Russian grandmaster Vladislav Artemiev upstaged Anish Giri to book a quarter-final date against reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen of the 2020 Speed Chess Championship.
Artemiev lived up to expectations as he beat his Dutch opponent 15.5-11.5.
Playing just a little bit faster than his opponent and with great tactical vision, the Russian player deservedly won this match.
It was a result even Giri himself had expected. The match started quite even and was tied even after the first four games. Artemiev had won a nice, smooth first game and followed it up with a draw before Giri took the next game. That was one of the rare moments in the match where Artemiev stumbled in a winning position.
Artemiev won game five in a technical endgame and then also game eight, this time again with a small tactical shot. The score at the end of the five-minute segment was 5.5-3.5 and Giri could not pull level again.
Occasionally, Giri got the chance to show what he’s worth. That was the case in the second 3+1 game.
Giri revealed that he hadn’t prepared much, but that he did look at the Neo-Veresov (Baadur Jobava’s 2.Nc3 and 3.Bf4) because he “always loses against that system in bullet.” The Dutchman indeed got a great position out of the opening and finished it off nicely:
He held on and even ended up winning the three-minute segment with a one-point margin. He got a little help in one of the games as Artemiev briefly had issues with his internet and flagged in a drawn position, shortly after missing a win:
Artemiev kept on playing different openings. Afterward, he explained: “I think that it was very logical because Anish is famous as a player with good preparation so I tried to find something interesting and just for playing.”
With 9-8 for Artemiev, the players started the bullet segment and in that phase, more than before, that the Russian player was faster and more accurate.
The impression was that Giri didn’t make the most out of his promising positions. In the post-match interview, he didn’t agree he was doing so well in the openings:
“Maybe the computer will say I had 0.40 here or there but it was not like there was anything I was thrilled about and he was pretty familiar with the positions and I think he was doing OK. I think too often I was down on the clock and I had not a great position but otherwise, in terms of time scrambles, I think I played OK,” he said.
Artemiev said that he was surprised to see his opponent only playing 1.e4 (he had looked a bit at 1.d4 and 1.Nf3) but didn’t think it had a big impact.
“It’s blitz and you must focus on every move. I think it’s not really important which opening [comes] on the board in blitz. I think for blitz, every aspect of the game is very important, also your health and how you slept. You must find your best chess every day. It’s not important how strong you are in blitz; if you’re in a very bad form one day you can lose to every player.”
Giri agreed: “Like Vladislav said, in sport you just have to deliver every day. That’s what I’ll have to do. Right now I feel like I lost the match but OK, once I’ll be a little bit more rested I’ll appreciate the beauty of life again.”
“It should be a very interesting and also a difficult match for me,” said Artemiev. “It was a good motivation for today because it was clear that the winner of our match would go to Magnus. I’m happy and probably I will prepare, I don’t know, a few hours maybe.”