Carlsen Loses 2 Games At World Rapid Chess Championship Day 1
A disgruntled Carlsen leaves the board after a first-round loss. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE.

Carlsen Loses 2 Games At World Rapid Chess Championship Day 1

| 106 | Chess Event Coverage

The first day of the World Rapid Championship in St. Petersburg saw a shocking start for Magnus Carlsen, who lost his first two games before recovering with 3/3. GMs Alireza Firouzja, Ian Nepomniachtchi and Dmitry Andreikin lead with 4.5/5.

Women's world champion Ju Wenjun started very well, and is the sole leader with a perfect score of 4/4 in the women's section, where one fewer round was played.

The World Rapid Championship took off at 3 p.m. today in the Manege in St. Petersburg with 204 players in the open section and 124 in the women's section. The top four boards of both groups are placed on a special stage, and that includes Carlsen's board, again fixed (meaning he is the only player who plays all his games at the same table) because of the Norwegian TV broadcast.

Top boards World Rapid 2018The top boards. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE.

It wasn't a happy start for the Norwegians who decided to switch on the TV the day after Christmas. Like last year (against Bu Xiangzhi), Carlsen started with a loss. But unlike in Riyadh, today he also lost his second game. A most disastrous start, if only because he seriously damaged his tiebreak in a possible scenario where he ties for first place.

His first-round opponent was the fairly unknown 30-year-old GM Adam Tukhaev of Ukraine. With a Sveshnikov, Carlsen got the upper hand and won a pawn, but then needed to win an endgame with heavy pieces and two-vs-three on the kingside. Just when he managed to reach a clearly winning position, he forgot about the clock.

Commentator Peter Leko: "The worst possible way to lose. I'm speechless."

Commentator Evgeny Miroshnichenko: "This was the only way to lose the game."

Tukhaev-Carlsen World Rapid 2018Not everyone was following Tukhaev-Carlsen closely. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE.

Tukhaev (from the Crimea, now living in the Moscow region but playing under the Ukrainian flag) also drew Levon Aronian in the third, but told that it was not the greatest chess day in his life because he's on a minus score with 2/5. "On the other hand, playing vs Magnus was an achievement for me in itself," he said. "I never even dreamed of winning."

Clearly not amused, Carlsen allowed himself a frivolity by playing 1.e4 e5 2.Qh5!? against the 16-year-old Uzbek IM Shamsiddin Vokhidov. With a classical rating of 2480, Vokhidov recently won the U-16 Olympiad so it wasn't exactly an opponent likely to fall for scholar's mate.

Instead, it was Carlsen who blundered early on:

Carlsen-Vokhidov World Rapid 2018Carlsen resigns the game with Vokhidov... | Photo: Maria Emelianova/FIDE.

Magnus Carlsen World Rapid 2018...and is followed by the NRK camera as he leaves the board. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE.

It could hardly get worse than that, and it didn't. Carlsen defeated two lower-rated players (the first blundered in a better position but the second was indeed outplayed), and then also won against GM Andrew Tang, a player he has faced hundreds of times online in bullet. 

The 19-year-old American grandmaster, who came to St. Petersburg with his parents, initially did quite well, but eventually succumbed to Carlsen's and the clock's pressure. Afterward he told that he regretted playing too slowly. "I had too much respect," he said.

Magnus Carlsen World Rapid 2018Not a great start for Magnus Carlsen. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE.

This means that with 10 rounds to go in the next two days, Carlsen is 1.5 points behind the three leaders Andreikin, Nepomniachtchi and Firouzja. The latter is the most surprising name of the three, but perhaps not for fans who can find his name as the #4 of our current bullet list and the #7 of our blitz list.

Alireza Firouzja World Rapid 2018Alireza Firouzja, shared first after day one. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/FIDE.

Firouzja, the 15-year-old Iranian grandmaster, is clearly an enormous talent. In the fifth round he defeated Vladislav Artemiev of Russia, the third seed and world number-four(!) in rapid with a rating of 2812. Firouzja suddenly trapped a rook in the middle of the board after an earlier, surprising tactic:

Andreikin and Nepomniachtchi both reached 4/4 and then drew each other in round five. Nepo's biggest scalp was Hikaru Nakamura, who had shown impressive chess in the first three rounds but then stumbled against the Russian player:

Nepomniachtchi-Nakamura World Rapid 2018The start of Nepomniachtchi-Nakamura. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/FIDE.

