Carlsen Leads On World Blitz Chess Championship Day 1
Magnus Carlsen with FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich. Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE.

Carlsen Leads On World Blitz Chess Championship Day 1

| 25 | Chess Event Coverage

Magnus Carlsen (Norway) played himself towards pole position on the first day of the world blitz championship in Moscow. Only Maxim Matlakov (Russia) is trailing him by just half a point with nine rounds to go on Sunday.

Kateryna Lagno leads the women's section by a full point and has excellent chances to retain the title she won last year in St. Petersburg.

You can follow the games here (women's games here) as part of our live portal. You can watch daily commentary with GMs Yasser Seirawan and Robert Hess at You can find all the information on this event here.

Carlsen once won "the double" to hold all three titles—for classical, rapid and blitz chess—in one year. That was in 2014 in Dubai, and Garry Kasparov compared the feat to "winning tennis slams on clay, grass and hard court."

The Norwegian star has put himself in an excellent position to do it again. Except for one bad game, he continued his good form that gave him the rapid title on the previous three days and scored 10/12 today. Nine more rounds will follow tomorrow.

In a few games he got help from his opponents; for example, in round three against Salem Saleh. An Exchange Queen's Gambit Declined exploded tactically. Initially the UAE player was alert when he found his strong 21st move, but he missed a winning follow-up, lost track and dropped material quickly instead of winning it:

Carlsen continued with two more wins but wasn't the only player on 5/5. His next opponent, also on a perfect score, was Uzbek talent Nodirbek Abdusattorov. The 15-year-old became a grandmaster in October 2017 at the age of 13 years, 1 month, 11 days, which is 3.5 months faster than Carlsen. (Find an overview of the youngest GMs in history here.)

Nodirbek Abdussatorov Carlsen World blitz championship 2019
Nodirbek Abdussatorov was the first to hold Carlsen to a draw. Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE.

In another shaky moment (while having a winning position), Carlsen blundered an important central pawn and was lucky to escape with a draw after missing another win:

This was definitely not a great phase for the world champion, who played his worst game in round seven. The loss was his first in Moscow—a game well played by Dmitry Andreikin:

Andreikin Carlsen World blitz championship 2019
Andreikin was the first to beat Carlsen in Moscow. Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE.

A strong phase of three straight wins followed when Carlsen regained control. His win against Baadur Jobava especially saw a pretty finish, but the position was roughly equal when the Georgian GM missed the trick of his opponent: 

In another clash with Hikaru Nakamura in the penultimate round of the day, the American again couldn't get much with the white pieces, so the players split the point just like the day before. 

Carlsen finished the day with a fine win over Vladislav Artemiev:

However, the day had an unpleasant ending for the champion. While signing autographs for fans, his mood completely changed when the chairman of FIDE's Medical Commission, Marape Marape of Botswana, approached Carlsen for a doping test.

Doping test Carlsen World blitz championship 2019
Marape approaching Carlsen for the doping test. Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE.

Knowing that it can take more than an hour, Carlsen first asked if it was possible to do the next day. When the answer was negative, initially he angrily walked away (screams were heard) to the VIP room. Later he returned and underwent the test after all.

"Sometimes it may not be practical for them, but it is a requirement. It is out of our control," Marape told Norwegian TV channel NRK in an interview.

Henrik Carlsen commenting briefly about the situation to FIDE.

Matlakov is a surprise to find in sole second place. The 28-year-old grandmaster from St. Petersburg hasn't had major successes in blitz (that we know of, although he did win the blitz event during the 2014 Politiken Cup).

In his first 12 blitz games, Matlakov stayed undefeated. With several draws, he avoided the strongest opponents so far, but a superior finish of 3/3 brought him to the top. His game in round 11 is notable:

Maxim Matlakov World blitz championship 2019
Maxim Matlakov. Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE.

The second day will definitely be exciting with Nakamura just a point behind Carlsen, together with Daniil Dubov and Ian Nepomniachtchi. Other specialists such as Artemiev, Jan-Krzysztof Duda and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov are one and a half points behind, while Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Alireza Firouzja are in the group trailing Carlsen by two points.

And what about Vladimir Kramnik, the surprise participant in this blitz championship? Well, it looks like his retirement from standard chess did make him more rusty than he would have liked, but being in the same group of players on 8/12 isn't that terrible. 

He started with 3/3, then drew with Alexey Dreev before his first loss that was to Sergey Karjakin. He would also lose to Gabriel Sargissian and Boris Savchenko but eventually scored seven wins as well. His last opponent made his life easy:

Vladimir Kramnik World blitz championship 2019
Vladimir Kramnik back at the chess board. Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE.

Blitz tournaments always have several blunders, but when queens drop off the board at the highest level is always surprising:

Hikaru Nakamura World blitz championship 2019
That was a nice gift for Hikaru Nakamura. Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE.

