Rapid & Blitz: World Ch in Dubai, Rating Lists, Nakamura Preparing Online?
In the third week of June the strongest FIDE World Rapid and Blitz Championship in history will be held in Dubai, UAE. Eight players from the current live ratings top 10 will participate, including the world's top three - Magnus Carlsen (Norway), Levon Aronian (Armenia) and Alexander Grischuk (Russia), and ex-World Champion Vishy Anand. Hikaru Nakamura will enter both competitions as the favorite on paper: the American number one tops both the official rapid and blitz rating lists as published last week by FIDE.
Suddenly it's there again, and amazingly strong: the FIDE World Rapid and Blitz Championship. It will be held 15-21 June at the Dubai Culture & Chess Club in Dubai, United Arab Emirates with three days of rapid chess on 16-18 June and then three days of blitz on 19-21 June. And, yes, Chess.com will be present to provide on-the-spot coverage!
Two years ago, a fairly strong field competed in Astana (Kazakhstan), but last year, in Khanty-Manskiysk, not many top players participated. But this year it's going to be a real treat! Check out the top 30 of the participants list (and don't miss the full list here). Only Vladimir Kramnik and Veselin Topalov are missing from the (classical) top 10:
World Rapid & Blitz 2014 | Participants (Top 30)
|23||Le Quang Liem||VIE||2710||2724||2817|
|29||Vallejo Pons, Francisco||ESP||2700||2709||2628|
The total prize fund of U.S. $400,000 is no doubt an important reason that almost all top players are going to Dubai. A clear first place in both events comes down to earning $80,000 in one week:
Prize fund for each event
|#||Prize (U.S. $)|
|11th-16th place||2,000 each|
|17th-24th place||1,000 each|
The first chart above (taken from the official site) still uses the classical ratings to sort the players. It makes sense, because both rapid and blitz will be played so there isn't one clear rating for quick chess to sort the players. It also makes sense because rapid and blitz ratings have only been tracked for two and a half years now (since January 2012, with the first lists published July 2012) and not all (top) events are being tracked.
Nonetheless, it's interesting to have a look at those rapid and blitz ratings, especially since FIDE has made them more easily available since last week. On both lists Hikaru Nakamura is #1 and Magnus Carlsen #4:
FIDE May 1 Rapid Ratings | Top 10
FIDE May 1 Blitz Ratings | Top 10
|8||Le, Quang Liem||g||VIE||2817||0||1991|
Nakamura says he has chances, but he doesn't see himself as a clear favorite in Dubai. He told Chess.com:
“Being ranked #1 on both the rapid and blitz lists is very nice. However, it's a bit ironic on one hand since I have spent much of the last five years focusing only on classical chess. Prior to these past few years, I felt like I was a much stronger blitz player in particular. Nevertheless, I am proud of the achievement.
In general, I wouldn't go so far as to say I am a favorite in either event. However, after my performance in China two years ago, (second in rapid and blitz) I do think I am one of the main contenders along with the other top five players.”
Nakamura has been an online blitz (or should we say, bullet?) legend for ages. But although he took a more serious path and focused on classical chess in recent years, in the past few weeks he has been quite active online again - something he pointed out himself during the U.S. Championship. When Jennifer Shahade spoke about him, Nakamura tweeted:
@GMHikaru) May 16, 2014
Nakamura is back with a vengeance, one could say. For example, last Saturday he was in a fighting mood and played TONS of bullet chess here on Chess.com. FM Ingvar Johannesson blogged about it (including videos!) and wrote:
“First he became to my knowledge the first person to break 3000 with the new rating system and quickly reached a site record breaking 3005 bullet rating. (...) I went to sleep... I then had to wake up early for work and saw that Nakamura was STILL playing!! When I woke up his score vs Eilyisum was about 123-8.... They kept going till Nakamura reached his current record rating of 3080 which is just amazing! With the way he dispatches guys with 2400-2600 bullet rating I guess next stop is 3100!”
And guess what. Nakamura's current bullet rating is... 3100. On one of the last days of the U.S. Championship, he said in the chat of Chess.com/TV:
The time controls in Dubai are quite different indeed. In the Rapid Championship, each player will have 15 minutes plus 10 seconds additional time per move, starting from move 1. In the Blitz Championship, each player will have 3 minutes plus 2 seconds additional time per move, starting from move 1.
But whoever is favorite at these clock settings, it's surely going to be a great event. Here's a ChessVibes video from two years ago; the writer of this report plans to produce similar videos from Dubai: