2018 World Rapid & Blitz (St. Petersburg, RUS)

Only a month after the World Championship (classical) was decided, the 2018 Rapid & Blitz was held in St. Petersburg to determine the world championship in the two disciplines. Indeed the raging debate on how to determine a classical World Champion to include rapid and blitz tiebreakers has its merits, but of course the main notion to increase the pressure and thus the amount of errors in order to get a decisive result.

These three disciplines are very different and the results of this week in Russia showed. A contingent of “blitz specialists” entered the field including American Grandmaster Andrew Tang who has the moniker “penguingm1”. He has played countless matches with Magnus Carlsen (DrDrunkenstein) and then two faced in the rapid play.

Tang didn’t threaten in the prize winnings, but had 8.5/15 (2666 TPR) in the rapid and 11/21 (2650 TPR) in the blitz. That didn’t stop him from playing some bullet battles with Iranian star Alireza Firouzja. In fact, it was Firouzja who created buzz during the rapids leading after the first day. He was in contention as late as the 13th round, but lost a key game to Anton Korobov, but finished with a 2848 performance and demonstrated why he is one of the brightest talents in chess.

Rapid

Daniil Dubov, the plain-spoken Russian was among more than 100 compatriots vying for the prizes in the weekend and he was able to fend off a late rally by Carlsen who rallied after losing his first two games. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Hikaru Nakamura, Vladislav Artemiev and Carlsen finished 1/2-point back with 10.5/15. The 22-year old Dubov stated that this was his finest achievement to date. He has some very candid comments about the two disciplines.

What was interesting was the Dubov won shortly after the death of his grandfather Eduard Dubov who tragically froze to death at the age of 80. It was a fitting and inspiring victory.

Rapid Results (Open)

This year has been a banner year for Ju Wenjun as she notched another championship after defending her rapid title. This was after winning the Women’s World Championship and then successfully defending the title only months later. That resulted in a change of the world championship cycle since it would have been ridiculous otherwise to defend the title in the knockout format only months after the championship match.

Iran’s Sarasadat Khadmalsheriah
took silver in both rapid and blitz.
Photo by Lennart Ootes

Ju showed her class in the 12-round rapid event with a dominating 10/12. She was pursued by contingent of talented young players in Sarasadat Khademalsheriah (Iran), Aleksandra Goryachkina (Russia), Lei Tingjie (China) and Zhansaya Abdumalik (Kazakhstan). They represent the future of the women’s chess.

Khademalsheriah, who beat three former women’s champions (Alexandra Kosteniuk, Antoaneta Stefanova, Mariya Muzychuk) seems to be part of a movement among young Iranian talent powered by Alireza Firouzja and Parham Maghadsoodloo. If her progress is indicative of the talent in the pipeline, Iran will be a contender in team competitions for years to come.

Rapid Results (Women)

There has been some discussion on the disparate size of the prize funds with some suggesting there should be an equal prize fund for the women. However, given that the open section is free for women to enter, the argument seems hollow.

Women have an option to choose between the open and women’s and 100% of them chose the women’s because they seek a better chance at a prize. That is understandable, but if the open is comprised of the best the world has to offer, it is logical that this is what the sponsors are investing in.

There should be no double standard in suggesting equality of prize fund when women have two options to win prizes. In fact, one can argue that they have an advantage. Judit Polgar was one who was able to compete on equal terms and there were a lot fewer women playing during her era. What did she do that others have not been able to replicate?

Blitz

Magnus Carlsen
Photo by Lennart Ootes

Magnus Carlsen came in holding the Triple Crown (titles in classical, rapid and blitz), but came into the Blitz segment just having just lost his Rapid title to Daniil Dubov. Of course, in these events there is a bit more room for error because of the pressure and inevitable blunders that occur.

One commentator was discussing this issue during the Grand Chess Tour final and lamenting how good the elite players play in fast time controls. His point was to buttress the fact that faster time controls can be used as a tiebreaker without much degradation in the quality of play.

On cue, the game that was being covered featured several blunders in a row at the very end. There is simply no way to escape the fact that these are completely different disciplines and errors (and big ones) in faster time controls are simply inevitable.

With that being said, blitz is still a favorite discipline of many of the top players… including five-time World Champion, Viswanathan Anand.

Following the frenetic pace of blitz is indeed exciting!
The legendary Viswanthan Anand is in the pit.
Photo by Lennart Ootes

In the blitz competition, Carlsen scorched the field with and undefeated 17/21. While +13 would be enough to win most blitz tournaments, he had to fend off the sparkling play of Polish phenom Jan-Krysztof Duda who won 15 games. Carlsen defeated Duda in a masterful style in their encounter in round seven.

In the blitz competition, it is about “runs” of play. A player can easily rattle off several wins in a row or lose several in a row. Carlsen’s undefeated play is remarkable at that level and only Bobby Fischer’s Novi Sad performance where he defeated several world champions in the field enroute to a 19-3 (+17-1=4) win.

