Blitz Championship in Berlin: Errors and emotions

by André Schulz
10/16/2015 – After five intense days the chess world crowned an old and a new World Champion. Magnus Carlsen is the old and the new Rapid Champion, Alexander Grischuk is new Blitz Champion. The public saw spectacular, entertaining chess, and witnessed how even the very best players made mistakes and showed a lot of emotions. Impressions and missed chances...

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The six days of the World Chess Rapid and Blitz Championship in Berlin were intense. For players, organizers, and spectators. A lot of people wanted to see the grandmasters in action - live or on the internet.

Vladimir Kramnik (here against Aronian) finished third.

During the first three days of the event Magnus Carlsen defended his rapid title convincingly, and on the first day of the blitz tournament he also played well. However, during the second day of the blitz tournament he was off form. He did not win one of his first five games while losing twice. The Norwegian TV Station NRK showed a video of Carlsen's emotional reactions to his losses.

See the video at NRK...

Like so many other chessplayers Magnus Carlsen simply does not like to lose. However, he recovered quickly, and when he is a good mood he allows spectators to photograph him or he signs autographs. Iepe Rubingh, creator of chessboxing, visited the WCC, maybe because he hoped to recruit new participants for his matches. On his facebook account he posted the following picture:

Photo: Iepe Rubingh (left) on facebook

His comment:

On day two of the blitz Carlsen made too many mistakes and suffered too many losses. On twitter he commented the loss of his blitz title:

The few top players who were not in Berlin followed the event on the internet.

Hikaru Nakamura also congratulated.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave also started well. On day one he had lost only against Magnus Carlsen but he still managed to lead the field after the first day. However, he stumbled on the finishing line, losing two games in a row, thus allowing Grischuk to pass him.

Gawain Jones was happy to have the chance to play against many strong opponents:

Garry Kasparov also spent the weekend in Berlin but he did not play in the World Championship. He presented his new book "Winter is coming". But of course he followed the tournament.

The prize-giving ceremony

Tournament director Klaus Deventer

Host Herbert Bastian (on the right), Ilya Merenzon (left), and Kirsan Ilyumzhinov (center)

Carlsen receives the gold medal for his success in rapid chess. Photo: Agon (Nailya Bikmurzina)

In the back: Teimour Radjabov (winning the bronze medal in rapid chess) and Ian Nepomniachtchi (winning silver in rapid chess).

Recovered from his losses on day two of the blitz tournament: Magnus Carlsen

The World Champion addresses the public.

Gold for Alexander Grischuk

The three winners of the Blitz World Championship: Alexander Grischuk (center: gold), Vladimir Kramnik (left: bronze) and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (right: silver)

Mate, mate, mate!

The modern computer world is without mercy. Previously, people played blitz and one game was immediately forgotten when the next began. Mistakes? Of course you make mistakes when playing blitz. But who analyses blitz games? Previously only the very best blitz games were recorded and found their way into the databases. But in Berlin the electronic boards recorded all games from the Blitz World Championship and saved them in a database. Ready to be "analysed" ruthlessly, assisted by the computer, of course.

Both sides play for mate. But Black's chances are more real:


In a complicated position both sides have chances. In the end White has the better of it:


Korobov sacrifices a rook but overlooks a defense. But an exchange he gradually manages to reach a winning position:


A game of chess that looks like a game of Go. White dominates the whole board:


Michael Richter, grandmaster from Berlin, overlooks a little finesse in a good position:


In this example it is a knight which manages to mate the opponent:


A combination that mirrors a famous combination by Lasker. However, some questions were neither asked nor answered:


Mind the back rank:


Here the back rank is protected but not particularly well:


Carlsen mates his sparring partner:


And here Carlsen is mated:


Vassily Ivanchuk during the prize-giving ceremony. He won no medal.

A clash of generations. The new Junior World Champion wipes his opponent off the board.


Photos: Pascal Simon

André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.
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PlasticEraser PlasticEraser 10/18/2015 07:11
ff2017, I know just what you mean. When I was nine years old, I already missed the keen intelligence and chess skills I had at eight. What I would give for brilliance I had as a newborn.
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 10/17/2015 12:07
With hardly any exception: roadkills, not a pleasant thing to look at.
gmwdim gmwdim 10/16/2015 06:25
Geez, Savchenko made Hansen play that out to mate?
stephen brady stephen brady 10/16/2015 05:36
Love the video of Carlsen's reactions. Ivanchuk's expressive reaction when he was mating Carlsen made me laugh. I must have watched that part 10 times already.
ff2017 ff2017 10/16/2015 05:22
As a 40+ year old myself, I also agree with KevinC. Whereas I noticed the decaying of my mind after high school. Even as a 19 year old I felt not quite as sharp as my 18 year old high school self.

Now it's all about experience and wisdom overcoming the decreased mental acuity.
KevinC KevinC 10/16/2015 04:03
Kasparov is the greatest player in history, in my opinion, but as a guy, who is about to turn 54 in a matter of weeks, I cannot agree with his statement that "veterans lack endurance, not quickness". Honestly, we lack both.

Kasparov, himself, started to get into time trouble once he hit his 40s, and Karpov is another great example of this as he also started to get into time trouble as he got older. Their minds slowed, but they were both so great that they were still able to compete with the top 10 for a long time, although Karpov eventually fell.

This all indicates a slowing of the mind, and I can attest to it personally, and I have spoken to many other strong players (mostly IMs, who are my close friends, and are aging too), who agree that their mind does not think as quickly as it once did.

If this were not true, while there can be other factors, why do ratings drop as we get older? Some players remain very active, and work on their game well past 60, but continue to decline in rating.