Carlsen Retains World Rapid Title With Practical Chess

Carlsen Retains World Rapid Title With Practical Chess

| 28 | Chess Event Coverage

Magnus Carlsen won the World Rapid Championship on Monday in Berlin, Germany. The Norwegian GM finished a full point ahead of the pack, clinched the $40,000 first prize and retained the title he won last year in Dubai.

Photos by Lena Kashirsky, Nailya Bikmurzina & Gregor Anthes.

“My form was decent, but it was more a triumph of practical strength,” said Magnus Carlsen at the press conference after winning the Rapid World Championship — again.

Winning the rapid title must have given the Norwegian mixed feelings: on the one hand he had clearly been the best player over 15 rounds, but at the same time he wasn't able to demonstrate his superiority with chess moves.

Carlsen went as far as describing his play as “nothing spectacular.” Twice he mentioned that his advantage on the clock was often more significant than that on the board. “Many of my games, most of them were pretty even but I didn't blunder much and I usually took the opportunities when they were there. And I usually had more time.

The surprising co-leader after two days was Sergei Zhigalko, who was Carlsen's opponent in round 11. The Belarussian gave up the bishop pair for a pawn and was doing OK for quite some time, but it was too hard to defend against that passer on d3.

The big game in round 12 was Carlsen versus Vassily Ivanchuk. The Ukrainian hasn't scored big results in recent years, but remains a very dangerous player who can beat just about anyone on a given day.

After a brief think Chuky decided to go for the Petroff, and all went well: if anyone was better in the rook ending it was Black. But, with less time on the clock, Ivanchuk erred and found himself in a lost queen and pawn endgame.


The queen ending was in fact drawn for one move.

After missing some chances against Kramnik (that game was a draw), Ivanchuk had a typical Chuky moment (really, this kind of thing has happened to him many times): he forgot to press the clock and lost on time in a promising position against Teimour Radjabov.

Ivanchuk convincingly beat Akopian in the final round and so the 46-year-old Ukrainian can still be reasonably satisfied. With this form, he'll be fighting for the top prizes in the blitz.

Which chess fan isn't happy to see Chuky playing well?

Back to Carlsen, who finished his tournament with three games that were indeed not very spectacular. We cannot complain that he drew a solid game as Black against Leinier Dominguez, but a 16-move draw with Vladimir Kramnik in a 5.Re1 Berlin was rather disappointing for the fans. Practical chess!

This draw clinched the title for Carlsen, who was a point ahead in the standings and had the best first tiebreaker: average rating of the opponents. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov was a dangerous opponent in the last round, had he got some chances, but Carlsen managed to hold:

“I think it's important not to let the result affect you too much,” said Carlsen. “For me, even in the first round I get a very strong grandmaster, 2600, and especially with the black pieces you shouldn't be afraid of draws when you're playing 15 rounds. You just keep going.

“I think there were many games which could have gone either way for me but I always had a bit more time and a little bit more control of the position at critical junctures.”

Carlsen: back to winning chess tournaments.

Last year Ian Nepomniachtchi didn't do so well in the rapid, but finished second behind Carlsen in the blitz. This year the Russian GM came second in the rapid, and so he's surely one of the favorites again in the coming days.

“You know it couldn't be worse! Of course I'm kidding. The tournament is sort of good, second place in such a strong tournament is always a success,” Nepomniachtchi said. “I think I gave up most of my chances to win yesterday in my game against Zhigalko but once in 15 games such a collapse can happen so I couldn't go much about it and I just kept playing.

“In general, maybe if I would be a bit more lucky I would score half a point or a point more but still it's not so clear because Magnus was clearly playing for the draw in the last two rounds. I think in general the result is somewhat fair.”


Nepomniachtchi sitting next to Daniil Dubov (l.)

Carlsen had a few nice words for frenemy Nepomniachtchi, who was born in the same year: “I never beat Ian in a tournament game, either classical, rapid or blitz. Whenever we play eachother I just try to survive and beat the rest. I'm very happy for Ian, we've known each other for a long time, he's doing well here. But I was also happy that I was first, of course!”

Sergey Karjakin scored 3.0/5 on the last day and eventually finished in shared 13th place. Baku took its toll, also for e.g. Pavel Eljanov. The Ukrainian, shared 50th, admitted to that he was still tired.

One has to go down the list and look carefully to find more big names. Vishy Anand was in the same group as Karjakin with 9.5, but Aronian scored a full point less. Grischuk collected 9 points. Ponomariov (7.5) and Morozevich (6.5) did even worse.

Aronian and Anand, here chatting with Tigran Petrosian, have known better (rapid) times.

The first three days in Berlin were well attended. Especially on Saturday, when more than 500 spectators showed up, it was seriously crowded. If held in a big city, and with the world champ playing, chess can be a fine spectator sport.

