Grischuk Wins 3rd World Blitz Title On Dramatic Day 2

Grischuk Wins 3rd World Blitz Title On Dramatic Day 2

| 55 | Chess Event Coverage

Coming from behind, while nobody noticed, Alexander Grischuk won his third World Blitz Championship title as both Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Magnus Carlsen disappointed on a dramatic second day of play.

Photos by Nailya Bikmurzina & Gregor Anthes.

“Can't win them all (apparently),” Magnus Carlsen tweeted after failing to retain his world blitz title on Wednesday. The Norwegian star didn't hide his frustration during the day, and it had become the top story for Norwegian media.

Carlsen started the second day of play in second place, half a point behind Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. After a draw with Vladimir Kramnik, the reigning blitz champ lost a topsy-turvy game against Teimour Radjabov in round 13:

MVL and an arbiter watch as Carlsen loses to Radjabov.

In the next game Carlsen was lost as White against Peter Svidler, but somehow survived. Again with the white pieces he lost his next game to Alexander Grischuk. There was no doubt anymore: Carlsen wasn't playing his best chess.

Carlsen wasn't playing his best chess on the last day in Berlin.

Meanwhile, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave was still doing fine: after 17 rounds the Frenchman had a 1.5 point lead. Here's another example of his great endgame technique, which helped him to win a drawish-looking position:

In shared second place were Alexander Grischuk, Sergey Karjakin, Vladimir Kramnik and the surprise of the second day, Yuri Vovk. You might remember the latter from his fantastic match with Wei Yi at the World Cup.

In Berlin the Ukrainian grandmaster first shattered Levon Aronian's dreams and then also beat MVL, whose endgame technique failed him this time:

Yuri Vovk, here in his game against Levon Aronian.

At the press conference Vachier-Lagrave said: “I was 1.5 points ahead and somehow I was thinking: I've not done it yet, but I'm the one who can prevent myself from winning the title and it's exactly what happened. I lost two games in a row and even though I finished with two decent games it was not enough.”

He lost his second game to Vassily Ivanchuk, who played this Closed Sicilian with c3 and Na3 several times:

At 46, Vassily Ivanchuk is still going strong.

Vovk continued well with a draw against Carlsen, but fell back with losses in the last two rounds against Vladimir Kramnik and Ian Nepomniachtchi.

Because of Vachier-Lagrave's two straight losses, Carlsen suddenly was back in the tournament but he spoiled his chances once again with a loss against Ivanchuk.

Carlsen was basically outplayed, then he was given a chance to come back into the game but right there he blundered a mate in two.

Ivanchuk jumped on his chair like a seven-year-old when playing Qg1, and left the stage like a goalkeeper who had just stopped a penalty by Ronaldo. Spectators started applauding, to Carlsen's chagrin.

Below is a video by NRK, the Norwegian channel who had bought the rights to film the event and broadcast it live on national TV. It shows the end of this game and other moments of frustration for Carlsen during the day. 

We see the world champion throwing his pen on the table, and even shouting “faen!” (literally “devil,” but better translated as f**k). Later Carlsen stated that was embarrassed for his behavior. 

The video was posted on NRK's Facebook page (with the question “is this OK for chess?”) and is already over 50K views.

Rasende Carlsen banner og kaster penner ved brettet

Er dette greit i sjakk?

Posted by NRK Sport on Wednesday, October 14, 2015

With one round to go, two Russians were in shared first place with 14.5 points: Alexander Grischuk and Vladimir Kramnik. Grischuk had been playing very well on the second day, but nobody really noticed! He defeated Boris Gelfand in the last round with a risky opening:

Grischuk signed the form and started watching the game between Ivanchuk and Kramnik. “I could not believe I'm going to win till the end,” he said. “Even after I beat Boris Gelfand and then I just needed that Vladimir does not beat Ivanchuk, because if he won I'm sure that he will beat me on tiebreaks because I started very bad in the tournament.

“And then Ivanchuk had two knights and three pawns against two knights and two pawns so basically he cannot lose normally but there are two knights so you can always just put your king in check and lose like this. This was the moment I was most nervous actually today! But luckily it was OK.”

Grischuk: most nervous when watching Ivanchuk-Kramnik.

Here's a highlights video with the entertaining last phase of Ivanchuk-Kramnik and the winner's speech by Grischuk:

At the closing ceremony Carlsen gave a brief speech where he thanked everyone involved. He touched his gold medal for the rapid championship, and said: “Thanks for reminding me that a few days ago was a good day for me since today was not so great.”

Carlsen was already back in a good mood at the closing ceremony.

Perhaps he was comforted somewhat by Grischuk and Vachier-Lagrave, who both praised Carlsen. Grischuk: I want to congratulate again Magnus. I mean, I can't stress it enough: it's one of the biggest achievements in chess history to win three such tournaments in a row, two last year and the rapid here.

“It's incredibly tough to win one already and to win three is fantastic. Actually at the beginning of the blitz I was afraid he's going to win the fourth one and I started to be somewhat sick of him already!”

