Trials and Tribulations of a Blitz Player

11/18/2009 – Three minutes for the entire game, two seconds' increment per move – this fast version of chess produces its own brand of drama, with wonderful chances and bitter tragedies going hand in hand. There was plenty of that at the World Blitz Championship in Moscow – you can watch it all unfold on the Playchess server. Here are some highlights from day two.

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World Blitz Championship

This event is being held on November 16, 17 and 18 in the showroom of the Red Square mall GUM. Time controls are three minutes for the whole game + two seconds increment per move.

The event is a 22-player double round-robin, i.e. it has a total of 42 rounds, which are played on three days. The participants include the players from the Tal Memorial, plus twelve invitees.

Day two: Trials and Tribulations of a Blitz Player

Polgar,Ju (2680) - Karpov,Ana (2619) [B13]
World Blitz Moscow RUS (16), 17.11.2009
1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.Bd3 Nc6 5.c3 Nf6 6.h3 e5 7.dxe5 Nxe5 8.Qe2 Qe7 9.Bb5+ Bd7 10.Bxd7+ Nexd7 11.Nd2 Nc5 12.Ngf3 Qxe2+ 13.Kxe2 Bd6 14.Nb3 0-0 15.Be3 Na4 16.Rab1 Rfe8 17.Rhd1 Bf4 18.Rd3 Rac8 19.g3 Bd6 20.Kf1 h6 21.Bxa7 b6 22.Nbd4 Rc5 23.b3 Nxc3 24.Rb2 Bc7 25.Rc2 Nce4 26.Rxc5 bxc5 27.Nb5 Ba5 28.Re3 Nxg3+ 29.Kg2 Rxe3 30.fxe3 Nge4 31.Ne5 Kf8 32.Nc6 Bd2 33.Kf3 Ke8 34.a4 Kd7 35.Ne5+ Ke6 36.Nd3 c4 37.Nf4+ Kd7 38.bxc4 dxc4 39.Bd4 Bb4 40.Nd5?

The rejuvinated Anatoly Karpov had 9.0/15 points and was in fifth place (behind Anand, Carlsen, Kramnik and Grischuk). Now he had a very dangerous opponent, Judit Polgar, on the ropes. 40...Ng5+ or 40...Nd2+ would have won a piece and clinched the deal. Instead he spoiled it with 40...Nxd5? and went on to lose the game. 41.Kxe4 Ke6 42.Bxg7 Nb6 43.Bc3 Bxc3 44.Nxc3 Nc8 45.Kd4 Nd6 46.a5 Nf5+ 47.Kc5 1-0. [Click to replay]

Mamedyarov,S (2719) - Kramnik,V (2772) [D37]
World Blitz Moscow RUS (17), 17.11.2009
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.e4 Bb4 6.Bxc4 Nxe4 7.0-0 Nf6 8.Bg5 0-0 9.Qe2 h6 10.Bh4 Be7 11.Rad1 Nbd7 12.Ne5 Nb6 13.Bd3 Nfd5 14.Bg3 f5 15.h3 Bd6 16.Rfe1 Qg5 17.Qf3 Nf6 18.Bf4 Qh5 19.Qg3 Qe8 20.Bxh6 Nh5 21.Qg5 Kh7 22.Bxg7 Nxg7 23.Re4 Be7 24.Rh4+ Kg8 25.Qh6 Bxh4 26.Ng6

After sixteen rounds Vladimir Kramnik had 10.0 points and was in fourth place (behind Anand, Carlsen and Karjakin). Shakh Mamedyarov had 6.0/16 and was in 18th place. In this game the Azeri had pinned his hopes on an attack that could not succeed. 26...Nd7? Kramnik missed a pretty chance that would have ended it quickly: 26...Qxg6 27.Qxg6 Rf6–+ trapping the queen. 27.d5? 27.Nxf8 or 27.Nxh4 would have put up more resistance. But Mamedyarov still believes in his attack. 27...Rf6. Once again 27...Qxg6–+ was beckoning. 28.Qh8+ Kf7 29.dxe6+ Kxg6 30.Qxh4 Rxe6 31.Nd5 Re1+ 32.Kh2

