2015 World Rapid Day 1: Karjakin early leader

by Albert Silver
10/10/2015 – The first day of the World Rapid championship was exciting from end to end, and while some may regret the absence of a few of the top players, playing concurrently in the Millionaire Open, it was more than made up by the non-stop action and more than a few surprises. Showing great confidence after his recent win at the World Cup, the sole leader is Sergey Karjakin.

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The top board drew the eyes of all with Magnus Carlsen ready to defend his title and possibly even take advantage of the absence of some of his rivals to leap frog their rating. It is important to realize that in rapid games Magnus Carlsen may be the world champion title holder, but he is not the towering Elo giant as in classical games. Not only is he actually world no.2 with 2847 FIDE, behind Hikaru Nakamura with 2850, but in third, just one single Elo point behind is Alexander Grischuk with 2846. All this really means is that there are no easy bets on who will win the championship. Still, fifteen rounds is plenty to give everyone a fair shot, and even recover from any early mishaps.

The opening saw officials, dignitaries, and on the far right Boris Spassky

Here are the latest top FIDE Rapid ratings for the record:

1 Nakamura, Hikaru g USA 2850 1987
2 Carlsen, Magnus g NOR 2847 1990
3 Grischuk, Alexander g RUS 2846 1983
4 Ivanchuk, Vassily g UKR 2835 1969
5 Aronian, Levon g ARM 2830 1982
6 Caruana, Fabiano g USA 2829 1992
7 Karjakin, Sergey g RUS 2805 1990
8 Anand, Viswanathan g IND 2800 1969
9 Kramnik, Vladimir g RUS 2798 1975
10 Nepomniachtchi, Ian g RUS 2789 1990
11 Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar g AZE 2784 1985
12 Le, Quang Liem g VIE 2770 1991
13 Wang, Yue g CHN 2758 1987
14 Rublevsky, Sergei g RUS 2757 1974
15 Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime g FRA 2756 1990

Click for complete ratings

The Prize Fund for both Championships to be shared by the players totals $400,000. Both Rapid and Blitz Championships will be Swiss pairings tournaments and will be held over three days for Rapid and two days for Blitz. The Rapid will be fifteen rounds, with a single game for each round. The Blitz will have 21 rounds, with a single game for each round.

The big star was obviously the world champion Magnus Carlsen, but the title promises to
be just as hard as the previous year, and just as hard-fought

Here is a fine finish by Carlsen taking advantage of a seemingly innocuous oversight:

Francisco Vallejo Pons - Magnus Carlsen

[Event "World Rapid-ch 2015"] [Site "Berlin"] [Date "2015.10.10"] [Round "3"] [White "Vallejo Pons, Francisco"] [Black "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C95"] [WhiteElo "2684"] [BlackElo "2850"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "2b1rk2/5pp1/3p4/2pP3p/1pP1Pp2/1P3PqP/R5P1/Q2B1K2 w - - 0 35"] [PlyCount "27"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] [EventType "rapid"] [EventCountry "GER"] [TimeControl "900+10"] 35. Ra7 {(34s)} h4 {(133s)} 36. Qa5 $2 {(28s) The game is still balanced, but White either does not see the threat or badly miscalculates.} (36. Qa4 $1 {was necessary. The difference between the move from the game and this can be seen a few moves later.} Bxh3 37. gxh3 Qxh3+ 38. Ke1 Qg3+ 39. Kd2 {and now, if Black played} h3 {as in the game, White plays} 40. Qd7 $1 {and if} Qg6 {White snatches the h3 pawn with} 41. Qxh3) 36... Bxh3 {(14s)} 37. gxh3 {(2s)} Qxh3+ { (1s)} 38. Ke1 {(3s)} Qg3+ {(12s)} 39. Kd2 {(19s)} h3 {(2s)} 40. Qc7 {(7s)} Qg6 {(1s) The h-pawn is unstoppable.} 41. Bc2 {(29s)} h2 {(3s)} 42. e5 {(1s)} Qg2+ {(15s)} 43. Kc1 {(15s)} h1=Q+ {(4s)} 44. Kb2 {(12s)} Qh5 {(3s)} 45. Qxd6+ { (11s)} Kg8 {(1s)} 46. Qe7 {(11s)} Qxc2+ {(13s)} 47. Kxc2 {(2s)} Rxe7 {(2s)} 48. Ra1 0-1

Vishy Anand suffered through a few difficult moments, losing a game to Russian talent Daniil
Dubov, and having to find precise moves against Salem Saleh

Salem Saleh caught Anand off-guard with the following shots, but the Indian champion kept his cool and found all the right moves:

Vishy Anand - Salem Saleh

[Event "World Rapid-ch 2015"] [Site "Berlin"] [Date "2015.10.10"] [Round "3"] [White "Anand, Viswanathan"] [Black "Salem, A R Saleh"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B90"] [WhiteElo "2803"] [BlackElo "2624"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "2b2rk1/2q2ppp/3p4/5PPP/r7/7B/1PP2Q2/2KR2R1 w - - 0 30"] [PlyCount "24"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] [EventType "rapid"] [EventCountry "GER"] [TimeControl "900+10"] 30. b3 {(29s)} Ra2 {(1s)} 31. Kb1 {(4s)} Qc3 $3 {(1s) A fantastic resource that almost costs White the game.} 32. Kxa2 {(7s)} Bxf5 {(60s) And the threat is now Ra8+ and Ra1 mate.} 33. Bg2 {(142s)} Bxc2 {(2s)} 34. Rb1 {(21s)} Rb8 { (75s)} 35. Qf3 {(80s)} Qd2 {(21s)} ({The alternate} 35... Bxb1+ {is no better.} 36. Rxb1 Qa5+ 37. Kb2 Qd2+ 38. Ka1 Qa5+ {with a repetition.}) 36. Ka3 $1 {(36s) This cold-blooded move is enough to secure the draw.} Qb4+ {(19s)} 37. Ka2 { (4s)} Qd2 {(1s)} 38. Ka3 {(27s)} Bxb1 {(3s)} 39. Rxb1 {(2s)} Qa5+ {(1s)} 40. Kb2 {(1s)} Qd2+ {(1s)} 41. Ka3 {(1s)} Qa5+ {(1s)} 1/2-1/2

The biggest surprise of day one however was GM Vidit Gujrathi, who
defeated no. 2 seed Alexander Girschuk and held Ian Nepomniachtchi
and Peter Leko to a draw. This placed him in second place ahead of
16 others by virtue of his tiebreak.

