Vassily Ivanchuk is new World Champion in Rapid Chess

by Johannes Fischer
12/28/2016 – The World Rapid Championships in Doha, Qatar, had a dramatic finish. Before the last round five players shared the lead with 10.0/14. Three of these five players won in the last round: Magnus Carlsen, Alexander Grischuk and Vassily Ivanchuk. The tie-break had to decide - in this case, the Elo-average of the opponents. And here Ivanchuk was best and became World Rapid Champion 2016. Games and results...

Photos: Maria Emelianova (Tournament page)

The Rapid World Championship is a 15 rounds Swiss event with a time-control 15 minutes+ 10 seconds additional time per move, starting from move 1. The event will be played on three days with five rounds each day. The total prize fund is 200,000 USD of which the winner will receive 40,000 USD.

Vassily Ivanchuk

With 8.0/10 Ivanchuk started day 3 as sole leader but at first had trouble to find his form. He started with a loss against Ian Nepomniachtchi and then played two draws in rounds 12 and 13.

But after winning a topsy-turvy game in round 14 against Vishy Anand he shared the lead with Alexander Grischuk, Shakriyar Mamedyarov, Nepomniachtchi and Magnus Carlsen. But Ivanchuk had the best tie-break and therefore "only" needed a win in the last round to become new World Rapid Champion.

Standings after 14 rounds

Rk. SNo     Name FED RtgI Pts.  TB1   TB2 
1 10
GM Ivanchuk Vassily UKR 2771 10,0 2748 114,5
2 12
GM Grischuk Alexander RUS 2767 10,0 2735 112,0
3 5
GM Mamedyarov Shakhriyar AZE 2805 10,0 2725 113,0
4 3
GM Nepomniachtchi Ian RUS 2812 10,0 2709 107,0
5 1
GM Carlsen Magnus NOR 2906 10,0 2693 110,0
6 6
GM Dominguez Perez Leinier CUB 2803 9,5 2708 110,0
7 21
GM Korobov Anton UKR 2714 9,0 2754 118,5
8 11
GM Aronian Levon ARM 2770 9,0 2752 117,0
9 13
GM Yu Yangyi CHN 2743 9,0 2718 108,5
10 62
GM Anton Guijarro David ESP 2605 9,0 2666 97,0
11 14
GM Melkumyan Hrant ARM 2736 9,0 2656 102,5
12 26
GM Cheparinov Ivan BUL 2699 9,0 2635 96,0
13 51
GM Vidit Santosh Gujrathi IND 2643 8,5 2756 109,5
14 47
GM Li Chao B CHN 2648 8,5 2740 110,5
15 7
GM Anand Viswanathan IND 2802 8,5 2707 110,0
16 8
GM Vachier-Lagrave Maxime FRA 2795 8,5 2689 103,5
17 33
GM Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son VIE 2685 8,5 2688 101,0
18 24
GM Inarkiev Ernesto RUS 2707 8,5 2671 102,5
19 27
GM Jakovenko Dmitry RUS 2699 8,5 2664 101,5
20 30
GM Amonatov Farrukh TJK 2693 8,5 2655 101,5

In round 15 Ivanchuk played Hrant Melkumyan and though the game had been balanced for a long time, Melkumyan finally went astray in an opposite-colored bishop ending and Ivanchuk pounced to win the game and the title.


Second place goes Alexander Grischuk, World Blitz Champion of 2006, 2012 and 2015, who had a strong finish. He started day 3 with two draws but then won his last three games against Farrukh Amonatov, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Ian Nepomniachtchi.

Alexander Grischuk

Magnus Carlsen finished third though he started day 3 by losing a short and violent game with White against Anton Korobov. Shortly after the opening Carlsen miscalculated in a sharp position  and that was all Korobov needed to win in a devastating attack.


Carlsen resigns

But Carlsen recovered and won his last four games. Particularly crucial was his game against Ian Nepomniachtchi in round 14. With 10.0/13 Nepomniachtchi led the field after 13 rounds but Carlsen slowly outplayed him with Black.