It’s much more difficult to get a run given the dangerous field with so-called “blitz specialists” and young lions looking to relieve top guns of Elo points and scalps. Ahmed Adly of Egypt had a good run and was sitting on board four in round ten after beating Hikaru Nakamura and Sergey Karjakin in consecutive rounds. A lost to Russia’s Dmitry Andreikin knocked him off course and he ultimately settle for 20th place, a strong showing.


Egypt’s Ahmed Adly, ponders after a loss. However, he had a strong showing with 13/21 and 2702 TPR. Photo from FIDE Chess

Hikaru Nakamura had taken bronze in the rapids and was optimistic going into the blitz segment. As mentioned, he was upset by Adly, but got key wins over Vladislav Artemiev and Dmitry Andriekin to pull within two points of the lead. Unfortunately, he had fallen too far behind and ended on 14.5 points and 3rd place.

Duda lost to Carlsen and Peter Svidler early on, but and at one point scored eight consecutive wins! In round 17, he faced Sergey Karjakin in a sharp Keres Attack. That game ended in an exciting draw, but the Polish star would lose to Nakamura the next round to fall off the pace. Duda bounced back with three wins in a row, but a Carlsen victory against Anton Korobov meant he would take silver.

Blitz Results (Open)

In the women’s competition, Ju Wenjun started off with four straight wins, but was derailed with draws and a loss to Sarasadat Khademalsherieh. At that point the Iranian was on a blistering six-game winning streak and would push it to seven with a win over Koneru Humpy. Both she and Kateryna Lagno were on 7/8 and drew in round nine to maintain the lead. However, a trio of Chinese players were only half-point back.

The most improbable development was the performance of Leya Garifullina, an 14-year old Russia who was vying for a top spot. Rated at 2120, she was on 6.5/9 had just beaten Antoaneta Stefanova and also earned scalps from Elisabeth Paehtz, Harika Dronavali. By round 12, she had moved to 2nd place on 9/12, a point behind Lagno along with Lei Tingjie and Valentina Guinina. Who would’ve predicted this??

Leya Garifullina took the blitz field by storm.
Photo by Lennart Ootes

Unfortunately, former women’s champion Anna Ushenina took the wind out of her sails and after rebounding against Pia Cramling, she lost to Guinina dropping her to 8th and effectively eliminating her from from the top three positions. After drawing with Ju Wenjun she settle for 11/17 and 8th place.

In the end, Kateryna Lagno was in form having gone undefeated with ten wins in 17 rounds! After having lost to Ju Wenjun in the finals of the World Championship last month, she earned some redemption at defeating her in round 11 and winning the tournament. What is more amazing is the fact that Lagno had taken a long break from chess and seems to be playing better than ever. How did she explain it?

Interview with Kateryna Lagno

Video by FIDE

Blitz Results (Open)

Photo by Lennart Ootes

Official Site: https://wrbc2018.com/
PGN Games (TWIC): Rapid (Open), Rapid (Women), Blitz (Open), Blitz (Women)
Drum Coverage: https://www.thechessdrum.net/blog/2018/12/31/2018-world-rapid-blitz-st-petersburg-rus/

Daaim Shabazz

Dr. Daaim Shabazz is the creator and webmaster of The Chess Drum. He serves as a tenured faculty member of Global Business & Marketing at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida, USA. He holds an MBA in Marketing and a doctorate in International Affairs & Development. He has served the journalist community for more than 30 years and still competes in tournaments occasionally.

3 Comments

  1. Carlsson battling in World Rapid/Blitz!
    28 December 2018

    GM Pontus Carlsson
    Photo by Daaim Shabazz

    GM Pontus Carlsson has been a regular on the Drum during the latter part of 2018 after launching his “ChessBiz” initiative and appearing on the Perpetual Podcast recently. He closes out the year competing in the World Rapid and Blitz Championships currently being held in St. Petersburg, Russia. This event has attracted the top players from around the world. While there is a lot of debate on the role that faster time controls will play in top level events, it is certainly a favorite among many of the specialists who are often seen on chess servers and streaming sites.

    Carlsson mentioned that he was competing in the tournament last week and talked about the formidable contingent of Russians. While he agreed that other federations would be tough, he proceeded to list them and one of the names turned out to be the eventual champion. However, Carlsson also acquitted himself well. After scoring 2/5 on the first day, the second day proved to be a bit better with 2.5/5 with a confidence-boosting win over Ilya Smirin of Israel.

    The last day he notched 3.5/5 with consecutive wins over GMs Timur Gareyev, Vladislav Kovalev and Francisco Vallejo Pons. After a lost to blitz specialist IM Ivan Bocharov, he closed out the rapid event with an interesting draw against Bassem Amin, The Egyptian #1. He goes into the blitz program with confidence from his creditable performance in the rapids.

