Carlsen, Lagno Win World Blitz Chess Championships
All medal winners of the world rapid & blitz together. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/FIDE.

Carlsen, Lagno Win World Blitz Chess Championships

| 266 | Chess Event Coverage

Scoring a point more than last year in Riyadh, Magnus Carlsen retained his $60,000 world blitz title with 17/21, half a point more than Jan-Krzysztof Duda ($50,000). Like in the rapid, bronze went to Hikaru Nakamura ($40,000).

Kateryna Lagno won the world blitz title with 13.5/17 ($40,000). IM Sarasadat Khademalsharieh scored her second silver medal ($30,000) and bronze went to Lei Tingjie ($20,000).

World Blitz 2018 Day 2The start of the second day of the world blitz. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/FIDE.

The fifth and final day in St. Petersburg saw nine rounds of blitz in the open section and eight rounds in the women's. Once again the venue was packed; according to FIDE official Emil Sutovsky each day about five thousand spectators came along but that sounded a bit exaggerated; our reporters on-site estimated between two and three thousand.

That's still a very impressive number and possibly rather unique for chess events in modern times. Taking into account that the organizers had about three weeks to prepare everything, the event has been a huge success from an organisational point of view.

Closing ceremony World Rapid Blitz 2018 SpectatorsLots of spectators also at the closing ceremony. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/FIDE..

Two players finished with an absolutely outstanding score. Carlsen's 17/21 was not only a point more than last year, but he also remained undefeated this time. Duda's 16.5 points would have won gold in Riyadh, but he'll be very happy with silver as well, and winning 124 blitz rating points along the way.

"I am just relieved," said Carlsen, who won his fourth world blitz title and his 10th world title in total. "Today was a very tough day. I was always kind of in front but I was being chased by Duda all the way. It was never easy.

"Yesterday the score was good and the play maybe not so great. I feel like I am usually best against the best players. Today I feel like I played very well. I needed every single half point to win."

Carlsen interviewed after his victory.

In the first round of the day, round 13 in the tournament, Carlsen was paired with his Twitter nemesis Anish Giri. It was a remarkably one-sided affair.

The Dutchman, who was wearing a white shirt full of small chess symbols of different colors, got caught in his opponent's preparation, saw his king's position torn apart and flagged on move 24.

Zhukov World Blitz 2018Alexander Zhukov, the First Deputy Chairman of the State Duma and a chess lover, made the first move in the game between Carlsen and Giri. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/FIDE.

One of the official commentators, Peter Leko said: "I think Magnus's preparation is the best in the world for blitz and rapid. He kind of knows almost every opening and all the move orders."

Carlsen-Giri World Blitz 2018The handshake after Giri lost on time in a lost position. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE.

Duda started with an impressive win against Ian Nepomniachtchi, thereby joining Vladislav Artemiev in second place. Few people play the classical Scheveningen move-order these days which allows the Keres Attack, but the Polish GM is not afraid. He followed one of his own games for a while and soon reached a winning position.

Duda Nepomniachtchi World Blitz 2018Nepomniachtchi resigns vs Duda. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/FIDE.

In round 14, against Wang, it looked like Carlsen was still profiting from his preparation in the Rossolimo Sicilian, for the 2018 world championship match. These early games with Giri and Wang were among Carlsen's favorites, who said: "I thought I played very nice, dynamic chess."

Wang Hao World Blitz 2018 | Photo: Maria Emelianova/FIDE.Wang Hao. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/FIDE.

Duda followed suit, defeated Artemiev and grabbed sole second place in the standings—and he wouldn't let go of that until the end, always chasing Carlsen and perhaps pushing his great rival to even higher heights.

Jan-Krzysztof Duda World Blitz 2018Jan-Krzysztof Duda finished an already excellent year with an amazing run in the world blitz. In rounds 9-16 he won eight games in a row. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE.

Carlsen then defeated the two Russian IMs and blitz specialists Zhamsaran Tsydypov and Saveliy Golubov, before finally being held to a draw by both Hikaru Nakamura and Boris Gelfand

Meanwhile, in those rounds 15-18 Duda beat Levon Aronian and Gawain Jones, then drew Sergey Karjakin before losing to Nakamura. With three rounds to go, Carlsen was on 14.5 points, Duda on 13.5 and Nakamura on 13.

Spectators World Blitz 2018Spectators watching remaining games on electronic screens—recognize the grandmasters! | Photo: Maria Emelianova/FIDE.

Duda's game with Karjakin was a fantastic battle between the players who played a Speed Chess match earlier this year on, won by the Polish GM. The game was super sharp, and with seconds on the clock both declined playing for a draw, but in the end neither could avoid that result. 

In round 19 Carlsen squeezed a win out of a slightly better endgame vs Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. Carlsen got out of the opening comfortably and played fast. Leko didn't hide the fact that he's a fan: "Already one minute up on the clock. Magnus keeps on amazing us and the opposition seems to be terrified of him already."

Carlsen vs Mamedyarov World Blitz 2018Carlsen vs Mamedyarov. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE.

