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Carlsen Magnificent On Final Day, Wins World Blitz
Carlsen holding his trophy, with Anand (bronze) next to him. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Carlsen Magnificent On Final Day, Wins World Blitz

It took him four days to find his best form, but on Saturday it was there. Magnus Carlsen won the World Blitz Chess Championship with a round to spare. Carlsen scored eight wins and two draws on day two, 16/21 in total and takes home $200,000 ($250,000 minus FIDE's 20 percent). Nana Dzagnidze won the women's tournament with 16.5/21 and earned $64,000 ($80,000 minus FIDE's 20 percent).

"Extremely happy" were Carlsen's first words after he reclaimed the world blitz title that he won three years ago in Dubai. He had lost it to Alexander Grischuk a year later in Berlin, and saw Sergey Karjakin winning gold on tiebreak last year in Doha. 

"Yesterday was a very difficult day for me but today everything went beyond expectation. It means a lot, especially after I lost the last round in the rapid from a leading position. Then it makes a whole difference for me when I look back upon these tournaments and this year, so it's a massive win."

Don't forget that Carlsen's next blitz event is just around the corner: on 3 January 2018, he will be playing the Chess.com Speed Chess Championship final against Hikaru Nakamura, who boycotted the tournaments in Saudi Arabia.

Carlsen speaking to FIDE's Nastja Karlovich.

The blitz championship was a Swiss tournament over 21 rounds. After day one, when 11 rounds were played, Sergey Karjakin was leading with 9/11 followed by Maxime Vachier-Lagrave who was on 8.5/11. Six players followed, who were on 8 points, but Carlsen was not one of them. On a disappointing first day, he had scored only 7/11.

But on Saturday, it was a world of difference. Where the rest of the field looked like steam locomotives, Carlsen was a high-speed train that went twice as fast through the landscape. Whereas several colleagues drew one game after another, he won his first three games (Grischuk, Harikrishna, Mamedyarov) and narrowed the gap with Karjakin to only half a point.

Then the two faced each other. A (crushing) fourth win for Carlsen suddenly made clear who was the real favorite for tournament victory. 

Carlsen vs Karjakin

Carlsen vs Karjakin, a turning point for the championship. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

The question 'will he make another comeback?' very quickly turned into: 'who is going to stop him?' Well, it was Maxime Vachier-Lagrave who held Carlsen to a draw (even having a slight edge perhaps), but then the speed train went full speed again.

Carlsen won another four games in a row, in rounds 17-20, and by then he was on 15.5/20, and nobody could catch him anymore. After a quick draw with Levon Aronian in the final round, the Norwegian had closed a relatively bad year on a high note.

The way he won most games today was vintage Carlsen: never play for a draw, ever. Maybe spare energy for a round? No way. Try to win, if there's still a tiny chance. Just keep on trying to find moves that pose problems.

Three examples. Ding Liren, who lost heavily to Carlsen in November in St. Louis, still probably wasn't expecting to lose this one.

Against the Russian rising star Vladislav Artemiev he didn't have much, but also here Carlsen just kept on creating little threats.

In the case of Anton Korobov, the win was all based on a critical choice for the Ukrainian, who went for the wrong pawn. Should Carlsen get credit for this? Well, yes, if you take into account that, as in many games, he reached this position with much more time on the clock. 

Anton Korobov vs Carlsen

Anton Korobov realizing he is not going to hold the knight ending. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

At the closing ceremony, Carlsen was standing in between the two opponents he faced in classical world championships: Karjakin (silver) and Anand (bronze). 

Karjakin came second after scoring 5.5/10 today, but still won't be too disappointed. He won a very expensive final round game as Black against Grischuk where he ended up winning a lost position.

Viswanathan Anand ended up being the most successful player in Riyadh, with a gold medal in the rapid and then a bronze one in the blitz. The Indian was as fortunate as Karjakin in the final round because MVL also blundered material:

MVL vs Anand, with Leko and Ivanchuk watching.

MVL vs Anand, with Leko and Ivanchuk watching. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Levon Aronian ended up sharing fourth place, which was a fantastic result taking into account that the Armenian player was in 68th place after the first day, having scored only 5.5/11. But his achievement on the second day was almost as big as Carlsen's: 8.5/10.

Here's how he defeated Karjakin in the penultimate round.

Aronian vs Karjakin in Riyadh

Aronian suddenly emerged at the top, and defeated Karjakin. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

A total of eight Chinese players participated, and it was Wang Hao who was most successful. He tied with Aronian, and won what was probably his biggest prize ever: $36,000 ($45,000 minus FIDE's 20 percent). One of his victims was his compatriot Li Chao.

The tournament saw another incident on the second day, in the game Grischuk-Mamedyarov. The Russian GM was an exchange down, but at some point stopped the clock, and claimed a draw by threefold repetition. The board arbiter didn't see a threefold, and ordered the players to continue the game.

Grischuk ended up losing, and then checked again. To his great surprise, he saw that not a threefold, but a fourfold repetition had occurred! After telling the chief arbiter, the game was declared a draw.

Mamedyarov appealed against the chief arbiter's decision, arguing that he had already won the game and the forms were signed. This caused another delay for the last round, but eventually, his appeal was rejected by the Appeals Committee, who probably reasoned that once a correct claim has been made, this ends the game and everything that happens afterward is irrelevant.