Magnus Carlsen

Final standings after 15 rounds

Rk. SNo     Name FED RtgI Pts.  TB1   TB2 
1 10
GM Ivanchuk Vassily UKR 2771 11,0 2747 129,0
2 12
GM Grischuk Alexander RUS 2767 11,0 2740 128,5
3 1
GM Carlsen Magnus NOR 2906 11,0 2701 127,5
4 5
GM Mamedyarov Shakhriyar AZE 2805 10,0 2738 130,5
5 13
GM Yu Yangyi CHN 2743 10,0 2724 122,5
6 3
GM Nepomniachtchi Ian RUS 2812 10,0 2713 125,5
7 62
GM Anton Guijarro David ESP 2605 10,0 2669 112,0
8 51
GM Vidit Santosh Gujrathi IND 2643 9,5 2758 125,5
9 11
GM Aronian Levon ARM 2770 9,5 2749 133,0
10 6
GM Dominguez Perez Leinier CUB 2803 9,5 2711 127,5
11 33
GM Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son VIE 2685 9,5 2689 117,5
12 30
GM Amonatov Farrukh TJK 2693 9,5 2665 115,0
13 26
GM Cheparinov Ivan BUL 2699 9,5 2645 112,5
14 21
GM Korobov Anton UKR 2714 9,0 2743 135,0
15 47
GM Li Chao B CHN 2648 9,0 2733 124,5
16 7
GM Anand Viswanathan IND 2802 9,0 2707 126,5
17 27
GM Jakovenko Dmitry RUS 2699 9,0 2674 116,5
18 14
GM Melkumyan Hrant ARM 2736 9,0 2664 121,0
19 4
GM Karjakin Sergey RUS 2806 9,0 2651 111,5
20 46
GM Volokitin Andrei UKR 2650 9,0 2627 112,0
21 54
GM Ganguly Surya Shekhar IND 2631 9,0 2618 109,0
22 49
GM Banikas Hristos GRE 2647 9,0 2586 100,5
23 42
GM Bu Xiangzhi CHN 2663 8,5 2732 117,5
24 39
GM Riazantsev Alexander RUS 2671 8,5 2701 118,0
25 88
IM Henriquez Villagra Cristobal CHI 2449 8,5 2692 113,0
26 8
GM Vachier-Lagrave Maxime FRA 2795 8,5 2689 122,5
27 35
GM Bortnyk Olexandr UKR 2678 8,5 2682 113,0
28 2
GM Nakamura Hikaru USA 2839 8,5 2674 116,0
29 24
GM Inarkiev Ernesto RUS 2707 8,5 2672 120,5
30 38
GM Howell David W L ENG 2671 8,5 2661 114,0

...106 players


Games - Rounds 1 to 15


The Women's Tournament

In the Women's Tournament things were much less exciting. Anna Muzychuk simply was too dominating. After starting with 7.0/8 she finished the tournament with a draw, a win and two more draws - and that was enough to win the tournament with 9.5/12, a clear point ahead of  Alexandra Kosteniuk who finished with 8.5/12 and won silver. Bronze went to Nana Dzagnidze who finished with 8.0/12.

Final standings after 12 rounds

Rk. SNo     Name FED Rtg Pts.  TB1 
1 2
GM Muzychuk Anna UKR 2570 9,5 2491
2 3
GM Kosteniuk Alexandra RUS 2553 8,5 2489
3 5
GM Dzagnidze Nana GEO 2549 8,0 2455
4 21
IM Khademalsharieh Sarasadat IRI 2386 7,5 2499
5 6
GM Ju Wenjun CHN 2542 7,5 2463
6 27
WGM Abdumalik Zhansaya KAZ 2323 7,5 2445
7 1
GM Lagno Kateryna RUS 2594 7,0 2488
8 4
GM Stefanova Antoaneta BUL 2552 7,0 2449
9 28
WGM Saduakassova Dinara KAZ 2321 7,0 2449
10 10
GM Koneru Humpy IND 2486 7,0 2419
11 12
GM Zhao Xue CHN 2479 7,0 2418
12 25
IM Kashlinskaya Alina RUS 2357 6,5 2478
13 23
IM Pham Le Thao Nguyen VIE 2365 6,5 2457
14 9
GM Gunina Valentina RUS 2491 6,5 2440
15 8
GM Ushenina Anna UKR 2498 6,5 2440
16 14
GM Harika Dronavalli IND 2464 6,5 2405
17 13
WGM Goryachkina Aleksandra RUS 2466 6,0 2475
18 17
IM Batsiashvili Nino GEO 2417 6,0 2427
19 7
WGM Tan Zhongyi CHN 2501 6,0 2426
20 20
IM Arabidze Meri GEO 2395 6,0 2369

