Artemiev, Carlsen Lead World Blitz Chess Championship
Leaders Carlsen and Artemiev drew their mutual game today. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/FIDE.

Artemiev, Carlsen Lead World Blitz Chess Championship

| 32 | Chess Event Coverage

With nine rounds to go on Sunday Magnus Carlsen and Vladislav Artemiev share the lead at the World Blitz Championship in St. Petersburg. Kateryna Lagno and Sarasadat Khademalsharieh are tied for first in the women's section, where eight more games will be played.

At the much faster time control of three minutes plus two seconds increment, the players sat down at the boards again today in the Manege in St. Petersburg. It's a completely different type of chess, and it's here where we'll find the so-called specialists alongside the strongest GMs in the world.

Reigning classical and blitz champion Carlsen had a good day with 9.5/12, where he had started with 7/11 last year. The only other player on 9.5 points is the Russian speed chess demon Artemiev.

Spectators World Blitz 2018Lots of spectators visit the tournament every day, where the entry is free. You might recognize the famous trainer and former world championship candidate Artur Jussupow. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE.

Sergey Karjakin, who scored 9/11 on the first day in both 2017 and 2016, is a point behind with 8.5/12. Daniil Dubov, the world rapid champion, is on 7.5 points.

Speaking of the so-called specialists, we see two Russian IMs among the first 16 players after 12 rounds, both with 8 points: 18-year-old Saveliy Golubov and 22-year-old Zhamsaran Tsydypov.

You might remember the name Golubov, who played for Moscow Phoenix this year in the PRO Chess League qualifier and who lost brilliantly against David Paravyan earlier this year. Tzydypov is from Buryatia (the Buryats are ethnically close to Mongols and Kalmyks, also Buddhists historically). Other notable Buryats in chess are Bator Sambuev and Anton Shomoev.

Carlsen remained undefeated today, with wins against Ivan Popov, Vitaly Teterev, Marin Bosiocic, Jan-Krzysztof Duda, Alireza Firouzja, Peter Svidler and Levon Aronian, and draws against Sergey Grigoriants, Alexei Shirov, Sergei Zhigalko, Dmitry Andreikin and in today's last round, Artemiev.

Carlsen anti-cheating World Blitz 2018Carlsen getting checked by the anti-cheating arbiter before round one. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE.

The first games weren't that convincing. In the first round Carlsen was helped by his opponent, who had defended perfectly and was ready to draw the game until he made an inexplicable calculation (judgement?) error.

Popov Carlsen World Blitz 2018Carlsen vs Popov watched by several GMs. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/FIDE.

And in the second round, Carlsen had been better for a long time, but spoilt the endgame and was completely lost at some point, only to escape with stalemate: 

In his fourth game of the day, Carlsen trapped his opponent's queen early in the game:

By round seven, the tournament had an unexpected leader. 15-year-old Firouzja had blown just about everyone away that came on his path, and was sitting on 6.5 points, a full point ahead of the pack. He had just beaten Andreikin, Peter Svidler and Baadur Jobava.

Strangely, that's where it ended, at least for today. Firouzja lost to Carlsen, and then also to Wang Hao and Nepomniachtchi. After a draw with Alexandr Predke, the Iranian youngster finished his day with a loss to Vladislav Kovalev.

But games like these show that he is the real deal:

Alireza Firouzja, one of Iran's biggest talents together with Parham Maghsoodloo and Sarasadat Khademalsharieh.Alireza Firouzja, one of Iran's biggest talents together with Parham Maghsoodloo and Sarasadat Khademalsharieh. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/FIDE.

Andreikin was initially fighting for equality but later had Carlsen on the ropes in round nine, until he mixed up the move order in a rook vs pawns endgame. What a disaster!

Carlsen escaped miraculously vs Andreikin. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/FIDE.Carlsen escaped miraculously vs Andreikin. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/FIDE.

The game between Carlsen and Svidler was decided in time trouble, where Black was doing OK but the position was just slightly tougher to play. Svidler, who is playing in the city where he lives, must have completely missed the last move, which turned out to be checkmate.

