World Rapid: Miraculous Carlsen

by Alejandro Ramirez
6/18/2014 – Despite his rocky day today, losing to Anand and salvaging a lost position against Grischuk and Aronian, Carlsen added another jewel to his crown. He is now the World Rapid Champion by finishing half a point ahead of Caruana, Morozevich, Anand and Aronian who ended in 10.5/15. Tomorrow Carlsen will begin his fight to finish his triple crown, for now report on the rapids.

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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.

Rounds eleven to fifteen

Fressinet finished with 8.5/15 and can be happy with his tournament

Polgar has always been a strong rapid player but she did not shine this time around

Waiting is tiring by itself! Waiting for the next round is even worse.

Things were difficult from the get-go for Carlsen as his first game of the day against Aronian was close to losing, however the position was too complicated for the Armenian and he let his victory slip away:

"Levon [Aronian] played a very good interesting game and I
had to use all my powers just to stay alive." - Carlsen

[Event "FIDE World Rapid 2014"]
[Site "Dubai UAE"]
[Date "2014.06.18"]
[Round "11.1"]
[White "Aronian, Levon"]
[Black "Carlsen, Magnus"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "D38"]
[WhiteElo "2815"]
[BlackElo "2881"]
[Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"]
[PlyCount "112"]
[EventDate "2014.06.16"]
[SourceDate "2014.01.04"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 Bb4 5. Bg5 h6 6. Bxf6 Qxf6 7. e3 O-O 8. Rc1
dxc4 9. Bxc4 c5 10. O-O cxd4 {A typical Ragozin. White has a small edge but it
can quickly dissipated if some pieces are traded.} 11. Ne4 Qf5 12. Ng3 Qa5 13.
exd4 {The isolated pawn keeps White's pieces active, but of course it will be
a permanent weakness.} Nc6 14. Qe2 Bd7 15. a3 Bd6 16. Ne4 Bf4 17. Rc3 Rad8 18.
Rd1 b5 $6 {This move just helps relocate White's bishop to a better diagonal.
More importantly the c5 and c6 squares are severely weakened.} 19. Bd3 (19.
Bxb5 Nxd4 {is the tactical trip behind why b5 doesn't blunder a pawn.} 20. Nxd4
Bxb5 21. Nxb5 Qxb5 $17) 19... b4 20. Rc5 {The c5 square seemed more worthy of
a knight than a rook, but this isn't bad.} Qb6 21. g3 Bb8 22. Qe3 $5 {This
move begins unecessary but fascinating complications.} f5 $1 {Any other move
leaves Black positionally crushed. Nf6+ was already a threat.} 23. Rb5 f4 24.
Qc1 Qc7 25. Rc5 $1 fxg3 26. Ne5 $1 gxf2+ 27. Nxf2 {The pin on the c-file is
very strong.} Qd6 $6 {Giving up material too easily.} (27... bxa3 28. bxa3 Rc8
{still makes White prove his pin being worth anything. Black threatens to give
up his queen with Nxe5 and enjoy a superior position after recapturing on c7.})
28. Rxc6 $1 (28. Nxc6 $4 Qxh2+) 28... Bxc6 29. Qxc6 bxa3 30. bxa3 Rf4 31. Bc4
$1 {White's pieces are very strong. Despite White's pawn weaknesses on a3 and
d4, Black has no way of taking them.} g5 32. Bxe6+ Kg7 33. Rb1 $1 Rxd4 34. Rb7+
(34. Bf5 {was far easier, avoiding the lines in the game.}) 34... Kf6 35. Qf3+
$4 {This surprisingly gives away all the advantage.} (35. Bb3 $1 Kxe5 36. Qc3
$1 $18 {not a very human solution.}) 35... Kxe6 36. Qf7+ Kxe5 37. Re7+ Qxe7 38.
Qxe7+ Kf5 {White won the queen, but now material is very reduced and Black's
king is not in that much trouble. Aronian tries for some time but there is
little hope of winning this game.} 39. Qh7+ Kf6 40. Qxh6+ Kf5 41. Qh7+ Kf6 42.
Ne4+ Ke5 43. Qe7+ Kf5 44. Nf2 Bf4 45. Qxa7 Kg6 46. Qb6+ R8d6 47. Qb1+ Kg7 48.
Qb7+ Rd7 49. Qf3 Rf7 50. Qc3 Bxh2+ 51. Kxh2 Rxf2+ 52. Kg3 Rff4 53. a4 Rg4+ 54.
Kf3 Rgf4+ 55. Kg3 Rg4+ 56. Kf3 Rgf4+ 1/2-1/2

Caruana, Tomashevsky, Svidler and Yu Yangyi won their games to join Aronian with 8.0/11 in hot pursuit of Carlsen, who was ahead by only half a point.

