MVL Leads World Blitz Championship, Carlsen Close Behind

MVL Leads World Blitz Championship, Carlsen Close Behind

| 23 | Chess Event Coverage

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave leads the World Blitz Championship after the first day. The “Frenchman with two names” scored 9.5/11 and only lost to Magnus Carlsen, who is on 9.0/11 after losing to Sergey Karjakin.

Photos by Lena Kashirsky, Nailya Bikmurzina & Gregor Anthes.

“Everything is perfect,” said Maxime Vachier-Lagrave after the first day of the blitz championship. The tournament is only half-way (ten more rounds will be played on Wednesday), but 9.5 points is indeed pretty close to a perfect score.

In hindsight the Frenchman's very first blitz game in Berlin can be seen as a sign that good things were to come. In a very old line of the Berlin (the players deviated from a game played in 1896!) he got an opportunity to sacrifice his queen (which wasn't really a sacrifice):

The second round was supposed to start half an hour after the (start of the) first, but got delayed by about 25 minutes. Something must have gone wrong with the pairings, although there was also a small incident.

At some point Teimour Radjabov claimed a win based on an illegal move after Evgenij Agrest had tipped over a piece, pressed the clock and only then put back the piece. The arbiter agreed, but Agrest appealed.

Radjabov explaining the incident to Mamedyarov, with
Karjakin and Nepomniachtchi also in the picture.

The arbiter's decision was then overruled by the chief arbiter, who pointed out that the correct penalty was a 10-second bonus for Radjabov, who had to continue the game (and won). 

Incidentally, the exact issue was discussed in the players meeting an hour before the first round. About thirty players had showed up, but not Radjabov, and apparently not all arbiters were there either!

While they were waiting, some players started to analyze a bit.

As it turned out, Carlsen and Nepomniachtchi were laughing over the opening played by Carlsen's second:

Rapid winner Carlsen defeated Vladimir Akopian surprisingly easily. The experienced Armenian GM stopped the clock when he was about to lose a piece and he had only one second left.

A quick win for Carlsen vs Akopian.

Meanwhile, Vachier-Lagrave played another Armenian player: GM Sergei Movsesian. He's one of the biggest experts of the Sicilian Scheveningen nowadays, but that didn't prevent him from getting checkmated quickly:

The beautiful Bolle Meierei serves as a great venue.

One player who did susprisingly well on the first day is Tigran Petrosian. Here's a long and tough battle against former World Blitz Champion Alexander Grischuk, who is still in contention as well with 7.5.11.

The young Russian GM Daniil Dubov is attracting some attention as well. His 6.5/11 isn't that special, but among his victims on the first day were both Vishy Anand and Vladimir Kramnik! He had also won against Anand in the rapid, and he did it again:

Two very dangerous blitz players: Petrosian (l.) and Dubov.

Round six saw the clash between Carlsen and Vachier-Lagrave. The Frenchman chose the solid ...d5 and ...c6 setup in the Fianchetto Grünfeld, but failed to equalize. Carlsen won an exchange and had no trouble converting it.

The tournament will likely be won by one of these players!

MVL recovered well with a convincing win over Petrosian in a Pirc:

In fact the loss against Carlsen would remain the only one for Vachier-Lagrave on the first day. He also beat Sergey Karjakin and Levon Aronian, the latter from an almost equal endgame. This was just fanastic technique:

Vachier-Lagrave certainly has enough reason to be happy about his play.

Carlsen and Vachier-Lagrave were tied for first place with 9.0/10 and one round to go. MVL drew with Radjabov, but Carlsen suddenly suffered his first loss. Sergey Karjakin knew exactly how to face the London System and outplayed his opponent from the early middlegame.

He missed some pretty wins at the end (seven times in fact), probably because he was focused on trapping the knight. Luckily for Karjakin the position remained winning even without finding that trick (and a different one).

World Cup winner Karjakin was the only one to bring down Carlsen.

Interestingly, no less than three times the endgame BN vs sole king came on the board during the blitz. (It hadn't occurred in the rapid.) Only once did the stronger side manage to win. Note that the time control is 3 minutes plus 2 seconds increment.

The first example came right in the first round. Thirty moves after reaching the ending, Stanislav Bogdanovich stalemated his opponent:

In round five the young Indian GM S.P. Sethuraman failed to win it as well. He should study this endgame some more, because after more than 75(!) moves he still hadn't checkmated his opponent. Ehsan Ghaem Maghami claimed the draw, and said to “I would need twenty seconds. He played with his hands, not his head.”

In round nine Petrosian showed how it's done, with almost perfect play. Players who want to improve their skills should especially take note of how he moved his knight:

On Wednesday ten more rounds will be played. After the tournament, the winners of both the rapid and the blitz tournament will be awarded with medals, followed by a final press conference.


2015 World Blitz Championship | Round 11 Standings (Top 30)

Rk. SNo Title Name FED Rtg Pts. TB1 TB2
1 2 GM Vachier-Lagrave Maxime FRA 2854 9,5 2717 77
2 1 GM Carlsen Magnus NOR 2914 9 2712 75
3 16 GM Karjakin Sergey RUS 2759 8,5 2691 74,5
4 28 GM Dominguez Perez Leinier CUB 2717 8,5 2615 66
5 4 GM Aronian Levon ARM 2817 8 2697 70
6 6 GM Radjabov Teimour AZE 2808 8 2675 71
7 15 GM Kramnik Vladimir RUS 2763 8 2639 59
8 78 GM Petrosian Tigran L. ARM 2630 7,5 2767 77,5
9 85 GM Socko Bartosz POL 2616 7,5 2755 72
10 81 GM Perunovic Milos SRB 2623 7,5 2750 74,5
11 74 GM Vallejo Pons Francisco ESP 2634 7,5 2750 72,5
12 66 GM Kasimdzhanov Rustam UZB 2641 7,5 2730 70
13 113 GM Vovk Yuri UKR 2566 7,5 2716 66,5
14 59 GM Vitiugov Nikita RUS 2655 7,5 2684 62
15 48 GM Bocharov Dmitry RUS 2679 7,5 2670 66
16 39 GM Ghaem Maghami Ehsan IRI 2689 7,5 2653 63,5
17 46 GM Eljanov Pavel UKR 2680 7,5 2649 63
18 57 GM Movsesian Sergei ARM 2657 7,5 2640 61,5
19 5 GM Grischuk Alexander RUS 2814 7,5 2638 64
20 18 GM Gelfand Boris ISR 2743 7,5 2636 69
21 37 GM Tomashevsky Evgeny RUS 2694 7,5 2628 62
22 25 GM Svidler Peter RUS 2726 7,5 2623 66
23 22 GM Leko Peter HUN 2736 7,5 2616 65,5
24 20 GM Onischuk Vladimir UKR 2743 7,5 2615 63
25 42 GM Edouard Romain FRA 2684 7,5 2590 57
26 70 GM Bartel Mateusz POL 2636 7 2724 65,5
27 14 GM Fedoseev Vladimir RUS 2765 7 2650 67
28 51 GM Duda Jan-Krzysztof POL 2675 7 2649 60,5
29 12 GM Mamedov Rauf AZE 2777 7 2644 64
30 55 GM Zvjaginsev Vadim RUS 2659 7 2628 59,5

(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.

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