Viswanathan Anand won the World Rapid Chess Championship in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia today. He defeated Vladimir Fedoseev 1.5-0.5 in a playoff. Ju Wenjun won the women's tournament.
"I am so unbelievably happy. It was so unexpected, I mean I won many world rapid titles but recently I had the feeling it was slipping away," said a shining Anand after the final day of the rapid tournament. "Honestly I came here hoping for a good performance. I was not even thinking I could win. It's such a pleasant surprise."
The Norwegian TV channel NRK got the very first reaction from Anand, right after his win. The prize-giving has been rescheduled for Saturday after the blitz, so we need to wait for Anand trophy pictures. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Anand took over the title from a player also born in 1969: Vassily Ivanchuk. The Ukrainian GM, who is sometimes absolutely brilliant but more often not, scored only 6.5/15 this time.
We're picking up the tournament in round 11 when Fedoseev was half a point ahead of Anand, Peter Svidler and Wang Hao. The leader drew his game, and saw the group trailing him by half a point growing bigger as Magnus Carlsen had joined them.
Anand drew his game with Svidler quickly and did the same against Ian Nepomniachtchi. In this phase of the tournament, it started to become more important not to lose than to win, to secure a minimum prize but also as a way to save energy.
Svidler-Wang, Safarli-Mamedyarov and Rakhmanov-Mamedyarov also ended in draws, which was good news for the winner of Carlsen-Fedoseev, one of the top clashes of the tournament. For a long time, the endgame looked utterly drawn, but Carlsen managed to win in the end and took over the lead.
Fedoseev thought for a bitter minute before stopping the clock. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Carlsen speaking to FIDE's Nastja Karlovich.
More draws followed in round 13, in the games Carlsen-Wang, Fedoseev-Yu, Onischuk-Anand and Ding-Svidler. Four players came half a point closer: Bu Xiangzhi, Alexander Grischuk, Nepomniachtchi and Vladislav Artemiev.
Grischuk's win was wild:
Carlsen faced Artemiev, whose Scotch Four Knights was too solid for any winning chances. Again, there were lots of draws in this round (Svidler and Nepo after only eight moves), but not in Anand-Grischuk. The Indian legend played a fantastic game that reminded of his best days, and which was a big step to his title.
In the final round, Anand was playing Black against Bu, and drew in just 11 moves, thus securing a very decent prize. He also knew that, if more players would finish on 10.5 points, he could still win the tournament in a playoff.
But first Anand was helped tremendously by Grischuk once more, as the Russian beat Magnus Carlsen, thus taking some revenge for his loss in the 2017 Chess.com Speed Chess Championship semifinal.
Carlsen resigning the game and his quest for the title. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Grischuk speaking to FIDE's Goran Urosevic.
Two players joined Anand in first place: Fedoseev and Nepomniachtchi. Only two of the three would reach the playoff, and to determine the numbers one and two, these tiebreak rules were used:
- Direct Encounters (applies only if all tied players have played each other)
- ARCO (Average Rating of Opponents, including own rating, Cut 1)
- Buchholz Cut 1
- Greater number of games with Black (unplayed games counted as White)
As it turned out, Nepomniachtchi won bronze, and Anand and Fedoseev would play for the trophy. The prizes were shared, and all three got $150,000 (€109,755).
The highly experienced Anand easily switched to the new time control of three minutes and two seconds increment (incidentally the same as in the blitz tournament that starts tomorrow!) while Fedoseev was struggling on the clock. But also on the board, Anand was reigning supreme, again playing with a knight vs a bishop. In the final position, Fedoseev lost on time.
In the second game some crazy things happened, but whatever the engines thought of it, the important thing was that Anand kept everything under control. And so, at age 48, the Tiger of Madras added yet another world title to his CV.
Fedoseev resigns game two and makes his opponent the world rapid champion. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Anand speaking to FIDE's Goran Urosevic.
Before finishing the open section, it should be mentioned that another Indian player had a very pretty checkmate in one of his games:
2017 World Rapid Championship | Final Standings (Top 20)
(Full standings here.)
The Tiger from Madras still has it. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Ju Wenjun led the women's tournament from start to finish and won the gold medal as the only player to finish on 11.5/15, good for a 2658 performance rating. She remained undefeated throughout the tournament. On the last day, two wins and three draws were just enough to stay ahead of the pack.
Here's how she beat Nana Dzagnidze, with a cute final move:
Ju vs Dzagnidze. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
2017 Women's World Rapid Championship | Final Standings (Top 20)
|5||36||IM||Pham Le Thao Nguyen||2390||10||0||2441||131,5||7|
(Full standings here.)
Games via TWIC.
The World Rapid Championship took place December 26-28 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. It was a 15-round Swiss with a prize fund of $750,000 for the open section and $250,000 for the women's section.
The World Blitz Championship will take place December 29-30. It is a 21-round Swiss with a prize fund of $750,000 for the open section and $250,000 for the women's section. You can follow the games in Live Chess.
Correction: An earlier version of this article erroneously stated that Anand won both playoff games. The second ended in a draw.