With these results the World Champion had a chance to face his future Challenge in presumably Sochi:

[Event "FIDE World Rapid 2014"] [Site "Dubai UAE"] [Date "2014.06.18"] [Round "12.1"] [White "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Black "Anand, Viswanathan"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D10"] [WhiteElo "2881"] [BlackElo "2785"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "120"] [EventDate "2014.06.16"] [SourceDate "2014.01.04"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. cxd5 cxd5 4. Nc3 Nf6 5. Bf4 Nc6 6. e3 Bf5 7. Rc1 Rc8 8. Nf3 e6 9. Qb3 Bb4 10. Bb5 Bxc3+ 11. bxc3 O-O 12. Bxc6 Rxc6 13. Qxb7 Qc8 14. Qxc8 Rfxc8 15. Ne5 Rxc3 16. Rxc3 Rxc3 17. O-O h6 18. h4 Ne4 19. g4 Bh7 20. Rb1 g5 21. hxg5 hxg5 22. Bh2 {An interesting symmetry, but both sides have to be careful. Even the slightest initiative can be deadly with the opposite colored bishops.} Nd2 $6 23. Rb8+ Kg7 24. Rb7 {And there is no easy way to defend f7!} Be4 (24... Kg8 $1 {is the computer move.} 25. Rxf7 Rc1+ 26. Kg2 Be4+ 27. f3 Nxf3 $1 28. Rxf3 Ra1 $11) 25. Rxf7+ Kg8 26. f3 Nxf3+ 27. Rxf3 Bxf3 28. Nxf3 Rc1+ 29. Kf2 Rc2+ 30. Ke1 Rxa2 31. Bd6 a5 32. Nxg5 {The position is complicated. White has the material advantage but his passed pawn is already blocked while Black's can move forward. That being said, clearly it is White's game to win.} a4 33. Kd1 Rb2 34. Nxe6 $4 {A strange blunder. Carlsen must have forgotten that the rook can come back.} (34. e4 $14) 34... Rb6 35. Nf4 $2 (35. Kc1 $1 Rxd6 36. Nc5 {retains a draw as the pawn on a4 will fall.}) 35... Rxd6 36. Kc2 Rb6 {with the king cut off now the endgame is hopeless.} 37. Nxd5 Rb7 38. Nc3 a3 39. e4 Kf7 40. e5 Ke6 41. Kc1 Rc7 42. Kd2 Ra7 43. Na2 Rb7 44. Kc3 Rb8 45. g5 Kf5 {The pawns are helpless against the king simply mopping them up. } 46. d5 Kxe5 (46... Kxg5 {was easier.}) 47. g6 Kxd5 48. g7 Ke6 49. g8=Q+ Rxg8 50. Kb3 Rg3+ {The rook perfectly defends everything. All that is needed is for the king to swing around.} 51. Kb4 Ke5 52. Nc3 Re3 53. Kc4 Kf5 54. Kb4 Kg4 55. Na2 Kf3 56. Nc3 Kg2 57. Nd5 Rf3 58. Nc3 Kf1 59. Kc4 Ke1 60. Kb4 Rh3 0-1

With this victory it was Anand that took the lead of the tournament!

Carlsen realizing he has blundered the game away, and the lead!

"There's basically no way I can lose that position except for blundering a piece in one move." - Carlsen

He wasn't alone, however, as Caruana took out Tomashevsky and tied with him at 9.0/12. Radjabov, Yu Yangyi and Aronian followed with 8.5/12

On round thirteen Anand-Caruana finished in a draw while Carlsen won a do-or-die game against Yu Yangyi with relative ease. Aronian drew Radjabov allowing Grischuk, Karjakin and Bacrot to catch up with them in 9.0/13.