    GM Pontus Carlsson (2511-Sweden)
    RAPID
    # Player USCF Nation
    Flag
    Result
    1 GM Ivan Saric 2661 Croatia
    0
    2 GM Ahmed Adly 2630 Egypt
    0
    3 CM Ahmed Al-Thebaiti 1826 Saudi Arabia
    1
    4 GM Henrik Teske 2555 Germany
    0
    5 Melis Mamatov 2234 Krygyzstan
    1
    6 GM Mustafa Yilmaz 2546 Turkey
    0
    7 FM Kirill Shubin 2242 Russia
    1
    8 GM Ilya Smirin 2601 Israel
    1
    9 GM Pavel Ponkratov 2650 Russia
    0
    10 GM Kamil Miton 2590 Poland
    ½
    11 GM Timur Gareyev 2575 USA
    1
    12 GM Vladislav Kovalev 2624 Belarus
    1
    13 GM Francisco Vallejo Pons 2628 Spain
    1
    14 IM Ivan Bocharov 2657 Russia
    0
    15 GM Bassem Amin 2650 Egypt
    ½
    Score: 8-7 (Results)

    All the heavy hitters were present including Magnus Carlsen who holds the “Triple Crown” of chess with titles in classical, rapid and blitz. He got off to a slow start losing his first two games to Ukrainian GM Adam Tukhaev and Shamdiddin Vokhidov, an International Master from Uzbekistan. The defending champion rallied for 10.5 points in next thirteen games. Unfortunately, Carlsen fell half-point short to Russia’s Daniil Dubov who also edged out Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Hikaru Nakamura, Vladislav Artemiev with 11/15.

    GM Hikaru Nakamura (USA) vs. GM Magnus Carlsen (Norway), 1/2-1/2

    Iranian sensation Alireza Firouzja came in 6th in a pack of 12 players with 10/15. He was tied for the lead after the first day of rapids with 4.5/5, but tailed off with losses to Dmitry Ankreiken and Dubov. While Parham Maghadsoodloo gets the most attention of the Iranian phenoms, it is Firouzja who created buzz in this tournament.

    In the women’s tournament, World Champion Ju Wenjun successfully defended her rapid title only a month after defending her classical title. She scored 10/12 overcoming an inspired performance by Iran’s Sarasadat Khademalsharieh who was on 9/12. Russia’s Aleksandra Goryachkina took bronze also on 9/12.

    The blitz portion starts tomorrow at 7:00AM (New York) and 3:00PM (Russia).

    Official Site: https://wrbc2018.com/
    PGN Games (TWIC): Rapid (Open), Rapid (Women), Blitz (Open), Blitz (Women)

    GM Pontus Carlsson (2511-Sweden)
    BLITZ
    # Player USCF Nation
    Flag
    Result
    1 GM Igor Kovalenko 2693 Latvia
    0
    2 GM Sanan Sjugirov 2748 Russia
    0
    3 IM Carlos Perdomo 2301 Colombia
    1
    4 Abdullah Khayat 1709 Saudi Arabia
    1
    5 GM Alexander Motylev 2609 Russia
    ½
    6 GM Evgeny Shaposhnikov 2603 Russia
    0
    7 GM Aleksandr Rakhmanov 2615 Russia
    0
    8 IM Dinesh K. Sharma 2383 India
    1
    9 GM Konstantin Sakaev 2551 Russia
    1
    10 GM Salem A.R. Saleh 2645 UAE
    0
    11 GM Farrukh Amonatov 2656 Tajikistan
    0
    12 GM Sergei Lobanov 2434 Russia
    1
    13 GM Levan Pantsulaia 2584 Georgia
    1
    14 GM Rinat Jumabayev 2554 Kazahkstan
    0
    15 GM Alexander Huzman 2543 Israel
    1
    16 GM Mikhail Antipov 2656 Russia
    0
    17 GM Aleksey Goganov 2539 Russia
    0
    18 FM Dmitry Tsoi 2387 Russia
    1
    19 GM Falko Bindrich 2639 Germany
    1
    20 GM Artyom Timofeev 2568 Russia
    0
    21 GM Vladimir Zakhartsov 2567 Russia
    1
    Score: 10½-10½ (Results)

  2. Africans in 2018 World Rapid & Blitz Championship

    Egypt
    Egypt Egypt Egypt

    GM AHMED ADLY
    (Rapid, 2630) 8.5/15 65th place
    (Blitz, 2675) 13/21 20th place

    GM BASSEM AMIN
    (Rapid, 2630) 8.0/15 78th place
    (Blitz, 2659) 12/21 47th place

    Morocco
    Morocco Morocco Morocco

    IM MOHAMMED TISSIR
    (Rapid, 2417) 6.5/15 149th place
    (Blitz, 2381) 9/21 182nd place

    Djibouti
    Djibouti Djibouti Djibouti

    AHMED HASSAN ABDILLAHI
    (Rapid, 1570) – 4/15 198th place

    1. Wow thats some decent performances going against magnus and the top traditional gms from around the globe in the fide practice events! ive seen some of Adly and Amin chess they pretty solid maybe take the top spots next time! lol thanks Daaim.

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