World Blitz: Triple Crown Achieved!

by Alejandro Ramirez
6/20/2014 – It was not clear that it would happen until the last leg of the tournament, actually Carlsen was even trailing by half point for a significant portion of the day, but at the end of it the Norwegian holds the titles of World Champion, World Rapid Champion and World Blitz Champion! Nepomniachtchi and Nakamura were his only true competitors for the title. Full report.

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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 Two

The day started off well for Carlsen as he beat Meier with black. Likewise Nepomniachtchi vanquished Lu Shanglei but the American Nakamura was only able to draw Sargissian.

Lu Shanglei didn't give any amazing surprises as he did against Carlsen, but he did have a spectacular tournament anyways

Meier was unable to keep his form from day one

Rounds thirteen and fourteen didn't bring any surprises with the favorites at least drawing in the top boards, and the race for first place really narrowed down to three players: Nakamura, Nepomniachtchi and Carlsen. Mamedyarov, Aronian and Anand were strong in the chasing pack but they had yet to play the top players.

Nepomniachtchi was quickly one of the only three people that were fighting for the title. Here he is wearing his Dota 2 t-shirt, a videogame he famously plays quite well

On round fifteen both Nepo and Carlsen shared the lead. The Russian player won a very important game against Mamedyarov while the Norwegian drew Aronian who was quickly making a comeback from a less than stellar day one of the blitz. The big surprise of the round was Sergei Yudin's victory over Hikaru Nakamura, overcoming a 300 point rating difference!

Le Quang Liem tried valiantly to defend his title but it was not to be

This left Nepomniachtchi half a point ahead of Carlsen and playing Yudin. Nepo did not waste his opportunity and took a full point. Carlsen did the same with Dreev while Nakamura bounced back by beating Aronian, but he was already two points behind Nepo with only five rounds to go.

Nakamura's unexpected loss to Yudin was a huge blow to him in the standings

Round eighteen was a wash at the top two boards; Mamedov and Nepomniachtchi was a relatively quick draw while Carlsen had a very interesting draw against Morozevich. Nakamura tried to catch up with the leaders by beating Anand.

You're supposed to let your opponent finish his move before moving yourself, but aren't rules made to be broken?

Nepomniachtchi still held a half point lead going into round 19, but it was lost when he drew Korobov and Carlsen beat Mamedov in a complex position where at some point surely Carlsen was completely lost. Nakamura kept up the pressure by beating Morozevich while no one else was truly close to them; actually fourth place was a full point and a half behind Nakamura.

Polgar always hovered around the top boards without having any real shot at the title, but definitely one at the podium

Anand drew Carlsen but his loss to Nakamura left him out of real chances of winning

The fateful round was definitely the 20th as Levon Aronian, who had no chance at the title mathematically, tried his hardest to beat Nepomniachtchi from a very difficult to win position... and he achieved it! Carlsen meanwhile beat Yudin who was still being pulled to the top boards by the top seeds as most of them had already played each other, not that it was a clean win:

[Event "FIDE World Blitz 2014"] [Site "Dubai UAE"] [Date "2014.06.20"] [Round "20.1"] [White "Yudin, Sergei"] [Black "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C54"] [WhiteElo "2546"] [BlackElo "2881"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "34"] [EventDate "2014.06.19"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. d3 Nf6 5. Nbd2 d6 6. c3 O-O 7. O-O Be6 8. Bb3 Bxb3 9. Qxb3 Rb8 10. Nc4 Qd7 11. Be3 {By the twentieth round everyone is tired. Carlsen is in a must win situation to keep the pressure on Nepomniachtchi, so he plays something "aggressive".} b5 $2 12. Ncd2 $2 { Everyone is tired! Yudin probably didn't even double check to see if the World Champion blundered something.} (12. Ncxe5 $1 {Is not the hardest tactic ever to be seen.} Nxe5 13. Nxe5 dxe5 14. Bxc5 $16 {White is a pawn up for free.}) 12... Bxe3 13. fxe3 Ne7 {The position is still even, but somehow White collapses quickly.} 14. Nh4 Qg4 15. Nf5 $2 {A horrible oversight.} Nxf5 16. Rxf5 Qe2 $1 {This queen is going to take every weak pawn that White has.} 17. Qc2 $2 Ng4 $1 {And now it is even worse than that! White is surprisingly helpless.} 0-1

Nakamura went on an absolute tear near the end winning against Aronian, Anand, Morozevich, Korobov and Dreev in a row, but it was not enough to catch Carlsen; he started the day not as well with only 50% after five rounds including a draw against Mamedyarov.