Anand definitely made a statement by beating Carlsen

The three leaders on 9.5/13 (Caruana, Carlsen, Anand) had already played each other, thus round 14 was a crucial one. Caruana faced Aronian with white on board one. Despite being down a pawn, the Italian played had a considerable advantage. However he misplayed his hand and a series of mistakes in the end of the game (mainly pushing the e-pawn for no reason) allowed Aronian to pushed his powerful h-pawn to victory. On board three Anand drew Radjabov with black, while the following happened on board two:

A huge chance for Grischuk came for him in round fourteen, but it was not meant to be

[Event "FIDE World Rapid 2014"] [Site "Dubai UAE"] [Date "2014.06.18"] [Round "14.2"] [White "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Black "Grischuk, Alexander"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E81"] [WhiteElo "2881"] [BlackElo "2792"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "121"] [EventDate "2014.06.16"] [SourceDate "2014.01.04"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. f3 O-O 6. Be3 a6 7. Nge2 c6 8. c5 b5 9. cxd6 exd6 10. Nf4 $6 {Surpsingly this move is already bad.} (10. Ng3 {is safer for reasons that will become clear soon.}) 10... Re8 11. Be2 b4 $1 12. Na4 Nd5 $1 {This is the point. The knight on f4 is under attack and this great tactic uncorks the power of all of Black's developed pieces.} 13. Bc1 Nb6 $6 ( 13... Nxf4 $1 14. Bxf4 d5 15. e5 f6 $17 {White will retain some positional compensation for his pawn, but his position is clearly worse. He cannot afford to take on f6.} 16. exf6 Qxf6 17. Be5 Qg5 $1 $17) 14. Nxb6 Qxb6 15. Be3 d5 16. Qd3 dxe4 17. fxe4 a5 18. Rd1 Ba6 19. Qc2 Bxe2 20. Nxe2 Nd7 21. O-O Nf6 22. Ng3 Ng4 {Grischuk's position is preferable anyways. His powerful pieces are creating too many threats against White's central pawns.} 23. Bf2 Rad8 24. e5 c5 $1 25. dxc5 (25. Qxc5 Qxc5 26. dxc5 Bxe5 27. b3 f5 $1 $17 {White's pawn on c5 is weak and Black has all the acitivity in this position.}) 25... Qc7 26. Rxd8 Rxd8 27. Ne4 Bxe5 28. g3 Nxf2 29. Kxf2 Qc6 30. Re1 Bd4+ 31. Kf1 f5 32. Nf2 Bxc5 {Black's king is safer and he has an extra pawn. Carlsen plays for counter attack and some tricks.} 33. Re5 Qa6+ 34. Kg2 Qb7+ 35. Kh3 Bd4 36. Rxa5 Qb6 $6 (36... Kh8 $1 {Making the king safe was the easiest way to win. Black is threatening f4 as well as Qb6.}) (36... f4 $5 {Is not as strong but also very good, the idea of course being to expose the king on h3.}) 37. Qc4+ Kh8 38. Rb5 $1 {With this move White has basically regrouped and his positions is acceptable. Black wasted too much time with his queen moves.} Qf6 39. Nd3 g5 40. Rd5 {A solid response. With the trade of rooks White should be in no danger.} Rxd5 41. Qxd5 Kg7 42. Nxb4 Bxb2 $11 {The position should be equal. White's king is too exposed to make any real progress while the passed a-pawn might cost Black a bishop, but in many circumstances that might not be enough for White to win.} 43. a4 f4 $2 {This to me is already very strange. Black should of course put his pawns on light squares.} (43... g4+ 44. Kg2 Qc3 {and White has nothing in this position.}) 44. Kg2 Bc3 45. Nd3 fxg3 46. hxg3 Qe7 47. Nf2 Qe5 48. Qf3 (48. Qxe5+ Bxe5 49. Nd3 Bc3 $11) 48... Bd4 49. Qb7+ Kg6 50. Qc6+ Kg7 51. Ne4 h5 52. a5 {A tricky move since the pawn cannot be takten, but Black as always retains enough chances.} h4 $2 {An inexplicable move. White's reply is basically forced and this leaves Black with a horrible pawn structure. } (52... Qxa5 53. Qd7+ {costs the bishop.}) (52... g4 $11 53. a6 Qf5 54. Qc7+ Qf7 {in this case the endgame is drawn as even winning the bishop will not give White anything, Black is more than in time to play his king to g5 and trade off the pawns.}) 53. g4 Be3 54. Qd7+ Kg6 55. Qd6+ Qxd6 56. Nxd6 {and now the position is hopeless for Black as White's king can simply stay around his pawns while the knight captures the bishop.} Kf6 57. a6 Ke6 58. Nb5 Ke5 59. Kf3 Bb6 60. a7 Bxa7 61. Nxa7 {A fateful game!} 1-0

And with this result Carlsen jumped into a half-point lead yet again.

Leading by half a point meant that drawing would make Carlsen rely on the tiebreak system (first tiebreak being average rating of opponents). Aronian hadn't started the tournament with the best results (he lost his first game and had to fight his way back in) while Anand also had not won his first game. Karjakin on the other hand was a real threat as his rating average was very high.