Mamedyarov protesting

Mamedyarov protesting to the chief arbiter. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

2017 World Blitz Championship | Final Standings (13 points and up)

SNo Fed Name Rtg Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3 TB4 Rp rtg+/- Prize*
1 Carlsen Magnus 2986 16 0 2742 257 10 2924 -20,8 $250,000
3 Karjakin Sergey 2854 14,5 0,5 2745 253,5 11 2873 13,8 $100,000
20 Anand Viswanathan 2736 14,5 0,5 2712 245,5 11 2844 60,8 $100,000
19 Wang Hao 2737 14 0 2716 249,5 11 2832 53 $45,000
2 Aronian Levon 2863 14 0 2685 239 10 2794 -30,4 $45,000
5 Ding Liren 2837 13,5 0 2722 251,5 10 2812 -9,6 $22,416.67
23 Petrosian Tigran L. 2705 13,5 0 2710 251 10 2803 57,2 $22,416.67
25 Yu Yangyi 2701 13,5 0 2708 251 10 2803 59 $22,416.67
13 Korobov Anton 2760 13,5 0 2707 248,5 10 2799 24,8 $22,416.67
12 Mamedyarov Shakhriyar 2770 13,5 0 2697 242,5 10 2783 12,2 $22,416.67
9 Svidler Peter 2797 13,5 0 2692 247 10 2784 -3,8 $22,416.67
4 Vachier-Lagrave Maxime 2853 13 0 2747 264 10 2822 -14,4 $7,214
21 Grischuk Alexander 2725 13 0 2689 246,5 10 2767 24 $7,214
66 Savchenko Boris 2619 13 0 2686 245,5 11 2731 79,6 $7,214
32 Melkumyan Hrant 2686 13 0 2655 238 10 2727 24,4 $7,214
11 Le Quang Liem 2771 13 0 2654 232 11 2731 -21 $7,214
17 Mamedov Rauf 2755 13 0 2625 223,5 10 2701 -29 $7,214
38 Adly Ahmed 2678 13 0 2599 216,5 11 2672 -0,8 $7,214

(*Minus FIDE's 20 percent; full standings here.)

Download Open PGN

Nana Dzagnidze ended up winning the women's section after scoring an excellent 8/10 on the final day. Here's how she beat rapid champion Ju Wenjun, who was just as successful as Anand as she also won bronze in the blitz.

Dzagnidze vs Ju Wenjun

Dzagnidze vs Ju Wenjun. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Dzagnidze speaking to FIDE's Nastja Karlovich.

Pia Cramling couldn't keep up her great form and scored only 4/10 today. At some point the energy was just gone; she lost her last three games.

Second came Valentina Gunina and shared third and fourth were Ju Wenjun (bronze) and Kateryna Lagno. Gunina had an amazing finish of five straight wins which secured a cheque of $40,000—especially for women's standards in chess, a huge prize.

Ushenina vs Gunina in Riyadh

A nice payday for Gunina. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

2017 Women's World Blitz Championship | Final Standings (12.5 points and up)

Rk. SNo Fed Title Name Rtg Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3 TB4 Prize*
1 12 GM Dzagnidze Nana 2453 16,5 0 2431 253 10 $80,000
2 3 GM Gunina Valentina 2543 16 0 2426 255 11 $40,000
3 2 GM Ju Wenjun 2548 14 1 2406 249,5 10 $20,500
4 1 GM Lagno Kateryna 2619 14 0 2449 260,5 10 $20,500
5 53 GM Cramling Pia 2326 13,5 0 2428 257 10 $10,000
6 4 GM Tan Zhongyi 2543 13,5 0 2427 252 10 $10,000
7 6 GM Kosteniuk Alexandra 2526 13,5 0 2413 254,5 10 $10,000
8 19 IM Abdumalik Zhansaya 2417 13,5 0 2395 252,5 11 $10,000
9 36 WGM Kulon Klaudia 2361 13,5 0 2361 245,5 11 $10,000
10 93 WGM Mammadzada Gunay 2037 13 0 2448 260 10 $4875
11 11 GM Ushenina Anna 2457 13 0 2379 246,5 10 $4875
12 28 GM Zhukova Natalia 2372 13 0 2326 221 11 $4875
13 16 GM Danielian Elina 2429 13 0 2251 208 11 $4875
14 14 WGM Goryachkina Aleksandra 2440 12,5 0 2400 241 10 $1950
15 24 IM Javakhishvili Lela 2395 12,5 0 2396 230 10 $1950
16 10 GM Lei Tingjie 2461 12,5 0 2393 251 11 $1950
17 9 IM Paehtz Elisabeth 2467 12,5 0 2358 231 11 $1950
18 20 GM Khotenashvili Bela 2412 12,5 0 2320 221,5 11 $1950
19 17 GM Hoang Thanh Trang 2422 12,5 0 2307 216 10 $1950

(*Minus FIDE's 20 percent; full standings here.)

Download Women's PGN

Games via TWIC.

Vidit, Sethuraman, Anand, Adhiban, Petrosian

Anand talking to Petrosian, surrounded by Vidit, Sethuraman, and Adhiban. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Sethuraman, Anand, Adhiban

Yes, the Indian legend can be really funny too. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Trophies, World Rapid and Blitz

The trophies for the winners (open and women) of the two tournaments. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Wonder how these trophies were made? Here's how.

Ju Wenjun, World Rapid Champion

Ju Wenjun, winner of the World Rapid. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Anand receiving his gold medal

Anand receiving his gold medal for the rapid tournament. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Nana Dzagnizde wins World Blitz

Nana Dzagnidze with the blitz trophy. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Anand, Carlsen, Karjakin in Riyadh

Carlsen and his rivals in the classical world championship matches. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Magnus Carlsen, World Blitz Champion

Carlsen with the winner's trophy and flowers. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Anand, Carlsen, Ju, Dzagnidze

The winners of the rapid and blitz events together with FIDE's Georgios Makropoulos and athlete & businessman Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Saud. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

The World Blitz Championship took place December 29-30. It was a 21-round Swiss with a prize fund of $750,000 for the open section and $250,000 for the women's section.


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