We already saw 1.b3 by Jovaba. Here's a nice game played by GM Timur Gareyev, who defeated former world blitz champion Leinier Dominguez with 1.b4:

2019 World Blitz Championship | Round 12 Standings (Top 20)

Rk. SNo Fed Title Name Rtg Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3
1 2 GM Carlsen Magnus 2865 10,0 85,5 91,0 2693
2 20 GM Matlakov Maxim 2720 9,5 83,0 87,0 2654
3 1 GM Nakamura Hikaru 2885 9,0 86,5 92,0 2687
4 18 GM Dubov Daniil 2736 9,0 80,0 84,5 2607
5 4 GM Nepomniachtchi Ian 2826 9,0 77,5 83,0 2619
6 14 GM Vidit Santosh Gujrathi 2756 8,5 85,5 90,0 2709
7 8 GM Artemiev Vladislav 2793 8,5 84,0 90,0 2729
8 7 GM Duda Jan-Krzysztof 2796 8,5 81,0 84,5 2657
9 27 GM Mamedyarov Shakhriyar 2706 8,5 80,5 85,5 2643
10 5 GM Yu Yangyi 2807 8,5 80,5 84,0 2662
11 53 GM Quparadze Giga 2643 8,5 73,5 78,0 2621
12 112 GM Socko Bartosz 2557 8,0 90,5 95,5 2744
13 32 GM Ponkratov Pavel 2698 8,0 89,5 94,0 2656
14 47 GM Dreev Aleksey 2658 8,0 87,0 92,5 2662
15 50 GM Firouzja Alireza 2649 8,0 87,0 91,5 2724
16 9 GM Andreikin Dmitry 2780 8,0 86,0 90,5 2696
17 156 GM Petrosyan Manuel 2483 8,0 83,5 89,5 2679
18 39 GM Sargissian Gabriel 2676 8,0 83,0 88,0 2660
19 124 GM Gareyev Timur 2533 8,0 79,5 84,5 2686
20 12 GM Vachier-Lagrave Maxime 2768 8,0 78,5 84,0 2593

(Full final standings here.)

Playing hall world blitz championship 2019
A bird's eye view of the crowded playing hall. Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE.

Like in the rapid tournament, the women play fewer rounds. Today their schedule had nine games.

Unlike in the rapid when Humpy Koneru was never leading until the last moment, this time the Indian grandmaster played forcefully from the very start. She scored 5/5, drew the next two games and won another game to reach 7/8.

Here's her win from round eight:

Humpy Koneru World blitz championship 2019
Humpy Koneru also has chances to win the "double" in Moscow. Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE.

However, Koneru is not alone in the lead. Also with seven points after eight rounds is Kateryna Lagno of Russia, the reigning women's world blitz champion.

Because Lagno blundered material early in the game, Koneru was completely winning for about 30 moves, but after the time was less than 10 seconds for both players, the Indian lost her sense of reality and managed to lose instead.

This way it was Lagno who ended the day with a win, and she'll start the second day with a full-point lead and eight rounds to go.

Kateryna Lagno World blitz championship 2019
Kateryna Lagno. Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE.

2019 Women's World Blitz Championship | Round 9 Standings (Top 20)

Rk. SNo Fed Title Name Rtg Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3
1 1 GM Lagno Kateryna 2606 8,0 47,0 50,0 2393
2 3 GM Kosteniuk Alexandra 2521 7,0 46,5 51,0 2312
3 5 GM Koneru Humpy 2489 7,0 46,5 49,5 2384
4 65 IM Charochkina Daria 2212 7,0 45,5 49,5 2407
5 42 IM Kashlinskaya Alina 2282 7,0 40,5 44,5 2267
6 6 GM Tan Zhongyi 2480 6,5 49,5 53,0 2401
7 43 IM Munguntuul Batkhuyag 2282 6,5 48,5 51,0 2390
8 21 IM Bodnaruk Anastasia 2375 6,5 44,5 47,5 2268
9 13 IM Abdumalik Zhansaya 2415 6,5 42,5 45,5 2235
10 4 GM Muzychuk Anna 2504 6,5 42,5 45,0 2271
11 16 IM Arabidze Meri 2412 6,5 42,5 44,5 2277
12 10 GM Harika Dronavalli 2445 6,5 40,5 43,5 2304
13 2 GM Lei Tingjie 2543 6,0 48,5 52,5 2356
14 20 IM Paehtz Elisabeth 2380 6,0 48,0 51,0 2316
15 39 WGM Voit Daria 2293 6,0 47,5 51,5 2404
16 24 GM Gunina Valentina 2366 6,0 46,0 49,0 2357
17 26 GM Muzychuk Mariya 2344 6,0 44,5 48,5 2263
18 69 IM Gvetadze Sofio 2202 6,0 43,5 48,0 2370
19 46 IM Mkrtchian Lilit 2268 6,0 42,5 47,0 2367
20 11 GM Dzagnidze Nana 2432 6,0 42,0 45,5 2311

(Full standings here.)

FIDE's interview with Lagno.

The world blitz championship takes place in the Grand Sports Arena of the Luzhniki Olympic Complex in Moscow. Monday will be the last day. The time control is three minutes plus a two-second increment. Over two days 21 rounds will be played in the open section and 17 rounds in the women's section.

The world rapid and the world blitz championships each have a total prize fund of $350,000 and a first prize of $60,000. The women's world rapid and the women's world blitz championships each have a total prize fund of $150,000 and a first prize of $40,000.

Find more information on the world rapid and blitz here.'s day four coverage with Yasser Seirawan and Robert Hess.

I love Magnus 2019 World blitz championship
Some big fans of the world champion in the audience. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Alexander Morozevich 2019 World blitz championship
Alexander Morozevich is also playing and was on 6.5/12 after day one. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Eric Hansen 2019 World blitz championship
Chessbrah Eric Hansen, also on 6.5/12. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Vidit Giri 2019 World blitz championship
Friends Vidit and Giri chatting. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Daniil Dubov 2019 World blitz championship
Daniil Dubov, 9/12. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Nakamura Carlsen 2019 World blitz championship
Carlsen chatting with Nakamura after their draw. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Nihal Sarin Raunak Sadhwani 2019 World blitz championship
Nihal Sarin and Raunak Sadhwani... Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Gukesh D Nihal Sarin Nihal Sarin 2019 World blitz championship
...and Gukesh D. with Nihal. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

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