World Blitz – Day 1: Karjakin and Cramling grab lead   RECAP

World Blitz - Day 1: Karjakin and Cramling grab lead   RECAP

12/30/2017 – The second stage is underway in Riyadh. 138 players are contesting the World Blitz Championship title in a 21-round Swiss, played over two days. At stake is a quarter-million first prize and the title of World Blitz Champion. After 11 rounds of wild action, defending champion, Sergey Karjakin has taken the lead, while the women's section, veteran Pia Cramling stormed to a commanding lead. Report and analysis by Alex Yermolinsky. | Photo: Anastasia Karlovich

Check, check, who wins?

As usual, all eyes are on Magnus Carlsen, the owner of a stratospheric 2986 blitz rating, a full 100 points ahead of his competition. For many the question is not even if Magnus can win the tournament, but whether he can get to a 3000 rating in the process. Eleven rounds in, and it looks anything but. Carlsen struggled mightily, mainly with blunders, and he should have considered himself lucky to get to 7 / 10 before the concluding round of today's session. See for yourself.

All smiles before the first round game | Photo: Anastasia Karlovich

It was topy-turvy to say the least, right from the word go. Magnus' game with Inarkiev had the strangest finish you will see in professional chess. And you'd never know it just by looking at the game in isolation. In the final position, with both sides having seconds on the clock, Inarkiev was in check, but he didn't see it and instead played Ne3+ — an illegal move — checking Carlsen's king! Somehow Magnus himself didn't register that this move was illegal, even though he had just put his opponent in check on the prior move. He should have stopped the clock and claimed the illegal move. But he played Kd3. Suddenly, Inarkiev realized what happened, and stopped the clock himself to summon the arbiter, claiming a win by virtue of Magnus' making an illegal move! And after a brief discussion at the board, the arbiter ruled the game a black win! It was topy-turvy to say the least, right from the word go. Magnus' game with Inarkiev had the strangest finish you will see in professional chess. And you'd never know it just by looking at the game in isolation. In the final position, with both sides having seconds on the clock, Inarkiev was in check, but he didn't see it and instead played Ne3+ — an illegal move — checking Carlsen's king! Somehow Magnus himself didn't register that this move was illegal, even though he had just put his opponent in check on the prior move. He should have stopped the clock and claimed the illegal move. But he played Kd3. Suddenly, Inarkiev realized what happened, and stopped the clock himself to summon the arbiter, claiming a win by virtue of Magnus' making an illegal move! And after a brief discussion at the board, the arbiter ruled the game a black win! Watch:

Starting from 24.f3... | Source: Chess Cast

Inarkiev was interviewed shortly after the game, when the point was still his, and seemed sincere, if surprised by his incredibly good fortune — he notes that in the position on the board he is basically lost.

Ernesto Inarkiev speaking with Anastasia Karlovich | Source:

ChessCast

However, after the game, a discussion took place between rounds, and it emerged that the arbiter's ruling was wrong. The chief arbiter, Takis Nikolopoulos, ruled that the game should continue from the illegal position. But Inarkiev could not believe it. The conversation between Nikolopoulos and Inarkiev was captured by an NRK video crew and subsequently shared on social media by Tarjei Svensen. It's surreal:

EI: I stopped the clock in the moment he made illegal move

TN: Yes, you have the right to stop the clock. But the move he made is not illegal!

EI: But you talk about arbiter, It's not arbiter I stopped the clock and claimed illegal move.

TN: But it's not illegal move.

EI: You say Kd3 is illegal move in this position.

TN: Your king is illegal move.

EI: You said Kd3 is illegal move.

TN: Kd3 is not illegal move. You are saying this. It’s legal. By going there, it created an illegal position. Now it’s your turn to play, you can correct the illegal position by moving your king. Or if you don’t move your king, then the illegal position remains and we declare a draw. This is the case. (Inarkiev reads rule book)

EI: Yes, okay. I will make an appeal. Because here it writes arbiter observes. But I stopped the clock and said it’s illegal move. Because I think when my king is under attack he can not make Kd3.

TN: He can make!

EI: This is not illegal move! You said Kd3 is illegal move.

TN: He made a move. The previously illegal move stands. He didn’t claim for illegal move.

EI: But I claimed.

TN: Claim for what? Your illegal move?

