Korobov Perfect On Day 1 At World Rapid Champs; Aronian 2nd
Anton Korobov is the only player who started with 5.0/5 at the World Rapid Championship in Doha, Qatar. Levon Aronian is close behind on 4.5/5 while Magnus Carlsen started badly but then found his form.
The first of three days of rapid chess is over in Doha, and there's a slightly surprising leader. Having relatively little rapid experience, Korobov is on 5.0/5 whereas Carlsen already dropped 1.5 points. The women only played four rounds today, and Anna Muzychuk won all her games.
Korobov is obviously a strong grandmaster. He won the 2016 Poikovsky tournament, and he also won the 2013 European Blitz Championship among other events. But rapid works well for him too, at least so far.
"I play just one rapid tournament a year, but I like it, it's fun. Maybe I'm already too old for classical chess, but I can still play some good games in rapid."
He certainly did against Alexander Grischuk in the first round. "We played 22.Rf5. I was very happy. I saw his reaction, and I understood that I should win this game. He completely missed it."
The start of the Grischuk-Korobov game. | Photo Maria Emelianova.
"Having beaten such a big guy as Grischuk, now I understand that this tournament is not in vain," said Korobov. "I still have to play 11 games, but the tournament is good already." He then made it even better with a great attacking game versus Yu Yangyi in round five:
There's only one player on five points, and there's also only one player on 4.5. That's Levon Aronian, who didn't complain after his first five games. "I thought my play was good today, so I'm very satisfied."
It's a good start for the Armenian number one in what can become a somewhat compensating result. "It was a terrible year," he said about 2016. "Very disappointing. I'm looking forward to the next year. This year can still redeem itself from the sins it has committed!"
Here's Aronian's win over Vassily Ivanchuk in the last round of today. "He repeated my game from the Tal Memorial with [Vladimir] Kramnik, but it's not a good idea I think. 16...Nc5 is not so good."
Levon Aronian, here next to Vladimir Akopian, can be satisfied after day one.
There's a group of seven players who also started with a fine score: 4.0/5. One of them is Levan Pantsulaia of Georgia, who managed to beat Carlsen in the second round (after the world champ had started with a draw against Surya Ganguly!)
"I missed the boat when I had to play carefully and when I realized I was in trouble it was too late," said Carlsen about his loss.
The Al Bin Hamad Al Attaiya Arena is indeed nice and spacious! | Photo Maria Emelianova.
Here's Carlsen's first round game, where his opponent even missed a mate in three!
"To get a draw when you're a piece down and your opponent has mate in three ... That's kind of nice," said Carlsen. "What I'm happy about is that it was not even worse. The first couple of games were awful of course."
"What I'm happy about is that it was not even worse."| Photo Maria Emelianova.
The Norwegian confirmed that he had gone straight to Australia after his New York match: "I won't actually be home to Norway till February, and I haven't been home since October. But it's been a nice ride."
Another player on four points who deserves a mention is Benjamin Bok of the Netherlands. After beating two strong Armenian grandmasters in a row (Hrant Melkumyan and Vladimir Akopian), he drew two stronger grandmasters in a row (Leinier Dominguez and Bu Xiangzhi), and then crushed Radek Wojtaszek:
Benjamin Bok had an excellent first day. | Photo Maria Emelianova.
Below this group is Carlsen, and he is in good company. Also on 3.5 points are e.g. Hikaru Nakamura, Vishy Anand, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Ian Nepomniachtchi. With ten rounds to go, the tournament is really just about to start.
World Rapid Championship 2016 | Round 5 Standings (Top 20)
|5||47||GM||Li Chao B||2648||4||2738||12||31,6|
|6||51||GM||Vidit Santosh Gujrathi||2643||4||2726||12,5||30,6|
|16||6||GM||Dominguez Perez, Leinier||2803||3,5||2663||12||-0,4|
(Full standings here.)
Anna Muzychuk is leading the women's section with a perfect 4.0/4. (The ladies play only 12 rounds of rapid in total.) She defeated one of her main rivals, Alexandra Kosteniuk, from an irregular opening (and a weird sixth move by Black!), eventually winning a double-rook endgame:
Anna Muzychyk is on 4.0/4.
World Rapid Championship 2016 (Women) | Round 5 Standings (Top 20)
|7||23||IM||Pham Le Thao Nguyen||2365||2,5||2524||7,5||23,8|
(Full standings here.)
Games from TWIC.
Here's the official broadcast of day 1 in Doha:
Each day, the action starts at 3 p.m. local time, which is 1 p.m. in Central Europe, noon London, 7 a.m. New York, 4 a.m. Pacific and 11 p.m. Sydney. You'll be able to follow the (top) games in Live Chess and watch the live show with commentary by GM Evgeny Miroshnichenko and IM Anna Rudolf on Chess.com/TV.