July 21, 2012

1st Official World Rapid Championship

RAPID CHESS!! This definitely rings a bell!! With the World Chess Champion, our very own, Vishwanathan Anand of India, the undisputed king of rapid chess for almost 2 decades; Everyone in India is well known to Play and Enjoy the occasional Rapid and Blitz games. These Time Controls infact help people to learn, have fun and enjoy at the same time with the joy of Playing Chess!! This format consists of Fast timed Chess games that amuse, fascinate and excite Chess Professionals and Chess Enthusiasts alike. Express report.

1st Official World Rapid Championship 
by Rakesh Kulkarni

Welcome to the One Day International (ODI) Format of Chess!! A player has to complete his/her games within a stipulated time of more than 5 minutes upto 30 minutes, for it to be a rapid game. This fast paced game, gives us many interesting, exciting chess duels. These games force the players to play fast, think less and take quick decisions. Though, these games are not right up there with the classical form of chess, but we love to see exciting games, mistakes and blunders from the top guys!! Right??

World Rapid Chess Championship

The Official World Blitz and Rapid Chess Championships were held from July 1-11, 2012, in Astana, the capital city of Kazakhstan. It is worth noting that the Rapid Chess Championship is a first in the history of FIDE!! The top ten players of the current FIDE rating list had the right to take part in the championships, besides 3 Qualifying Spots and 2 Host Nominations. The total prize fund was a whopping US $400,000.

The 1st Official World Rapid Championship did not Feature World Champion Viswanathan Anand (IND), World Number 2 Levon Aronian (Armenia),  World No.7 and US Champion Hikaru Nakamura (The Most Active and one of the Strongest Player on the Internet Chess Club) and Former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik of Russia. 
But still we had,
The top seed is World No. 1 Magnus Carlsen (Norway), World No.4 Teimur Radjabov (Azerbaijan) World No. 5 Sergey Karjakin (Russia), GM’s Veselin Topalov (BUL),Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (AZE), Alexander Morozevich and   Blitz Specialist Sasha Grischuk (both Russia) to name a few!

1st  World Rapid Chess Championship!!

The qualifiers held prior to the finals saw chess players from all over the world getting a chance to advance to the main event. Grand Masters Alexey Dreev, Igor Kurnosov (both Russia) and Vladislav Tkachiev (France) won places, while Grand Masters Murtas Kazhgaleyev and Anuar Ismagambetov were nominations by the host nation of Kazakshtan.

Participants of the Rapid Chess Championship:

Carlsen, Magnus
Radjabov, Teimour
Karjakin, Sergey
Morozevich, Alexander
Ivanchuk, Vassily
Grischuk, Alexander
Topalov, Veselin
Svidler, Peter
Bologan, Viktor
Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar
Gelfand, Boris
Dreev, Aleksey
Tkachiev, Vladislav
Kurnosov, Igor
Kazhgaleyev, Murtas
Ismagambetov, Anuar

The World Rapid Chess Championship was played in three days as a round-robin (all play all) event with five rounds per day. Time controls were 15 minutes for all moves plus 10 seconds increment per move.

The Organizers together with WHYChess, made sure all the games could be seen live with video streaming!! So, the games and the facial expressions of the elite, especially during time pressure (and especially of Vassily Ivanchuk!) was amazing!!

Day 1

After the first day Magnus Carlsen and Sergey Karjakin are sharing the lead with 4.5/5. Especially Karjakin can be satisfied with that result, because he arrived in Astana only a few hours before the start of the tournament! He had missed his flight the day before!!

GM Karjakin (RUS) wasted no time and has got off to a flying start with 4.5/5.  He also felt that his best game was against his compatriot GM Alexander Grischuk.

Karjakin,S - Grischuk,A
 Astana KAZ, 2012.07.06
A brilliant tactical finish by Karjakin  32. Nxf5!! gxf5 33. Qxf5!! And he finishes off with a Queen sacrifice!!  1-0 

There were five games per day, starting at 15:00h local time. The first day brought the following results (Cross-table standings after 5 rounds) were as follows:

Day 2

After a slow start – two draws (with Dreev and Gelfand) – top seed Magnus Carlsen went to work winning the remaining games on the second day of this tournament. Now, He was now undefeated in ten games, and had conceded just three draws. It is not just the result, but the way he "keeps sculpturing masterpieces," as the tournament bulletin put it. His secret seems to be (and we have seen this so often in the past) to keep piling on the pressure in and endgame position where other GMs would concede and accept a draw instead of playing on. He simply waits for the opponent to crack, and crack they do!!

Here are some examples how Carlsen does it.

Carlsen - Mamedyarov

Nc7??  And Mamedyarov Finally Cracks under pressure in time pressure! 55)…Kc5 or Kd5 Secures the Draw for black!
56. a7 Kc5 57. h4 Kd6 58. Kf5 Ke7 59. Kg6Kf8 60. Kf6 Ke8 61. Kg7 1-0

The direct encounter between the top 2 contenders. Magnus Carlsen (Norway) (White) Plays his arch rival since their childhood  Sergey Karjakin (Russia). Magnus managed to squeeze out a win and is 1.5 points ahead with only 5 rounds to go!

Carlsen,M - Karjakin,S
Astana KAZ, 2012.07.07

53)….Bf6 is Good Enough to draw. But Karjakin who was under severe time-pressure, cracked!
Rc4+??? 54. Kf5 Rc5+ 55. Be5 Bf8 56. Rxh7+ Kg8 57. Rh8+ Kf7 58. Rxf8+ 1-0

This is how you do it in Carlsen Style!! And Magnus Carlsen seems to be Cruising towards the 1st ever World Rapid Championship after 10 Rounds!!

