World Blitz: Surprises left and right

by Alejandro Ramirez
6/19/2014 – Despite the fact that Carlsen is the sole leader and that Nakamura is chasing him half a point behind, today was a day of big surprises. Chinese phenom Lu Shanglei, a relatively unknown grandmaster, took down Carlsen and is only one point away from him while Meier is sitting strong with Nakamura at 8.5/9. We bring you impressions, blitz analysis and round by round action.

ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024 ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024

It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it. Start your personal success story with ChessBase and enjoy the game even more.


The FIDE World Rapid and Blitz Championships take place in Dubai, from June 15th (opening ceremony) to June 21st, 2014. The Rapid event will be played from June 16th-18th over 15 rounds, at a time control of 15m+10s. The Blitz runs from June 19th-20th and lasts 21 rounds at 3m+2s. The total prize fund for the tournament is US$400 thousand with $40 thousand for the winner of each championship. There are 122 entries with nearly every elite player playing such as leading players: Magnus Carlsen, Aronian Levon, Alexander Grischuk, Viswanathan Anand, Fabiano Caruana, Nakamura Hikaru, Sergey Karjakin, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Peter Svidler, etc. Rounds are at 1pm Paris time each day or 8am New York time.

Blitz Day One

It's a strong tournament when Jobava-Grischuk is board 20...

Things are off to a great start in Dubai! Most of the favorites won their first round but the first upset of the day was Kryvoruchko's victory against Anand in round one. Blitz is a different beast than Classical chess and some players excel in this format whereas they don't so much at Classical. The toolset is somewhat different; reaction time and instinct trumps the ability to calculate a 25 move deep line in three minutes.

First surprise of the day! Kryvoruchko beats Anand.

Nepomniachtchi (left) didn't have a super clean start but he is back on the top boards

Blitz ratings are starting to reflect that. Players that are strong at both time controls keep topping both lists, but many 2700s in classical chess are not so in blitz, and likewise the other way around. A notable case is Fabiano Caruana who is 2791 Classical but only 2697 in blitz - still strong, but not top elite grandmaster!

Wang Hao is not the best scoring Chinese player on day one of the blitz!

Number one seed Nakamura started off well by beating Goloschapov

We start the report by noting that the Norway Blitz tournament was FIDE rated. This is strange because originally this tournament was not supposed to be rated. Everyone agrees that it should have, but changing the rules after the event finished seems unorthodox at best and only begs the question of wether this tournament would have been rated had Carlsen finished last. As Albert Silver points out:

The blitz starts with Hikaru Nakamura as the clear number one. Well, he was the clear number one, but for a strange occurrence a couple of weeks ago. When the opening blitz tournament of Norway Chess was played to determine the drawing of lots, the organizers had adamantly declared the blitz was not rated. This decision led to a great deal of consternation and discussion among pundits, but this was the decision. Suddenly, after the event is over the organizers had a change of heart, and decided it would be rated.

In any case, onwards to the tournament. Let us continue pointing out the differences between blitz and classical:

Nakamura accepted seven resignations today!

[Event "FIDE World Blitz 2014"] [Site "Dubai UAE"] [Date "2014.06.19"] [Round "1.7"] [White "Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar"] [Black "Vallejo Pons, Francisco"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D39"] [WhiteElo "2743"] [BlackElo "2698"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r2rbn2/pp2bp1k/1q4pp/4Pp1P/3p2QN/3B2N1/PP4P1/R4RK1 w - - 0 22"] [PlyCount "17"] [EventDate "2014.06.19"] [SourceDate "2014.01.04"] {Mamedyarov has a clear initiative but he is two pawns down at the moment and he has to justify this.} 22. Ngxf5 $5 (22. hxg6+ $1 fxg6 23. Rxf5 $1 gxf5 24. Ngxf5 $1 Bg5 25. Nxh6+ $1 Kxh6 26. Nf5+ Kg6 27. Rf1 $3 {This variation is completely winning, and is very hard to see in Classical chess. Imagine looking at it in blitz! Mamedyarov uses his instincts to blast his opponent's position open, though not in the most accurate way.}) 22... Bg5 $2 {Vallejo goes wrong, surely in normal time control he would have found:} (22... gxf5 $1 23. Rxf5 $1 Kh8 $1 24. Qf4 $1 $13 {and White still has compensation with a raging attack but it is not crashing through yet.}) 23. hxg6+ Nxg6 24. Nxh6 $1 {This combination however is no problem to see for Mamedyarov even in this time control.} Bxh6 25. Rf6 Be3+ 26. Kh1 Qc7 27. Raf1 {The pressure is enormous. Black cannot keep his king safe anymore.} Qxe5 28. Rxf7+ Bxf7 29. Rxf7+ Kh8 30. Nxg6+ {What a duel!} 1-0

