Carlsen, Lagno Repeat As World Blitz Chess Champions
Magnus Carlsen is back to being the world champion in all three formats. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Carlsen, Lagno Repeat As World Blitz Chess Champions

PeterDoggers
PeterDoggers
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232 | Chess Event Coverage

Just like last year, Magnus Carlsen (Norway) and Kateryna Lagno (Russia) became the winners of the world blitz championships in Moscow. As in 2014, Carlsen scored the "double," as he also won the world rapid title two days ago.

It was a decade owned by Carlsen, and he finished it in style. He holds all three titles in chess again—standard, rapid and blitz—and on the new list he will be world number one in the FIDE ratings in all three categories.

He won the tournament by winning a playoff against Hikaru Nakamura, who had also finished on the excellent score of 16.5/21. The American GM missed a chance in the first game, which ended in a draw, and then Carlsen won the second. They split prizes, and both won $55,000.

Carlsen won his fifth world blitz title. He has won the world rapid three times and the classical title four times. He now has 12 world titles in total.

Vladimir Kramnik won the bronze medal, like he did in 2015 in Berlin. It was all the more impressive as the 14th world champion retired from classical chess in January of this year, and has played just a handful of games at faster time controls since.

Kramnik world blitz 2019
Kramnik won the bronze medal. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

One of the most anticipated encounters in this championship was the one between Carlsen and Kramnik. If anyone could beat the Norwegian and shake up the standings it was Big Vlad, who had shown his class. However, the current world champion outperformed the former champion.

Later, while Kramnik joined Peter Leko in the commentary booth (in a historic moment for these two participants of the 2004 world championship!), Kramnik was clear about what he thinks of Carlsen these days: "What to say? He's the best. It's now more of a surprise if he doesn't win."

The game was also an example of how Carlsen won several games in this event: by simply building up an army of pieces directed to the enemy king, and creating a decisive attack:

Carlsen vs Kramnik world blitz 2019
Carlsen vs. Kramnik. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

What happened in the next game, in round 19, would become crucial for Carlsen's victory. He played the rising Iranian star Alireza Firouzja, who reached a winning opposite-colored-bishop endgame but not only missed a win three times, but then lost on time while putting back his king that he had inadvertently tipped over.

The game was declared a win for Carlsen even though he had only one bishop left. The reason was that theoretically, he could still deliver checkmate. Paragraph 6.9 of the FIDE Laws of Chess state:

[T]he game is drawn, if the position is such that the opponent cannot checkmate the player’s king by any possible series of legal moves.

Firouzja Carlsen appeal world blitz 2019
Firouzja speaking to the arbiter, who explained to him that theoretically, Black could still give checkmate. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Firouzja filed an official protest (for which he had to pay $300) where he protested about Carlsen saying something out loud in Norwegian, even though that happened much earlier in the game. Firouzja also suggested the clock was malfunctioning.

The appeal was rejected.

Firouzja Carlsen appeal world blitz 2019
Firouzja writing his appeal. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Carlsen drew his last two games, and so he won four games and drew five on the last day. Nakamura perhaps impressed even more as he won six and drew three. He beat, for instance, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in round 18:

Nakamura Vachier-Lagrave World Blitz 2019
Nakamura beats Vachier-Lagrave. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Carlsen admitted that some luck was needed, and Nakamura had his moment as well. Duda was winning against him, but got confused:

Nakamura went into the last round half a point behind Carlsen, and he saw him draw his last game with Yu Yangyi, so he knew he had to beat Rauf Mamedov. And he did:

Mamedov Nakamura World blitz 2019
Mamedov vs. Nakamura. Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE.

"Nakamura had a great tournament," said Carlsen. "With some luck he could have won it outright, like for instance my game against Firouzja. If I hadn't gotten that extra half-point I wouldn't have made it to the tiebreak."

2019 World Blitz Championship | Final Standings (Top 20)

Rk. SNo Fed Title Name Rtg Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3
1 2 GM Carlsen Magnus 2865 16,5 261,0 270,0 2721
2 1 GM Nakamura Hikaru 2885 16,5 259,0 268,5 2716
3 16 GM Kramnik Vladimir 2748 15,0 246,5 255,0 2683
4 17 GM Grischuk Alexander 2741 14,0 251,5 260,5 2665
5 12 GM Vachier-Lagrave Maxime 2768 14,0 245,5 255,0 2659
6 50 GM Firouzja Alireza 2649 13,5 265,5 275,0 2733
7 8 GM Artemiev Vladislav 2793 13,5 263,0 273,5 2723
8 5 GM Yu Yangyi 2807 13,5 255,5 265,5 2707
9 20 GM Matlakov Maxim 2720 13,5 254,5 262,0 2694
10 7 GM Duda Jan-Krzysztof 2796 13,5 253,0 263,0 2697
11 9 GM Andreikin Dmitry 2780 13,5 250,5 261,0 2683
12 23 GM Fedoseev Vladimir 2714 13,5 240,5 248,0 2642
13 10 GM Giri Anish 2769 13,5 239,0 247,0 2622
14 15 GM Zubov Alexander 2754 13,5 237,0 246,5 2630
15 31 GM Aronian Levon 2698 13,5 233,5 243,0 2632
16 24 GM Wang Hao 2714 13,5 231,5 239,5 2630
17 113 GM Inarkiev Ernesto 2556 13,5 229,5 236,0 2616
18 6 GM Svidler Peter 2805 13,5 220,5 229,5 2600
19 29 GM Gelfand Boris 2700 13,5 216,0 225,0 2584
20 51 GM Cheparinov Ivan 2647 13,5 213,5 221,0 2576

(Full final standings here.)

