On Friday Magnus Carlsen also won the FIDE World Blitz Championship in Dubai and so the Norwegian now holds the crown in three different time controls. He finished on 17.0/21, a full point more than Ian Nepomniachtchi & Hikaru Nakamura, who finished two points ahead of the rest of the pack.
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He wasn't top seeded in either event, and with so many rounds and so many top players present, Magnus Carlsen wasn't considered more than a slight favorite among the favorites in Dubai. To win both the rapid and the blitz tournament is simply outstanding, even for him!
Even though the Rapid & Blitz World Championships have only been organized in this format a few times, this achievement can definitely be called historic. Vishy Anand was the king of rapid chess for a long time, partly during his reign as the classical champion, but Carlsen can now call himself the official world champion in classical, rapid and blitz chess.
So how did that final day at the Dubai Chess & Culture Club unfold? As a reminder, Carlsen's 9.0/11 meant a half-point lead over Hikaru Nakamura and Georg Meier. That was the starting point, with Carlsen having already played against four quickplay specialists: Ian Nepomniachtchi, Hikaru Nakamura, Le Quang Liem and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov.
Carlsen immediately started with a win against one of the surprises of day 1, Georg Meier. It wasn't a convincing victory, though. If the German GM had found the c4-c5+ idea earlier (on move 34!), the result could have been very different.
Meier did much worse on the second day; he scored only 3.5 points - just like the other surprising name, Lu Shanglei. The Chinese player lost Friday's first round to Nepomniachtchi, who stayed half a point behind the leader. Nakamura dropped back a bit while escaping with a draw against Sargissian.
Speaking of players who disappointed: after winning the Norway Chess tournament, Sergey Karjakin played a good rapid tournament (shared sixth), but then apparently the energy was gone. He came 61st in the blitz.
The second day would see another relatively unknown player beating a bunch of famous grandmasters: Sergei Yudin, who holds a modest classical rating of 2546.
Sergei Yudin, one of the surprises in the blitz
Yudin's rise in fact started on Thursday evening as he defeated Radjabov in round 10. On Friday a black win versus Svidler followed, after surviving a very difficult (in fact lost if White goes 25.Be5 and 26.Qd4) position.
Yudin then also set aside Lu, drew with Le, and then beat both Wojtaszek and Nakamura! Especially the game with the American was a heroic fight, where Nakamura kept on playing for a win while being material down.
Round 13 saw the second encounter in Dubai between the players of the next world title match: Carlsen, again with the white pieces, against Anand. This game was perhaps of higher quality than the one in the rapid, with Anand playing solidly and defending a slightly worse position almost without effort.
And so Anand won the “minimatch” in Dubai 0.5-1.5, while playing Black both times. Not bad!
Nepomniachtchi decreased the gap with Carlsen to half a point after beating Sargissian, and Nakamura recovered well with a win against Riazantsev. Meanwhile Caruana, who isn't an especially great blitz player and couldn't play for the top prizes, won a nice game against Movsesian.
Just play through his next game with Paco Vallejo and you will realize how easy it is to make a blunder after a long game.
Of almost the same category was Anand's round 15 game against Nepomniachtchi. The Indian was in control from the start, got a promising rook ending but then… one king move in the wrong direction and the position changed from won to lost. These rook endings!
Some unfortunate moments for Anand
After two good wins over Polgar and Mamedyarov, something even worse happened to Anand. He won a pawn against Nakamura as Black, couldn't find the most accurate moves after which it was a dead draw, then he grabbed his king on move 41, put it on f6, changed his mind and moved it to g6 instead, missing a knight fork. Horrible!
Round 14 had another nice tag to the game on board one: the highest rated player ever against the strongest female player ever. “Will we discover Magnus's weak spot?” joked GM Ian Rogers in the playing hall. The answer was negative.
On the board next to them, an absolute amazing game was played. From a Queen's Gambit Accepted Nakamura got three pawns versus on on the queenside, and instead of developing, he just kept on pushing pawns there! The position after move 12 is quite a sight.
Mamedyarov found an ingenious way to deal with those pawns: giving a rook, but winning a piece back elsewhere. Focusing on the Black king, the Azeri GM got a winning advantage but somehow the game ended in a draw!
After 15 rounds Carlsen and Nepomniachtchi both had 12 points while Nakamura and Mamedyarov were a point behind. Two players were behind them: Yudin and Aronian.
Nepomniachtchi grabbed the lead in the next round by beating Mamedyarov, while Carlsen drew his game with Aronian.
In round 17 Nepomniachtchi didn't have much trouble with Yudin. Dreev was a lot tougher to beat, but Carlsen eventually managed to grind him down in an almost equal ending:
Nakamura stayed close; his game with Aronian was decided in a pawn ending:
In round 18 both Nepomniachtchi and Carlsen drew their games, against Mamedov and Morozevich respectively, and so with three rounds to go Nepomniachtchi was still in the lead, Carlsen half a point behind, and Nakamura a point behind Carlsen. It all came down to who would be the sharpest and fittest after five days of fast chess!
And in fact it was the very next game where Nepomniachtchi blew it. He got a queen against rook & bishop (and passed pawn) for Korobov, missed a win to two and had to settle for a draw.
Carlsen was worse against Mamedov. He decided to set a trap, and his opponent fell for it:
And so we had two leaders, with two rounds to go! Carlsen again did what he had to do, and beat Yudin - in just a few minutes it was over.
Carlsen stood up from the board, wrote down the result and then walked to board 2 to check out the position there. When Nepomniachtchi noticed him, he turned around towards Carlsen's board, to see where the kings were placed. The two monarchs were on white squares, so the Russian knew Carlsen had won. He frowned, continued defending his slightly worse ending and eventually lost.
Aronian defeated Nepomniachtchi in a crucial game
Suddenly the tournament seemed already decided, because Carlsen was a point clear with one round to go, and also had a better tiebreak. But, because that tiebreak (average rating of the opponents cut one) could still change in favor of Nepomniachtchi in the last round, Carlsen was certainly going for at least a draw. And he even got a win as Korobov blundered a pawn in an equal position.
Korobov resigns, Carlsen wins his third world title
A convincing victory! Or, in Carlsen's own words, if you score 17.0/21 you deserve to win. When Anastasiya Karlovich asked him the obvious question “what's next”, Carlsen: “I can do it again!”, adding that he will be just as motivated next year.
When GM Ian Rogers asked him if he wanted to go for the world title in correspondence or bullet, Carlsen replied: “I don't have the patience for correspondence or the hands for bullet.”
Magnus Carlsen in between Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and Ian Nepomniachtchi
Here's the full press conference:
World Blitz Championship 2014 | Final Standings (Top 40)
||Le Quang Liem
||Iturrizaga Bonelli Eduardo
||Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son
||Salem A.R. Saleh
||Van Wely Loek
(Full standings here)