The 54th “Torneo di Capodanno” Reggio Emilia Super-Tournament ended with an exciting finish yesterday as going into the last round there was a 3-way tie between Hikaru Nakamura, Alexander Morozevich, and Anish Giri. It was a chess tournament organizer’s dream, as none of the 3 tournament leaders played each other in the last round of the 6 player double round robin. As Anish Giri was unable to generate a strong attack with the black pieces against the English Opening, he pragmatically agreed to a 28 move draw against fellow chess prodigy Fabiano Caruana. With lower tiebreaks, Giri’s only hope to win the tournament was Morozevich losing to Vitiugov and Nakamura losing to Ivanchuk. After the first four rounds the 17 year-old Giri only had 1/4 points, however his remarkable comeback with 5/6 against an impressive field of 2700+ Super Grandmasters put him in position for one of the biggest tournament victories of his young chess career.
Nakamura Dominates Early, Disintegrates Late
After round 7 of the 54th Reggio Emilia Super-Tournament, Nakamura had built a nearly overwhelming 1.5 point lead over his nearest rival Alexander Morozevich. With 3 rounds to go, Nakamura began to fall apart. In round 8 of the 2011 Reggio Emilia “Torneo di Capodanno” Nakamura played an aggressive line in the Steinitz Variation against Morozevich’s French Defense, with white sacrificing a poisoned pawn early on b2. Morozevich snatched the pawn and Nakamura immediately blundered with 10. f5? – surrendering a critical tempo and drastically weakening his own pawn chain in the center. Down 2 pawns out of the opening, Nakamura was unable to generate counterplay and resigned after 32 moves. In round 9, Nakamura had the white pieces and chose the Nimzovich Attack against Anish Giri’s Petroff Defense. Nakamura played indecisively and allowed Giri to weaken the white kingside pawns and develop fantastic pressure on the e-file, resulting in a blunder by Nakamura with 34. b3? – allowing a winning combination by Giri with 34. dxe3! Giri finished the game accurately and Nakamura was forced to resign after 41. …Bxc5.
The 54th Reggio Emilia Super-Tournament was an incredible event, putting together 6 of the best chess players in the world in a double round robin format with Sophia rules in effect. The Sophia Rules are simply awesome (3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw) because they really incentivize leading GMs to play aggressive chess. This is a fantastic way to increase the excitement in professional chess and minimize boring/quick grandmaster draws. The next super-tournament on the calendar is Tata Steel 2012 in Wijk Aan Zee, where you can expect to see nearly all of the biggest names in chess. You have to be rooting for Anish Giri after his incredible comeback performance at the 54th Reggio Emilia Super-Tournament.