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Friday, July 10, 2020

Battle of 64 squares spills onto 280 characters: Carlsen vs Giri

World chess champion Carlsen and Dutchman Giri play out their animosity on Twitter.

Written by Shahid Judge | Updated: June 29, 2020 10:04:21 am
Screen grab of Anish Giri (on the right) immediately after he beat Magnus Carlsen at the Magnus Carlsen Invitational event in April.

Anish Giri holds a finger to his lips, in a video clipping, as if to silence all his doubters – and in particular, his vanquished opponent Magnus Carlsen. He was playing a game of online chess, from the sanctity of his home, as one of the contestants in the Magnus Carlsen Invitational held in April. Giri, the 25-year-old Dutchman who is currently ranked 10th in the world, then gets up from his chair, walks to the edge of the camera’s view, turns back at the screen and then hops with his arms raised. He stops, turns to leave, again faces the screen and repeats his celebration.

This was how he reacted to beating Carlsen at the Norwegian’s own event.

Though beating a player as talented as the world no. 1 is always worth a celebration, in Giri’s case, there has been a degree of animosity between the two in the past – something that has been highlighted in their exchanges on social media.

The most recent one took place on Saturday.

Gone are the days when the feistiest of chess rivalries between great contemporaries – Bobby Fisher and Boris Spassky, Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov, Kasparov and Vladimir Kramnik – went beyond the chess board. Nowadays, the younger generation, as demonstrated by Grandmasters Carlsen and Giri, all animosity or banter can be put forth in 280 characters.

The latest exchange

Giri has a rather infamous reputation of playing for draws, especially against the top players.

The duo is currently competing at the Chessable Masters Tournament, an online event. On Friday, Giri drew against world no. 6 Grandmaster Alexander Grischuk of Russia, a game Carlsen felt the Dutchman should have won.

So the Norwegian tweeted: “My boy @anishgiri snatching a draw from the jaws of victory.”

On Saturday, Giri shared a screenshot of a message he received regarding a ‘billing problem’ when he tried to renew his subscription for an online chess application developed by Carlsen.

He tweeted along with the picture: “In light of the recent hateful tweets from @MagnusCarlsen and his employees, we at Anish Giri Inc. have (apparently) taken a decision to hereby pause sponsoring his endeavors. #StudyChess”

To this, the reigning world champion replied: “The real story here is that you figured that tactics are not necessary to make solid draws. Recommended for people who play to win though!”

How it all started

Ahead of the 2018 Candidates event, former world champion Kramnik employed Giri as a second – this after Giri had beaten the veteran Russian months earlier at the Tata Steel Masters. Upon learning that Giri was helping Kramnik, Carlsen took to Twitter to make a point.

“So supposedly @anishgiri will be seconding Kramnik during the candidates. Before Tata (an unbeaten +7 with just a few draws for Vlad) this would have been a clear-cut case of “if you can’t beat em, join em” Now it’s rather “if you can’t draw em, join em.”

The tweet alluded to Giri’s notoriety of sniffing for a draw in most matches.

Giri then replied with “I guess this deep joke only makes sense in Norwegian?! Or maybe I am just too tired from all the work on the openings.”

And the banter went on, as the 29-year-old Carlsen challenged Giri to win a tournament ‘for the first time in (his) life’ and the younger played replying with his joy that Carlsen was ‘taking (him) seriously and that is flattering!’

On Saturday, the rivalry continued.

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