Games - Rounds 1 to 12


Tomorrow, December 29, the action will continue in Doha. With the first part of the 21-round World Blitz Championship. Start: 3 pm local time.

Tournament page...

Johannes Fischer was born in 1963 in Hamburg and studied English and German literature in Frankfurt. He now lives as a writer and translator in Nürnberg. He is a FIDE-Master and regularly writes for KARL, a German chess magazine focusing on the links between culture and chess. On his own blog he regularly publishes notes on "Film, Literature and Chess".
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Logos Logos 12/28/2016 08:49
Hail Ivanchuk! May you continue to play beautiful chess for many years to come.
VVI VVI 12/28/2016 09:05
Fantastic Performance by Ivanchuk! It was a treat to watch.
One of his compatriots - Vishy Anand played like a Jackass; drawing most of the initial games and finally losing / drawing when he really needed to win.
Aighearach Aighearach 12/28/2016 09:35
On Planet Chucky you can be world champion even if nobody saw you coming. Even if people expect somebody else to win! Even if you have the same score as the old champion. This was great to see, Ivanchuck was his old self this week, best in the world, and Magnus doesn't really need the extra hardware.

Magnus has said he likes tournaments for championships, now I'm wondering if tiebreaks will affect his opinion. Do tournaments have to have the right tiebreaks to be better than matches? Or is he happy with the result and just planning to win more games next time?

@VVI: If you draw a bunch of games, you might not be having a good tournament and you might not really "need a win" so much as you need another draw if you can get it, but you'll try again the next time either way.

If you're his fan, you should like him more and support him in what he does, and if you're not his fan, why worry about his crosstable position?
Jacob woge Jacob woge 12/28/2016 09:48
"The tie-break had to decide - in this case, the Elo-average of the opponents."

The ELO, not the rapid rating?
vincero vincero 12/28/2016 10:11
ivanchuk proving he is still one of the best.great show!
yesenadam yesenadam 12/28/2016 10:12
stephen brady stephen brady 12/28/2016 10:24
VVI look up the definition of compatriot, lol
Papá Papá 12/28/2016 10:25
Congrats Chucky, impressive performance and well deserved title
calvinamari calvinamari 12/28/2016 10:59
This entire event was a great show. Congrats to Vassily. It is a true pleasure to see him in top form.

It is also notable how what has generally been regarded as a lackluster and disappointing performance by Magnus somehow yielded him a 3-way tie for first on the scoreboard, with 11 points.
Capita Capita 12/28/2016 11:00
Congratulations Chucky! A deserving champion. The tiebreak, however, was not fair to Magnus. They should have played a play off instead.
libyantiger libyantiger 12/28/2016 11:01
all ukranian player have managed to beat carlsen ...good for such countries in which chess is not worshiped
jsaldea12 jsaldea12 12/29/2016 12:05
Congrats Gm Ivanchuk. Fortunately GM So and GM Caruana did not join. It could have been more exciting. Congrats to world champion Carlsen and Grischuck.
ChiliBean ChiliBean 12/29/2016 12:05
I understand some people may be upset that there was no playoff but Vasil did beat Magnus in round 7 and everyone who joined the tournament knew the rules for tiebreakers. Sure. I would have also preferred a playoff instead of using a formula to decide the winner. Anyway. It was very exciting chess but it's not over. Next is blitz! :)
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 12/29/2016 12:36
@ lajosarpad : If you happen to stumble on this post, I have answered (terribly lately, I must admit !...) to your last posts under the Maurice Ashley article. I mention it, because I'm so late that I'm not at all sure that you still follow the commentaries under this page !
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 12/29/2016 12:41
Many congratulations to Ivanchuk for this splendid result ! All the 2800+ (in rapid) players where there, and Ivanchuk managed to beat them all !! A more than convincing result !
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 12/29/2016 12:47
"The tie-break had to decide - in this case, the Elo-average of the opponents."

