Zurich: Blitz and Opening Ceremony

by ChessBase
1/30/2014 – The players have already thrown around fireworks with an enthralling blitz tournament to open the festivities in Zurich. No one was safe as fighting chess prevailed with the unusual time control of 4 minutes with 2 seconds increment. Caruana and Gelfand beat Carlsen and Nakamura, but these two players recovered quickly and went on a rampage. Blitz analysis!

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 «Zurich Chess Challenge 2014» will be the first encounter between the newly crowned World Champion, Norway’s Magnus Carlsen, and the former title holder, India’s Viswanathan Anand after their recent match in Chennai. From Wednesday, 29 January to Tuesday, 4 February 2014, they will compete in the 3rd Zurich Chess Challenge along with four other great chess stars: Levon Aronian (Armenia), Hikaru Nakamura (USA), Fabiano Caruana (Italy) and Boris Gelfand (Israel).

Blitz and Opening Ceremony

The Opening Ceremony featured some lovely traditional and classical music, in prelude to a clashing blitz tournament.

Two of the artists performing for the grandmasters

And now in action!

All of the players thoroughly enjoyed the performance and seemed rather captivated by it

In the back: Peter Heine Nielsen, Carlsen's second, Henrik Carlsen, Carlsen's father
and Vladimir Chuchelov, Caruana's second

Vishy Anand and a giant of chess ages past: Gennadi Sosonko

Sofi Leko, Peter Leko, Yanick Pelletier and Fabiano Caruana enjoying a pleasant chat

World Champion Hou Yifan flew in from China as a guest of honor of the event

The main sponsor Oleg Skvortsov and his wife Natalia

Oleg Skvortsov is the owner of IGC International Gemological Laboratories and the creator of this chess event. At the opening ceremony Skvortsov said that his wife Natalia was the driving force behind the Zurich Chess Challenge. Oleg Skvortsov himself not only loves chess, but also plays chess and supports events. Furthermore, Skvortsov knows many of the greatest chess players in the world personally and has played a lot of games with them.

Behind Natalia Skvortsov we spot Arianne Caoili, who has
expressed her absolute love for the city of Zurich.

Blitz Tournament

The blitz tournament was held as a warm up for the players and to determine the pairings of the event. With live commentary by Yanick Pelletier and Peter Leko the event was a pleasure to watch - and we highly recommend you see the videos at the official website.

Danny King tournament recap


Caruana struck a powerful blow by vanquishing Carlsen with a brutal attack on the kingside. A surprising move left the position of the World Champion completely indefensible and he collapsed soon afterwards. Since Carlsen also had rocky games in the next couple of rounds it seemed like he was out of contention.

Nakamura lost his first game against Gelfand, but much like Carlsen he recovered and kept climbing in points. Aronian demolished Anand in the first round and seems to keep his good form. The Armenian could have won the tournament had he converted his decisive advantage against Carlsen. The American could also have won the tournament had he held a draw against the World Champion in the last round, but neither of these results happened and some way or another Carlsen won the tournament!

Caruana ready for action. He started with a crushing victory over Carlsen.

Aronian had a very strong showing while Anand seemed to struggle a bit in the blitz

Nakamura didn't need his bishops to secure himself more whites than blacks in the event

Blitz is always tense...