Carlsen drew Radjabov without any problems and the following happened on board two:

[Event "FIDE World Rapid 2014"] [Site "Dubai UAE"] [Date "2014.06.18"] [Round "15.2"] [White "Anand, Viswanathan"] [Black "Aronian, Levon"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C65"] [WhiteElo "2785"] [BlackElo "2815"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "121"] [EventDate "2014.06.16"] [SourceDate "2014.01.04"] {A crucial game; the winner of this could potentially win the tournament in case that Carlsen lost his game against Radjabov.} 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. d3 Bc5 5. Bxc6 dxc6 {Many anti-Berlins were seen in this tournament, and none of them gave White any advantage.} 6. O-O Bd6 7. Nbd2 Be6 8. b3 O-O 9. Nc4 Bxc4 10. bxc4 Nd7 11. Rb1 b6 12. g3 f5 {A timely break-through. Although this gives up the e4 square, Black will have enough activity to compensate for it.} 13. exf5 Rxf5 14. Be3 Qe8 15. Nd2 Qg6 16. Ne4 Raf8 17. Kg2 Nf6 18. Qe2 $2 {Overlooking Black's following combination.} (18. f3 Nxe4 19. dxe4 R5f7 $11 { was just about equal.}) 18... Nxe4 19. dxe4 Rf3 $1 {Anand either missed this more or completely underestimated it. In any case Black wins a pawn and retains the better position.} 20. Kg1 (20. Qxf3 Rxf3 21. Kxf3 Qf7+ $1 22. Kg2 Qxc4 {costs White yet another pawn and the queen is more active than the rooks. Black is almost winning here.}) 20... Qxe4 21. Rfe1 c5 22. Qd3 Qg4 {There is no reason to trade queens, the pressure rages on.} 23. Re2 h5 (23... e4 24. Qd5+ Kh8 {was more exact as Black retains the possibility of Rf5-h5 in some variations.}) 24. Qd5+ Kh8 25. Rbe1 a5 26. Bd2 Ra3 $2 {The start of a completely erroneous plan. Aronian goes pawn hunting allowing Anand back into the game.} 27. Bc1 Rxa2 28. Rxe5 $1 {This exchange sacrifice breats new life into White's position. The king on h8 is now surprisingly vulnerable.} Bxe5 29. Rxe5 g6 {only move.} 30. Bf4 $2 {Returning the favor.} (30. Qd2 $1 {A beautiful regrouping. The point is that Qh6+ is a big threat, followed by Rg5.} ) 30... Ra1+ 31. Kg2 Rd1 32. Qc6 Rd6 $1 {The rook comes back to hold everything together.} 33. Qxc7 Qd7 $4 (33... Rd7 {finished the game as the bishop on f4 is simply hanging.} 34. Qc6 Rxf4 {and White has nothing better than to resign. The h3 trick does not work.} 35. h3 Rxf2+ 36. Kxf2 Qd4+ $1 37. Kg2 Qd2+ {And White will get promptly mated.}) 34. Re7 $1 {A beautiful resource. This basically equalizes the game.} Qxc7 35. Be5+ $1 Kg8 36. Rxc7 Rdf6 (36... Re6 37. Rg7+ Kh8 38. Rf7+ Rxe5 39. Rxf8+ Kg7 40. Rb8 $11) 37. Bxf6 Rxf6 38. Rb7 Kf8 39. f4 Ke8 40. Kf3 Kd8 {White is more active and this compensates for the passed pawn on a5. The endgame is equal, though White seems to have the easier game.} 41. Ke4 Kc8 42. Ra7 $6 (42. Rg7 Rd6 43. Ke5 Rd2 44. Rxg6 Kb7 45. Rg7+ Ka6 46. f5 {and only White can win this endgame.}) 42... Rd6 43. Ke5 Rd7 44. Ra8+ Kb7 45. Re8 a4 46. Kf6 Rd1 $2 47. Re3 $2 (47. Re7+ $1 Kb8 (47... Ka6 48. Kxg6 a3 49. Re3 {is hopeless for Black - its very important that the king is on a6 in this line.}) 48. Re3 {puts the king one tempo back and gives White excellent winning chances.}) 47... Rd6+ 48. Kg5 Ka6 49. Ra3 Ka5 50. c3 Re6 51. Kh6 h4 52. gxh4 Re4 53. Kxg6 Rxf4 54. Kg5 Rf2 55. h5 Rg2+ 56. Kf5 Rxh2 57. Kg5 Rg2+ 58. Kf5 Rh2 59. Kg5 Rg2+ 60. Kf5 Rh2 61. Kg5 {Black's king and pawns alone cannot make progress on the queenside, so the rook has to keep attacking the king to prevent the advance of the h-pawn. A fabulous struggle but this prevented either player from catching up with Carlsen, who drew Radjabov.} 1/2-1/2

Meanwhile on board three Morozevich played a very clean game and beat Karjakin on the black side of a sharp French.