Svidler Carlsen handshake World Blitz 2018If a handshake ever demonstrated mutual respect, it was the one between Svidler and Carlsen. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/FIDE.

Today's penultimate round saw the big pairing between Aronian and Carlsen, who were sharing the lead together with Andreikin, Artemiev and Wang Hao. It became an epic battle where Aronian, under pressure in the middlegame, was left with about 10 seconds around move 23, then kept on defending strongly purely on intuition but eventually couldn't hold against this persisting opponent.

Carlsen Aronian World Blitz 2018Aronian-Carlsen next to Andreikin-Artemiev. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/FIDE.

In round 10 Artemiev easily outplayed Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, who played a strange double fianchetto against White's 1.d4-setup. You're not supposed to play that way, and Artemiev showed why.

Artemiev was asked to how to beat Carlsen. His reply: "It's only possible if you catch him off guard, maybe in the opening. If he is pushing to win, he is unstoppable!" The two drew their mutual game today.

In round 11 Andreikin completely demolished Wang Hao with the black pieces. The way the Chinese treated his Pirc, Andreikin got a nice Dragon Sicilian and the position played by itself.

Another super specialist is of course Hikaru Nakamura. The Grand Chess Tour and Speed Chess winner is on a disappointing 8/12 as his first day included losses against Anton Korobov and Ahmed Adly, and a draw against the aforementioned Tsydypov. 

Korobov knew exactly what to do against what seems to be Nakamura's favorite setup in blitz these days. The Ukrainian played a Saemisch formation as is done with the white pieces against the King's Indian:

Nakamura Aronian World Blitz 2018Nakamura and Aronian shoulder to shoulder. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE.

Fifth seed Vishy Anand has half a point less; his 7.5/12 included losses to also Korobov, and a player of his own generation, Ilia Smirin. The Israeli grandmaster decided the game with rook sacrifice that many of us would also have found:

Ilya Smirin World Blitz 2018Ilya Smirin. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/FIDE.

Another game that caught our eye was the following, where in an endgame that should have ended in draw Nikita Vitiugov suddenly got himself checkmated against Duda:

2018 World Blitz | Round 12 Standings (Top 20)

Rk. SNo Fed Title Name RtgI Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3 rtg+/-
1 1 GM Carlsen Magnus 2939 9,5 2927 83,5 88,5 0,6
2 6 GM Artemiev Vladislav 2825 9,5 2908 79,5 84,0 26,2
3 9 GM Andreikin Dmitry 2777 9,0 2891 84,5 89,0 35,0
4 4 GM Nepomniachtchi Ian 2846 9,0 2861 79,0 84,0 4,8
5 11 GM Svidler Peter 2770 9,0 2840 85,5 90,5 21,8
6 32 GM Duda Jan-Krzysztof 2694 9,0 2834 82,0 87,5 43,0
7 14 GM Giri Anish 2751 9,0 2820 77,5 82,0 21,0
8 10 GM Wang Hao 2775 8,5 2814 80,0 85,0 14,8
9 12 GM Karjakin Sergey 2759 8,5 2807 80,0 84,5 14,6
10 13 GM Mamedyarov Shakhriyar 2754 8,5 2790 84,0 89,5 11,6
11 36 GM Korobov Anton 2677 8,5 2783 77,5 81,5 33,2
12 3 GM Aronian Levon 2858 8,0 2813 85,0 91,0 -10,4
13 26 GM Jobava Baadur 2705 8,0 2800 79,0 83,0 30,2
14 90 IM Golubov Saveliy 2574 8,0 2794 78,0 81,5 70,6
15 68 GM Cheparinov Ivan 2618 8,0 2786 78,0 81,5 54,2
16 92 IM Tsydypov Zhamsaran 2573 8,0 2776 73,5 77,5 64,8
17 106 GM Kovalev Vladislav 2553 8,0 2769 72,5 74,0 70,4
18 86 GM Smirin Ilia 2582 8,0 2768 72,5 76,0 59,8
19 16 GM Le Quang Liem 2749 8,0 2766 78,0 81,5 7,2
20 2 GM Nakamura Hikaru 2889 8,0 2764 83,5 89,0 -33,8

Carlsen smiling World Blitz 2018Carlsen, naturally in a better mood after day four. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/FIDE.

