Mamedyarov wins FIDE World Rapid Championship

Mamedyarov wins FIDE World Rapid Championship

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Ian Nepomniachtchi went into the final day as the big favourite, but in the end it was Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan who emerged as the winner of the FIDE World Rapid Championship in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia. That final day was marked by Mamedyarov's amazing winning streak of five consecutive games, while Nepomniachtchi, who scored 4.5/5 on both Thursday and Friday, didn't win a single game.

The FIDE World Rapid and Blitz Championship took place June 6-8 in the Ugra Chess Academy of Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia. The city has hosted many chess events over the years, including four World Cups and a Chess Olympiad.

The strongest players who travelled to Siberia were Alexander Grischuk (Russia), Gata Kamsky (USA), Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan), Ruslan Ponomariov (Ukraine), Dmitry Jakovenko (Russia), Dmitry Andreikin (Russia), Nikita Vitiugov (Russia), Le Quang Liem (Vietnam) Vladimir Akopian (Armenia) and Ivan Cheparinov (Bulgaria). Sergey Karjakin (Russia) decided not to defend his title (which he won last year in Astana, Kazakhstan) but win the Sberbank rapid instead!

This meant that only one player of the current top 10 participated (Grischuk), which was quite unfortunate for an official World Championship. On Twitter this led to a debate between Azerbaijan's top GM Teimour Radjabov and Berik Balgabaev, the assistant of FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov:

This went on a bit further; you can read the full thread here.

It's not easy to explain who so many top players decided to skip the event this year. It probably wasn't the prize fund: US $200,000 for the Rapid Championship and the same for the Blitz Championship that follows right after. Was it FIDE's decision to make it a Swiss event, where any player rated 2500 or higher could participate?

In any case, the tournament was very interesting all the same! The fifteen rounds were spread out over three days, and there was one player who dominated the field both on Thursday and Friday: Ian Nepomniachtchi. The 22-year-old Russian grandmaster was in great shape, and scored 4.5/5 on both days.

By then he had created a gap of two points in the leader board, where Ivan Cheparinov of Bulgaria and Ildar Khairullin of Russia were tied for second place with 7/10. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan), Aleksey Dreev (Russia), Alexander Grischuk (Russia), Vladimir Potkin (Russia) and Vladimir Akopian (Armenia) were all on 6.5 points.

Ian Nepomniachtchi (Russia), the clear leader after ten rounds

The famous Russian commentator GM Sergey Shipov gave the following comment about Nepomniachtchi on the tournament website:

Ian is lucky at the tournament to have three positive factors combined luckily for him, – Shipov thinks. He is in a great shape himself. And plus, his main competitors don’t show their best performance, due to different reasons. Grischuk is keeping secrets in his openings. Ponomariov is not in the best health shape. Dreev is not so young anymore to cope with tough tournament. I was expecting more from Andreikin, but maybe he doesn’t force the preparations, for he has more important tournament ahead – Tal Memorial.

Ian found the right balance between light and deep game. This is very important in rapid chess, where you don’t have a possibility to sink into the depth of the game. He plays very quickly and thinks deeply only in critical moments.

In recent years Nepomniachtchi was not so successful, but he worked hard and sooner or later the result has to come. In my opinion, he has a great chance to win two golden medals but let`s see what will happen.

However, to everyone's surprise, on the final day Nepomniachtchi didn't manage to win a single game! He drew with Vladimir Akopian and Sergey Movsesian (both Armenia), then lost to Alexander Grischuk (Russia) and then drew two more games, with his compatriots Ernesto Inarkiev and Alexander Riazantsev.

There was one player who made the most of the situation: Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, who is back to being Azerbaijan's highest rated player since Teimour Radjabov's disastrous recent results. On Saturday "Shakh" was in a class of his own, beating all five opponents: Vladimir Potkin, Nikita Vitiugov, Sergey Movsesian, Gadir Guseinov and Ernesto Inarkiev.