[Event "Zurich chess Blitz"] [Site "?"] [Date "2014.01.29"] [Round "4"] [White "Magnus, Carlsen"] [Black "Viswanathan, Anand"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A06"] [WhiteElo "2872"] [BlackElo "2773"] [Annotator "Sagar"] [PlyCount "41"] [EventDate "2014.01.30"] [SourceDate "2014.01.04"] 1. Nf3 {Magnus begins with the move that he had made in the 1st game of the world championship match!} d5 2. b3 $5 {following the footsteps of Baadur Jobava, I think!} c5 3. e4 $5 {Now this is a very suprising move. I wonder how Magnus got the idea of this move. Most probably, he wanted to play the Budapest Gambit with the reversed colours!} dxe4 4. Ng5 (4. Ne5 {leads to some crazy complications after} Qd4 5. Bb2 $1 Qxb2 6. Nc3 {the queen on b2 is trapped, Nc4 is threatened and also a little threat is a3 followed by Ra2! What an interesting position!} Qa3 7. Bb5+ $1 $18 Bd7 8. Nc4 Qb4 9. Bxd7+ Nxd7 10. a3 {what a queen trap!!}) 4... Nf6 (4... Bf5 5. g4 Bg6 6. Nc3 Nf6 7. Bg2 { might lead to an interesting position.}) 5. Nc3 Nc6 {Anand plays the opening safely and very nicely.} (5... Bf5 {will cling onto the pawn and I see nothing wrong about it. How should white continue now is the question.} 6. Bb5+ Nc6 7. Qe2 h6 8. Ngxe4 Nxe4 9. Nxe4 Qd4 {and you can see the side-effects of the move b3 in the reversed Budapest. Its creating more harm than good!} 10. Nc3 Bxc2 $15) 6. Bc4 e6 7. Bb2 Be7 {Nothing flashy. Just simple development.} 8. O-O O-O 9. Ncxe4 Nxe4 10. Nxe4 e5 $2 {Ladies and Gentleman, this is the most instructive mistake of the game! Lets learn from it. The move looks so natural because it closes the b2 bishop. But the big drawback is that f7 pawn is now extremely weak and the b2 bishop can be opened up now with white's powerful next move!} (10... b6 {is a move that seemed so very natural to me! It can be that Anand was afraid of Qg4 creating pressure on g7} 11. Qg4 {But this is always effectively met with} Nd4 $1 {and after Bb7 later on, black has absolutely nothing to complain about.}) 11. f4 $1 {It didnt take Carlsen much time to make this move! It came naturally to him!} exf4 {And now you see how both the bishops have been opened up against the black king.} 12. Qh5 $6 {we cannot blame the players as they were playing with very little time but this move is not very accurate.} (12. Rxf4 {was a strong move and now all the white pieces are in the attack. It will be very difficult to defend in a normal game, so in blitz is as good as a lost position.}) 12... Nd4 (12... Be6 {was the best defense and after} 13. Bxe6 (13. Nxc5 Bxc4 14. bxc4 Qb6 $19) 13... fxe6 $11 {black has a fine position} 14. Nxc5 Rf5 $19) 13. Rxf4 {once again white is better, the pressure on f7 is tremendous and the other rook is aiming to join in on f1.} g6 (13... Be6 14. Nxc5 {wins a clean pawn!} Bxc4 15. Rxd4) 14. Qe5 {its all coming to an end now! pressure on f7 and the knight on e4 controls all the crtical squares like d6 and f6.} b6 {Anand tries to cement his d4 knight but its more like the entire city is on fire and he has come with a pail of water!!} (14... Be6 15. Bxe6 fxe6 16. Rxf8+ Qxf8 17. Bxd4 cxd4 18. Qxe6+ $18) 15. Raf1 {simple and effective chess. How to defend f7 is the question now.} Bf5 (15... Be6 16. Bxe6 fxe6 17. Rxf8+ Bxf8 18. Nf6+ {let me not spill the beans here. this is similar to the game continuation.}) 16. g4 { is also good.} (16. Rxf5 {was natural and strong.} gxf5 17. Rxf5 Rc8 18. Ng5 $18 {the threats galore and the game is over!}) 16... Be6 (16... Bxe4 17. Rxf7 $18) 17. Bxe6 fxe6 18. Rxf8+ Bxf8 19. Nf6+ Kh8 {And here Magnus could have finished the game in mate in 3. Can you spot it?} 20. c3 (20. Ne8+ $1 {was the easiest} Kg8 21. Qh8+ $1 {a pretty queen sac.} Kxh8 22. Rxf8# {A nice mate}) 20... Nc6 21. Ne8+ (21. Ne8+ $141 {And Anand threw in the towel. There were 2 ways to mate from here.} Kg8 22. Qh8+ (22. Qxe6+ Kh8 23. Rxf8#) 22... Kxh8 23. Rxf8# {An excellent game by Magnus.}) 1-0

Analysis of the above game by Sagar Shah. Check out his blog here.