After returning to his hotel, Nakamura streamed for a bit:

The third leader, Dmitry Andreikin, had warmed up a little earlier this week. In the sunny surroundings of the Sitges tournament he played three blitz games in a playoff for second place. His second round game against Israeli GM Ilya Smirin (back at the world rapid and blitz after he couldn't participate in Riyadh last year) was spectacular:

Andreikin World Rapid 2018Andreikin in his game with Artemiev. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/FIDE.

Like Carlsen, Aronian also started with a loss. He went down in a pawn endgame against a compatriot, but after that Aronian scored a very decent 3.5 points.

Levon Aronian World Rapid 2018Levon Aronian started with 3.5/5. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE.

Sergey Karjakin is also on 3.5 points after winning two and drawing three games. Against his compatriot Maxim Matlakov he seemed to be losing and decided to try one more trick, when his opponent fell for it:

Asked in an interview whether he is the "Minister of Defense" both in classical and in rapid chess, Karjakin replied: "I think I confirmed this reputation by finding a beautiful stalemate vs Matlakov, but I should have won that game earlier. That's why I have a bad aftertaste. Chess players are perfectionists, but it is important to stay more relaxed assuming that you cannot avoid errors in rapid and blitz."

Of course there were more tactical shots today; we'll see many of those in this event. Veteran grandmaster Anatoly Vaisser, a four-time world senior champion, quickly found a mate in three with rooks and knight against Robert Dubrovin in round three:

Robert Hovhannisyan, who had beaten Aronian in the first round, found a nice killer at the end of his game with Evgeniy Najer:

Interestingly, we find one untitled player in fourth place (on tiebreak) after the first day. This is German Bazeev of Russia, the #163 in the starting list! He drew Andrey Esipenko, beat Sergey Grigoriants, Levan Pantsulaia and Ilia Iljiushenok and then drew Peter Svidler. He told he "simply played ideal chess today."

The 25-year-old Bazeev said that he did not play serious chess for five years, although he did win the Aeroflot Open-C in 2017. He had already bought tickets to be in St. Petersburg on December 25, before the tournament was announced. He would not have come without this coincidence!

2018 World Rapid | Round 5 Standings (Top 20)

Rk. SNo Fed Title Name RtgI Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3 rtg+/-
1 169 GM Firouzja Alireza 2412 4,5 3067 12,5 15,5 74,0
2 9 GM Nepomniachtchi Ian 2771 4,5 3046 14,5 17,0 28,2
3 22 GM Andreikin Dmitry 2725 4,5 3037 13,5 14,5 33,0
4 163 Bazeev German 2418 4,0 2899 12,5 15,0 59,6
5 6 GM Mamedyarov Shakhriyar 2786 4,0 2898 12,5 14,5 13,2
6 7 GM Wang Hao 2782 4,0 2882 13,0 15,0 11,2
7 12 GM Kamsky Gata 2757 4,0 2881 14,0 16,0 14,6
8 25 GM Dubov Daniil 2723 4,0 2862 13,5 16,0 16,4
9 40 GM Zubov Alexander 2681 4,0 2848 11,0 12,5 20,8
10 11 GM Yu Yangyi 2758 4,0 2837 12,5 13,5 10,2
11 15 GM Korobov Anton 2740 4,0 2835 12,5 14,0 12,2
12 28 GM Gelfand Boris 2715 4,0 2823 13,0 15,0 12,4
13 31 GM Oparin Grigoriy 2701 4,0 2819 12,0 14,0 14,4
14 26 GM Sjugirov Sanan 2722 4,0 2816 11,0 13,0 10,8
15 13 GM Svidler Peter 2753 4,0 2813 12,0 12,0 7,4
16 68 GM Vitiugov Nikita 2632 4,0 2809 10,5 12,5 22,6
17 29 GM Anton Guijarro David 2708 4,0 2808 11,0 12,5 11,6
18 95 GM Bosiocic Marin 2584 4,0 2769 10,5 11,5 25,2
19 108 GM Hovhannisyan Robert 2549 3,5 2841 12,5 15,0 38,8
20 2 GM Nakamura Hikaru 2844 3,5 2803 13,5 16,0 -3,8

(Full standings here.)