After ten rounds of play we have the following scores (Cross-table standings after 10 rounds):

Day 3

After two days of play and ten games Magnus Carlsen looked like the dead-cert winner. But then the Norwegian ace lost two in a row, allowing his "prodigy twin" Sergey Karjakin to catch and then overtake him. Sergey won four in a row and in the last round required only a draw to win the title outright. He was a full point ahead of Carlsen, and two ahead of the third-placed Veselin Topalov. Amazing Chess!!

(Did Magnus Carlsen run out of steam on the third day of play?)

Magnus Carlsen, who had dominated the Rapid on days one and two, started the third day with a win over the lowest seed. It took him 51 moves and didn't bode well for what was to come. In round twelve the top seed lost, with the white pieces (yes, that is indeed possible!), against Vassily Ivanchuk, who outplayed the Norwegian in a Nimzo-Indian and forced him to resign four before a forced mate. In round 13 Magnus chose the Berlin Defence against Alexander Grischuk and lost for a second time (yes,that too is possible and does not contravene the laws of nature). Carlsen drew his final two games, against Radjabov and Topalov to finish with 10.5 out of 15 with a 2854 performance.

With this huge slip up by Carlsen, Karjakin stormed ahead into the lead. While, Veselin Topalov [who is playing top level Chess after a long time (after his marriage)] managed to make a fantastic comeback and was pushing for 2nd place. He would have easily finished 2nd, if only for missing out on 2 well-deserved wins on the last day. Firstly, he lost an impossible game to Tkachiev, a game in which he just could not lose! and then messed up his move order (of the Winning Combination!!) and lost half a point to Carlsen!

Here are his highly interesting, exciting and unpredictable games :

The second place was decided in the following encounter: (Topalov-Carlsen)
40. Nh5+! gxh5 41. Qxh5? The wrong move order. 41. Rg5+ Kf8 42. Qxh5 is curtains. 41... Rd6 42. Rg5+ Rg6 43. Rxd5 Qc6 44. Qxg6+ Qxg6 45. Rxd8 c4 46. d5 Qc2 47. d6 Qd2 48. Re4 Qxb2 49. Rxc4 Qa1+ 50. Kh2 Qe5+ 51. Kg1 Qe1+52. Kh2 Qe5+ 53. f4 Qe3 54. d7 Qg3+ 1/2-1/2

The Bulgarian, who was two pawns up in a knight ending against Tkachiev, managed to lose this game!

50. a5 Nc6 51. Kf2 g5 52. a6 g4 53. Nd8 Na7 54. Ne6 g3+ 55. Kf3 Kh3 56. Nf4+ Kh2 57. Ng2 Nc6 58. Nh4 Kh3 59. Ng2 h4 60. Ne3 f5 61. Ng2 Na7 62. Ne3 Nb5 63. Ng2 Nd4+ 64. Ke3 Nb5 65. Kf3 Nc766. a7 Na8 67. Ne3 f4 68. Ng2 Kh2 69. Nxh4 Nc770. Ng2 Kh3 71. Nxf4+ Kh2 72. Ng2 Kh3 73. Ne3 Na8 74. Ke4 Nc7 75. Kd3 Kh2 76. Kc4 Kg1 77. Nf5 Kf2 78. Nxg3 Kxg3 79. Kc5 Kf4 80. Kc6 Na8 81. Kb7 1-0

So, Magnus Carlsen, after a disastrous day slipped behind and stumbled into 2nd Place.
Veselin Toplalov, after so much exciting games and will be satisfied. He took the 3rd place! He edged out Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (AZE) on the first tiebreak rule, which was the individual result.

While all this was happening Sergey Karjakin, like Carlsen a former chess prodigy, was on a rampage. He won is first four games, against Ivanchuk, Radjabov, Kazhgaleyev and Svidler, with white, black, white and black!! 

Caissa decided to smile on Karjakin today. In the 11th round (1st round of the last day) Karjakin was quite lucky. He had been defending a worse position for a while already, when his opponent, the unpredictable Chuky (Ivanchuk), playing black, forgot about his clock. (Despite the 10-second increment, he was in fact not the only player to lose on time in this event.) Please, see for yourself!!

1-0!! Thank You Rapid Chess and Chucky for your amazing unpredictability!! 

Karjakin is estatic after winning on time! And Ivanchuk can’t believe what is transpiring!!

Already a full point in the lead he only needed to draw against Kurnosov to win the event – which he did, to the delight of his fans!! 

He Claims the 1st Ever World Rapid Champion!! and as Chessvibes told him, he would be known as the Steinitz of Rapid Chess!! 

Final standings (after fifteen rounds of play)


The top 3 prize winners. (L-R) Magnus Carlsen (Nor) 2nd place, Winner Sergey Karjakin (RUS) and Veselin Topalov (Bul) 3rd Place

The Winner of the 1st Ever FIDE World Rapid Championship  - GM Sergey Karjakin of Russia is seen with the Trophy!!
*Please Note that all photos are courtesy of www.chessbase.com, www.chessvibes.com and  http://www.worldchess.kz/en/  (official Website of this Championship)

Thanks for reading!

Stay Tuned for the 2nd Part of this report. You will know all about the World BLITZ Championship held in Astana,Kazakhstan  just after the World Rapid Championship!
~ Rakesh Kulkarni