Zurich Chess Challenge Takes Off, Aronian Wins Blitz

Zurich Chess Challenge Takes Off, Aronian Wins Blitz

| 35 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Levon Aronian won the inaugural blitz tournament of the Zurich Chess Challenge on Friday. The classical part of the tournament begins on Saturday.

Aronian won the small round robin with 4.0/5. He finished half a point ahead of GM Fabiano Caruana and GM Viswanathan Anand.

Because of his first place in the blitz, Aronian got to choose his lot number first. He went for number two. Caruana chose number three, and Anand number one. The other three players will have three black games and two whites.

As a result, the pairings for the first round on Saturday are Anand-Kramnik, Aronian-Karjakin and Caruana-Nakamura. (See full pairings below.)

Zurich Chess Challenge 2015 | Pairings

Round 1 14 February 15:00 CET Round 2 15 February 15:00 CET
Anand - Kramnik Kramnik - Nakamura
Aronian - Karjakin Karjakin - Caruana
Caruana - Nakamura Anand - Aronian
Round 3 16 February 15:00 CET Round 4 17 February 15:00 CET
Aronian - Kramnik Kramnik - Karjakin
Caruana - Anand Anand - Nakamura
Nakamura - Karjakin Aronian - Caruana
Round 5 18 February 13:00 CET
Caruana - Kramnik
Nakamura - Aronian
Karjakin - Anand

The blitz tournament was part of the opening ceremony, held on Friday night in hotel Savoy Baur En Ville, on the Paradeplatz in Zurich. Among the guests were the sponsors, media and a number of well-known grandmasters such as GM Nigel ShortGM Genna Sosonko and GM Ljubomir Ljubojevic.

Two other famous players were present as well, and will in fact play a match against each other this week: GM Viktor Kortchnoi and GM Wolfgang Uhlmann. The two legends -- who will celebrate their 84th and 80th birthdays respectively in March 2015 -- will play four short games.

R-L Petra Kortchnoi, Viktor Kortchnoi and Wolfgang Uhlmann. | Photo official website.

Levon Aronian scored the best in the blitz. With both his parents watching in the audience, the Armenian number one collected 4 points (two draws and three wins). Aronian defeated Anand in the decisive game of the tournament; before the last round the Indian was leading alone with 3.5/4.

An undefeated 4.0/5 for Aronian.

Anand had a disappointing tournament in Baden-Baden last week, but on Friday his play was excellent. Look at this fine game, with a beautiful last move, against Kramnik:

Anand made a good impression on the first day in Zurich.

Also against Nakamura, Anand played an excellent game:

The six top GMs in action for five games of blitz each.

Sergey Karjakin started with 0/3 (!) but then won a nice game against Kramnik:

A bad start for Sergey Karjakin.

The tournament itself will consist of five rounds of classical chess played from Saturday, February 14 till Wednesday, February 18. On the last day, Thursday February 19, the players will play five rounds of rapid chess with reversed colors.

During the first five days, a winner of a classical game earns 2 points for the overall standings; the loser 0. In case of a draw each player earns 1 point. In the rapid games the winner earns 1 point, by a draw each player half a point and the loser 0.

The event started already on Thursday, when Sergey Karjakin gave a lecture and a simul at the Zunfthaus zur Saffran against a team of 11 members of the Savoy Chess Corner and five guests from the Bank Vontobel.

The Russian grandmaster conceded only two draws, to chief organiser Christian Issler and to Gerhard Köhler from Bank Vontobel.

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