Duda still kept pace as he beat Giri, who blundered a pawn in a knight endgame that shouldn't have been a problem for Black:

Jan-Krzysztof Duda World Blitz 2018Jan-Krzysztof Duda. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/FIDE.

In the same round, the following game was also fascinating. Nepomniachtchi missed a win earlier on and then the game seemed to be heading to a draw, but suddenly Alexander Grischuk blundered terribly.

Duda would also win his last two games, and rather easily. Aleksandar Indjic hardly put up a fight, and Gelfand also made a big error early on:

Duda interviewed a bit earlier in the tournament, after round 16.

Carlsen's 1.5/2 in the final rounds was just enough to stay half a point ahead of Duda. First, he agreed to a quick draw with Nepomniachtchi, who had arrived 1 minute and 48 seconds late at the board.

Carlsen waits for Nepomniachtchi World Blitz 2018Carlsen waiting for Nepomniachtchi. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE.

That meant that he still couldn't afford a loss in the last round. Instead, Carlsen won smoothly:

Carlsen interviewed by NRK after winning the world blitz.Carlsen interviewed by NRK after winning the world blitz. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE.

In the last round two old warriors were paired against each other and after he had beaten Shirov earlier in the rapid, Gata Kamsky also won against Vishy Anand, using 1.e4 b6 and a Hippotatomus setup. White was better out of the opening, but Anand panicked when Black got active:

It should also be mentioned that 14-year-old Nihal Sarin of India played an excellent tournament, finishing shared 12th with 11.5 points as the 139th seed! It looks like knows how to handle knights, just like Anand:

Nihal Sarin World Blitz 2018Nihal Sarin did very well at the world blitz. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/FIDE.

2018 World Blitz | Final Standings (Top 20)

Rk. SNo Fed Title Name RtgI Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3 rtg+/-
1 1 GM Carlsen Magnus 2939 17,0 2962 256,0 264,0 14,6
2 32 GM Duda Jan-Krzysztof 2694 16,5 2930 257,0 265,0 123,6
3 2 GM Nakamura Hikaru 2889 14,5 2845 260,5 270,0 -17,0
4 3 GM Aronian Levon 2858 14,0 2833 260,0 268,5 -10,0
5 11 GM Svidler Peter 2770 14,0 2831 264,5 274,0 35,0
6 4 GM Nepomniachtchi Ian 2846 14,0 2817 254,0 262,5 -11,8
7 12 GM Karjakin Sergey 2759 14,0 2800 255,5 265,0 22,8
8 9 GM Andreikin Dmitry 2777 13,5 2799 258,5 268,5 15,8
9 6 GM Artemiev Vladislav 2825 13,5 2796 257,5 266,0 -10,2
10 14 GM Giri Anish 2751 13,5 2779 254,5 264,0 19,4
11 139 GM Nihal Sarin 2506 13,5 2777 246,0 255,5 151,6
12 52 GM Matlakov Maxim 2653 13,5 2760 255,5 265,0 63,8
13 13 GM Mamedyarov Shakhriyar 2754 13,5 2754 249,5 259,5 3,0
14 31 GM Vitiugov Nikita 2696 13,5 2743 249,5 257,5 28,8
15 18 GM Dubov Daniil 2743 13,5 2706 231,5 241,0 -16,6
16 15 GM Fedoseev Vladimir 2750 13,5 2674 228,5 238,0 -34,8
17 36 GM Korobov Anton 2677 13,0 2743 232,5 240,0 37,4
18 22 GM Gelfand Boris 2722 13,0 2728 248,0 257,5 5,8
19 39 GM Dreev Aleksey 2675 13,0 2703 237,5 245,5 18,8
20 38 GM Adly Ahmed 2675 13,0 2702 239,0 247,0 17,6

(Full final standings here.)

In the women's section Kateryna Lagno and the revelation of the two tournaments, IM Sarasadat Khademalsharieh, shared the lead after the first day, with three Chinese players half a point behind: Ju Wenjun, Lei Tingjie and Tan Zhongyi.

Four wins and four draws was just enough for Lagno to finish half a point ahead of Khademalsharieh, who started with a loss against Lei but still managed to score 5.5/8 and claim her second silver medal of the week. The 21-year-old will thus take home $60,000 in total!

Sarasadat Khademalsharieh World Rapid Blitz 2018A week with a silver lining for Sarasadat Khademalsharieh. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/FIDE.

Her rook endgame in the last round was a nervous affair:

Lagno scored her biggest wins in the first two rounds of the day. She defeated the last two classical world champions, Tan and Ju. For starters, Lagno seems to know how to handle the Pirc:

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

Lagno was fortunate enough to also get the white pieces against Ju, and she managed to take revenge for her loss in the rapid (and in Khanty-Mansiysk?).

Like Carlsen, the 29-year-old Russian lady remained undefeated throughout the tournament and also showed "nice and dynamic chess" here:

Lagno vs Ju Wenjun World Blitz 2018Lagno playing her 30th move vs Ju Wenjun. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/FIDE.

