Karjakin Leads World Blitz Halfway; Carlsen 2 Points Behind
Sergey Karjakin, on his way to retaining his title? | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Karjakin Leads World Blitz Halfway; Carlsen 2 Points Behind

PeterDoggers
PeterDoggers
Dec 29, 2017, 9:16 AM |
113 | Chess Event Coverage

Sergey Karjakin is the sole leader at the World Blitz Chess Championship in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Like last year, the defending champion scored 9/11 on the first day. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave is in second place with 8.5 points while Magnus Carlsen only scored seven points. The 54-year-old Pia Cramling sensationally leads the women's section.

The first day of blitz, where 11 rounds of 3+2 games were played, started with an incident that had chess fans worldwide discussing the philosophical meaning of the term "illegal move." Here's what happened in the game between Magnus Carlsen and Ernesto Inarkiev:

Here Inarkiev went 27...Ne3+?!!, which was quite a brilliant (though illegal) try, since Carlsen also forgot that the black king is in check, and played 28.Kd3. Thereupon Inarkiev stopped the clock and claimed a win based on Carlsen playing an illegal move. The arbiter honored the claim.

Carlsen was shocked about what happened, and was about to walk away until it was suggested that he talk to the chief arbiter, Takis Nikolopoulos.

Nikolopoulos overruled the board arbiter's decision, and decided that the game should be resumed.

Takis Nikolopoulos with Magnus Carlsen

Nikolopoulos with a copy of FIDE's 2017 Arbiter's Manual. (More photos of the incident at the end of the article.) | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

While Inarkiev was studying the regulations (the chief arbiter had given him a copy), a smiling Vassily Ivanchuk took Carlsen's seat and started calculating. A while later, Inarkiev refused to continue the game, which was then declared a win for Carlsen. After the next round Inarkiev appealed this decision but the appeal was rejected.

The relevant paragraph of the FIDE Laws of Chess says:

A.4.2 If the arbiter observes an illegal move has been completed, he shall declare the game lost by the player, provided the opponent has not made his next move. If the arbiter does not intervene, the opponent is entitled to claim a win, provided the opponent has not made his next move. However, the game is drawn if the position is such that the opponent cannot checkmate the player’s king by any possible series of legal moves. If the opponent does not claim and the arbiter does not intervene, the illegal move shall stand and the game shall continue. Once the opponent has made his next move, an illegal move cannot be corrected unless this is agreed by the players without  intervention of the arbiter.

This paragraph doesn't take into account what happened today: playing a move that keeps the opponent's king in check. Inarkiev argued that Carlsen's move is illegal because of that, but the chief arbiter disagreed. A new version of the Laws of Chess should make this more clear.

Malcolm Pein, member of the Appeals Committee, talking to FIDE's Nastja Karlovich (from 3:44 about the appeal).

Update 30 December 2017: the incident was reason for Garry Kasparov to post a comment on his Facebook page. The 13th world champion calls it a "disgraceful incident" and says Inarkiev's claim was an "absurd demand."

Whether affected by all the consternation or not, Carlsen was convincingly beaten by Sanan Sjugirov in the next round as Carlsen blundered a piece on move 29.

Sjugirov talking to FIDE's Nastja Karlovich.

As if he needed redemption as quickly as possible, Carlsen blew his next opponent off the board. For the moment he was still faithful to his London System, and it was serving him well.

Carlsen vs Kryvoruchko in Riyadh

Carlsen bouncing back with a crushing win vs Kryvoruchko. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

The classical world champion then also beat David Anton and Var Akobian, but his play was less convincing. In his next four games he drew with Olexandr Bortnyk, Wang Hao, Vishy Anand and Sergey Grigoriants and then lost after overpressing against Yu Yangyi, thereby dropping quite a bit in the standings.

The game with Anand had a tense finish, where Anand made one of his final moves leaving just one second on his clock, and he almost fell for a fork, but eventually saved himself. Both players exchanged smiles for this quite exciting finish.

