Caruana Wins 2021 Gashimov Memorial
Caruana with the Gashimov Memorial trophy. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Caruana Wins 2021 Gashimov Memorial

| 65 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Fabiano Caruana won the 2021 Vugar Gashimov Memorial on Thursday after beating GM Richard Rapport in the armageddon playoff game. Both players had finished on 24 points after the blitz segment was over.

How to watch?
You can play through all games of the Vugar Gashimov Memorial here.
Gashimov Memorial 2021 live chess

With a bit of imagination, Caruana's victory had some similarities with how Max Verstappen won his first Formula 1 title, unexpectedly beating Lewis Hamilton in the final race. Entering the final round on the same number of points, Rapport moved ahead from the start as he successfully tried a sharp King's Indian setup against GM David Navara. He was slightly better in the endgame and continued to outplay his opponent, virtually distancing himself from Caruana:

Richard Rapport 2021 Gashimov Memorial
Richard Rapport. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Chasing Rapport, Caruana got behind more and more as his position was deteriorating, playing Black against GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. Rapport seemed on the brink of tournament victory when, all of a sudden, Mamedyarov blundered terribly, and Caruana ended up winning an unwinnable game.

As if helped by a safety car, the American GM was tied with Rapport again after 14 rounds, and everything would be decided in an armageddon—the final lap of the race.

Final Standings

# Fed Name Rapid Blitz Total
1-2 Richard Rapport 16 8 24
1-2 Fabiano Caruana 14 10 24
3 Shakhriyar Mamedyarov 14 8.5 22.5
4 Sergey Karjakin 16 5 21
5 Rauf Mamedov 9 6.5 15.5
6 David Navara 8 6 14
7 Vugar Asadli 4 6 10
8 Viswanathan Anand 3 6 9

If we continue the comparison, Caruana's fresh tires were his psychological advantage in this game, and he ended up winning the armageddon on demand with the white pieces:

Caruana Rapport armageddon Gashimov memorial 2021
Rapport resigns vs. Caruana in the armageddon. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

After this tournament, it's interesting to look at the new speed chess live ratings. Gaining fewer than 48 points in the rapid ratings, Rapport is now the world number-five:

Rapport rapid rating chess
Rapport is the world number-five rapid player. Image: 2700chess.

Caruana did quite well in the blitz segment where he won 22 points. Anand, on the other hand, had a very disappointing tournament and lost 66 points, which now makes him the second-rated Indian player in blitz behind GM Arjun Erigaisi, who did so well at the Mikhail Tal Memorial blitz in Riga last month.

Erigaisi Anand blitz ratings
Erigaisi is now ahead of Anand. Image: 2700chess.

Expect a lot of changes in these lists in a few days from now as the FIDE World Rapid and Blitz Championships will be taking place December 26-30, 2021 in Warsaw, Poland. You can watch the live broadcast of the event on or on our Twitch and YouTube channels. You can also keep up with the event by going to our Events page.

All blitz games

The Gashimov Memorial started with two-game rapid matches (Dec. 18-21) where the winner got three points and the loser zero. In case of a tie, an armageddon game decided, and the winner got two points and the loser one. Then, a double round-robin of blitz followed (Dec. 22-23) where the time control was five minutes plus a three-second increment, and the points system was back to normal.

Vugar Gashimov memorial
Vugar Gashimov was always present...Photo: Maria Emelianova/
during the rounds
...during the rounds. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Caruana Anand Karjakin Richard Rapport. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Caruana, Anand, and Karjakin chatting in between rounds. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Caruana Gashimov memorial
Caruana was interviewed by local media after his victory. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Previous reports:

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