EI: No, claim for his illegal move!

TN: The move he played was legal!

EI: Not legal!

TN: Yes!

EI: You said in that position Kd3 is possible move.

TN: Yes!

EI: No, it’s not posisble.

TN: Yes, it is. It produces an illegal position, this is the difference.

EI: Yes, but the move is illegal.

TN: The move is not illegal! The move is not illegal! This is the point.

EI: (inaudible)

TN: Okay, you continue the game or not?

EI: No, I want to make an appeal for this game. I am not continuing.

TN: Okay.

And so the result was completely reversed. Carlsen was awarded the point! Remarkable!

 At this point, all one can do is shrug | Photo: Anastasia Karlovich

Inarkiev appealed the ruling, and later in the day, IM Malcolm Pein, a member of the appeals committee, described Inarkiev's appeal, and the decision of the committee. He amusingly noted at the outset that, "the appeals committee is traditionally a bit of a joke. Whoever is invited is just meant to be sitting down and not doing very much." But this time they actually had a serious case to deal with. Such an incident would be tough to shake, and in fact Carlsen lost his very next game against Sanan Sjugirov. Inarkiev finished the day on 5 / 10. Replay Carlsen's key games:
Carlsen's day at the office
[Event "FIDE World Blitz-ch Men 2017"] [Site "Riyadh"] [Date "2017.12.29"] [Round "1"] [White "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Black "Inarkiev, Ernesto"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B20"] [WhiteElo "2837"] [BlackElo "2689"] [Annotator "Alex Yermolinsky"] [PlyCount "53"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [EventType "blitz"] [SourceTitle "playchess.com"] [Source "ChessBase"] 1. e4 c5 2. a3 $5 {Magnus can play anything.} Nc6 $6 {Funny, but this may be inaccurate already.} (2... e5 3. Nc3 Nc6 4. Bc4 Nf6 5. d3 {is comfortable for White.}) ({Possibly} 2... Nf6 {is the reply to look for.}) 3. b4 {Now the gambit!} cxb4 4. axb4 Nxb4 5. d4 d5 6. c3 Nc6 7. exd5 Qxd5 8. Na3 {White scores very well in this line.} Bf5 9. Nb5 Rc8 10. Nxa7 Nxa7 11. Rxa7 e5 12. Nf3 exd4 {[#]} 13. Nxd4 $6 ({Uncharacteristically Magnus missed the best move} 13. Qxd4 $1 {I thought he liked to trade queens. One sample:} Qxd4 14. Nxd4 Bd7 15. Rxb7 Nf6 16. Bb5 Bxb5 17. Nxb5 Bc5 18. Nc7+ Kd7 19. Na6+ Ke6 20. Nxc5+ Rxc5 21. O-O {White's looking mighty good here.}) 13... Bd7 14. Nb5 Qxd1+ 15. Kxd1 { This is uncomfortable in the queenless middlegame.} Bc6 $2 ({Whatever happened to good old development?} 15... Bc5 16. Rxb7 Nf6 {and Black is looking to take over the game.}) 16. Bd3 Bc5 17. Re1+ Ne7 18. Ba3 $1 Bxa3 19. Rxa3 Rd8 ({ Perhaps,} 19... Kf8 20. Kc2 g6 {was worth trying.}) 20. Nd4 Kd7 $2 {Not the right place for the king.} 21. Ra7 Rhe8 22. Kc2 Kc7 23. Rb1 Rb8 24. f3 $14 { and now a big blunder} Nd5 $4 25. Nxc6 Kxc6 26. Bb5+ Kb6 27. Rxb7+ {and then the chaos ensued.