the live ratings and has also dropped behind his world championship rival, Ian Nepomniachtchi.

Even once you factor in the fact that Liren was likely hiding and disguising his best-prepared lines and strategies for the upcoming world championhsip match, this result has to go down as a massive disappointment. With little left to play for either player, he and Caruana quickly steered their final game of the tournament to a draw, shaking hands after just nineteen moves. The American grandmaster played impressively at the event, only losing to Carlsen along the way, but he lacked the cutting edge to challenge for the trophy this year. His compatriot, Wesley So, fared slightly better, with 7.5 points and a fourth-place finish.

Parham Maghsoodloo finished his tournament with another impressive victory, taking down Levon Aronian with the Black pieces by making the most of yet another imbalanced position. The Iranian grandmaster earned many plaudits and fans at the event thanks to his explosive style of play.

Position after 47. – Qxa5 | Image via lichess.org

Three of the brightest of youngsters in the chests also had a poor showing at this elite-level event: Dommaraju Gukesh and Vincent Keymer, finishing 12th and 13th, respectively, also wrapped up their tournament with a quick draw, ready to move on to greener pastures. Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa ended up with six points, the best of the bunch, which earned him a midtable finish.

With Tata Steel 2023 now in the books, the chess world now turns its attention to the second leg of the FIDE Women’s Grand Prix and the Champions Chess Tour Airthings Masters 2023 event. The former begins on Feb. 1 and the latter kicks off on Feb. 3.  


Dot Esports is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more
related content
Read Article Young Indian chess phenom pips three legends to the post, wins Candidates Tournament to challenge for world championship title
Gukesh poses with the Indian flag amidst a scrum of fans.
Read Article How to watch the 2024 Candidates Tournament: Format, chess players, schedule
Read Article World chess champion goes 0.5/7 in Fischer Random tournament
Ding Liren smiling
Related Content
Read Article Young Indian chess phenom pips three legends to the post, wins Candidates Tournament to challenge for world championship title
Gukesh poses with the Indian flag amidst a scrum of fans.
Read Article How to watch the 2024 Candidates Tournament: Format, chess players, schedule
Read Article World chess champion goes 0.5/7 in Fischer Random tournament
Ding Liren smiling
Author
Luci Kelemen
Weekend editor at Dot Esports. Telling tales of gaming since 2015. Black-belt time-waster when it comes to strategy games and Counter-Strike. Previously featured on PC Gamer, Fanbyte, and more, Occasional chess tournament attendant and even more occasional winner.