Anish Giri didn’t take the qualification for the Candidates Tournament by storm, on the contrary. If the rating spot hadn’t opened up after Ding Liren reached the final of the World Cup, Anish Giri would be a mere spectator.
Now he has set himself the only possible goal for a tournament in which one player wins the great price and the other seven are left out in the cold: become World Championship challenger. “I can do it,” Giri said in an interview with the Dutch daily de Volkskrant.
Despite the big task ahead of him, he didn’t consider canceling his home tournament in Wijk an Zee. At the Tata Steel Chess, Anish Giri is only one of two World Championship candidates after Ian Nepomniachtchi’s withdrawal (“like a diva”). The other is Fabiano Caruana, who gave a disastrous performance two years ago in Wijk – and then became Magnus Carlsen’s challenger.
Anish Giri on …
… his 2019
The Grand Prix was a disaster, but I achieved my goals. I finally won a top tournament in Shenzhen, which was also a mental problem. Similar to MVL, who always missed new opportunities to qualify for the Candidates Tournament. Constant failure like that creates mental blockages.
… opening secrets before the Candidates Tournament
It can also help not to reveal certain things. In Wijk I want to play plan B. Sometimes that’s even better than plan A, as I have noticed in rapid chess several times. I wonder how far I can go with this approach. If Carlsen and Caruana play their plan A against my plan B, it will probably be difficult.
… the option to cancel Wijk
I didn’t consider that for a moment. I can’t skip Wijk aan Zee. For me this tournament is a kind of World Championship. With a win I can also go from 9 to 4 in the world rankings.
… Ian Nepomniachtchi’s withdrawal
A last-minute retreat, strange. Typical diva behavior. He wants to show how special he is.
… the computer as a training partner
At the very top, preparation is increasingly making the difference. The computers are getting stronger which changes the way you work with them. Applying ideas from 2016 today would be naive. Even variations played a thousand times are subject to change due to the progress of the machines.
… preparation for the Candidates
I want to be the best prepared player. With my second Erwin L’Ami and some helpers, we will have a training camp in a warm place in February. I don’t want to reveal where exactly and with whom.
… the perspective of becoming the World Championship challenger
A match against Carlsen – a dream would come true for me. Being the challenger, playing for the title, this step would be so big, it cannot be measured in prize money or elo points. I know that Caruana, Ding and Nepomniachtchi are favorites. But I also know what I’m better at than my opponents. I can see my way to the World Championship match. It will have to go very well, but I can do it.