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan) saved the best for last

Here are a few interesting games

World Rapid Championship 2013 | Final standings

# Title Player Fed Rating Points
1 GM Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar AZE 2726 11.5
2 GM Nepomniachtchi, Ian RUS 2762 11.0
3 GM Grischuk, Alexander RUS 2825 10.5
4 GM Le, Quang Liem VIE 2681 10.0
5 GM Guseinov, Gadir AZE 2640 9.0
6 GM Khairullin, Ildar RUS 2683 9.0
7 GM Andreikin, Dmitry RUS 2692 9.0
8 GM Movsesian, Sergei ARM 2680 9.0
9 GM Khismatullin, Denis RUS 2674 9.0
10 GM Inarkiev, Ernesto RUS 2696 9.0
11 GM Cheparinov, Ivan BUL 2678 9.0
12 GM Riazantsev, Alexander RUS 2616 9.0
13 GM Vitiugov, Nikita RUS 2719 9.0
14 GM Mamedov, Rauf AZE 2712 9.0
15 GM Bologan, Viktor MDA 2663 8.5
16 GM Nguyen, Ngoc Truong Son VIE 2625 8.5
17 GM Dreev, Aleksey RUS 2746 8.5
18 GM Ponomariov, Ruslan UKR 2743 8.5
19 GM Vallejo Pons, Francisco ESP 2706 8.5
20 GM Najer, Evgeniy RUS 2638 8.5
21 GM Kamsky, Gata USA 2751 8.5
22 GM Jakovenko, Dmitry RUS 2690 8.0
23 GM Ponkratov, Pavel RUS 2634 7.5
24 GM Potkin, Vladimir RUS 2663 7.5
25 GM Moiseenko, Alexander UKR 2714 7.5
26 GM Zvjaginsev, Vadim RUS 2671 7.5
27 GM Georgiev, Kiril BUL 2651 7.5
28 GM Salem, A.R. Saleh UAE 2531 7.5
29 GM Akopian, Vladimir ARM 2691 7.5
30 GM Grachev, Boris RUS 2684 7.5
31 GM Kobalia, Mikhail RUS 2590 7.5
32 GM Safarli, Eltaj AZE 2660 7.5
33 GM Sargissian, Gabriel ARM 2682 7.5
34 GM Vasquez Schroeder, Rodrigo CHI 2563 7.5
35 GM Rublevsky, Sergei RUS 2731 7.5
36 IM Artemiev, Vladislav RUS 2573 7.0
37 GM Pridorozhni, Aleksei RUS 2561 7.0
38 GM Rakhmanov, Aleksandr RUS 2564 7.0
39 GM Smirin, Ilia ISR 2639 7.0
40 GM Bezgodov, Alexei RUS 2482 7.0
41 FM Gordievsky, Dmitry RUS 2517 7.0
42 IM Potapov, Pavel RUS 2498 7.0
43 GM Dubov, Daniil RUS 2584 7.0
44 GM Frolyanov, Dmitry RUS 2665 6.5
45 GM Kurnosov, Igor RUS 2623 6.5
46 GM Gundavaa, Bayarsaikhan MGL 2516 6.5
47 GM Popov, Ivan RUS 2639 6.5
48 GM Kabanov, Nikolai RUS 2445 6.5
49 GM Lagno, Kateryna UKR 2598 6.5
50 GM Ghaem Maghami, Ehsan IRI 2588 6.5
51 IM Nadanian, Ashot ARM 2428 6.0
52 GM Cherniaev, Alexander RUS 2494 5.5
53 GM AL-Sayed, Mohammed QAT 2513 5.5
54 IM Pasiev, Rakhim RUS 2412 5.5
55 Ram, S. Krishnan IND 2313 4.5
56 GM Skatchkov, Pavel RUS 2486 3.5
57 FM Byambaa, Zulzaga MGL 2285 3.0
58 IM Akbaev, Kazbek RUS 2428 2.0

It's not over for the players in Khanty-Mansiysk; on Sunday they will continue with the World Blitz Championship (9-10 June). The time control is 3 minutes + 2 seconds increment per move. Like the Rapid tournament, the Blitz  is a Swiss event, but this time with 15 double rounds: one game with white and one with black against the same opponent.

Tournament website, games via TWIC, photos by Kirill Merkuryev & Maria Emelianova courtesy of FIDE

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