Openings that are not main stream also can be dangerous weapons in short time controls. There is nothing more uncomfortable than facing something you have never seen before. Look at what happened to Michalik:

[Event "FIDE World Blitz 2014"] [Site "Dubai UAE"] [Date "2014.06.19"] [Round "1.17"] [White "Morozevich, Alexander"] [Black "Michalik, Peter"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C44"] [WhiteElo "2731"] [BlackElo "2557"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "41"] [EventDate "2014.06.19"] [SourceDate "2014.01.04"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. c3 {Morozevich is a great blitz player. Most grandmasters know how to refute the Ponziani, but they looked at it so many years ago it is almost impossible to remember and there is no time to try to figure it out!} d5 4. Qa4 dxe4 $6 {already questionable.} 5. Nxe5 Nf6 6. Bc4 $1 {the pressure starts piling. And it's only move 6!} Be6 7. Nxc6 (7. Bxe6 fxe6 8. Nxc6 Qd7 {doesn't have nearly the same effect. Here Black's position is fine.}) 7... bxc6 (7... Qd7 8. Bb5 {does not work at all.}) 8. Bxe6 fxe6 9. Qxc6+ Kf7 10. O-O Bd6 {Black has superior development for his pawn, just look at White's queenside! The game is far from over.} 11. f3 exf3 12. Rxf3 Rf8 13. d4 e5 {Opening the position makes sense, right? Wrong!} 14. Qc4+ $1 {This queen single-handedly won Morozevich the game.} Ke7 15. Bg5 h6 16. Bxf6+ Rxf6 17. Nd2 Qg8 18. Qe2 {of course Moro doesn't have any intention of trading of his valuable queen.} (18. dxe5 {was also winning.}) 18... Re6 19. Raf1 exd4 20. Rf7+ $1 Qxf7 21. Rxf7+ {A demolition!} (21. Rxf7+ Kxf7 22. Qf3+ Ke7 23. Qxa8) 1-0

Besides the loss of Anand and the Potkin's draw against Aronian the favorites did very well on round one. On round two the top players mostly did well again except for Karjakin who lost to Meier with White. Round three was a similar story and by the fourth round there were three people tied in first place.

Karjakin (right) has not been seen on the top boards much as he started with 2.5/4. He was on his way to a comeback before losing to Polgar on the last round today.

Harirkishna, Carlsen and Lu Shanglei all had 4.0/4. Carlsen beat Harikrishna in a king and pawn endgame while the top rated player Nakamura took care of the Chinese surprise. Round six saw a few surprises. The first surprise was that on the top ten boards six of them were drawn - very unusual for blitz tournaments. Le Quang Liem, the reigning World Blitz Champion beat Nakamura while Lu Shanglei kept impressing people and bounced back from his defeat on round four by beating Dreev.

On round seven the favorites kept scoring points. Carlsen beat Le Quang Liem, Nepomniachtchi beat Radjabov, Nakamura beat Polgar.

