A Week of Rapid Chess

A Week of Rapid Chess

| 6 | Chess Event Coverage

This week a number of big events are taking place and they have one thing in common: they're all rapid chess, or quickplay, another word to describe games that generally last less than an hour in total. We're talking about the Sberbank Festival in Kiev, Ukraine (Karjakin! Karpov! Topalov!), the World Rapid & Blitz Championship in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia (Grischuk! Kamsky! Mamedyarov!) and a match between Anish Giri and Vassily Ivanchuk in León, Spain.


The first Sberbank International Chess Festival  started on Wednesday in Kiev, Ukraine. There's a children's tournament, a tournament for employees of the sponsor (now that's a nice idea!) and of course the main event: a 10-player round robin with Alexander Areschenko (Ukraine), Pavel Eljanov (Ukraine), Sergey Karjakin (Russia), Anatoly Karpov (Russia), Anton Korobov (Ukraine), Peter Leko (Hungary), Arkady Naiditsch (Germany), Evgeny Tomashevsky (Russia), Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria) and Sergei Zhigalko (Belarus).

There are nine rounds: on three consecutive days three rounds will be played. The time control is 25 minutes plus 10 seconds increment per move. The total prize fund is 50,000 Euros.

Veselin Topalov had an excellent start: he won all three games on the first day. Here's the - quite spectacular - game he played in the second round:

Karpov's first day was so-so: he drew two games and lost one. Evgeny Tomashevsky is in clear second place with 2.5 points while Arkadij Naiditsch started with three losses. Top seed Sergey Karjakin, who is in fact the reigning World Rapid Champion, lost in the third round:

On day 2 Topalov lost to Karjakin in what was a true opening disaster for the Bulgarian:

But with a draw against Karpov and  a win against Korobov, Topalov still leads:

Sberbank rapid 2013 | Round 6 standings

1 Topalov,V 2784 4.5/6
2 Leko,P 2737 4.0/6
3 Zhigalko,S 2661 4.0/6
4 Karjakin,Sergey 2782 4.0/6
5 Tomashevsky,E 2709 3.5/6
6 Areshchenko,A 2708 2.5/6
7 Karpov,Ana 2619 2.5/6
8 Korobov,A 2715 2.0/6
9 Eljanov,P 2707 2.0/6
10 Naiditsch,A 2710 1.0/6

World Rapid & Blitz

Wednesday was also the official start of the annual FIDE World Rapid and Blitz Championship, with the players' meeting and the opening ceremony. The real action started on Thursday.

There are 62 participants, the strongest being 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).

All players rated at least 2500 in any of the three FIDE rating lists (Standard, Blitz or Rapid) per March 1st, 2013 or April 1st, 2013 are eligible to participate so it's not clear why so many top players are not participating. The total prize fund of US $400,000 seems pretty impressive!

The World Rapid Championship is played over three days (6-8 June) and it's followed by the World Blitz Championship (9-10 June). The time control for the Rapid is 15 minutes + 10 seconds increment and for the Blitz 3 minutes + 2 seconds increment. Both events are Swiss pairings tournaments. The Rapid will be fifteen rounds, the Blitz 15 double rounds (the players play one game with white and one with black)

In a later report we'll give some games. For now, here's the situation at the top after five rounds of play in the Rapid section:

World Rapid Championship 2013 | Round 5 standings

Place Title Name Fed. FIDE Total
1 GM Nepomniachtchi, Ian RUS 2762 4.5
2 GM Dreev, Aleksey RUS 2746 4.5
3 GM Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar AZE 2726 4.0
4 GM Khairullin, Ildar RUS 2683 4.0
5 GM Potkin, Vladimir RUS 2663 3.5
6 GM Bologan, Viktor MDA 2663 3.5
7 GM Vallejo Pons, Francisco ESP 2706 3.5
8 GM Cheparinov, Ivan BUL 2678 3.5
9 GM Kamsky, Gata USA 2751 3.5
10 GM Andreikin, Dmitry RUS 2692 3.5
11 GM Grischuk, Alexander RUS 2825 3.5
12 GM Safarli, Eltaj AZE 2660 3.5
13 GM Akopian, Vladimir ARM 2691 3.0
14 GM Smirin, Ilia ISR 2639 3.0
15 GM Frolyanov, Dmitry RUS 2665 3.0

(Full standings here.)


The last event we're mentioning is in fact the one with the longest tradition. Organized for the 26th time, the Ciudad de León has had many famous winners, such as Alexei Shirov, Vishwanathan Anand, Veselin Topalov, Garry Kasparov and Vladimir Kramnik.

The town of León, in north-west Spain, has also seen different formats over the years. The tournament is famous for its experiment 'Advanced Chess' (still in the URL of the tournament website!), where top GMs were allowed to use computers during games, with the idea that a truly high level of chess would be reached that way. It wasn't a big success and after only a few editions the organizers went back to a more traditional set-up.

This year the main event is a match between another former winner, 44-year-old Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine (who took the title in 2008) against 18-year-old Dutch GM Anish Giri, who finished his final school exams last week and is now ready to focus 100% on chess.

The two players will fight each other in three different formats: two semi-rapid games (45 minutes + 15 seconds increment) on Friday, June 7th, four rapid games (20 minutes + 10 seconds) on Saturday and ten blitz games (5 minutes + 3 seconds) on Sunday. If the score is tied after the 16 games, a tie-break of two more blitz games will be played, followed by a sudden-death if necessary.

As always the festival includes a number of parallel activities connected to the tournament. Besides chess films, a young talents tournament, a lecture by Ivanchuk and a simul by Giri, the main novelty this year is a debate on the social applications of chess (on Wednesday) which will also be a presentation of the book Ajedrez y Ciencia, pasiones mezcladas (Chess and Science, mixed passions), written by the famous Spanish chess journalist and commentator Leontxo García.

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