Carlsen: “I should apologize to everybody who I have refused an autograph or a picture. I sometimes need to concentrate but thank you all, press and especially spectators for coming. Without you it's not possible for us to play.”

It must be mentioned that the organizers could do a better job for those spectators. The Bolle Meierei, a former factory in the city center, is indeed a magnificent venue but two basic things are sorely missed: food and drinks, and screens that show the games.

In chess terms, this can only be described as blunders in an otherwise well played game.

No TV or projector screens showing the games. Some spectators brought
their smartphone or tablet to follow the games via a chess app.

It was quite special last year in Dubai, when Carlsen added both the rapid and blitz titles to his classical crown. If he'll retain the blitz title as well, the word "special" will be an understatement.



2015 World Rapid Championship | Final Standings (Top 30)

Rk. SNo Title Name FED Rtg Pts. TB1 TB2 rtg+/-
1 1 GM Carlsen Magnus NOR 2847 11,5 2723 130,5 26
2 8 GM Nepomniachtchi Ian RUS 2789 10,5 2712 129 24,4
3 16 GM Radjabov Teimour AZE 2741 10,5 2681 128,5 32,2
4 13 GM Dominguez Perez Leinier CUB 2749 10,5 2673 126 26
5 89 GM Bocharov Dmitry RUS 2577 10 2712 125 96,6
6 7 GM Kramnik Vladimir RUS 2798 10 2696 128,5 6,4
7 38 GM Onischuk Vladimir UKR 2692 10 2696 122 47,2
8 3 GM Ivanchuk Vassily UKR 2835 10 2690 130 -10
9 39 GM Kovalenko Igor LAT 2687 10 2686 124 45,6
10 9 GM Mamedyarov Shakhriyar AZE 2784 10 2676 130 3,4
11 11 GM Vachier-Lagrave Maxime FRA 2756 10 2673 122,5 13,8
12 19 GM Inarkiev Ernesto RUS 2733 10 2648 125 12,8
13 92 GM Khismatullin Denis RUS 2574 9,5 2737 127 93,6
14 71 GM Kasimdzhanov Rustam UZB 2619 9,5 2735 123,5 77
15 53 GM Malakhov Vladimir RUS 2662 9,5 2733 128 62
16 36 GM Kryvoruchko Yuriy UKR 2694 9,5 2722 133,5 46,2
17 51 GM Korobov Anton UKR 2664 9,5 2706 126,5 50,2
18 34 GM Zhigalko Sergei BLR 2698 9,5 2698 130 35,2
19 5 GM Karjakin Sergey RUS 2805 9,5 2678 128 -13
20 66 GM Salem A.R. Saleh UAE 2631 9,5 2672 108,5 49
21 44 GM Fedoseev Vladimir RUS 2681 9,5 2668 117 30,4
22 27 GM Wojtaszek Radoslaw POL 2711 9,5 2659 123,5 15,4
23 45 GM Navara David CZE 2673 9,5 2655 117 28,6
24 29 GM Guseinov Gadir AZE 2705 9,5 2651 126,5 14
25 6 GM Anand Viswanathan IND 2800 9,5 2646 117,5 -22,8
26 108 GM Vidit Santosh Gujrathi IND 2534 9 2737 120,5 105,2
27 72 IM Bogdanovich Stanislav UKR 2619 9 2682 118 46,8
28 82 GM Adhiban Baskaran IND 2590 9 2668 111,5 52,8
29 24 GM Riazantsev Alexander RUS 2716 9 2653 123 1
30 52 GM Khairullin Ildar RUS 2662 9 2652 108 20,8

(Full standings here.)

German readers might want to check out Ulrich Stock's excellent coverage in Die Zeit.

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.

Between 2007 and 2013 Peter was running ChessVibes, a major source for chess news and videos acquired by in October 2013.

As our Director News & Events, Peter writes many of our news reports. In the summer of 2022, The Guardian’s Leonard Barden described him as “widely regarded as the world’s best chess journalist.”

In October, Peter's first book The Chess Revolution will be published!

Company Contact and News Accreditation: 

Phone: 1 (800) 318-2827
Address: 877 E 1200 S #970397, Orem, UT 84097

More from PeterDoggers
Vachier-Lagrave Reaches Div I Grand Final As Carlsen, Nepomniachtchi Set Up Repeat Clash

Vachier-Lagrave Reaches Div I Grand Final As Carlsen, Nepomniachtchi Set Up Repeat Clash

Stephane Bressac Wins Unique 1st Blindfold Chess Challenge, Open To Everyone

Stephane Bressac Wins Unique 1st Blindfold Chess Challenge, Open To Everyone