Carlsen Unstoppable At Ivory Coast Rapid & Blitz
Magnus Carlsen. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Carlsen Unstoppable At Ivory Coast Rapid & Blitz

Alessandro_Parodi
Alessandro_Parodi
|
41 | Chess Event Coverage

Another close-to-perfect score in day two gave Magnus Carlsen a two-point lead in the Côte d’Ivoire Rapid & Blitz in Abidjan, with three more rapid rounds to play. The fight for second place intensifies as four players from the rising superpowers of chess, the U.S. and China, are in contention for the runner-up spot with little separating the group.

With Carlsen on 10/12 (rapid games count double in the tournament), only Hikaru Nakamura, who is currently on 8/12, can realistically hope to catch him before the end of the rapid portion. The American champion is himself within reach of Wei Yi (7/12), Ding Liren (6/12) and Wesley So (6/12). Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Sergey Karjakin and Veselin Topalov are tied on 5/12.

Bassem Amin (3/12) is still last in the standings, but managed to reduce the gap after a thrilling victory over Nakamura in round five.

Nakamura is the main competitor to Carlsen's lead. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com
Nakamura poses the main threat to Carlsen's lead. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

The Côte d’Ivoire Rapid & Blitz at the Pullman Hotel in Abidjan is the first event of this year’s Grand Chess Tour. The rapid portion of the tournament consists of nine rapid games, with a time control of 25 minutes for all moves and a 10-second delay from move one. In the blitz portion, the 10 champions will play 18 games with a time control of five minutes and a three-second delay.

You can follow all the games live here as part of our live portal.

Catch him if you can!

The World Champion studying his opponents. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com
The world champion studying his opponents. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

With two more wins and a draw, Carlsen is having no difficulty managing a clear lead. Today, he fed a poisoned pawn to both Karjakin and Vachier-Lagrave to gain a crushing attack in each game.

As Carlsen runs away from the pack, Nakamura’s chase is getting harder, but not impossible, after his abrupt loss against Amin. Despite a series of inaccuracies by both players in severe time trouble, the cliffhanger endgame produced a sequence of interesting and double-edged positions.

Here is GM Dejan Bojkov’s analysis of this exciting game:

Feeling relieved about his first win in a super-tournament, the African champion Amin commented on his time management: "Of course it’s different playing with delay [instead of increment], once you get down to 10 seconds in rapid you’re just not going to have more than 10 seconds. It’s very tricky. In the first couple of rounds I still wasn’t adjusting my time well, but now in the end it was fine and somehow I tricked him in the end," Amin said.

The flagman of Africa signing autographs. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com
Amin, the flagman of Africa, signing autographs. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

In the following game, Nakamura took advantage of a calculation error by Ding Liren and drove the game into a one-way ending. He remains hopeful about his chances of seizing the tournament, as he looks forward to the opportunity of beating the world champion in blitz:

“In general, playing Magnus, it’s a lot of fun," said Nakamura. "He’s obviously playing extremely well lately, so it’s always good to play with someone when they’re at their peak.”

A clash of superpowers:

Ian Nepomniachtchi and his second Vladimir Potkin. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com
Ian Nepomniachtchi and his second, Vladimir Potkin. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

“Karpov, Fischer, Spassky, Korchnoi, Kasparov and some other champions had something political. There was always a political conflict. Magnus is just winning his games.” That’s how Topalov described Carlsen’s personality after a peaceful draw against the world champion.

While the Norwegian celebrity doesn’t feel compelled to take a stance on politics, the chess powerhouses of the U.S., China and Russia are engaged in a balancing act at the Côte d’Ivoire Rapid & Blitz.

Day one favored China’s Wei Yi, but the youthful player has now fallen to third place, just ahead of his countryman Ding Liren, as a result of Vachier-Lagrave's triumphant king march in round four.

Nakamura and So's play may prove critical in seeing the U.S. players reach the top. The Russian players, instead, don’t seem to be in their best form: Karjakin is yet to win a game, while Nepomniachtchi is having a roller-coaster tournament. In round five, his exposed king cost him the full point:

A crawded audience in Abidjan. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com
A crowded audience in Abidjan. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Graphics: Saint Louis Chess Club.
Graphics: Saint Louis Chess Club.

Here’s the full schedule of the Côte d’Ivoire Rapid & Blitz:

  • Wednesday, May 8 – Rapid Rounds 1-3 from 5 p.m. GMT (19:00 CEST, 1 p.m. Eastern and 10 a.m. Pacific.
  • Thursday, May 9 – Rapid Rounds 4-6 from 5 p.m. GMT (19:00 CEST, 1 p.m. Eastern asfand 10 a.m. Pacific)
  • Friday, May 10 – Rapid Rounds 7-9 from 5 p.m. GMT (19:00 CEST, 1 p.m. Eastern and 10 a.m. Pacific)
  • Saturday, May 11 – Blitz Rounds 1-9 from 2 p.m. GMT (16:00 CEST, 10 a.m. Eastern and 7 a.m. Pacific)
  • Sunday, May 12 – Blitz Rounds 10-18 from 2 p.m. GMT. (16:00 CEST, 10 a.m. Eastern and 7 a.m. Pacific) Playoffs and prize giving from 6.30 p.m. GMT (20:30 CEST, 14.30 a.m. Eastern and 11.30 a.m. Pacific)

Previous reports:

More from Alessandro_Parodi
Arnold Schwarzenegger: 'I Used To Play Chess At The Gym'

Arnold Schwarzenegger: 'I Used To Play Chess At The Gym'

Carlsen Wins Côte d’Ivoire Rapid & Blitz

Carlsen Wins Côte d’Ivoire Rapid & Blitz