Aronian & Carlsen Tie For First at Zurich Blitz

Aronian & Carlsen Tie For First at Zurich Blitz

| 25 | Chess Event Coverage

Wednesday evening Levon Aronian and Magnus Carlsen tied for first place at the short, opening blitz event of the Zurich Chess Challenge. In his first tournament since winning the world title, Norway's Carlsen made a rusty impression but eventually scored 3.0 points out of 5 games, just like Tata Steel winner Levon Aronian of Armenia.

It was the Tal Memorial in Moscow that introduced the idea, and a few tournaments are following suit: a blitz tournament instead of a drawing of lots to determine the color distribution for the main tournament. And so, with a number of distinguished guests watching in the ballroom of the Savoy, including chess legend Viktor Kortchnoi (82), the players played their moves: Magnus Carlsen (Norway), Levon Aronian (Armenia), Viswanathan Anand (India), Fabiano Caruana (Italy), Hikaru Nakamura (USA) and Boris Gelfand (Israel).

The tournament started with a surprise, as the fresh World Champion immedialely lost his first game! (Apparently it's not just common to lose your first game after becoming IM or GM, but also after reaching the chess Olympus!) He was just outplayed as White against Caruana:

Gelfand won a good game with White against Nakamura, while Aronian beat Anand, who lost a piece early on:

The next round Anand survived a lost position and even won when both players had little time on the clock:

Nakamura won a nice game against Aronian and even checkmated his opponent:

After drawing with Gelfand in the second round, the turning point for Carlsen was his game against Aronian. The world champion was on the verge of defeat, but held the draw:

The next round Carlsen crushed his opponent of his world title match, Vishy Anand, in a mere 21 moves. The opening is typically something that Baadur Jobava or Richard Rapport would try in a real game! (Or maybe Carlsen will do that too, who knows...)

To the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK), who travelled to Zurich to report on the tournament, Carlsen said about this game: “It was great! It was a real knockout, so it was fun.”

Before the last round, Nakamura and Aronian were leading the tournament with 2.5/4. The Armenian GM drew with Caruana, and Carlsen caught him by beating Nakamura concinvingly:

Afterwards Carlsen said to NRK: “I was probably rusty. I hardly ever played as badly as I did in the beginning.”

Zurich Chess Challenge Blitz 2014 | Final standings

# Name Rtg 1 2 3 4 5 6 Pts SB
1 Carlsen,Magnus 2872 ½ 1 0 1 ½ 3.0/5 7.25
2 Aronian,Levon 2812 ½ 0 ½ 1 1 3.0/5 6.75
3 Nakamura,Hikaru 2789 0 1 1 ½ 0 2.5/5 6.75
4 Caruana,Fabiano 2782 1 ½ 0 0 1 2.5/5 6.00
5 Anand,Viswanathan 2773 0 0 ½ 1 1 2.5/5 5.25
6 Gelfand,Boris 2777 ½ 0 1 0 0 1.5/5

These final standings have led to the following pairings (as was confirmed by Tarjei J. Svensen).

Zurich Chess Challenge 2014 | Pairings

Round 1 30 January 15:00 CET Round 2 31 January 15:00 CET
Carlsen - Gelfand Gelfand - Caruana
Aronian - Anand Anand - Nakamura
Nakamura - Caruana Carlsen - Aronian
Round 3 1 February 15:00 CET Round 4 2 February 15:00 CET
Aronian - Gelfand Gelfand - Anand
Nakamura - Carlsen Carlsen - Caruana
Caruana - Anand Aronian - Nakamura
Round 5 3 February 13:00 CET
Nakamura - Gelfand
Caruana - Aronian
Anand - Carlsen

Tomorrow the real tournament starts. Five rounds of classical chess will be played from Thursday to Monday (30 January to 3 February), followed by a rapid tournament with reversed colors on the last day (4 February). You can follow the live games here on the official website. 

Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

Between 2007 and 2013 Peter was running ChessVibes, a major source for chess news and videos acquired by in October 2013.

As our Director News & Events, Peter writes many of our news reports. In the summer of 2022, The Guardian’s Leonard Barden described him as “widely regarded as the world’s best chess journalist.”

In October, Peter's first book The Chess Revolution will be published!

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