Watch this superb game by the young Indian as he defeated one of the world's best:

Alexander Girschuk - Vidit Gujrathi (annotated by IM Sagar Shah)

[Event "World Rapid-ch 2015"] [Site "Berlin"] [Date "2015.10.10"] [Round "3"] [White "Grischuk, Alexander"] [Black "Vidit, Santosh Gujrathi"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A45"] [WhiteElo "2774"] [BlackElo "2651"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "52"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] [EventType "rapid"] [EventCountry "GER"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. Bf4 g6 3. Nc3 {Grischuk plays the line of his good friend Baadur Jobava.} d5 4. Qd2 Bg7 5. O-O-O c6 6. f3 Nbd7 7. Bh6 O-O 8. h4 {White has not really developed his pieces and starts an attack in the style of the Dragon. So when your opponent starts a flank attack, what must you do?} e5 {Strike in the center!} 9. Bxg7 Kxg7 10. h5 $6 (10. dxe5 Nxe5 11. e4 {was a better way for White to play.}) 10... exd4 11. Qxd4 c5 12. Qd2 d4 13. Nb1 $2 {This is overambitious play by Grischuk. He thinks that his attack will break through on the kingside but if it doesn't then what is his knight doing on b1?} (13. Ne4 {was much better when black has to be careful as his knight on f6 is the only defender of his kingside.}) 13... Qe7 14. hxg6 fxg6 15. Qh6+ Kg8 16. e4 Ne5 $1 {Black stops Bc4 and his co-ordination is just perfect.} 17. Na3 Be6 18. Nh3 c4 $6 (18... a6 {Threatening b5 would have kept complete control.} 19. Ng5 b5 $17) 19. Rxd4 c3 {Black's counter attack is swift and very difficult to defend in rapid format.} 20. Ng5 Bxa2 21. Bb5 (21. Nb5 {was the only way to defend but here too Black seems to have good attacking chances.}) 21... Rac8 22. Ba4 Rfd8 $1 {Bringing in the reserves.} 23. Rxd8+ Rxd8 24. Nb1 $2 cxb2+ 25. Kxb2 Qb4+ 26. Kxa2 {and now mere mortals would have taken on a4 but Vidit spots the mate.} Nc4 $1 {Mate on b2 cannot be averted as Bb3 is met with Qa5+! A very nice game by the Indian youngster.} 0-1

The champion of the day was Sergey Karjakin who cashed in on his energizing win at the
World Cup, and stormed through the field with 4.5/5, making him sole leader. Here he is
congratulated by his old friend Kateryna Lahno. Allow us to take you down memory lane...

Here is an image published in ChessBase in 2003 when both were 13 years old

Yasser Seirawan had a solid run on day one, with 3.0/5. Here he beat IM Lars Thiede in round one.

Teimour Radjabov had a subpar start with 3.0/5, losing to American Alexander Onischuk in round four

Most spectators were thrilled to watch the best in this adrenaline packed day....

... but not all.

The large sumptuous playing hall and quality organization was complimented by the players

The Russian brigade: Ian Nepomniachtchi, Sergey Karjakin, Sergey Rublevsky, and Vladimir Kramnik

Needless to say, if you were watching on Playchess you could watch as many boards as you wanted

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Standings after five rounds

Rk SNo Ti. Name FED Rtg Pts  TB 
1 5 GM Karjakin Sergey RUS 2805 4.5 2676
2 108 GM Vidit Santosh Gujrathi IND 2534 4.0 2772
3 71 GM Kasimdzhanov Rustam UZB 2619 4.0 2738
4 36 GM Kryvoruchko Yuriy UKR 2694 4.0 2721
5 76 GM Nikolic Predrag BIH 2606 4.0 2712
6 51 GM Korobov Anton UKR 2664 4.0 2708
7 49 GM Dubov Daniil RUS 2667 4.0 2678
8 1 GM Carlsen Magnus NOR 2847 4.0 2663
9 9 GM Mamedyarov Shakhriyar AZE 2784 4.0 2635
10 15 GM Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son VIE 2743 4.0 2635
11 20 GM Tomashevsky Evgeny RUS 2731 4.0 2634
12 8 GM Nepomniachtchi Ian RUS 2789 4.0 2631
13 34 GM Zhigalko Sergei BLR 2698 4.0 2627
14 14 GM Leko Peter HUN 2747 4.0 2623
15 27 GM Wojtaszek Radoslaw POL 2711 4.0 2612
16 38 GM Onischuk Vladimir UKR 2692 4.0 2588
17 29 GM Guseinov Gadir AZE 2705 4.0 2573
18 53 GM Malakhov Vladimir RUS 2662 3.5 2772
19 92 GM Khismatullin Denis RUS 2574 3.5 2758
20 63 GM Socko Bartosz POL 2639 3.5 2756

Click for complete standings

Photos by Gregor Anthes, Nailya Bikmurzina, and Elena Kashirskaya for official site.


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Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications, and the content creator of the YouTube channel, Chess & Tech.


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