Lagno won her second blitz title, after the first in 2010. "For me it’s interesting that I didn’t lose a single game. It’s probably the first time in my life in a blitz tournament," she said.

Kateryna Lagno World Blitz 2018Kateryna Lagno. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE.

Tan Zhongyi made it to a small but questionable list; she is now the second former world women's champion who failed to checkmate with knight and bishop (after Anna Ushenina at the 2013 Women's Grand Prix in Geneva). However, Tan at least has the excuse that it's not easy if you start with about 10 seconds on the clock, and only two extra per move.

As the defending player did not claim the draw after 50 moves or beyond, the arbiter interfered when more than 75 moves had been made according to the FIDE Laws of Chess, paragraph 9.6.2.

On a more positive note, the women's tournament saw another revelation. 12-year-old WCM(!) Leya Garifullina, 93rd seed, surprised everyone by finishing in eighth place with a splendid score of 11/17.

Among her victims were Lela IM Javakhishvili, Elisabeth Paehtz, Harika Dronavalli and Pia Cramling, and she drew e.g. Lei Tingjie, Lagno and Ju Wenjun!

Leya Garifullina World Blitz 2018Leya Garifullina is already the U-14 world blitz champion but her result in St. Petersburg is truly amazing. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE.

Garifullina lives in Yekaterinburg where she studies at Anatoly Karpov's chess school; her coach is GM Andrey Shariyazdanov. She considered her game against Harika her best:

Harika vs Garifullina World Blitz 2018Harika resigns her game with Garifullina. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/FIDE.

2018 Women World Blitz | Final Standings (Top 20)

Rk. SNo Fed Title Name Rtg Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3 rtg+/-
1 2 GM Lagno Kateryna 2560 13,5 2616 174,0 181,5 27,0
2 25 IM Khademalsharieh Sarasadat 2377 13,0 2562 171,0 178,5 84,0
3 12 GM Lei Tingjie 2458 12,5 2558 170,5 177,5 44,2
4 10 GM Gunina Valentina 2489 12,0 2490 166,5 174,0 7,8
5 8 GM Tan Zhongyi 2494 11,5 2479 164,0 172,0 -3,6
6 14 GM Goryachkina Aleksandra 2422 11,5 2463 160,5 167,5 19,4
7 15 GM Ushenina Anna 2419 11,5 2442 174,0 181,5 13,6
8 93 WCM Garifullina Leya 2120 11,0 2519 170,0 176,5 164,6
9 4 GM Ju Wenjun 2558 11,0 2500 172,5 180,0 -21,6
10 52 WGM Mamedjarova Zeinab 2271 11,0 2494 166,0 171,0 97,8
11 40 IM Gaponenko Inna 2314 11,0 2480 159,5 165,5 75,0
12 3 GM Muzychuk Anna 2559 11,0 2413 159,0 166,5 -55,4
13 7 GM Stefanova Antoaneta 2496 11,0 2398 156,5 164,0 -37,4
14 29 IM Paehtz Elisabeth 2366 11,0 2393 158,5 165,0 14,8
15 122 WFM Munkhzul Turmunkh 1936 11,0 2390 146,5 154,0 165,2
16 28 IM Bodnaruk Anastasia 2366 10,5 2501 166,5 173,0 62,6
17 36 IM Arabidze Meri 2323 10,5 2447 153,5 159,0 58,2
18 16 IM Galliamova Alisa 2417 10,5 2403 155,0 162,0 -2,8
19 62 WIM Shuvalova Polina 2226 10,5 2402 148,0 153,5 78,0
20 11 GM Kosteniuk Alexandra 2475 10,5 2393 162,5 171,5 -31,4

(Full final standings here.)

Replay the broadcast of the last day.

Carlsen World Blitz 2018 interviewsCarlsen giving interviews... | Photo: Maria Emelianova/FIDE.

Carlsen World Blitz 2018 autographs...and autographs. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/FIDE.

Nihal Tang Firouzja blitz After the tournament ended Nihal Sarin and Alireza Firouzja played some bullet(!), with Andrew Tan and Parham Maghsoodloo waiting to go next and Ehsan Ghaem-Maghami kibitzing. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/FIDE.

Podium Women World Rapid 2018Khademalsharieh (silver), Ju Wenjun (gold), Goryachkina (bronze), winners of the women's world rapid. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/FIDE.

Dubov trophy World Rapid 2018Mamedyarov (silver), Dubov (gold), Nakamura (bronze), winners of the world rapid. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/FIDE.

Kateryna Lagno Wins World Blitz 2018Kateryna Lagno receiving the world blitz trophy. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/FIDE.

Podium World Blitz 2018Duda, Carlsen and Nakamura, the winners of the blitz. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/FIDE.

Dubov Carlsen World Rapid Blitz podium 2018A quick joke among Dubov and Carlsen on stage. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/FIDE.

Carlsen Wins World Blitz 2018One more title for Carlsen before the end of the year. | 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.

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