Women's World Blitz Chess Championship
My previous report was dedicated to the World Women’s Rapid Chess Championship, and now it is the time for blitz. The participants were the same, but not the results. The time control was rather unusual: 4m+2s/move. The typical one nowadays is 3m+2s/move, while in the past everyone used to play 5m/game. The schedule was comfortable enough: 15 rounds in two days.
In blitz the ability to play without thinking much, “with your hands”, is critical. One can’t calculate much, so instincts come into play. To become a good blitz player, one has to constantly practice, solve a lot of tactics and have special opening schemes to surprise the opponents and make life easier for oneself.
Before the tournament one of the main favorites was Valentina Gunina from Russia. She is the reigning European classical and blitz chess champion, who has proven herself as a successful blitz player in women’s and mixed events. She lived up to her status and scored a spectacular 8/8 on day one! As Valya herself has commented, she got lucky (in most of the games she was actually lost), but, nonetheless, there is no such thing as a random victory. Generally speaking, in blitz most of the games are far from perfect, so one can see the advantage swing back and forth. Often the last one to blunder terribly loses.
Of course, other strong blitz players were taking part, but no one could match Valya’s speed. The Muzychuk sisters had 6/8, as well as Zhukova Natalia and Nana Dzagnidze. The winner of the rapid event – Antoaneta Stefanova – had 5/8. I started off badly with 3/8.
On day two another 7 rounds were to be played, offering a chance to catch up. Alexandra Kosteniuk won the first three games (on day one she had 4.5/8). Antoaneta Stefanova scored 3.5/4. Natalia Zhukova got only 2.5/5, but went on to win the final games. Maria Muzychuk defeated Zhukova in round 9, but lost five games in a row after that! I started with 3.5/4, then lost a game, didn’t convert a commanding advantage in the next one, and ended up at 8/15. Day two was clearly an improvement for me as compared to day one: 5/7.
Valentina Gunina drew four games in a row – that is a rare case in blitz. Then she won three games and finished at 13/15. A great achievement for the new Women’s World Blitz Chess Champion! Natalia Zhukova and Anna Muzychuk earned medals with 10.5/15.
The atmosphere at the tournament was very friendly and, no matter how serious were the titles at stake, one could see most players smiling and chatting with each other. During prize-giving we were all eating a tasty cake. :) Batumi is a very beautiful city and a great place for holding chess tournaments.
I love taking pictures, so here is another photo report:
And here is some chess content. While reviewing the games to find some interesting samples to show to you, I was actually shocked by the number of one and two-move mates, blundered queens, etc.