Tomorrow's 13th round has the interesting pairing Carlsen vs Anish Giri. On the eve of that game, NRK posted an interesting story with quotes from Giri about the world champ:

In the women's section things look a bit differently than the last three days. Ju wasn't dominating this time; as fourth seed she is currently in third place, half a point behind leaders Lagno, second seeded in the tournament, and 25th seed Khademalsharieh.

Both reigning champion (and top seed) Nana Dzagnidze and Anna Muzychuk (third seed) are on a somewhat disappointing 5.5/9, two points behind the leaders.

21-year-old Iranian IM Khademalsharieh is again doing very well, after she took the silver medal at the world rapid yesterday. One of her victims today was none other than Ju, in round seven. The Chinese was positionally bankrupt when her attack came too late:

Khademalsharieh vs Ju World Blitz 2018Khademalsharieh vs Ju. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/FIDE.

The next round Khademalsharieh also defeated Humpy Koneru. In a very nervous time trouble phase, the latter made the last mistake:

Sarasadat Khademalsharieh (right) with Zhansaya Abdumalik. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE.Sarasadat Khademalsharieh (left) with Zhansaya Abdumalik. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE.

One of Lagno's fiercest battles was the game with her team mate Alexandra Kosteniuk:

Kosteniuk vs Lagno World Blitz 2018Kosteniuk vs Lagno. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/FIDE.

Lagno interviewed after the first day of blitz.

2018 Women World Blitz | Round 9 Standings (Top 20)

Rk. SNo Fed Title Name Rtg Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3 rtg+/-
1 2 GM Lagno Kateryna 2560 7,5 2675 48,5 52,0 24,0
2 25 IM Khademalsharieh Sarasadat 2377 7,5 2603 47,5 50,5 50,0
3 4 GM Ju Wenjun 2558 7,0 2586 48,0 51,5 6,4
4 12 GM Lei Tingjie 2458 7,0 2578 44,5 48,0 27,0
5 8 GM Tan Zhongyi 2494 7,0 2555 45,5 49,0 13,2
6 93 WCM Garifullina Leya 2120 6,5 2532 43,5 47,0 94,4
7 22 GM Cramling Pia 2382 6,5 2491 41,0 43,5 28,4
8 9 GM Harika Dronavalli 2490 6,5 2478 47,0 51,0 -1,0
9 36 IM Arabidze Meri 2323 6,5 2473 42,5 46,0 37,8
10 52 WGM Mamedjarova Zeinab 2271 6,5 2465 41,0 44,0 46,0
11 10 GM Gunina Valentina 2489 6,5 2455 46,0 49,5 -0,8
12 24 WGM Guichard Pauline 2378 6,5 2445 42,5 44,5 20,6
13 15 GM Ushenina Anna 2419 6,5 2433 44,0 47,5 6,4
14 26 IM Abdumalik Zhansaya 2371 6,5 2433 40,5 43,0 17,8
15 28 IM Bodnaruk Anastasia 2366 6,0 2520 48,5 51,0 38,4
16 6 GM Koneru Humpy 2499 6,0 2492 48,5 51,5 0,4
17 11 GM Kosteniuk Alexandra 2475 6,0 2451 49,0 52,0 -2,4
18 39 WGM Vo Thi Kim Phung 2320 6,0 2438 41,5 42,5 29,2
19 35 FM Voit Daria 2334 6,0 2421 42,0 45,5 21,4
20 14 GM Goryachkina Aleksandra 2422 6,0 2384 41,0 44,5 -8,2

(Full final standings here.)

Replay the broadcast of the fourth day.

Jussupow Dvorkovich World Blitz 2018Jussupow and Dvorkovich as spectators in the playing hall. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/FIDE.

New pairings World Blitz 2018New pairings are out! | Photo: Maria Emelianova/FIDE.

Trophies World Rapid Blitz 2018The trophies of the World Rapid and Blitz. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/FIDE.

Yury Solomatin contributed to this report.

Earlier reports:

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.

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