Nerves-of-steel Fritz will tell you that Kramnik had nothing to fear: 32...Rxd1 33.Nf4+ Kf7 34.Bc4+ Kf8 35.Qh8+ Ke7 36.Qxg7+ Kd6 and Black wins. But a human player, in a blitz game, cannot work this out. 32...Qe5+ 33.Nf4+ Qxf4+? [33...Kf7 still keeps the win for Black] 34.Qxf4 Rxd1 35.Qg4+ Kf6 36.Qxd1. Now White has the initiative and a disheartened Kramnik loses the full point. 36...Ne5 37.Bc2 Ne6 38.f4 Ng6 39.Qd5 Nexf4 40.Qd8+ Kg7 41.Bb3 a5 42.h4 a4 43.Bc4 b5 44.Bxb5 Ne6 45.Qe8 Rb8 46.Bc4 Kf6 47.Bxe6 Ne7 48.Qf7+ 1-0. [Click to replay]

Carlsen,M (2801) - Anand,V (2788) [D37]
World Blitz Moscow RUS (17), 17.11.2009
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 Be7 5.Bf4 0-0 6.a3 b6 7.cxd5 Nxd5 8.Nxd5 exd5 9.e3 c5 10.Bd3 Nc6 11.Qc2 h6 12.dxc5 bxc5 13.0-0 c4 14.Be2 Be6 15.Rfd1 Qb6 16.Rab1 Rac8 17.h3 Bf6 18.b3 c3 19.b4 Rfd8 20.b5 Ne7 21.Nd4 Bxd4 22.Rxd4 Nf5 23.Rd3 d4 24.g4 Ne7 25.exd4 Nd5 26.Bg3 f6 27.Bf3 Qa5 28.Rb3 Bf7 29.Be4 Qa4 30.Rf3 Qa5 31.Kh2 Rc4 32.Rd3 Qa4 33.h4 Rxd4 34.Rxd4 Qxd4 35.Rb1 Re8 36.Bf3 Qc5 37.Qd3 Nb6 38.Rc1 Na4 39.Bc6 Rc8 40.Qd7 Rf8 41.Qd6 Qxd6 42.Bxd6 Rd8 43.Bb4 Rd3 44.b6 Nxb6 45.Rxc3 Rxc3 46.Bxc3 Bd5 47.Bb5 Bc4 48.Bc6 Bd5 49.Bxd5+ Nxd5 50.Bd4 a6 51.Kg3 Kf7 52.Kf3 g6 53.Ke4 Ke6 54.Kd3 f5 55.gxf5+ Kxf5 56.Kc4 Nf4 57.Kb4 Ng2 58.Ka5 Nxh4 59.Kxa6? Nf3 60.Bb6

At this stage Anand had 13.5/16 and Carlsen, in second place, 12.0 points. With 60...h5 61.Bc7 Ne5–+ the World Champion could have increased the lead to his main rival to 2.5 points. Instead, running practically on his increment time, he reduced it to 0.5 points with 60...Nd2? 61.a4 Nc4?? 62.Kb5 Nd6+ 63.Kc6 Nc4 64.Kc5 Nd2 65.Kd5 Nb3 66.Kc4 Nd2+ 67.Kb4 h5 68.a5 Ke6 69.a6 1-0. [Click to replay]

Carlsen,M (2801) - Leko,P (2752) [B12]
World Blitz Moscow RUS (21), 17.11.2009
1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.Be3 e6 5.Nd2 Qb6 6.Qc1 Ne7 7.c4 Bg6 8.c5 Qc7 9.f4 Nf5 10.Bf2 h5 11.Ngf3 a5 12.Be2 b6 13.cxb6 Qxb6 14.0-0 Nd7 15.Nb3 a4 16.Nbd2 Be7 17.Bd1 0-0 18.Bc2 c5 19.b3 a3 20.Qe1 Qb4 21.Rc1 Rfc8 22.Nb1 cxd4 23.Bxf5 Bxf5 24.Nxd4 Qxe1 25.Rfxe1 Be4 26.Nc6 Bf8 27.Nd2 Bd3 28.Rc3 Bb4 29.Nxb4 Rxc3 30.Bd4 Rc2 31.Nxc2 Bxc2 32.Rc1 Bf5 33.Rc3 Kh7 34.Kf2 f6 35.b4 fxe5 36.fxe5 Kg6 37.b5 Rb8 38.Rb3 Bc2 39.Rb4 Bd3 40.b6 Ba6 41.Ke3 Kf5 42.h3 Nxe5 43.Ra4 Nc4+ 44.Nxc4 Bxc4 45.Rxa3 e5 46.Bc5 d4+ 47.Kd2 Ke6 48.Ra5 Kd7 49.a3 Kc6 50.Bb4 Bf1 51.Rxe5 Bxg2 52.Bc5 Bxh3 53.Rxh5 Ra8 54.Bxd4 Rxa3 55.Rc5+ Kd7 56.Rc7+ Kd8 57.Bxg7 Bg2 58.Bf6+ Ke8

