Karjakin Wins World Blitz Championship
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Today Sergey Karjakin won the World Blitz Championship in Doha, Qatar. The Russian grandmaster edged out Magnus Carlsen on tiebreaks after both finished on 16.5/21. Anna Muzychuk scored a double victory in Qatar as she also won the Women's World Blitz Championship.
"This title means a lot," said Karjakin.
It was a dramatic finale to five days of speed chess. Carlsen had been leading after rounds 18, 19 and 20, but in the final 21st round, Karjakin caught him in first and won the title on tiebreak.
On this final day in Doha, Carlsen again started well. He beat Maxime Vachier-Lagrave convincingly from a Ruy Lopez line that he might well have prepared for his match with Karjakin. From early in the middlegame, White was under pressure.
Carlsen started with a win with Black versus Vachier-Lagrave.
With that game, the Norwegian grabbed the sole lead as Karjakin drew his game with Alexander Morozevich. The surprise of the first day, Marin Bosiocic, continued well. He beat Baadur Jobava in a good game and then also defeated Peter Leko with some luck.
Yesterday Carlsen said that he was impressed by Bosiocic's compusure. The Croatian GM does seem very calm during games, but "inside it's different," as he admitted after round 14.
Marin Bosiocic scored a terrible 0.5/7 after this...
That same round saw the big game between Hikaru Nakamura and Magnus Carlsen which was a good, fighting draw:
The GM Blitz Battle finalists drew their game in Qatar. | Photo Maria Emelianova.
In round 15, Carlsen drew very quickly with Alexander Grischuk; the real action was seen on board two. After an up and down game, Karjakin got a queen versus two minor pieces against Nakamura which was probably winning (but not easy). And then he suddenly blundered his queen...
Nakamura: "At the end, probably Sergey was winning. He found this really nice idea with this Rh8, h6, h7, and I kind of just had to be practical and let him queen. Sometimes you need a bit of luck; I know some of the other players had some luck as well."
Naka had his share of luck against Karjakin. | Photo Maria Emelianova.
In round 16, Carlsen had the white pieces against Vassily Ivanchuk. The World Rapid Champion has never been an easy opponent, and yet again, he played a fantastic game on a very high level. Carlsen didn't even show much disappointment afterward as he knew he had been outplayed yet again.
Another great game by Ivanchuk versus Carlsen. | Photo Maria Emelianova.
Karjakin caught Carlsen in first place with a black win over Mamedyarov.
Another win for Karjakin. | Photo Maria Emelianova.
The round finished with a remarkable incident. Ahmed Adley was trying to win rook vs knight against Diego Flores for a long time. It was such a long time that Flores at some point claimed a draw based on the 50-move rule.
This claim was rejected as it was only 47 moves, so the players played on with Adly getting extra time on the clock. Only a few moves later, Flores blundered, and the position was suddenly lost. The Argentinian grandmaster thereupon claimed a draw again, but again he was denied. This time White had played 50 moves since the last capture, but Black had one move to go.
A chaotic but also funny situation... | Photo Maria Emelianova.
Flores in fact had only one second left on the clock in the following position.
He then requested the arbiter to start his clock from the other side so that the arbiter's arm would not be in the way, which got the fairly big crowd laughing. Another arbiter started the clock, Flores managed to make his move, but then he made the mistake of playing another move, instead of claiming the draw for the third time. Before he knew it, he was checkmated, and the game was over.
Round 17 again showed that Karjakin has always been a difficult opponent for Ivanchuk. The two former compatriots (Karjakin changed federations from Ukraine to Russia in 2009) played a Classical Rauzer Sicilian; Ivanchuk allowed a bishop sac on h6 and lost without a fight.
An easy win for Karjakin versus Ivanchuk.
That kept the pressure on Carlsen, who delivered as well. He defeated Teimour Radjabov with some more endgame magic.
Nakamura, who was in sole third place thanks to a win over Leinier Dominguez in the previous round, stumbled against Vachier-Lagrave. In a difficult endgame, he had reached a drawn position, but then he blundered.
