Carlsen, Karjakin Lead World Blitz Champs At Half
Halfway through the tournament, Magnus Carlsen and Sergey Karjakin are tied for first place at the World Blitz Championship in Doha, Qatar. One month after their match in New York, the two stars are 1.5 points ahead of the pack.
Karjakin beat Carlsen in their individual game today.
It's not easy to say who has impressed the most today. Karjakin is doing so much better than during the rapid, and he even beat Carlsen in their mutual game. The Norwegian, on the other hand, said himself that he was very happy with his play today, except for that one big mistake against Karjakin.
In any case, with eight rounds to go, the fight for the title will likely be fought between these two rivals again.
Carlsen didn't have to warm up this time; he was looking strong from the start. He scored 3/3 vs Bu Xiangzhi, Paco Vallejo, and Salem Saleh, and he drew with Dominguez. Here's his win from the first round.
A much better start for Carlsen on day four.
Karjakin did even better and started with 5/5. That included a win over Carlsen, and so he got a small bit of revenge for his loss in New York.
It wasn't a game to be too proud of though; first Carlsen blundered terribly, then Karjakin had trouble winning the queen versus rook endgame and even allowed a three-fold repetition somewhere, missed by Carlsen.
"I didn't deserve anything from that game anyway," the Norwegian said to NRK.
Back to the first round, where the fresh World Rapid Champion Vassily Ivanchuk started with a loss to Baskaran Adhiban, and Baadur Jobava also went down, in a spectacular game against IM Giga Quparadze.
A good start for IM Giga Quparadze. | Photo Maria Emelianova.
Quparadze continued to do well with a win against Alexander Morozevich in round two, a round in which both Ivanchuk and Jobava recovered with a win. Hikaru Nakamura seemed somewhat shaky again, as he lost to Salem Saleh. (Nakamura is two points behind the leaders at the end of the day.)
And... another good start for Salem Saleh as well.
Salem lost to Carlsen in the next round, but he then also beat Mamedyarov, Grischuk and Ivanchuk. For Levon Aronian, on the other hand, the stars were not aligned well. He lost to GM Nils Grandelius and was then held to a draw by IM Bogdan Belyakov.
Karjakin even moved to 6/6 as he also defeated Ahmed Adly.
Sergey Karjakin started with 6/6 today,
Carlsen recovered well with a win versus Hrant Melkumyan as Black. Vishy Anand and Jobava got to 5/6, but it was Daniil Dubov who was the one close behind Karjakin (with 5.5 points) after he beat Yu Yangyi.
Daniil Dubov started with 5.5/6—Here he is waiting for his game with Carlsen
After a rather long break, it seemed that Karjakin was running out of steam somewhat. He drew three games in a row, with Dubov, Anand and Yu. Meanwhile there was a small incident in the game between Anand and Jobava.
If you wonder why this position was declared a draw, here's Anand's explanation:
"In the final position, I'm almost winning. I had been wondering why he was thinking for so long. and I expected his clock to be down. And then at some point he said, the clock isn't working. And then I realized he could have left the time to go down even further for me, so it was kind of fair of him to stop it and hammer the clock, but after that. he offered a draw. I mean it was ridiculous, normally I should not accept in this position. but it was just an awkward situation so I took it."
Blitz is also a synonym for blunders. Here's a horrific example from the same round.
In round eight, Carlsen decreased the gap with Karjakin to half a point thanks to a smooth win over Dubov. Look how he managed to squeeze something out of that almost equal endgame.
Meanwhile Morozevich was climbing the ladder. He defeated Vachier-Lagrave in round eight and crushed Anand using a pet line of his in the Scotch. He told yours truly about his "Harry the h-pawn" move in an interview afterward.
While waiting in the studio for this interview, Morozevich was watching Carlsen's game against Riazantsev. "He still needs some technique," said Moro, and right then Carlsen found a winning liquidation. If Carlsen had seen everything until the final move, this was wonderfully calculated.
Carlsen also defeated Morozevich, drew with Yu, and in the final round, he quickly beat a player who was doing surprisingly well: Marin Bosiocic. But here's that win over Morozevich.
"Today I am particularly satisfied that I managed to beat Morozevich as he's always been a difficult opponent to me in speed chess," said Carlsen. "It wasn't a perfect game by any means, but I managed to outfight him in the end so that I'm very satisfied about. I really consider him one of the very best here."
Here's how he looked forward to tomorrow: "I'm going to play probably most of the best players in the world tomorrow so it's gonna be tough, but obviously I am giving myself a good chance."
Karjakin had reached sole first place again after round 11 (see game below), but due to his draw with Vachier-Lagrave in round 12, he saw Carlsen catching him again.
Karjakin: "I just want to show my best chess. What I did was just very well, and if I will do the same tomorrow, I think I will win."
2016 World Blitz Championship | Round 12 Standings (Top 20)
|7||44||GM||Salem, A.R. Saleh||2636||8||2792||79,6|
|8||10||GM||Dominguez Perez, Leinier||2783||8||2705||11,4|
(Full standings here.)
In the women's section, only nine rounds were played.* Alexandra Kosteniuk is leading by half a point over Ju Wenjun. Harika Dronavalli had started with the splendid score of 6/6, but then drew with Kateryna Lagno and lost the last two rounds, to Kosteniuk and Anna Muzychuk.
In the first round, she got to checkmate her opponent:
Harika started with a perfect 6/6 as well but then scored 0.5/3.
Here's Kosteniuk's win over Harika:
2016 World Blitz Championship (Women) | Round 8 Standings (Top 20)
(Full standings here.)
Games from TWIC.
Also on the last day (Friday) the action starts at 3 p.m. local time, which is 1 p.m. in Central Europe, noon London, 7 a.m. New York, 4 a.m. Pacific and 11 p.m. Sydney. You'll be able to follow the top games in Live Chess and watch the live show with commentary by GM Evgeny Miroshnichenko and IM Anna Rudolf on Chess.com/TV.
*Correction: an earlier version had erroneously stated that only eight rounds were played in the women's section and that Harika Dronavalli and Alexandra Kosteniuk were tied for first place.