FIDE's improved regulations now state that a playoff is played in case of a tie for first. This consists of two games of three minutes with a two-second increment (like in the actual tournament) and in case of a tie, an armageddon game.

Takis Nikolopoulos playoff World Blitz 2019
Arbiter Takis Nikolopoulos performing the drawing of lots for the playoff. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

The first was a tense draw, in which Carlsen at one moment made a big mistake, but Nakamura also missed the knight move backwards (always tricky!) that would have won a piece:

Carlsen then won convincingly in the second game, again using the London System that seems to suit him so well. In the early middlegame a position was reached that would have ended in a draw in a classical game, but here Nakamura played too passively, according to Kramnik in the commentary booth:

Nakamura Carlsen 2019 world blitz playoff
Nakamura resigns, and to Carlsen's huge relief, he wins the double. Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE.

Nakamura Carlsen playoff World Blitz 2019
The same moment from another angle. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

"I feel very good about the end," said Carlsen, who won his 10th tournament in 2019. "It became a day that was very tough obviously and the tiebreak as well was a very nervous affair, but I prevailed in the end so I'm very happy. Everybody makes mistakes; the games were rough but at the end of the day the result is what counts."


FIDE's interview with Carlsen.

If holding the triple crown wasn't enough, Carlsen also surpassed Nakamura in the blitz live ratings thanks to the win in the playoff. He ends this decade as the world number-one in standard, rapid and blitz.

Magnus Carlsen 2019 world blitz
Carlsen during his interview. Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE.

The bronze winner Kramnik faced Firouzja right after the incident with Carlsen, which might have affected the Iranian's nerves, but Kramnik's judgment of this (practical) exchange sacrifice in the endgame was nonetheless awesome:

Kramnik Firouzja world blitz 2019
Kramnik beating Firouzja. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Like Carlsen, Lagno managed to keep her 2018 world blitz title. She finished on 13/17, half a point more than Anna Muzychuk. Tan Zhongyi, who beat Muzychuk in the final round, took bronze.

Lagno started her second day with a one-point lead, and continued strongly as she defeated Alexandra Kosteniuk with the black pieces, who lost track completely in the complications:

After two draws, including against Muzychuk, Lagno suffered her first loss, to the veteran IM Alisa Galliamova—who was in the middle of a six-game win streak. As Lagno continued with two wins and a draw, she was in a tie for first place with Muzychuk before the final round.

While Lagno drew her game with Stefanova, Muzychuk lost to Tan:

Tan Zhongyi Anna Muzychuk world blitz 2019
Tan Zhongyi beats Anna Muzychuk. Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE.

"Well, of course I am very happy. It was a tough day, and with a bit of luck," said Lagno. She was referring to the moment when she blundered a pawn in her last round. After that, she played for a draw successfully and only after the game found out that Muzychuk had lost.

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

Rk. SNo Fed Title Name Rtg Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3
1 1 GM Lagno Kateryna 2606 13,0 170,5 177,5 2405
2 4 GM Muzychuk Anna 2504 12,5 168,5 176,0 2359
3 6 GM Tan Zhongyi 2480 12,0 167,5 175,5 2401
4 24 GM Gunina Valentina 2366 12,0 164,0 170,0 2359
5 3 GM Kosteniuk Alexandra 2521 11,5 169,0 177,0 2378
6 2 GM Lei Tingjie 2543 11,5 168,5 175,0 2386
7 16 IM Arabidze Meri 2412 11,5 161,5 167,0 2366
8 9 GM Stefanova Antoaneta 2452 11,5 157,0 162,5 2339
9 7 IM Khademalsharieh Sarasadat 2463 11,5 142,0 148,0 2250
10 21 IM Bodnaruk Anastasia 2375 11,0 167,5 173,5 2371
11 38 IM Mammadova Gulnar 2293 11,0 148,5 155,0 2269
12 5 GM Koneru Humpy 2489 10,5 173,5 181,5 2384
13 43 IM Munguntuul Batkhuyag 2282 10,5 165,5 172,5 2392
14 20 IM Paehtz Elisabeth 2380 10,5 161,5 168,0 2351
15 13 IM Abdumalik Zhansaya 2415 10,5 161,5 168,0 2320
16 14 IM Galliamova Alisa 2415 10,5 156,0 162,5 2329
17 17 IM Saduakassova Dinara 2390 10,5 156,0 162,0 2284
18 56 GM Zhukova Natalia 2239 10,5 156,0 161,5 2366
19 23 GM Krush Irina 2371 10,5 146,0 152,0 2227
20 46 IM Mkrtchian Lilit 2268 10,5 144,5 152,0 2296

(Full final standings here.)


FIDE's interview with Lagno.

The world rapid and blitz championships took place in the Grand Sports Arena of the Luzhniki Olympic Complex in Moscow. They each had 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.


Chess.com's final-day coverage with Yasser Seirawan and Robert Hess.

Lagno world blitz 2019 trophy
Blitz: Muzychuk, Lagno, Tan Zhongyi. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Humpy Koneru world blitz 2019 trophy
Rapid: Lei Tingjie, Humpy Koneru, Ekaterina Atalik. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Carlsen world blitz 2019 trophy
Blitz: Nakamura, Carlsen, Kramnik. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Carlsen world rapid 2019 trophy
Rapid: Firouzja, Carlsen, Nakamura. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Prize winners 2019 World rapid blitz chess
All the prize winners with the tournament officials. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

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