World Rapid: Nepomniachtchi is day one leader

by Albert Silver
6/16/2014 – The opening day of the 2014 World Rapid Championship saw many exciting games, and unexpected results. The first came in round one as top seed Nakamura fell to Iturrizaga, and after four rounds only Nepomniachtchi had a perfect score. After five rounds, he leads with 4.5/5 together with Karjakin and Caruana, but this is only the start of the 15-round marathon. Report and special pictorial.

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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 one to five

A bird's eye view of the opening round

It was a rougher start than expected by the elite, and many suffered stumbles and slips right in the beginning. The largest and most conspicuous was undoubtedly world no.1 Hikaru Nakamura, who fell in the very first round to Eduardo Iturrizaga, a young and very talented Venezuelan grandmaster. After five rounds he has 3.0/5, but since the tournament is scheduled for 15 rounds, there is plenty of time to recover.

Eduardo Iturrizaga made a name for himself by beating the top seed, Hikaru Nakamura,
in the very first round

World Champion challenger Vishy Anand suffered a slightly less scary setback as he conceded a draw in the opener, but he the recovered and is on 3.5/5. Readers will no doubt be wondering about the reigning World Champion, who has stated on more than one occasion his dissatisfaction with not being no.1 in all modalities. Magnus Carlsen had a strong start and is in the pack with 4.0/5, having been held to draws by Tomashevsky and Guseinov.

Vishy Anand had a slow start, but his expertise at fast games can never be underestimated

Magnus Carlsen cannot really complain as he starts with 4.0/5 and is among the leaders

Daniil Dubov, student of Sergey Shipov, is a vicious blitz player, but
will he shine in the Rapid as well?

The player whose performance is above comment is Ian Nepomniachtchi's, who was the only one to have a perfect 4.0/4 start, and after a draw in round five, is the leader with 4.5/5. Joining him at the top is Sergey Karjakin, who has also dominated, and defeated Judit Polgar, who shared 3.5/4, in round five. The third and last player with 4.5/5 is Fabiano Caruana.

The first five rounds were a festival of fighting chess and powerful attacks. Here is one delivered by Karjakin in round two:

[Event "Dubai Rapid 2014"] [Site "?"] [Date "2014.06.16"] [Round "2.5"] [White "Milov, Vadim"] [Black "Karjakin, Sergey"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E46"] [WhiteElo "2664"] [BlackElo "2781"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "4rrk1/p3qp2/3b2p1/1pN5/1PnPp1bp/2B1P3/5PPP/RQ2RNK1 b - - 0 25"] [PlyCount "15"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:03:43"] [BlackClock "0:05:18"] 25... Bf3 $1 {Black's pieces are all lined up, and it is time to wrap it up.} 26. gxf3 Qg5+ 27. Kh1 exf3 28. Ng3 hxg3 29. fxg3 f2 30. Re2 Bxc5 ({The engines argue that} 30... Bxg3 {was even stronger, but won is won.}) 31. dxc5 Rxe3 32. Rxe3 Qxe3 0-1

In round four, Fabiano Caruana faced the Georgian Jobava Baadur in an atypical encounter. Jobava is famous for his maverick opening play and extremely creative middlegames, compounded by great tactics. One would have thought Caruana would have played a containing strategy, squeezing the life from his opponent, but nothing doing as he took it right to him.

[Event "FIDE World Rapid-ch 2014"] [Site "Dubai"] [Date "2014.06.16"] [Round "5"] [White "Caruana, Fabiano"] [Black "Jobava, Baadur"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C10"] [WhiteElo "2840"] [BlackElo "2688"] [PlyCount "51"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [EventCountry "UAE"] [TimeControl "900+10"] 1. e4 {0} e6 {0} 2. d4 {0} d5 {0} 3. Nc3 {0} Nc6 {0} 4. Nf3 {33} Nf6 {0} 5. Bd3 {2} Bb4 {1} 6. Bg5 {85} dxe4 {99} 7. Bxe4 {1} Ne7 {63} 8. Bd3 {212} Ned5 {14} 9. O-O $1 {5 The exclamation point is more about Caruana's willingness to loosen up and slug it out.} Nxc3 {18 Jobava has little choice but to accept.} ( 9... O-O 10. Nxd5 exd5 11. c3 Bd6 12. h3 Re8 13. Qd2 {is just better for White. }) 10. bxc3 {3} Bxc3 {56} 11. Rb1 {1} h6 {34} 12. Bh4 {13} c6 {7} 13. Rb3 {123} Bxd4 {16} 14. Bc4 {14} Bb6 {53} 15. Rd3 {3} Qe7 {1} 16. Ne5 {74} g5 {141} 17. Bg3 {2} Ne4 {103} 18. Qe2 {75} Nxg3 {31} 19. hxg3 {2} Bc7 {91} 20. Rfd1 {93} Qf6 {193 Objectively, Black was doing quite well until now, but in a rapid game where there is less time to find precise moves, the cramped, undeveloped position was difficult to handle.} 21. Ng4 {60} Qg7 $2 {91 It is easy to criticize this move with an engine, but it is difficult to find all the right moves.} 22. Rf3 {90} Bd8 {0} 23. Rxd8+ $1 {44 The Italian grandmaster was just waiting for his chance, and makes the most of it, delivering a knockout blow.} Kxd8 {1} 24. Nf6 $1 {4 Lovely. Right after an exchange sacrifice, the key to the final combination is a 'quiet' move that attacks nothing, captures nothing. } g4 {27} 25. Qd2+ {27} Kc7 {71} 26. Qf4+ {2 Black resigned as he is getting mated.} (26. Qf4+ Kb6 (26... e5 27. Qxe5+ Kd8 28. Qd6+ Bd7 29. Qxd7#) 27. Rb3+ Kc5 28. Qe5+ Kxc4 29. Qc3#) 1-0