Replay all the Blitz games

Select games from the dropdown menu above the board

Maria Emelianova - Photographer

Maria Emelianova is 26 years old, born in Ekaterinburg, Russia, Women FIDE Master, with a 2113 Elo rating. After finishing school Maria moved to Moscow to study at the university, so chess was forgotten for some time. She worked for about a year with Alexander Roshal in the chess magazine "64". Her carrier as a chess photographer started at the Olympiad in Khanty-Mansiysk. "It was just a hobby, but somehow became an interesting job," says Maria, who works with a Canon 1DX. "Now I am finishing my studies at two universities in Moscow, and am looking forward to a future in the big world of chess."

Schedule and Pairings

The event is a six player round robin, with a rate of play of 40 moves in 120 minutes, then 20 moves in 60 minutes and the rest of game in 15 minutes, with an increment of 30 seconds per move starting after move 61. Special rule: in case of a draw before move 40, an additional rapid game will be played (which does not count for the overall result).

Wed. January 29: 19:00  Opening Ceremony & Blitz
Thu. January 30: 15:00  Round 1
Fri. January 31: 15:00  Round 2
Sat. February 01: 15:00  Round 3
Sun. February 02: 15:00  Round 4
Mon. February 03: 15:00  Round 5
Tue. February 04: 13:00  Rapid Tournament 19:00  Closing Ceremony
  • The blitz will be used to determine the colors
  • The classical time control gives two points to wins, one for draws and none for losses
  • The rapid time control gives one point to wins, half to draws and none for losses

The winner will be the one who scores the most points between the classical tournament and the rapid.

Schedule of Commentary

Date   English German
30.01.2014 Round 1 Daniel King Klaus Bischoff
31.01.2014 Round 2 Daniel King Oliver Reeh
01.02.2014 Round 3 Alejandro Ramirez Klaus Bischoff
02.02.2014 Round 4 Daniel King Klaus Bischoff
03.02.2014 Round 5 Alejandro Ramirez Klaus Bischoff

Schedule and results

Round 1 – January 30, 15:00h
Carlsen, Magnus 2872
Gelfand, Boris 2777
Aronian, Levon 2812
Anand, Vishy 2773
Nakamura, Hikaru 2789
Caruana, Fabiano 2782
Round 2 – January 31, 15:00h
Carlsen, Magnus 2872
Aronian, Levon 2812
Gelfand, Boris 2777
Caruana, Fabiano 2782
Anand, Vishy 2773
Nakamura, Hikaru 2789
Round 3 – February 01, 15:00h
Caruana, Fabiano 2782   Anand, Vishy 2773
Aronian, Levon 2812   Gelfand, Boris 2777
Nakamura, Hikaru 2789   Carlsen, Magnus 2872
Round 4 – February 02, 15:00h
Gelfand, Boris 2777   Anand, Vishy 2773
Carlsen, Magnus 2872   Caruana, Fabiano 2782
Nakamura, Hikaru 2789   Aronian, Levon 2812
Round 5 – February 03, 15:00h
Carlsen, Magnus 2872   Anand, Vishy 2773
Caruana, Fabiano 2782   Aronian, Levon 2812
Nakamura, Hikaru 2789   Gelfand, Boris 2777

Rapid Schedule

Round 1
Gelfand, Boris 2777   Carlsen, Magnus 2872
Anand, Vishy 2773   Aronian, Levon 2812
Caruana, Fabiano 2782   Nakamura, Hikaru 2789
Round 2
Aronian, Levon 2812   Carlsen, Magnus 2872
Caruana, Fabiano 2782   Gelfand, Boris 2777
Nakamura, Hikaru 2789   Anand, Vishy 2773
Round 3
Anand, Vishy 2773   Caruana, Fabiano 2782
Gelfand, Boris 2777   Aronian, Levon 2812
Carlsen, Magnus 2872   Nakamura, Hikaru 2789
Round 4
Anand, Vishy 2773   Gelfand, Boris 2777
Caruana, Fabiano 2782   Carlsen, Magnus 2872
Aronian, Levon 2812   Nakamura, Hikaru 2789
Round 5
Anand, Vishy 2773   Carlsen, Magnus 2872
Aronian, Levon 2812   Caruana, Fabiano 2782
Gelfand, Boris 2777   Nakamura, Hikaru 2789


The games will be broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. 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.

Reports about chess: tournaments, championships, portraits, interviews, World Championships, product launches and more.


Rules for reader comments


Not registered yet? Register