Vachier-Lagrave: “Congrats to Sacha for winning it and actually playing extremely well today when it really mattered. Just like him I have to stress that what Magnus did yesterday and last year, winning three world-class events in a row, is just incredible, especially when you know how easy it is to spoil it, especially in blitz.”

Vachier-Lagrave at the press conference. | Image courtesy ChessCast.

The Frenchman leaves Berlin with disappointment. “In general I love to play blitz but yesterday I was kind of in the flow, I mean something that rarely ever happens. This were just going so well for me. Today probably the pressure caught me a bit. 

“In general I should be satisfied but to be completely honest with you it's rarely ever happens that a second place felt this bitter for me.”

Grischuk is known to be a big lover of blitz as well. He had won the world blitz championship before in 2006 and 2012.

“I played the whole rapid bad. Yesterday bad as well, but today something changed for me, in me maybe, I don't know. Somehow I was really concentrated, I mean I didn't speak to anyone between the games, to remain concentrated and so on, and I played really well today I think.”

Grischuk receiving his gold medal from FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov.

The third player at the press conference was Vladimir Kramnik. The ex-world champion said that he wasn't sure if he wanted to participate. “Blitz is a game for young players, you know! Some good 10, 15 years ago I was a very strong blitz player but with age somehow you start to lose reflexes.”

Kramnik's old rival Garry Kasparov, who happened to be in Berlin on the same day to deliver a speech at the Aspen Institute, disagreed:

Kramnik said that he was happy to have scored well against all strong blitz players, including Carlsen, MVL, Nepomniachtchi, Radjabov, Karjakin, Ivanchuk and Grischuk. “It's a bit reassuring. It means maybe I can still play chess for a while!”

Kramnik: “I can still play chess for a while!”

One name was missing there: Hikaru Nakamura. The American number one had made the right decision to play Millionaire Chess instead, where he won more money that the first prizes of the rapid and blitz (both $40,000) combined.

As a bonus, Nakamura is now also the world number-one blitz player in the live ratings.

A huge number of games were played in Berlin, and so many famous grandmasters haven't even made it to our news reports. Let's look at one more game, which shows that “lesser” GMs can sometimes beat top GMs convincingly as well:


2015 World Blitz Championship | Final Standings (Top 30)

Rk. SNo Title Name FED Rtg Pts. TB1 TB2 Rp
1 5 GM Grischuk Alexander RUS 2814 15,5 2699 241 2876
2 2 GM Vachier-Lagrave Maxime FRA 2854 15 2727 264 2877
3 15 GM Kramnik Vladimir RUS 2763 15 2705 245 2856
4 10 GM Ivanchuk Vassily UKR 2789 14,5 2691 243 2827
5 3 GM Nepomniachtchi Ian RUS 2831 14,5 2642 228,5 2775
6 1 GM Carlsen Magnus NOR 2914 14 2720 259 2837
7 25 GM Svidler Peter RUS 2726 14 2691 247 2810
8 7 GM Navara David CZE 2806 14 2646 225,5 2767
9 113 GM Vovk Yuri UKR 2566 13,5 2742 255 2827
10 66 GM Kasimdzhanov Rustam UZB 2641 13,5 2720 259,5 2810
11 4 GM Aronian Levon ARM 2817 13,5 2710 252,5 2805
12 18 GM Gelfand Boris ISR 2743 13,5 2700 247 2795
13 28 GM Dominguez Perez Leinier CUB 2717 13,5 2687 243,5 2781
14 12 GM Mamedov Rauf AZE 2777 13,5 2659 237 2757
15 17 GM Mamedyarov Shakhriyar AZE 2749 13,5 2648 234 2744
16 54 GM Ponkratov Pavel RUS 2666 13,5 2608 222 2694
17 16 GM Karjakin Sergey RUS 2759 13 2720 257 2800
18 59 GM Vitiugov Nikita RUS 2655 13 2711 243,5 2774
19 37 GM Tomashevsky Evgeny RUS 2694 13 2683 245 2761
20 31 GM Korobov Anton UKR 2705 13 2663 241,5 2744
21 11 GM Andreikin Dmitry RUS 2781 13 2663 232 2734
22 9 GM Anand Viswanathan IND 2791 13 2658 236,5 2739
23 36 GM Fressinet Laurent FRA 2699 13 2647 233 2727
24 14 GM Fedoseev Vladimir RUS 2765 13 2644 229 2728
25 23 GM Alekseev Evgeny RUS 2729 13 2633 229,5 2717
26 30 GM Malakhov Vladimir RUS 2707 13 2596 226,5 2679
27 78 GM Petrosian Tigran L. ARM 2630 12,5 2745 257,5 2798
28 6 GM Radjabov Teimour AZE 2808 12,5 2730 260 2794
29 137 GM Gajewski Grzegorz POL 2520 12,5 2704 242,5 2773
30 121 GM Swiercz Dariusz POL 2555 12,5 2666 229 2718

(Full standings here.)

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

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