World Blitz Chess Championship Day 1: Aronian and Assaubayeva Lead
After finishing second in the Women's World Rapid Chess Championship, Bibisara Assaubayeva won eight games and lost only one on Wednesday.

World Blitz Chess Championship Day 1: Aronian and Assaubayeva Lead

| 32 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Levon Aronian, the Armenian star-player who recently moved to and now represents the United States, finished day one of the World Blitz Chess Championship with 10/12 and in clear first. Behind him are Egyptian GM Bassem Amin, the five-time African champion with 9.5/12, and 21-year-old Iranian GM Parham Maghsoodloo, with 9/12.

After finishing with a silver medal in the World Rapid Chess Championship, 17-year-old Kazakh IM Bibisara Assaubayeva finished in clear first with 8/9. She is followed by two Indian players: IM R Vaishali, with 7.5/9, and former women's rapid champion GM Humpy Koneru, with 7/9.

The World Blitz Chess Championship will conclude on Thursday, December 30, starting at 5 a.m. Pacific/14:00 Central Europe

How to watch the 2021 FIDE World Blitz Championship live
You can watch the 2021 FIDE World Rapid & Blitz Championship live on and on our Twitch and YouTube channels. You can find all games on our live events platform: World Blitz | Women's World Blitz.
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The marathon event was jam-packed with action as 179 participants in the open section played no fewer than 12 games in one day, and they will play another nine tomorrow. The main story of the day was the rise of the underdog as many of the pre-tournament favorites suffered defeats and were unable to break into the top of the pack.

Day one of the blitz event saw most of the top-rated players struggle. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Whether due to a boom in online chess blitz-play over the pandemic, as players were unable to participate in over-the-board events, or as a response to Carlsen's statement that he wishes to only defend his title against the next generation, many players—young and not-as-young— proved their speed-chess prowess to be equal to established grandmasters.

The top players are met with veritable resistance on the first day. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

GM Magnus Carlsen, who peaked at a 2900 blitz-rating at the beginning of the day (his peak was 2986 in December, 2017), lost three games and ended with 8.5/12.

Carlsen spectated many games as he waited for the next round. Photo: Rafal Oleksiewicz/FIDE.

Some viewers may have wondered why the world champion was still seated on board one in every round despite not having the highest score in the tournament. He was seated there to be in proper view of Norwegian news company NKR.

Many grandmasters who did not participate in the event rose in the world blitz rankings as their counterparts suffered. Photo:

Nevertheless, GM commentators Irina Krush and Jon Ludvig Hammer repeated a similar sentiment throughout the day: "Where are the tournament favorites?" asked the latter, listing several names, including GMs Ian Nepomniachtchi, Fabiano Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura, Alexander Grischuk, Alireza Firouzja, among others, "Where are you right now?" Indeed, not one of these players sits above 8.5/12 by Wednesday's end.

Where are the tournament favorites?
—GM Jon Ludvig Hammer

Nepo wears an outstanding shirt on day one. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Carlsen, who lost the opportunity to win the rapid world title amid controversy, hoped to redeem himself in the blitz tournament. These hopes were dampened as he first lost to GM Bartosz Socko in round five, where the Polish grandmaster won a piece in a Catalan middlegame on move 30 after Carlsen blundered with 29...Qxe4??. Although Socko was the last player with a perfect score, and led sole first on 5/5 later, he went on to lose four games.

The following round, Russian GM Vladimir Fedoseev forged a lethal counterattack with the white pieces. Hammer called him the "Magnus Slayer" on the broadcast after this game. Fedoseev had a decent ending to the day, considering how things are going for top players, with 8.5/12.

Finally, Azerbaijani GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov beat the Norwegian in the ninth-round game, described as "one of the worst games we have seen today" by Hammer, with Krush adding it was "not the kind of game that you would expect from those players." Both super-grandmasters made mistakes starting on move six and continued to make some minor errors until Carlsen slipped with a serious blunder on move 25.

...not the kind of game that you would expect from those players.
—GM Irina Krush

The world champion (left) suffers his third defeat to Mamedyarov (right). Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Uzbek GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov, who had just won the world rapid title the day prior, was unrecognizable on Wednesday as he lost no fewer than five games. The disaster started with and only snowballed after his loss to Bosnian GM Denis Kadric, who won in only 22 moves. Despite even having a chance to beat Nakamura later, but failing to win with an extra piece in round eight, Kadric finished the day with 6.5 points.

The blitz event did not prove as promising for the young Uzbek GM as the rapid. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Aronian, the ultimate leader of the open section, took down many big names including Grischuk in round eight, Jan-Krzysztof Duda in round nine, Fedoseev in round 10, and Daniil Dubov in round 12.

Aronian (left) took down many top grandmasters today, including Fedoseev (right). Anna Shtourman/FIDE.

While all impressive, the flashiest game had to be his against the Polish number-one, where castling turned out to be a blunder for the latter, and Aronian was able to trade his queen for three minor pieces and a decisive attack.

Aronian had a great performance on Wednesday. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Amin, who will play Aronian with the white pieces in the first round tomorrow, earned his highest scalp today against French GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, receiving a surprising blunder-gift.

Of course, as one would expect in a blitz tournament, some unusual openings were showcased even in such an important event, although not many. Nepomniachtchi won against Russian GM Sanan Sjugirov after playing a King's Gambit and Uzbek GM Javokhir Sindarov defeated Mamedyarov after employing the Evans Gambit. We also had, fittingly, the Polish Opening (also known as the Sokolsky or Orangutan) played by Fedoseev.

It should also be included that, after the controversy surrounding the tiebreaks the previous day, FIDE published the following tweet.

2021 World Blitz Championship | Round 12 Standings (Top 20)

Rk. SNo Fed Name Rtg Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3
1 15 GM Aronian Levon 2740 10 80 84.5 2646
2 54 GM Amin Bassem 2617 9.5 78.5 83 2613
3 39 GM Maghsoodloo Parham 2655 9 70.5 74.5 2594
4 22 GM Fedoseev Vladimir 2690 8.5 86.5 91 2664
5 133 GM Sindarov Javokhir 2452 8.5 85.5 91 2688
6 47 GM Kravtsiv Martyn 2638 8.5 83 87 2535
7 7 GM Nepomniachtchi Ian 2792 8.5 82.5 88 2602
8 1 GM Carlsen Magnus 2892 8.5 81.5 86.5 2632
9 11 GM Grischuk Alexander 2757 8.5 80.5 85 2647
10 14 GM Dubov Daniil 2749 8.5 78.5 83.5 2605
11 19 GM Martirosyan Haik M. 2707 8.5 78 83.5 2614
12 10 GM Erigaisi Arjun 2765 8.5 77.5 81.5 2629
13 2 GM Nakamura Hikaru 2884 8.5 75 79 2588
14 9 GM Giri Anish 2778 8.5 73 78 2559
15 3 GM Artemiev Vladislav 2830 8.5 72 75.5 2577
16 6 GM Duda Jan-Krzysztof 2792 8 82.5 87 2607
17 84 IM Muradli Mahammad 2571 8 79 82.5 2613
18 28 GM Sarana Alexey 2672 8 73.5 78.5 2546
19 8 GM Vachier-Lagrave Maxime 2787 8 72 76 2609
20 40 GM Gelfand Boris 2647 8 69 73.5 2592

(Full final standings here.)

All World Blitz Championship Games