Karjakin had good chances to medal, but Morozevich took care of them

Caruana meanwhile won a very important tgame on board four against Le Quang Liem to take the silver medal. Anand's tiebreak was superior to Aronian's and Morozevich's and he came out with the bronze.

Anand miraculously held a draw against Aronian and the Armenian was not able to catch Carlsen

Aronian missed two key chances today: one against Carlsen and one against Anand

Carlsen giving his first press conference as World Rapid Champion

Nakamura (above) is no longer the top rated rapid player in the World after this event, but he is still edging out Carlsen on the blitz rating by a whopping two points. The Norway Blitz tournament was finally FIDE rated and for now Carlsen is up 40 rating points, taking him from 2837 to 2877, two less than Nakamura's 2879. However everything will be defined in the next few days as the World Blitz Championship will start! Can the American make a comeback from a shineless rapid event?

Replay rounds eleven to fifteen

Select games from the dropdown menu above the board

Final Standings

Rk SNo Name FED Rtg Pts TB1
1 4 Carlsen Magnus NOR 2827 11.0 2730
2 2 Caruana Fabiano ITA 2840 10.5 2741
3 9 Anand Viswanathan IND 2770 10.5 2723
4 7 Aronian Levon ARM 2785 10.5 2717
5 15 Morozevich Alexander RUS 2732 10.5 2696
6 31 Tomashevsky Evgeny RUS 2693 10.0 2728
7 8 Karjakin Sergey RUS 2781 10.0 2727
8 3 Grischuk Alexander RUS 2828 10.0 2708
9 13 Radjabov Teimour AZE 2750 10.0 2705
10 6 Svidler Peter RUS 2787 10.0 2685
11 32 Bacrot Etienne FRA 2692 10.0 2680
12 45 Yu Yangyi CHN 2668 9.5 2717
13 25 Mamedov Rauf AZE 2705 9.5 2619
14 33 Jobava Baadur GEO 2688 9.0 2725
15 49 Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son VIE 2660 9.0 2719
16 57 Iturrizaga Bonelli Eduardo VEN 2652 9.0 2717
17 28 Movsesian Sergei ARM 2696 9.0 2711
18 44 Guseinov Gadir AZE 2671 9.0 2709
19 18 Le Quang Liem VIE 2724 9.0 2688
20 40 Efimenko Zahar UKR 2677 9.0 2672

Pictures from the official site by Anastasiya Karlovich


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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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Israel Goldstejn Israel Goldstejn 6/19/2014 01:02
Its wrong to hold such an event in the arab world. Jews can't participate.
bmp1974 bmp1974 6/19/2014 09:39
Carlsen was Brilliant. But the fact that Anand does so well in Rapid time controls considering his age, simply goes unnoticed. It his quiet heartening to see him at top amidst so many youngsters while his own age group legends such as Gelfand, Ivanchuk, Short, Shirov and others have fallen on the way side.
Exactly at current Anand's age, Kasparov had decided to retire which distinguishes him from others and shows Anand's special talent. Will Carlsen be doing the same at 44 ? only time will tell.
Anandkumar Anandkumar 6/19/2014 09:30
I think Vishy was the only player in the top who did not lose a single game. I am surprised that it went unnoticed as even the "Miraculous" Carlsen managed to blunder and lose.

Looking forward to the blitz rounds
Karl-Heinz Islei Karl-Heinz Islei 6/19/2014 01:55
There is a tendency to talk about 'strange blunders' when Carlsen loses, and of 'miraculous Carlsen' when he wins. When Anand beat Carlsen this time around the report did not sound as if he was 'miraculous', no, Carlsen had made a 'strange blunder'. Couldn't it be that Anand was simply making 'strange blunders' when he lost his championship, and Carlsen wasn't miraculous at all?
vincero vincero 6/19/2014 01:13
mm mmm
Zeddy Zeddy 6/18/2014 08:03
Got to love the joker who asked Carlsen what he does for a living. What, he thinks Carlsen is this good at his hobby?