Ivanchuk Wins World Rapid Championship
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On Wednesday, Vassily Ivanchuk won the World Rapid Championship in Doha, Qatar. The 47-year-old Ukrainian grandmaster had the best tiebreak (average rating of opponents) after he tied for first with Alexander Grischuk (second) and Magnus Carlsen (third).
For a day, Qatar is Planet Chuky.
As one of the strongest grandmasters of the last three decades, many would have liked to see Ivanchuk become world champion one day. Nine years ago he won the World Blitz Championship, and today he clinched the rapid title.
Vassily Mykhaylovych was leading after ten rounds, but for a moment, things went the wrong way. He lost his first game of the day to Ian Nepomniachtchi. The Russian player quickly won a pawn and decided matters in an opposite-colored bishop endgame.
"I think he shouldn't have traded rooks," said Nepomniachtchi, but added that White would be better anyway. "It's a very solid structure for me with the bishop on b4."
Nepomniachtchi playing h4-h5, as in the diagram position. | Photo Maria Emelianova.
The round saw another shocking result for Carlsen, who also started with a loss. "I wanted to resign after the opening," said Anton Korobov afterward. "But then he played this 18.Ng5."
"I won a pawn for nothing," said Carlsen. "I think I am checkmating him but just missed that he could take on g2. Horrible."
"Horrible," said Carlsen about his game with Korobov.
"I think it's all based on a miscalculation," said Nepomniachtchi. "Somehow Korobov tricked him, and there's no mate. Maybe he is jetlagged or something. He spent a lot of energy in New York."
Well, it was more about warming up for Carlsen—also on day three. The Norwegian would finish on 4.0/4 and pointed out himself that, in the last three rounds of all days combined, he had scored 8.5/9.
His last four battles today were all big fighting games for Carlsen. After a close call with Vidit Santosh Gujrathi, he also needed all his chess power to set aside Alexander Riazantsev in an endgame.
The Carlsen-Riazantsev game.
Meanwhile, Levon Aronian was more or less out of contention after a quick loss against Leinier Dominguez.
Aronian, runner-up after the second day, fell back on the third.
Ivanchuk then drew quickly with Dominguez and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov remained in contention by beating Dmitry Jakovenko. Nepomniachtchi grabbed the lead with a good win with the black pieces against Anton Korobov.
Korobov-Nepomniachtchi, watched by Sarkhan Gashimov and Anna Ushenina, among others.
Meanwhile, favorites-on-paper Hikaru Nakamura and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave met, but they were all the way down on board 11. It was clear that neither of them was going to win a prize. Vachier-Lagrave won a drawn rook endgame.
The penultimate round saw a big clash between two good friends: Carlsen and Nepomniachtchi. The latter was enjoying a comfortable lead of a full point, so it was an absolute must-win for Carlsen.
He performed when he had to.
Poor Nepomniachtichi peaked too early.
The same round saw a clash between two giants of another generation. It was Ivanchuk vs Anand, two players in their late 40s who had played so many times before. The Indian grandmaster saw his last hopes for another world title shattered as he blundered a piece in a drawn position:
A huge blunder by the five-time world champion. | Photo Maria Emelianova.
Dominguez played another quick draw, with Mamedyarov, while Grischuk kept his chances alive thanks to a black win over Vachier-Lagrave.
Grischuk was one of the leaders with one round to go.
With one round to go, no less than five players were tied for first on ten points. In order of tiebreak (average Elo of opponents without the weakest opponent): Ivanchuk, Grischuk, Mamedyarov, Nepomniachtchi and Carlsen.
After the pairings were known, it was possible to calculate the tiebreak for the final standings. They hadn't changed, and so the arbiter could confirm that Ivanchuk would win the title if he tied for first.
That's what happened.
The Ukrainian was the first to win his game on board three, against Hrant Melkumyan. Like in almost any of his games, Ivanchuk had a big time advantage, partly thanks to the very interesting pawn sacrifice on move 19.
Eventually, the clock would help him because Melkumyan was playing on increment when he lost a drawn endgame.
Ivanchuk in the decisive game against Melkumyan.
Carlsen did what he had to do, but it wasn't enough this time. Still, he won a decent victory over Mamedyarov:
Carlsen's 4.0/4 was just not enough.
Grischuk also won, and so he made Nepomniachtchi's drama complete.
"I just was extremely lucky," Ivanchuk acknowledged after the tournament. And he didn't especially prepare for the event: "I just did what I'm usually doing. Analyzing games. Following novelties, and discovering some ideas."
Meanwhile, he brought the topic around to draughts/checkers himself once again: "I know that that in the old city there is a checkers club, and I have the desire to visit this. I even have the address."
Ivanchuk also said that he didn't fully realize his success yet. "I still have to digest it!"
Carlsen was also interviewed (by yours truly) and showed good sportsmanship. "Kudos to those who did better than me; especially Ivanchuk of course. It was very impressive."
"Yeah It's amazing, 30 years at the top. Against me, he played incredibly well; he outplayed me. I don't know what he did in the other games, but if he played half as well as against me, he certainly deserves to win."
Even today I didn't feel I was ready for the first game. I just didn't feel fit for fight, for some reason. You cannot expect to win such a tournament when you lose three games. That was just one too many."
World Rapid Championship 2016 | Final Standings (Top 20)
|7||62||GM||Anton Guijarro, David||2605||10||2669||112||66,6|
|8||51||GM||Vidit Santosh Gujrathi||2643||9,5||2758||125,5||74,6|
|10||6||GM||Dominguez Perez, Leinier||2803||9,5||2711||127,5||-0,2|
|11||33||GM||Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son||2685||9,5||2689||117,5||36|
|15||47||GM||Li Chao B||2648||9||2733||124,5||54,2|
(Full standings here.)
Congrats to the Great Vassily on winning the World Rapid! He surprised me many times at the board; now he’s teaching a whole new generation.— Garry Kasparov ( @Kasparov63) December 28, 2016
In was a one-woman show for Anna Muzychuk in the women's tournament. She first drew with IM Khademalsharieh Sarasadat, then she beat Valentina Gunina. Finally, two quick draws were enough to finish a point ahead of Alexandra Kosteniuk.
Anna Muzychuk, the 2016 Rapid World Champion among women.
World Rapid Championship 2016 (Women) | Final Standings (Top 20)
|13||23||IM||Pham Le Thao Nguyen||2365||6,5||2457||70||36|
(Full standings here.)
Games from TWIC.
Each day, the action starts at 3 p.m. local time, which is 1 p.m. in Central Europe, noon London, 7 a.m. New York, 4 a.m. Pacific and 11 p.m. Sydney. You'll be able to follow the top games in Live Chess and watch the live show with commentary by GM Evgeny Miroshnichenko and IM Anna Rudolf on Chess.com/TV.