Standings after five rounds

Rk SNo Name FED Rtg Pts
1 11 Nepomniachtchi Ian RUS 2768 4.5
2 2 Caruana Fabiano ITA 2840 4.5
3 8 Karjakin Sergey RUS 2781 4.5
4 14 Vachier-Lagrave Maxime FRA 2749 4.0
5 4 Carlsen Magnus NOR 2827 4.0
6 36 Fressinet Laurent FRA 2681 4.0
7 18 Le Quang Liem VIE 2724 4.0
8 28 Movsesian Sergei ARM 2696 4.0
9 33 Jobava Baadur GEO 2688 3.5
10 56 Polgar Judit HUN 2656 3.5
11 73 Riazantsev Alexander RUS 2597 3.5
12 43 Van Wely Loek NED 2674 3.5
13 31 Tomashevsky Evgeny RUS 2693 3.5
14 38 Laznicka Viktor CZE 2679 3.5
15 60 Georgiev Kiril BUL 2642 3.5
16 6 Svidler Peter RUS 2787 3.5
17 9 Anand Viswanathan IND 2770 3.5
18 26 Ragger Markus AUT 2701 3.5
19 3 Grischuk Alexander RUS 2828 3.5
20 13 Radjabov Teimour AZE 2750 3.5

Pictures from the official site

Pictorial impressions by Jaideep Unudurti and Mihir Inamdar

Bird's eye view of Ivan Salgado Lopez vs Viswanathan Anand in round one (draw in 60 moves)

Anand second Surya Shekhar Ganguly started in spectacular style, beating Aronian in an
Evans Gambit declined in 69 moves, but then unfortunately collapsed.

In round three Anand faced another second, Sandipan Chanda, whom he beat

Magnus' permanent second, Peter Heine Nielsen (right), occupied a table in the cafeteria.
His "ward" would visit after each game. Nepomniachtchi, also a Carlsen second,
might consider some salary renegotiations in view of the Rapid standings.

After his late comeback in Norway, Sergey Karjakin has decided
on a clever new tournament strategy: lead from the start!

The strongest woman in the history of chess: Judit Polgar has 3.5/5 points,
the same as Grischuk, Anand, Svidler and Morozevich. Judit beat Rauf Mamedov and
Pentala Harikrishna with the black pieces, but lost to Sergey Karjakin with white in round five.

Peter Svidler stares at his book, anxious to get back to it. And what is he reading?

What exactly, we hear you ask. It's The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch, about an orphan
who dodges death and slavery, becoming a thief under the tutelage of a gifted con artist.

Svidler and Grischuk would invariably wait out the breaks between the rounds together.
While Grischuk would silently contemplate, Svidler would catch up on his reading.

World number one in Rapid, Hikaru Nakamura, has just 3.0/5. They say a picture is worth a thousand words....

Yep, a thousand. Second seed Fabiano Caruana is equal first with 3.5/5


With so many great players in a single room, it is a chess photographer's heaven

Seconds, coaches, and family, follow the games in the rest area

Jaideep Unudurti is a journalist specializing in travel, leisure, books; he also has a special interest in chess. He writes for leading publications including The Indian Express, Man's World, and the Economic Times. Unudurti has covered a wide range of events from the rock band Guns N Roses’ performance in Bangalore to the 2012 World Chess Championships in Moscow and 2013 in Chennai. His alter ego 'Jai Undurti' is the founder of the Hyderabad Graphic Novel, a unique city-centric approach to graphic storytelling. He is currently the creative director of Syenagiri, an animation and graphic novel production house. The pictures from the Dubai Rapid were sent to us by Jaideep and his colleague Mihir Inamdar (right, in the blue shirt), who is a senior manager at Nielsen in Dubai. While his day job is that of a consumer insights and analytics professional, he is a travel junkie at heart, and an avid trekker. He also wields a full-frame Nikon D600 that shoots at 24.3 megapixels. [Photo: Fiona Steil-Antoni]


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.

Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications, and the content creator of the YouTube channel, Chess & Tech.


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