[Event "FIDE World Blitz 2014"] [Site "Dubai UAE"] [Date "2014.06.20"] [Round "20.2"] [White "Aronian, Levon"] [Black "Nepomniachtchi, Ian"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A04"] [WhiteElo "2815"] [BlackElo "2730"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "6k1/1p3p2/p2p2p1/P2P3p/2P2P1P/1PQ2KP1/8/5q2 w - - 0 41"] [PlyCount "67"] [EventDate "2014.06.19"] 41. Ke3 {White has won a pawn but converting it seems impossible. Black has a full extra minute compared to White's fifteen seconds (plus increment) and White's king is so exposed it can easily fall prey to a perpetual.} Qg1+ 42. Kd2 Qb1 43. b4 Qa2+ 44. Kc1 Kf8 45. Kd1 Qb1+ 46. Kd2 Qa2+ 47. Qc2 Qa1 48. Qc3 Qa2+ 49. Kc1 Ke7 50. Qe3+ Kf8 51. Qc3 Ke7 52. Qe1+ Kf8 53. Qc3 Ke7 54. Kd1 Kf8 55. Ke1 Qb1+ 56. Ke2 Qa2+ 57. Kf3 Qb1 58. Kf2 Qa2+ 59. Ke3 Qg2 60. Qe1 Qc2 61. Kd4 Qb2+ 62. Kd3 Qb3+ 63. Qc3 Qd1+ 64. Ke3 Qg1+ 65. Ke2 Qg2+ 66. Kd1 Qa2 67. Kc1 {Black is out of checks, but White isn't making any progress any time soon. } Ke7 68. b5 $1 {Trying to confuse matters. Now White's queen should swing over to the kingside and ignore the pawn advance.} axb5 $2 (68... Qg2 $1 $11) 69. cxb5 {With White's queen coming into c7 and taking pawns with check, Black is already in significant danger.} Qxd5 70. a6 $1 bxa6 71. bxa6 $2 {It was crucial to interpose a check on c7 to prevent the king coming closer, but who would play that in a blitz?} (71. Qc7+ $1 Ke6 72. bxa6 $16) 71... Qg2 $2 (71... Kd7 $1 {Inching the king closer to the pawn is key to saving this endgame. White doesn't have a good way of making progress.} 72. a7 Qh1+ 73. Kc2 Qg2+ 74. Qd2 Qc6+ 75. Qc3 Qg2+ $11 {White's king cannot go to the b-file in this line!}) 72. Qc7+ Kf8 73. a7 Qf1+ 74. Kb2 {Black is surprisingly helpless against the advance of the pawn despite White's exposed king position. Regardless, the Russian's flag fell!} 1-0

In the last round the top three players were clear: Nepomniachtchi, Carlsen and Nakamura. The only thing that could change was their order in the podium. Since all of them won their games Carlsen won a full point ahead of the other two while Nepomniachtchi edged the American by only three points on the average rating of opponents.

Closing Ceremony

Caruana and Anand don't seem too excited for finishing second and third respectively on the rapid!

Carlsen on the other hand is pretty happy with his two trophies

And two medals, don't forget the two medals

Young girls in traditional attire present the winners with flowers and their prizes

The closing ceremony was very formal

Blitz winners: Nakamura, Carlsen and Nepomniachtchi. FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov took a flight from Georgia for this event.

The live ratings have been updated and Carlsen leads in two out of three as Caruana keeps his first place in Rapid. Being the number on rated player in rapid is basically all he has left... other than repeating his feat next year!

#   Name Rating 
1 Carlsen 2876.9
2 Aronian 2804.5
3 Grischuk 2794.5
4 Caruana 2788.6
5 Nakamura 2787.2
6 Karjakin 2786.4
7 Anand 2785.0
8 Kramnik 2776.6
9 Topalov 2772.4
10 Vachier-Lagr. 2766.3
11 Dominguez 2760.0
12 Gelfand 2753.0
13 Svidler 2751.9
14 Giri 2750.0
15 Jakovenko 2747.0
#   Name Rapid  
1 Caruana 2857.6
2 Carlsen 2855.4
3 Grischuk 2827.6
4 Aronian 2812.8
5 Anand 2808.6
6 Nakamura 2800.2
7 Svidler 2793.4
8 Radjabov 2776.4
9 Morozevich 2772.6
10 Nepomniach. 2771.4
11 Vachier-Lagr. 2767.8
12 Mamedyarov 2749.2
13 Le Quang L. 2735.4
14 Bacrot 2731.2
15 Jobava 2727.2
#   Name Blitz  
1 Carlsen 2948.0
2 Nakamura 2905.8
3 Nepomniach. 2879.8
4 Aronian 2849.6
5 Le Quang L. 2828.8
6 Mamedyarov 2824.0
7 Anand 2811.2
8 Grischuk 2777.8
9 Vachier-Lagr. 2776.6
10 Dominguez 2769.0
11 Giri 2756.6
12 Kramnik 2756.6
13 Ponomariov 2758.0
14 Morozevich 2749.6
15 Svidler 2744.6

Video Impressions by Vjiay Kumar

Day 1:


Final Standings

Rk SNo Name FED Rtg Pts TB1
1 4 Carlsen Magnus NOR 2837 17.0 2738
2 9 Nepomniachtchi Ian RUS 2816 16.0 2740
3 1 Nakamura Hikaru USA 2879 16.0 2734
4 8 Le Quang Liem VIE 2817 14.0 2718
5 7 Mamedyarov Shakhriyar AZE 2822 13.5 2722
6 3 Aronian Levon ARM 2863 13.5 2707
7 6 Anand Viswanathan IND 2827 13.5 2694
8 12 Mamedov Rauf AZE 2766 13.5 2666
9 32 Sargissian Gabriel ARM 2689 13.0 2716
10 17 Morozevich Alexander RUS 2741 13.0 2673
11 14 Svidler Peter RUS 2757 13.0 2651
12 86 Yudin Sergei RUS 2559 12.5 2747
13 29 Dreev Aleksey RUS 2701 12.5 2725
14 37 Harikrishna P. IND 2669 12.5 2718
15 21 Wojtaszek Radoslaw POL 2726 12.5 2691
16 13 Korobov Anton UKR 2758 12.5 2686
17 10 Grischuk Alexander RUS 2801 12.5 2675
18 23 Iturrizaga Bonelli Eduardo VEN 2722 12.5 2673
19 16 Bacrot Etienne FRA 2744 12.5 2670
20 35 Vitiugov Nikita RUS 2674 12.5 2666

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Pictures from the official site by Anastasiya Karlovich and Fiona Steil-Antoni


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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.


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