Coming soon: the World Rapid and Blitz Championships

by Eteri Kublashvili
12/19/2018 – The year 2018 will end with two World Chess Championships: from December 25 to December 31 the world's best players will meet in St. Petersburg to play the World Rapid and Blitz Championships. Magnus Carlsen has already declared his ambition to win both titles: "No usurpers are going to be left alive!". In a press release the Russian Chess Federation announces details of the event. | Photo: Magnus Carlsen | Photo: Eteri Kublashvili

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The World Strongest Chess Players come to St. Petersburg

The King Salman World Rapid and Blitz Championships 2018 will be held in Saint Petersburg on December 25-31.

Real chess stars are going to take part in the events. Starting lists of the open tournaments are headed by the reigning World Champion Magnus Carlsen (Norway), world strongest grandmasters Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan), Anish Giri (Netherlands), Viswanathan Anand (India), Alexander Grischuk, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Sergey Karjakin (all from Russia), Levon Aronian (Armenia), Hikaru Nakamura (USA), and other top players.

In the women’s events, the reigning Women’s World Champion Ju Wenjun (China), Anna and Mariya Muzychuk (both from Ukraine), Kateryna Lagno, Alexandra Kosteniuk, Aleksandra Goryachkina, Valentina Gunina (all from Russia), Humpy Koneru (India), Nana Dzagnidze (Georgia), and other well-known players will fight for the titles.

World Champion Ju Wenjun | Photo: Eteri Kublashvili

In 2017, Viswanathan Anand won the King Salman World Rapid Championship, while Magnus Carlsen became the strongest in blitz. The women’s titles were gained by Ju Wenjun and Nana Dzagnidze respectively.

The World Champion Magnus Carlsen has already expressed his intention to win back the rapid champion’s title. “I’m going to take back the triple throne – "No usurpers are going to be left alive!", said the Norwegian grandmaster.

Master Class Vol.8: Magnus Carlsen

Scarcely any world champion has managed to captivate chess lovers to the extent Carlsen has. The enormously talented Norwegian hasn't been systematically trained within the structures of a major chess-playing nation such as Russia, the Ukraine or China.


FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich: "I would like to thank our partners for supporting us in a tense moment and helping us organize the World Rapid and Blitz Championships with a decent prize fund within a very short time in one of the most beautiful cities of the world. Welcome to Saint Petersburg! I wish a bright play and good luck to all the participants!" 

RCF President Andrey Filatov: "It is a great honour for us that FIDE has entrusted holding such popular and prestigious competitions as the World Rapid and Blitz Championships among men and women to us. In spite of being limited in time for the preparation, we will do our best to organize this event in our country on the highest level possible as always. We will be happy to see everyone, and let the strongest win!"

The venue is Manege, the largest exhibition space in central Saint Petersburg. Address: 1, St. Isaac’s Square.

An extensive additional programme, which will include tournaments for children and adults, solving contests, acquaintance with the RCF Chess Museum's exhibits and many other activities, will be organized during the Championships. The entrance is free for visitors.


December 25 – Pre-start press conference, Opening Ceremony, Technical meeting
December 26-28 –  World Rapid Championships
December 29-30 – World Blitz Championships and Closing Ceremony.

Pre-start press conference will take place in Manege and will begin at 6 p.m. (hereinafter – Moscow time). The Opening Ceremony will be held in Manege as well and will start at 7:30 p.m.

The entrance is for participants, officials, arbiters, and accredited journalists only.

The rounds begin at 3 p.m.; the games on the final day start at 2 p.m.

The total prize fund is USD 1,150,000.

General partner – General Sports Authority.

The Championship is supported by Gazprom.

Official partners: Russian Railways, Sberbank

General Partner of RCF – PhosAgro.

Official website

Eteri Kublashvili is a chessplayer and reports and photographs from all official tournaments for the Russian Chess Federation.
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fgkdjlkag fgkdjlkag 12/22/2018 05:45
@Raymond Labelle, Saudi Arabia was stripped of hosting because of the country's policy of refusing visas to players.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 12/21/2018 05:29
@ Nico777:

"(...) the amazing positional understanding that Carlsen possess, which gives him a huge advantage against any opponent and at any playing time format."