Reasonable finish here in Doha although throwing away third place wasn't exciting, and 1 out of 5 days with good chess just won't cut it.— Hikaru Nakamura ( @GMHikaru) December 30, 2016
In round 18, for the first time, we saw a very lucky Carlsen. He got a completely lost position against Baadur Jobava, but then he survived and even won the rook endgame.
"That was the break I needed," said Carlsen. "So far the games... you know, the ones I've lost, I've been outplayed, well not against Karjakin where I blundered, and the ones I've won they haven't, like, shifted completely. This is the break that I got."
Jobava spent the whole break walking around in the playing hall and asking
everyone he met why he hadn't played Kc3. | Photo Maria Emelianova.
After a break, Carlsen was back to his old self in round 19 and confidently defeated Vladimir Onischuk to get to 15 points.
Karjakin won even more quickly against Peter Leko to keep the distance with Carlsen to half a point. Afterward he would comment: "[It] was just a brilliant game, sacrificing the rook. I would be happy to play this in the rapid tournament, but now it was at the end of the blitz tournament!"
Karjakin's game vs Leko: a self-declared brilliancy. | Photo Maria Emelianova.
Nakamura vs Grischuk was a truly dramatic game. In the final phase, crazy things happened (in mutual time trouble obviously) and the evaluation kept on shifting.
Nakamura realizes that he is now even losing this endgame. | Photo Maria Emelianova.
Carlsen then beat Anand surprisingly quickly in the penultimate round.
A very quick win for Carlsen versus Anand, his opponent in two world-title matches.
Carlsen then started watching Wojtaszek vs Karjakin, with the knowledge that if the latter would lose, he would be the champion with a round to spare. And Wojtaszek did get a winning position, but he spoiled it and even lost. Carlsen walked away shaking his head—It was probably better for him not to find out how winning Wojtaszek had been earlier in the game...
Carlsen's nightmare scenario came true. He had to play a solid player as Black (Peter Leko) who also had a lower rapid rating than Karjakin's opponent (Jobava). This meant that Karjakin's tiebreak would be better, and so a tie for first would not be enough, but this is how it ended: Karjakin won, and Carlsen couldn't beat Leko.
Karjakin: "We all know that Peter is solid, and I believed [in] him!" | Photo Maria Emelianova.
Jobava played an amazing opening in that last game, which he had tried twice before in this event: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 and now 3...d5 instead of 3...d6.
"The funny thing was that he played an opening I have never seen in my life. It was just incredible," said Karjakin.
Sergey Karjakin got a world title this year after all.
Karjakin said that despite some ups and downs, he had played well throughout the tournament. "This title means a lot. After my match I lost against Magnus—it was a good match but I still thought I need to do something to be satisfied. Now I'm satisfied!"
Not this time, Mr.Carlsen😎! pic.twitter.com/YTKpba3HRt— Sergey Karjakin ( @SergeyKaryakin) December 30, 2016
The grapes were especially sour for Carlsen, who finished shared first in both tournaments, but he only got a bronze and a silver medal—colors that don't matter too much for him.
2016 World Blitz Championship | Final Standings (Top 20)
|7||10||GM||Dominguez Perez, Leinier||2783||13||2725||253,5||13,4|
|13||44||GM||Salem, A.R. Saleh||2636||12,5||2767||261||103,8|
(Full standings here.)
After the closing ceremony was over, Ivanchuk was sharing his love for that other board game with Jobava...
Yes, Chuky loves draughts. :-) pic.twitter.com/YJgDep8ix8— ChessVibes ( @ChessVibes) December 30, 2016
Anna Muzychuk took the Doha double. On the last day, she started with three draws, and then she had a fantastic finish with 5/5. She finished half a point ahead of Valentina Gunina and Katerya Lagno. Here's the final-round game from the winner:
Kateryna Lagno (3rd), Anna Muzchuk (1st), and Valentina Gunina (2nd).
2016 World Blitz Championship (Women) | Final Standings (Top 20)
|15||17||IM||Pham Le Thao Nguyen||2382||9,5||2322||119,5||-13|
(Full standings here.)
Games from TWIC.