In the rapid tournament he only scored 9/15 (good for a shared 19th place), but Sergey Karjakin is doing much better in the blitz. He scored a magnificent 9/11 today, just like he did last year when he ended up winning the tournament. (He edged out Carlsen after both ended on 16.5/21.)

Sergey Karjakin at the World Blitz

Karjakin is on par with last year's golden event. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Among his victims today was Nigel Short, who was once involved in a car crash with Karjakin in the front seat—an anecdote Short sometimes shares when giving commentary at tournaments. In this game, Short did not clamber out unscathed.

Karjakin talking to FIDE's Nastja Karlovich.

Karjakin also beat Farrukh Amonatov, the blitz specialist from Tajikistan who surprisingly won the Eurasian Blitz Cup in June 2016, ahead of the likes of Grischuk,  Gelfand, Nepomniachtchi, Jobava and Karjakin himself.

Another player who is doing much better than in the rapid is Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. As the only player on 8.5 points, the Frenchman has excellent chances to win a top prize and finish 2017 on a high note, after just missing out on the Candidates' Tournament and failing to win the Grand Chess Tour.

HIs win against Kravtsiv was quite interesting. It seemed that his opponent prepared in-between rounds, as the game followed one of MVL's games from Palma de Mallorca for 19 moves. 

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in Riyadh

MVL, likely playing for the medals this time around. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

The 15-year-old Andrey Esipenko took the spotlight earlier this week for his brilliant ...Qb3 move against Karjakin. The latter took revenge in the blitz today, but Esipenko did really well nonetheless. He's on 7/11, like Carlsen, and beat, among others, Grischuk:

Andrey Esipenko in Riyadh

Esipenko showed his huge talent today. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

There's one more non-GM, and (like Carlsen, a Norwegian) on seven points: IM Johan-Sebastian Christiansen. The 19-year-old found a nice trick against Peter Leko:

And then there was this game. What a joy to have a player like Baadur Jobava continuously providing us with romantic chess!



Baadur Jobava in Riyadh

Baadur Jobava, who doesn't love this guy? | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

2017 World Blitz Championship | Round 11 Standings (Top 20)

Rk. SNo Fed Name Rtg Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3 TB4 Rp rtg+/-
1 3 Karjakin Sergey 2854 9 0 2702 68 5 2939 20,4
2 4 Vachier-Lagrave Maxime 2853 8,5 0 2722 72,5 5 2910 16,2
3 9 Svidler Peter 2797 8 0 2695 68 5 2851 15
4 19 Wang Hao 2737 8 0 2693 65,5 6 2851 31,8
5 5 Ding Liren 2837 8 0 2675 64 5 2827 -2,8
6 25 Yu Yangyi 2701 8 0 2663 64,5 6 2824 33,6
7 11 Le Quang Liem 2771 8 0 2649 61,5 6 2807 8,8
8 12 Mamedyarov Shakhriyar 2770 8 0 2625 62 6 2771 1
9 29 Kravtsiv Martyn 2692 7,5 0 2688 67 5 2784 30,2
10 16 Andriasian Zaven 2755 7,5 0 2687 70 6 2804 14,8
11 7 Nepomniachtchi Ian 2810 7,5 0 2661 64,5 5 2769 -9,8
12 15 Salem A.R. Saleh 2757 7,5 0 2638 56,5 6 2754 -0,2
13 21 Grischuk Alexander 2725 7,5 0 2626 64,5 6 2744 6,2
14 81 Esipenko Andrey 2581 7 0 2753 72 5 2855 79,2
15 64 Amonatov Farrukh 2628 7 0 2733 70,5 6 2761 52,4
16 76 Kryvoruchko Yuriy 2596 7 0 2727 66,5 6 2805 59,4
17 57 Dreev Aleksey 2640 7 0 2723 73,5 5 2769 46,4
18 73 Rapport Richard 2600 7 0 2719 63 5 2815 62,6
19 49 Amin Bassem 2655 7 0 2709 73 5 2779 38
20 1 Carlsen Magnus 2986 7 0 2697 67,5 5 2760 -51

(Full standings here.)