59.b7. Hang on... 59...Bxb7 60.Rxb7. Isn't R+B vs R a theoretical draw. Indeed it is, and Leko appears to know how to defend it. However, this ending has been lost, by full grandmasters, in classical games – Ulf Andersson once won it after an adjournment! And this is one of the secrets of Carlsen's success: keep on pressing, make sure you do nothing to prevent the opponent from making a mistake. This is how the game continued: 60...Ra6 61.Bd4 Rd6 62.Kd3 Rd7 63.Rb6 Kd8 64.Ke4 Kc7 65.Re6 Kd8 66.Be5 Kc8 67.Rb6 Rb7 68.Rh6 Rd7 69.Bd6 Rb7 70.Kd5 Rd7 71.Rh8+ Kb7 72.Rb8+ Ka7 73.Rb1 Rb7 74.Bc5+ Kb8 75.Rh1 Kc8 76.Bd6 Rd7 77.Ke6 Rg7 78.Rb1 Rg6+ 79.Kd5 Kd7 80.Rb7+ Ke8 81.Kc6 Re6 82.Rh7 Re1 83.Kd5 Kd8 84.Bg3

84...Rd1+? There it comes – one of the few legal moves that Black must avoid. 85.Ke6 Kc8 86.Rc7+ Kd8 87.Rc2 Rd3 88.Bh4+ 1-0. [Click to replay]

Kramnik,V (2772) - Carlsen,M (2801) [A30]
World Blitz Moscow RUS (23), 17.11.2009
1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.g3 b6 4.Bg2 Bb7 5.0-0 e6 6.Nc3 Be7 7.d4 cxd4 8.Qxd4 d6 9.Bg5 a6 10.Bxf6 Bxf6 11.Qf4 Bxf3 12.exf3 Ra7 13.Rad1 Be7 14.Qe3 0-0 15.f4 g6 16.h4 Nd7 17.Ne4 Nf6 18.Ng5 Rc7 19.Bh3 h6 20.Nxf7 Kxf7 21.Bxe6+ Kg7 22.Qxb6 d5 23.Bxd5 Qd6 24.Qa5 Qc5 25.Qxa6 Ra7 26.Qe6 Rxa2 27.Rfe1 Bd8 28.Qe5 Re8

Carlsen and Anand were both in the lead before this round, with 16.0/22, two and a half points ahead of Vladimir Kramnik, Peter Svidler and Sergey Karjakin. This game is quite drawish, if you don't have a moment of blindness: 29.Qc3? Throwing away the game. 29...Ba5 30.Rxe8. Maybe he could defend with 30.Qxf6+ Kxf6 31.Rxe8 Rxb2 – nope, that also loses for White. 30...Bxc3 0-1. In the same round Anand drew with black against Vassily Ivanchuk, so this victory put Magnus in clear lead for the first time. [Click to replay]