This was true around 2013 - 2014, and is probably more or less still true in Rapid and Blitz (...for this, we will see the results of the Rapid and Blitz World Championships...), but, clearly, the last Classical World Championship has shown that Carlsen hasn't anymore any significant advantage against his very best opponents at Classical time controls; as someone put it, nowadays, he is just "best among equals", not more.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 12/21/2018 03:34
@ Nico777:

"However, Naka's level drops dramatically when he is facing Carlsen not only because of the psychological factor mentioned before, but because of the amazing positional understanding that Carlsen possess, which gives him a huge advantage against any opponent and at any playing time format."

Yes, but, one more time, this is more or less irrelevant here! We musn't forgot that these two World Championships are Swiss System tournaments! Nakamura can only play 1 game out of 15 in the Rapid World Championship and 1 game out of 21 in the Blitz World Championship against Carlsen, so, even if he loses his game against Carlsen, it will not impair significantly his chances of winning the event... This isn't a World Championship match!!
Nico777 Nico777 12/21/2018 01:57
Naka is a tremendous blitz player, However, as it was said "Vachier-Lagrave's Blitz rating was more or less similar to Carlsen's rating (2939 for Carlsen; 2937 for Vachier-Lagrave), and, nonetheless, Nakamura won".
True! However, Naka's level drops dramatically when he is facing Carlsen not only because of the psychological factor mentioned before, but because of the amazing positional understanding that Carlsen possess, which gives him a huge advantage against any opponent and at any playing time format.
Carlsen's has only to fear.....himself!
He is always playing for the win, and even in drawish positions he tries to get the most out of them, because he always playing against lower rated players and he feels that he has the moral obligation to win. Unfortunately, sometimes this backfires.
However, I will give a double advantage to Carlsen. Win to both events.
Raymond Labelle Raymond Labelle 12/20/2018 09:00
By such statements Magnus is adding pressure on himself... and some spice to the event.
Raymond Labelle Raymond Labelle 12/20/2018 08:59
It seems, from the text of that article, that the hosts of that event did not have much time to prepare. This suggests it was originally planned to be elsewhere, that the elsewhere would not or could not do it, and that the St-Petersburg hosts graciously accepted to organize it in replacement, even though having less time to do so.

Where was it supposed to be originally and what happened?
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 12/20/2018 08:31
@ fixpont: Yes, but, precisely, as the Rapid and Blitz World Championships are Swiss System tournaments, Carlsen and Nakamura will play very few games one against the other, so this can give Nakamura his chance.

Globally, I still think nonetheless that Carlsen is the clear favorite, but a clear favorite can lose, too, furthermore when there is so strong a player as Nakamura in the mix...
fixpont fixpont 12/20/2018 07:49
@Petrarlsen: dont forget the huge psychological handicap for Naka against MC. According to chessgames:

"Only rapid/exhibition games: Magnus Carlsen beat Hikaru Nakamura 36 to 16, with 28 draws."

This difference is enormous.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 12/20/2018 05:33
@ axegod:

"Don't overlook Hikaru Nakamura."

Cf. the last GCT Final: as Nakamura and Vachier-Lagrave drew all their Classical and Rapid games, the final result was decided in a 4-games Blitz match; Vachier-Lagrave's Blitz rating was more or less similar to Carlsen's rating (2939 for Carlsen; 2937 for Vachier-Lagrave), and, nonetheless, Nakamura won.

I would rather think, intuitively, that Carlsen is, in reality, globally better than Vachier-Lagrave in Blitz, but, nonetheless, such a result, for Nakamura, means, in my opinion, that he can be quite a dangerous opponent for Carlsen himself...
axegod axegod 12/20/2018 12:03
Don't overlook Hikaru Nakamura.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 12/20/2018 07:11
Last year, Carlsen didn't win, in the Rapid World Championship; Anand won, and not even on tiebreaks.

This being said, I must say that I find this very surprising, but, if it happened once, I don't think that we can be sure it will not happen twice (not necessarily at all with Anand, and not necessarily in Rapid, but with one or the other top-player and in one of these two championships).

Nonetheless, if I had to bet on someone, I would bet on Carlsen without any hesitation!...
psamant psamant 12/20/2018 07:10
It will be an irony if Carlsen wins neither and is left with only the classical championship that was won by drawing all classical matches and winning in the rapids!!!
nuit nuit 12/19/2018 08:22
koko48 koko48 12/19/2018 04:07
All usurpers must be routed and apprehended