[Event "FIDE World Blitz 2014"] [Site "Dubai UAE"] [Date "2014.06.19"] [Round "7.4"] [White "Nakamura, Hikaru"] [Black "Polgar, Judit"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A45"] [WhiteElo "2775"] [BlackElo "2685"] [PlyCount "48"] [EventDate "2014.06.19"] [SourceDate "2014.01.04"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. Bg5 Ne4 3. Bf4 {No problem facing this in classical chess, in blitz it is not so easy!} d5 4. e3 c5 5. Bd3 Nc6 6. Bxe4 dxe4 7. d5 Nb4 {This variation I don't like at all.} (7... e5 8. Bg3 Ne7 9. Nc3 f6 {was... Nakamura-Polgar, 2013! They played this before in the London Classic (ironically, a rapid tournament).}) 8. Nc3 e6 9. d6 g5 $2 {Too optimistic.} 10. Be5 f6 $2 {Way too optimistic!} 11. Qh5+ Kd7 12. Qf7+ Kc6 {These are the kings of positions you only see in blitz.} 13. Bxf6 {Polgar is completely lost so she tries a counterattack.} Nxc2+ 14. Kd2 Qxd6+ 15. Kxc2 Qd3+ 16. Kc1 Qf1+ 17. Nd1 $1 {Knights are very powerful in blitz. Beautiful defenders and tricky attackers.} Qc4+ 18. Bc3 Bd6 19. b3 Qf1 20. Bxh8 Bd7 21. Nf3 $1 {In blitz it is especially important to keep things simple when a decisive advantage is reached. The h1 rook is useless and by sacrificing Nakamura gets to keep his extra bishop and have the better position.} Qxg2 22. Rg1 Qxf3 23. Qxf3 exf3 24. Bc3 Rg8 1-0

However Lu Shanglei continued to be a surprise and he dispatched Svidler with black. And on round eight the impossible happened:

Svidler mentioned yesterday that "The young Chinese dude... he crushed me completely". Today it happened twice! Wang Hao also vanquished him.

[Event "FIDE World Blitz 2014"] [Site "Dubai UAE"] [Date "2014.06.19"] [Round "8.1"] [White "Lu, Shanglei"] [Black "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C25"] [WhiteElo "2546"] [BlackElo "2881"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "2kr3r/p1p3pp/1pn5/8/3p1q2/Q4B1P/PPP5/2KR3R w - - 0 22"] [PlyCount "65"] [EventDate "2014.06.19"] [SourceDate "2014.01.04"] 22. Kb1 {White has been completely outplayed this game. The Chinese player is down two pawns and his only compensation is some lightsquare pressure on the queenside. With a little care Black should be able to survive and convert his pawns.} Ne5 $4 {Out of the many moves available to Black this one makes no sense.} (22... Na5 $1 {The computer move.} 23. Rhe1 (23. b4 d3 24. Bg4+ Kb8 25. bxa5 h5 $1 {passes the initiative to Black who now has his own series of lethal threats. For one thing the bishop on g4 is trapped.} 26. Be6 dxc2+ 27. Kxc2 Qe4+ $19) 23... Kb8 $17) (22... Qf6 {the more prozaic idea simply defending the knight on c6.} 23. Qa6+ Kb8 24. Rhf1 Rhf8 {conversion is not around the corner, but it's surely there somewhere.}) 23. Qa6+ Kd7 24. Bg2 { Suddenly Black's king is in the middle of the board and cannot be defended.} Rhe8 25. Rhe1 Ke6 26. Qxa7 {The main problem with Black's position is that now simple moves win for White. He starts by taking all the material he can.} Re7 27. Re4 $2 (27. Qa3 {was crushing. Tactically Black's position cannot be held and the threat of Qb3+ is devastating.}) 27... Qf2 $2 (27... Qg3 $1) 28. Rde1 Kf7 $4 (28... Kf5 {gives Black plenty of hope of surviving.}) 29. Rf1 {And it's all over. The Chinese grandmaster does not forgive such positions.} Qf6 30. Rxf6+ gxf6 31. Re1 d3 32. cxd3 Rxd3 33. Qa4 Red7 34. a3 Rd2 35. Bc6 R7d4 36. Qb3+ Ke7 37. Qg3 Kd6 38. Be4 b5 39. Bxh7 b4 40. axb4 Rxb4 41. Qc3 Rbd4 42. Bc2 c5 43. Rc1 Nc4 44. Qg3+ Kc6 45. Ba4+ Kd5 46. Bb3 Rxb2+ 47. Ka1 Rbd2 48. Rxc4 Rxc4 49. Qf3+ Ke5 50. Bxc4 Rd4 51. Qe3+ Re4 52. Qxc5+ Kf4 53. Bd3 Re5 54. Qf2+ 1-0

Le Quang Liem, Nakamura, Meier and Carlsen were the pack that was chasing Lu Shanglei who was sitting on an amazing 7.0/9 and an over 3000 performance. The World Blitz Champion drew the Chinese intruder while Nakamura drew Meier. On board three Carlsen beat Ragger who was having also an amazing tournament.