Kosteniuk,A (2517) - Karpov,Ana (2619) [B12]
World Blitz Moscow RUS (23), 17.11.2009
1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.Nf3 e6 5.Be2 Ne7 6.0-0 c5 7.c4 Nbc6 8.Nc3 dxc4 9.dxc5 Nd5 10.Nd4 Nxc3 11.bxc3 Bxc5 12.Nxf5 exf5 13.Qc2 Qd5 14.Bf4 Qe6 15.Qa4 0-0 16.Bxc4 Qg6 17.Rae1 Nd8 18.Bd5 Rc8 19.Be3 Qb6 20.Rb1 Qc7 21.Bf4 Qe7 22.Qc2 g6 23.Qd2 Ne6 24.Rxb7 Rc7 25.Rxc7 Qxc7 26.Bxe6 fxe6 27.Rd1 Rb8 28.h4 Rb7 29.h5 Kf7 30.hxg6+ hxg6 31.Qe2 Bf8 32.c4 Bg7 33.Rc1 Qc5 34.Qe3 Qxe3 35.fxe3 Rc7 36.c5 Rc6 37.e4 fxe4 38.Rc4 Bf8 39.Be3 g5 40.Kf2 Be7 41.g4 Ke8 42.Ke2 Ra6 43.a4 Ra5 44.Kd2 Kd7 45.Kc3 Kc6 46.Kb4 Ra6 47.Rxe4 Rb6+ 48.Kc3 Rb1 49.Kd2 Rb2+ 50.Kc3 Re2 51.Kd3 Ra2 52.Rc4 a5 53.Ke4 Re2 54.Kf3 Ra2 55.Rd4 Ra3 56.Rc4 Kd5 57.Rc2 Kc6 58.Rc4 Kd5 59.Rd4+ Kc6 60.Rc4 Ra2 61.Ke4 Ra3 62.Kf3 Ra2 63.Bf2 Ra3+ 64.Ke4 Ra1 65.Be3 Ra2 66.Kf3 Ra3 67.Ke4 Ra2 68.Kf3 Ra3 69.Ke2 Ra2+ 70.Kd3 Ra3+ 71.Ke2 Ra2+ 72.Kf3 Ra3 73.Rc2 Rxa4 74.Rb2 Rb4 75.Ra2 a4 76.Ke2 Bxc5 77.Rc2 Rb5 78.Bxg5 Kd5 79.Bf6 a3 80.Kd3 Rb3+ 81.Kd2 Bd4 82.g5 Rb2 83.g6

Anatoly Karpov had slipped from third place after day one to 8-10th place (which he shared with Ivanchuk and Aronian). Here he has worked very hard to create an opportunity to climb back up the table. However: 83...Rxc2+? 83...a2 84.Rxb2 a1Q! (not 84...Bxb2 85.g7 a1Q 86.g8Q=) would have easily won the game for him. 84.Kxc2 a2 85.g7 a1Q 86.g8Q draw. [Click to replay]

Gashimov,V (2758) - Anand,V (2788) [C78]
World Blitz Moscow RUS (25), 17.11.2009
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 b5 6.Bb3 Bc5 7.c3 d6 8.a4 Rb8 9.d4 Bb6 10.axb5 axb5 11.Bg5 h6 12.Bxf6 Qxf6 13.Qd3 exd4 14.Qxb5 Bd7 15.Qe2 0-0 16.Ba4 Rfe8 17.Rd1 Ra8 18.Nbd2 dxc3 19.bxc3 d5 20.Bxc6 Bxc6 21.Rxa8 Bxa8 22.e5 Qc6 23.Qd3 Bb7 24.Nb3 Ba6 25.Qd2 Bc4 26.Nbd4 Qd7 27.Qf4 Qa4 28.Qd2 Ba5 29.Rc1 Qa3 30.Nc6 Bb6 31.Ncd4 Bc5 32.h4 Bf8 33.Re1 Qa6 34.h5 Bd3 35.Qf4 c5 36.Nf5 Bxf5 37.Qxf5 Qe6 38.Qd3 Rd8 39.Rd1 Qg4 40.Qe3 Qxh5 41.e6 fxe6 42.Qxe6+ Qf7 43.Qc6 Qf5 44.Re1 d4 45.cxd4 cxd4 46.Qc4+ Qd5 47.Qd3 Bb4 48.Re5 Qa2 49.g3 Qa1+ 50.Kg2 Qc3 51.Qe4 d3 52.Re8+ Rxe8 53.Qxe8+ Bf8 54.Qe6+ Kh8 55.Qf7 Qf6 56.Qd5 Qd6 57.Qxd6 Bxd6 58.Kf1 Kg8 59.Ke1 Bb4+ 60.Kd1 Bc3 61.Nh4 Kf7 62.Nf5 g5 63.g4 Ke6 64.Ne3 Ke5 65.f3