I suppose that it was the Rapid rating and not the Elo rating that was used for this purpose ?

If this was the case, this tiebreak seems to me to be quite logical ; if you played against stronger players than the other players with whom you are tied, you demonstrated (comparatively) a little more than them. So, for me, this isn't a problem that Ivanchuk won this title due to this tiebreaking system.
calvinamari calvinamari 12/29/2016 01:15
Seems odd that at fast time controls there is no playoff. If there is a similar tiebreak system for the blitz event, it will be all the more ill-conceived.
Rambus Rambus 12/29/2016 01:26
Chuckster has a large standard deviation - one day he defeats the best of the best, and the next day he loses to a nobody.
MKT MKT 12/29/2016 01:53
Onya Chuck, he has wound back the clock and obliterated Carlsen in their one on one match up as well. He deserved the title. He has a habit of troubling Carlsen in the faster formats. Mind you Carlsen has been out of sorts in my view.
bbrodinsky bbrodinsky 12/29/2016 01:58
Dig up Fischer, and he'd probably go undefeated in this.
KOTLD KOTLD 12/29/2016 02:03
I'm so happy for Ivanchuk.
GrayDuck GrayDuck 12/29/2016 02:10
After the World Championship, some people argued that the World Championship should only use classical time controls because the existence of the World Championship, somehow, excused the failure of that contest to reflect how chess is actually played in this era. However, this tournament is, clearly, no substitute for a World Championship that uses sensible time controls. If this tournament was twenty days long--like the World Championship--, the result would likely have been different.
Raymond Labelle Raymond Labelle 12/29/2016 03:02
Those who played in the London Chess Classic had a more difficult time. Maybe too much chess in too little time.
Raymond Labelle Raymond Labelle 12/29/2016 03:25
Elo is a mathematical system that can be used in any type of competition implying games between two enteritis (two individuals or two teams). For determining the chess ratings, there are different ratings for Classical, Rapid and Blitz chess. For the tiebreak system of this competition, it is the average Elo rating of the opponents for Rapid chess which is used. Elo is the family name of the mathematician who invented this system. Thought it was useful reminding this having read some comments.

This appears fair, as Elo reflects quite objectively the strength of the different players (at least, their past performances). In this particular case, if the first tiebreak would have been the result of the game between the different players, Ivanchuk would still have passed before Carlsen, as he won his game against Carlsen.

Ivanchuk often plays extraordinary chess; it is nice that he gets a title in his already long career. Carlsen and Grishuk still had a very honourable performance.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 12/29/2016 08:08
@ Raymond Labelle : What you say about Elo rating would be the most logical... but, to the best of my belief, nearly everywhere (including on FIDE's own website, on multiple pages - to be sure of it, I checked this point just now...), "Elo rating" means what you would (very logically !) call "Classical Elo rating", Rapid rating what you would call (still quite logically...) "Rapid Elo Rating", and Blitz rating what you would call "Blitz Elo rating". So, if everyone including FIDE use the phrase "Elo Rating" for "Classical Elo rating", it isn't possible to use this phrase in another meaning without, at least, making it clear what you mean by it. So, for me, when this article uses the phrase "Elo rating", it is at the very least unclear what is exactly meant by that phrase...
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 12/29/2016 09:22
@ GrayDuck : I quite agree - it is quite a pity that the Rapid and Blitz World Championships are so short. And that they are organized in the form of a Swiss System tournament - it isn't (rather obviously, in my opinion) at all an adequate system for such an important event (normally) as a World Championship. (This being said, Ivanchuk had a really beautiful tournament, and his victory is really well-deserved - and it isn't obviously at all his fault if the present Rapid World Championship system isn't the most adequate to such an event...)

I think indeed that the whole organization should be completely reconsidered.