Fressinet-Carlsen was on round three. This time the Frenchman was indeed "too weak, too slow".

Safarli and Mamedyarov met in the Azeri derby both in the rapid and the blitz. Mamedyarov won both times.

World Blitz Champion Le Quang Liem can still defend his title

Round ten saw the titanic duel of Carlsen and Nakamura on board one. The American held an edge the entire game despite playing with black but he never had any real winning chances. Carlsen held the draw, same as Meier on board two against Lu Shanglei. Meanwhile Nepomniachtchi made a comeback to the top boards by beating Le Quang Liem.

Caruana seems mortified at what is going on the next board

The last round of day had many important results. Carlsen positionally wrecked Mamedyarov. Meier beat Nepomniachtchi while Sargissian ended Lu Shanglei's streak. Nakamura also won on board four against Tomashevsky while Le Quang Liem beat Cheparinov on the fifth. Anand made a small comeback by beating Dreev but Aronian is stuck on 6.5/11 after losing round eleven against Harikrishna.

The standings are as follows:

Rk SNo Name FED Rtg Pts TB1 TB2 TB3
1 4 Carlsen Magnus NOR 2837 9.0 2738 73.5 0.0
2 43 Meier Georg GER 2663 8.5 2757 72.5 0.0
3 1 Nakamura Hikaru USA 2879 8.5 2728 75.5 0.0
4 9 Nepomniachtchi Ian RUS 2816 8.0 2742 72.0 0.0
5 39 Lu Shanglei CHN 2668 8.0 2730 73.5 0.0
6 8 Le Quang Liem VIE 2817 8.0 2717 76.0 0.0
7 32 Sargissian Gabriel ARM 2689 8.0 2704 69.0 0.0
8 36 Polgar Judit HUN 2673 7.5 2744 63.5 0.0
9 49 Laznicka Viktor CZE 2650 7.5 2720 63.5 0.0
10 37 Harikrishna P. IND 2669 7.5 2704 67.0 0.0
11 40 Wang Hao CHN 2668 7.5 2679 61.5 0.0
12 7 Mamedyarov Shakhriyar AZE 2822 7.5 2678 69.0 0.0
13 27 Fressinet Laurent FRA 2705 7.5 2661 68.0 0.0
14 31 Caruana Fabiano ITA 2697 7.5 2648 61.0 0.0
15 6 Anand Viswanathan IND 2827 7.5 2645 62.5 0.0
16 86 Yudin Sergei RUS 2559 7.0 2717 60.5 0.0
17 29 Dreev Aleksey RUS 2701 7.0 2700 67.5 0.0
18 55 Cheparinov Ivan BUL 2636 7.0 2675 64.0 0.0
19 21 Wojtaszek Radoslaw POL 2726 7.0 2673 64.0 0.0
20 22 Tomashevsky Evgeny RUS 2725 7.0 2657 63.5 0.0

Meanwhile the top ten boards look like this to kick off tomorrow's marathon:

BO. SNo. White Player Pts. Res. Pts. Black Player SNo.
1 43 Meier Georg   9 Carlsen Magnus 4
2 1 Hikaru Nakamura   8 Sargissian Gabriel 32
3 39 Shanglei Lu 8   8 Nepomniachtchi Ian 9
4 27 Laurent Fressinet   8 Le Quang Liem 8
5 6 Anand Viswanathan   Harikrishna P. 37
6 7 Mamedyarov Shakhriyar   Laznicka Viktor 49
7 36 Polgar Judit   Caruana Fabiano 31
8 18 Movsesian Sergei 7   Hao Wang 40
9 29 Dreev Aleksey 7   7 Korobov Anton 13
10 55 Ivan Cheparinov 7   7 Wojtaszek Radoslaw 21

More action tomorrow when the Blitz World Champion will be crowned! Can Carlsen complete his triple crown?

Replay rounds one to eleven

Select games from the dropdown menu above the board

Pictures from the official site by Anastasiya Karlovich


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 a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

Grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez has been playing tournament chess since 1998. His accomplishments include qualifying for the 2004 and 2013 World Cups as well as playing for Costa Rica in the 2002, 2004 and 2008 Olympiads. He currently has a rating of 2583 and is author of a number of popular and critically acclaimed ChessBase-DVDs.


Rules for reader comments


Not registered yet? Register