The Unusual Side Of Blitz Chess
Do you have blitz chess on your mind?

The Unusual Side Of Blitz Chess

| 53 | Endgames

When we talk about blitz chess, we usually think about tactics, blunders and opening surprises that force our opponents to spend their precious seconds. I doubt that many people would mention good endgame technique as an integral element of blitz.

Indeed, most times when a blitz game reaches an endgame, both players have just seconds on their clocks and usually have only two rules to play by: Do not lose on time and do not blunder too much.

Here is a very recent example. Just watch the last minute of the video and please don't forget to turn on the sound!

Was it blitz or a soccer shoot-out?

The FIDE Grand Prix in Riga was an outstanding event. Not only did it produce dozens of exciting games; it also had an unbelievable final match. Both Mamedyarov and Vachier-Lagrave deserved to win it, but at the end fortune smiled on Mamedyarov. Two of the blitz games from the tie-break were especially remarkable. Look at the following position:

Black is clearly better since he controls the only open file. White, however, managed to cover all his weaknesses and it is not clear how Black can convert his positional advantage. Considering that both opponents had only about two minutes, the result of the game looked unclear.

I was really impressed by Mamedyarov's decision here. He showed that he knows the classical heritage. Look at the following famous game from a world championship match with annotations by Capablanca. The position after 21 moves looks equal since it is unclear what either side can do there. Yet Lasker found a very risky plan of playing for a win. He moved his king to the queenside, got an advantage, but in the end made a series of mistakes and even lost the game!

Mamedyarov was more successful in executing the same plan:

Now it was MVL's turn to demonstrate knowledge of classical games. Look at the following position:

Does it look familiar to you? I hope it does, since this classical endgame happened in the decisive game of another world championship match. Since then it became one of those proverbial "every Russian schoolboy knows" positions.

Judge for yourself:

MVL copied Alekhine's winning plan as well as his result:

I don't recall seeing many games where the players demonstrated such sophisticated endgame concepts with barely a couple of minutes on their clocks. It is really nice to see that blitz is not always just silly wood pushing!

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