Carlsen, Anand To Defend Rapid, Blitz Titles In St. Petersburg
Anand and Carlsen at last year's closing ceremony in Saudi Arabia. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Carlsen, Anand To Defend Rapid, Blitz Titles In St. Petersburg

PeterDoggers
PeterDoggers
Dec 15, 2018, 12:32 AM |
42 | Chess Event Coverage

Magnus Carlsen and Viswanathan Anand, the winners of last year's world rapid (Anand) and blitz (Carlsen) championships, will be defending their titles this year, from December 26–30. Although the main sponsor didn't change, the tournament was moved from Saudi Arabia to St. Petersburg, Russia.

It was a controversial championship last year in Riyadh, where the total prize fund was a record U.S. $2 million, but players from Israel (due to visa issues) and Iran did not participate, and players from Qatar only in the blitz. The general consensus was that, even though a three-year contract had been signed, the Saudis couldn't organize a second event without the guarantee that players from all countries would be welcome.

2018 World Rapid and Blitz logoFor this year's edition, the new FIDE leadership seems to have reached a compromise solution: The tournament has been moved to Russia, but is still sponsored by the Saudis. The official name remained "King Salman World Rapid and Blitz Championships."

The opening ceremony will be in the evening of Christmas Day, December 25. After that, there will be three days of rapid and two days of blitz, so everything will be on the same dates as last year. The organization will be in the hands of the Russian Chess Federation.

The rapid games will be played at 25 minutes plus 10 seconds increment, and the format is a 15-round Swiss. The blitz games will be played at three minutes plus two seconds increment, and the format is a 21-round Swiss.

FIDE has already announced a number of big stars that have signed up such as reigning world champion and world blitz champion Magnus Carlsen (Norway), Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan), Anish Giri (Netherlands), reigning world rapid champion Viswanathan Anand (India), Levon Aronian (Armenia), Alexander Grischuk, Sergey KarjakinIan Nepomniachtchi and Peter Svidler (all Russia).

More top players are expected to participate; for instance Hikaru Nakamura said he would go to the Russian embassy in London on the rest day of the London Chess Classic to try and obtain his visa for Russia. Players can register until December 22.

World Rapid & Blitz | Prize Fund

Rapid Prizes USD Blitz Prizes USD Combined Prizes USD
Prize Fund 350,000 Prize Fund 350,000 Prize Fund 90,000
1st place 60,000 1st place 60,000 1st place 20,000
2nd place 50,000 2nd place 50,000 2nd place 15,000
3rd place 40,000 3rd place 40,000 3rd place 12,000
4th place 30,000 4th place 30,000 4th place 10,000
5th place 25,000 5th place 25,000 5th place 8,000
6th place 22,000 6th place 22,000 6th place 7,000
7th place 18,000 7th place 18,000 7th place 6,000
8th place 14,000 8th place 14,000 8th place 5,000
9th place 11,000 9th place 11,000 9th place 4,000
10th place 8,000 10th place 8,000 10th place 3,000
11th-16th places 5,000 each 11th-16th places 5,000 each
17th-25th places 3,000 each 17th-25th places 3,000 each
26th-35th places 1,500 each 26th 35th places 1,500 each

Thanks to the combined prize fund, the total amount a player can win is U.S. $140,000 if he finishes in sole first place in both tournaments.

In a recent Chess24 chat with Jan Gustafsson, Carlsen said the following when he heard of the participation of Giri in St. Petersburg:

"Wow! I’m looking forward to that. That’s going to be great fun! He’s going to regret it. He’s never going to play again after this one. He’s going to lose to Artemiev, Bocharov, all of the Russian guys!"

Carlsen and Giri have a history of teasing each other—mostly via Twitter—and it didn't take long for the Dutch GM to give a response:

Now that we're talking about Carlsen, some other news tidbit cannot remain unmentioned. On Friday, a rap song in Norwegian was released on Spotify in which Carlsen can be heard rapping, starting from 6:20. Here's the song:

In the women's world rapid and blitz tournament, we'll also see most of the strongest players, e.g. reigning women’s world champion Ju Wenjun (China), Anna and Mariya Muzychuk (both Ukraine), Kateryna Lagno, Alexandra Kosteniuk, Aleksandra Goryachkina, Valentina Gunina, Olga Girya (all Russia), Humpy Koneru (India), Nana Dzagnidze (Georgia) and Tan Zhongyi (China).

Women's World Rapid & Blitz | Prize Fund

Rapid Prizes USD Blitz Prizes USD Combined Prizes USD
Prize Fund 150,000 Prize Fund 150,000 Prize Fund 60,000
1st place 40,000 1st place 40,000 1st place 14,000
2nd place 30,000 2nd place 30,000 2nd place 10,000
3rd place 20,000 3rd place 20,000 3rd place 8,000
4th place 15,000 4th place 15,000 4th place 7,000
5th place 10,000 5th place 10,000 5th place 6,000
6th place 7,000 6th place 7,000 6th place 5,000
7th place 6,000 7th place 6,000 7th place 4,000
8th place 5,000 8th place 5,000 8th place 3,000
9th place 4,000 9th place 4,000 9th place 2,000
10th place 3,000 10th place 3,000 10th place 1,000
11th-15th places 2,000 each 11th-15th places 2,000 each

The venue will be the Manege, which is the largest exhibition space in central St. Petersburg on St. Isaac's Square.

The Manege St Petersburg

The playing hall this year. | Photo courtesy FIDE.

From the advance announcements, it's already clear that the organization by the Russian Chess Federation will be of its usual high standards. For instance, an extensive additional program will be in place, including side tournaments for children and adults, solving contests, simultaneous exhibitions, master classes, an exhibition from the Russian Chess Federation's Chess Museum and other activities. To top it off, the entrance for guests will be free.

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