The women's section is very strong as well, with the whole top 10 playing except for Hou Yifan who is busy studying in Oxford this year. The number-two, Ju Wenjun, retained her world title by winning the FIDE Knockout World Championship in Khanty-Mansiysk last month and is now also the sole leader after day one in the rapid.

The women play 12 rounds instead of 15, which means four per day. Ju's final position against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov's sister Zeinab was a pretty one:

Mamedjarova-Ju World Rapid 2018Ju was too strong for Mamedyarova. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/FIDE.

In round four, Ju defeated the Russian GM Valentina Gunina as Black. Gunina made an illegal move and her opponent got two minutes extra on the clock, but by then the position was already winning for Ju anyway.

Ju Wenjun World Rapid 2018Ju Wenjun could be the proud owner of three titles before the end of the year. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE.

Here's a nice win by Anna Muzychuk, the world rapid and blitz champion of 2016 who had to let go of her titles as she declined to play in Riyadh last year.

Anna Muzychuk World Rapid 2018Anna Muzychuk, trying to win back "her" two titles. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE.

2018 Women World Rapid | Round 5 Standings (Top 20)

Rk. SNo Fed Title Name RtgI Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3 rtg+/-
1 2 GM Ju Wenjun 2584 4,0 3150 8,0 8,5 17,2
2 1 GM Muzychuk Anna 2595 3,5 2696 8,5 9,5 7,4
3 16 GM Tan Zhongyi 2442 3,5 2691 7,5 8,5 21,0
4 8 GM Muzychuk Mariya 2493 3,5 2665 7,5 9,0 13,2
5 30 IM Saduakassova Dinara 2381 3,5 2660 9,5 10,5 24,6
6 14 GM Stefanova Antoaneta 2466 3,5 2642 7,0 9,0 13,4
7 15 IM Abdumalik Zhansaya 2444 3,5 2588 8,5 10,5 10,6
8 26 GM Gunina Valentina 2396 3,0 2574 8,5 10,0 18,6
9 86 IM Tsolakidou Stavroula 2188 3,0 2557 7,0 8,0 38,2
10 6 GM Dzagnidze Nana 2515 3,0 2536 8,0 9,0 2,2
11 29 IM Mammadova Gulnar 2382 3,0 2503 8,5 10,0 13,4
12 11 GM Goryachkina Aleksandra 2477 3,0 2502 9,0 10,0 2,6
13 22 WGM Girya Olga 2425 3,0 2501 8,0 9,0 8,2
14 5 GM Lagno Kateryna 2539 3,0 2497 8,0 9,5 -3,2
15 115 WFM Doan Thi Van Anh 2022 3,0 2495 6,5 8,5 46,8
16 4 GM Kosteniuk Alexandra 2540 3,0 2494 7,0 9,0 -3,4
17 10 GM Koneru Humpy 2479 3,0 2489 7,5 9,5 1,2
18 7 IM Paehtz Elisabeth 2506 3,0 2484 8,0 9,0 -1,6
19 18 IM Arabidze Meri 2431 3,0 2459 7,0 8,5 2,6
20 23 GM Cramling Pia 2420 3,0 2454 6,5 8,0 4,6

(Full standings here.)

Replay the broadcast of the first day.

Commentary World Rapid 2018Commentary by Sergey Shipov, with special headsets provided by the organisers. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/FIDE.

Venue World Rapid 2018The spacious venue is quite comfortable for players in between rounds. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/FIDE.

Women World Rapid 2018The women's world rapid in action. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/FIDE.

Spectators World Rapid 2018Spectators and media sharing the front row. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE.

Arkady Dvorkovich first move World Rapid 2018Arkady Dvorkovich making the first move for Kazakh IM Guliskhan Nakhbayeva in round one. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/FIDE.

Nepomniachtchi signature World Rapid 2018Nepomniachtchi providing signatures to young fans. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/FIDE.

Timur Gareyev World Rapid 2018Timur Gareyev has his own way of looking at life and dressing. A strict dress code was mostly held up for the games on stage today where e.g. jeans were not allowed; in the rest of the playing hall the arbiters were more liberal. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/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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