The leader of the women's tournament is a surprising one: Pia Cramling. The 54-year-old (born 10 days after Garry Kasparov!) has been a top player for decades, but dropped to world #28 in the classical rating list and is seeded 53rd in Riyadh, as she's not really a blitz player.

"It's like magic. I don't know what has happened," she said in an interview.

Pia Cramling in RiyadhPia Cramling leads by a point after day one. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Today she beat the two strong Russian players Kateryna Lagno and Alexandra Kosteniuk. The latter blundered a full rook:

Cramling talking to FIDE's Goran Urosevic.

2017 Women's World Blitz Championship | Round 11 Standings (Top 20)

Rk. SNo Fed Title Name Rtg Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3 TB4
1 53 GM Cramling Pia 2326 9,5 0 2444 68,5 5
2 12 GM Dzagnidze Nana 2453 8,5 1 2429 74 6
3 3 GM Gunina Valentina 2543 8,5 0 2440 71 6
4 1 GM Lagno Kateryna 2619 8 0 2442 76,5 5
5 33 WGM Buksa Nataliya 2368 8 0 2320 58 6
6 93 WGM Mammadzada Gunay 2037 7,5 0 2458 67 5
7 4 GM Tan Zhongyi 2543 7,5 0 2410 68,5 5
8 10 GM Lei Tingjie 2461 7,5 0 2379 66 5
9 18 IM Gaponenko Inna 2421 7,5 0 2353 63,5 5
10 26 WGM Michna Marta 2393 7 0 2423 63,5 5
11 15 IM Bodnaruk Anastasia 2432 7 0 2402 69,5 5
12 45 IM Charochkina Daria 2345 7 0 2394 65,5 6
13 6 GM Kosteniuk Alexandra 2526 7 0 2387 67 5
14 19 IM Abdumalik Zhansaya 2417 7 0 2383 68 6
15 13 GM Krush Irina 2451 7 0 2378 60,5 6
16 9 IM Paehtz Elisabeth 2467 7 0 2359 60 6
17 11 GM Ushenina Anna 2457 7 0 2342 59,5 6
18 40 GM Socko Monika 2357 7 0 2324 57,5 5
19 28 GM Zhukova Natalia 2372 7 0 2301 58,5 5
20 43 IM Nechaeva Marina 2348 7 0 2280 58,5 5

(Full standings here.)

Games via TWIC.

Carlsen vs Inarkiev World Blitz

Initially, Carlsen accepted his fate and signed for the 0-1 result... | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Carlsen with Nikolopoulos

...but then started talking to the chief arbiter, Takis Nikolopoulos... | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Carlsen arguing with arbiters

...and to his board arbiter Carlos Oliveira Dias. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Inarkiev reading the arbiter's manual, World Blitz

Inarkiev going through the Laws of Chess. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Carlsen, Ganguly, Fressinet

Carlsen discussing the issue with Surya Ganguly and Laurent Fressinet... | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Carlsen, Nepomniachtchi

...and with Ian Nepomniachtchi. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Takis Nikolopoulos interviewed

Nikolopoulos giving an interview to Norwegian media. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Appeals Committee in Riyadh

Left-right: Malcolm Pein, Jorge Vega (members of the Appeals Committee), FIDE's Georgios Makropoulos and Nikolopoulos. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Vassily Ivanchuk

Ivanchuk taking Carlsen's seat and seeing the humor of it all. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

The World Blitz Championship takes place December 29-30. It is a 21-round Swiss with a prize fund of $750,000 for the open section and $250,000 for the women's section. You can follow the games in Live Chess.


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