Vishy Anand, half a point behind Magnus Carlsen, really wanted to win this one – and was well on the way to doing so. 65...Kf4? Black could have finshed the game with nice zugzwang motifs: 65...Bb4 66.Ng2 (66.Nc4+ Kd4–+) 66...Kd4 67.Kc1 d2+ 68.Kd1 Kd3–+. Now the game is a draw: 66.Nd5+ Kxf3 67.Nxc3 Kxg4 68.Kd2 h5 69.Kxd3 Kf3 70.Ne4 g4 71.Ng5+ Kf2 72.Ne4+ Kf3 73.Ng5+ Kf4 74.Ne6+ Kg3 75.Ke2 h4 76.Kf1 Kh2 77.Nd4 Kh1 78.Nf5 draw. [Click to replay]

Grischuk,A (2736) - Karjakin,Sergey (2723) [D15]
World Blitz Moscow RUS (27), 17.11.2009
1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 c6 4.Nc3 a6 5.c5 Nbd7 6.Bf4 Nh5 7.Bd2 Nhf6 8.Bf4 Nh5 9.Bg5 h6 10.Bd2 Nhf6 11.h3 Qc7 12.g3 e5 13.Nxe5 Nxe5 14.Bf4 Nfd7 15.dxe5 Nxc5 16.e6 Qb6 17.exf7+ Kxf7 18.Bg2 Qxb2 19.Rc1 Ne6 20.Bd2 Bd6 21.0-0 Rf8 22.e4 d4 23.Na4 Qb5 24.Rb1 Qc4 25.Nb6 Qxa2 26.Nxa8 b5 27.Nb6 Bb7 28.e5 Bc7 29.Nd7 Rd8 30.Qh5+ Ke7 31.Bb4+ Kxd7 32.h4 Kc8 33.Bh3 Kb8 34.Qf7 Bc8 35.Be7 Rh8 36.Bd6 Bxd6 37.exd6 Qd5 38.Bxe6 Qxe6 39.Qc7+ Ka8

After 26 rounds Sergey Karjakin was in third place, a point and a half behind Anand (and 3.5 points behind Magnus Carlsen, who is almost exactly his age). But young Serge was in big trouble against another very ambitious blitz specialist. Alexander Grischuk had an easy win in the above position, which started with the move 40.Ra1 followed by Rfe1. Unfortunately it doesn't work the other way around: 40.Rfe1? Qd7 41.Re7 Qxc7 42.Rxc7 Rd8 and Black has successfully defended against all the terrible threats. Grischuk was probably deeply distressed to see the win slip away and went on to blunder the full point. 43.Rxc6 Bb7 44.Rc7 Rxd6 45.Rxg7 d3 46.Rf7? d2 47.Rd1 Be4 48.Kf1 Bd3+ 0-1. [Click to replay]

Standings after 28 rounds

Click to get a full table (with ratings, performance and tiebreaks)

Picture Gallery

Carlsen vs Anand in round 17 (Carlsen won)

Anand vs Kramnik in round 24 (Anand won in 40 moves)

Anand and his wife Aruna in a break between games

During the games what is a wife to do? Sit on a ledge and worry...

A chess husband. Judit's. He's Gusztav Font, a Hungarian vet

Sergey Karjakin with his wife WIM Kateryna Dolzhikova
Go on, have fun searching for her four cats top at Maxshop

Very soon I'll be playing in this event! GM elect Ray Robson kibitzing.

Deep concentration: Kosteniuk vs Grischuk in round 18 (Alexandra Kosteniuk won)

Arkadij Naiditsch vs Vassily Ivanchuk in round 21 (draw in 29 moves)

Never write off a former World Champion: Karpov vs Ponomariov in round 27 (draw)

Still wearing a defensive throat scarf, but definitely feeling better: Magnus Carlsen

Photos by Misha Savinov in Moscow


The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server If you are not a member you can download the free PGN reader ChessBase Light, which gives you immediate access. You can also use the program to read, replay and analyse PGN games. New and enhanced: CB Light 2009!

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