Theoretically, it would for example be possible to organize a 36 players double round-robin, or a 8 players decuple round-robin (in both cases, this would amount to 70 rounds - with 5 rounds a day, this would make for a 14 days tournament ; the equivalent, for example, of a Candidates Tournament in length). But I think that, organized in this "traditional" way (that is, in this case, in the same way as what is used in "classical games" tournaments), this would probably be somewhat monotonous to follow.

Personally, the solution that I would found for the moment the most interesting would be to use the framework of a "classical games" single round-robin tournament (with, for example, 14 or 16 participants, to have a total duration approximately equal to the duration of a Candidates Tournament or the duration of the 2007 Classical World Championship Tournament), and to replace each of the daily games between two players by a 6-games match (6 - for an even number) between the two same players.

For example, if one of the matches of a given day is played between Carlsen and Nakamura, if Carlsen wins 2 games, loses 1 game, and draws 3 games, he will be considered the "winner of the match", and counted as such for the global round-robin tournament (in the same way as an isolated game would be counted in a "classical games" round robin tournament) ; if Nakamura wins 3 games, loses 2, and draws 1 game, he will be the "winner of the match" ; and if Carlsen and Nakamura win two games each and draw the two remaining games, the match will be counted as a "drawn match" (in the same manner as a draw would be counted in a "classical games" round robin tournament).

This would make the event more interesting to follow, in my opinion, because it would avoid the feeling to have "always the same thing each day" (endless series of games between all the participants of the World Championship). There would be real long confrontations for each pair of players (one isolated rapid - or, even more, blitz... - game isn't a real confrontation between two players per se, in my opinion : it is too short and the result isn't sufficiently significant, isolately, for this to be felt as a real confrontation between two given players), and this would, in my opinion, make it realistically possible to have, with this system, a tournament of a comparable length to a "classical games" tournament while keeping the interest day after day.

This because, each day, we would be interested to follow the daily confrontations between several pairs of well-known players - this way, each day would give something new to follow, and, thus, keep the interest for the event alive...
billybudd billybudd 12/29/2016 10:46
Ivanchuk deserves his win here - but using ELO as tie-break is simply wrong and unfair since it discriminates against higher rated players. Realistically Magnus will very rarely have a chance in such a tie-break because he cannot play himself.

This is no way to handle a world championship. Whatever system is chosen it has to put all players on equal footing from the get-go.
Denix Denix 12/29/2016 11:05
Vassily Ivanchuk is not even the same Ivanchuk of the '90's. He is one of the most imaginative players in the planet. Congratulations for winning an elusive title.
Jacob woge Jacob woge 12/29/2016 11:05
"using ELO as tie-break is simply wrong and unfair since it discriminates against higher rated players."

One way to avoid this is to include player's own rating in the average. Don't know if that was done.

I think the whole concept of using rating to decide tournament win and placings, including qualifier spots, is misconceived.
bloodypatzer bloodypatzer 12/29/2016 11:52
how could carlsen blunder in a simple position against korobov? seems his play is going down as he ages.
Klacsanzky Klacsanzky 12/29/2016 12:46
Ukrainians won both sections. Proud of Ukraine :)
lajosarpad lajosarpad 12/29/2016 01:51
@Petrarlsen thank you for letting me know.
SambalOelek SambalOelek 12/29/2016 10:25
I can't believe it!!!!!!!!!!! IVanchuck aged 40+ beated the fresh boys!

Can you imagine Ivanchuck was loosing alot of games on time trouble in the past...crazy
Roggenossi Roggenossi 12/29/2016 10:54
Let fat old men surround me.
Raymond Labelle Raymond Labelle 12/30/2016 05:41
Is the tiebreak - average Elo of all opponents, or only of those against whom you have won?
Peter B Peter B 12/31/2016 01:32
Well done Chucky! 25 years ago, when he won Linares ahead of Kasparov and won their individual game, it seemed he might be World Champion one day. That never happened, but this World Rapid Championship is well deserved.
Sookhteh Sookhteh 12/31/2016 02:19
Excellent performance by Great Vasily Ivanchuk