} 1-0 [Event "FIDE World Blitz-ch Men 2017"] [Site "Riyadh"] [Date "2017.12.29"] [Round "2"] [White "Sjugirov, Sanan"] [Black "Carlsen Magnus"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A06"] [WhiteElo "2650"] [BlackElo "2837"] [Annotator "Alex Yermolinsky"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "2n1q3/1r3r1k/1pp1bpp1/2b1p2p/2P1PP1P/1PNR2P1/3Q2BK/3RN3 b - - 0 29"] [PlyCount "72"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [EventType "blitz"] [SourceTitle "playchess.com"] [Source "ChessBase"] {[#]} 29... Rbd7 $2 {Magnus wanted to challenge to the d-file} (29... Rf8 { was a must.}) 30. Qe2 $2 ({What about} 30. f5 {here?}) 30... Bd4 $2 (30... exf4 31. gxf4 Rxd3 32. Rxd3 Bg4 {and Black is at least OK.}) 31. f5 $18 {Second time around Sanan doesn't miss with his shot.} gxf5 32. exf5 Bxf5 33. Qxh5+ Kg7 34. Qxf5 Nd6 35. Qg4+ Kf8 36. Bxc6 Rg7 37. Bxd7 Rxd7 38. Rxd4 exd4 39. Qxd4 Qe6 40. Nf3 Qf5 41. Qf4 Qc2+ 42. Qd2 Qg6 43. Qf2 Ne4 44. Nxe4 Rxd1 45. Nc3 Rc1 46. Ne2 Rc2 47. Nfd4 Ra2 48. Qf3 Qf7 49. h5 Kg8 50. Kh3 Qd7+ 51. Qg4+ Qxg4+ 52. Kxg4 Rd2 53. Kf5 Kf7 54. g4 Rd3 55. b4 Ra3 56. c5 bxc5 57. bxc5 Ra5 58. Nb3 Ra2 59. Ned4 Rf2+ 60. Ke4 Rg2 61. Kf3 Ra2 62. c6 Ra4 63. Ke4 Ke7 64. Kd5 Ra8 65. Nf5+ 1-0 [Event "FIDE World Blitz-ch Men 2017"] [Site "Riyadh"] [Date "2017.12.29"] [Round "5"] [White "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Black "Akobian, Varuzhan"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A45"] [WhiteElo "2837"] [BlackElo "2647"] [Annotator "Alex Yermolinsky"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r3rbk1/1bqn1pp1/pp1ppn1p/8/P2P4/2PBNN1P/1P2QPPB/R3R1K1 b - - 0 16"] [PlyCount "37"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [EventType "blitz"] [SourceTitle "playchess.com"] [Source "ChessBase"] {[#] Var Akobian is the sole U.S. representative in the men's section. He didn't do so badly in the rapid, having score a respectable 9/15.} 16... Nd5 { Here he chose a solid Hedgehog like setup against Carlsen's pet London System. Technically, his last move was a novelty, and Magnus must have thought it was a blunder.} 17. Nxd5 Bxd5 18. Bxa6 $4 Bxf3 $4 (18... Rxa6 19. Qxa6 Bc4 { and who blundered now?}) 19. gxf3 Nf6 20. Bb5 {Of course, now Carlsen converts impeccably.} Rec8 21. c4 Qb7 22. b4 g6 23. a5 bxa5 24. bxa5 Qa7 25. Qe3 Rd8 26. a6 Bg7 27. d5 exd5 28. Bc6 dxc4 29. Bxa8 Qxa8 30. Ra5 d5 31. Qb6 d4 32. a7 Rc8 33. Qb8 c3 34. Qxc8+ Qxc8 1-0 [Event "FIDE World Blitz-ch Men 2017"] [Site "Riyadh"] [Date "2017.12.29"] [Round "6"] [White "Bortnyk, Olexandr"] [Black "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B00"] [WhiteElo "2610"] [BlackElo "2837"] [Annotator "Alex Yermolinsky"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "3r2k1/1p3p1p/1P1p2p1/1N6/n7/5qPP/3Q1R1K/8 b - - 0 44"] [PlyCount "162"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [EventType "blitz"] [SourceTitle "playchess.com"] [Source "ChessBase"] {[#]} 44... Qc6 $4 {A knight give away night in Riyadh?} (44... Qb3 $15) 45. Qf4 Rf8 46. Qxa4 Qxb6 47. Rd2 $16 d5 48. Nc3 Qe3 49. Qd4 Qxd4 50. Rxd4 Kg7 51. Rxd5 Rc8 52. Nb5 Rc2+ 53. Kg1 Rc1+ 54. Kf2 Rb1 55. h4 Rb2+ 56. Ke3 Rb3+ 57. Kf4 Rb4+ 58. Kf3 Rb3+ 59. Kf4 Rb4+ 60. Nd4 Kf6 61. Rd7 h6 62. g4 Kg7 63. g5 hxg5+ 64. hxg5 {[#] This endgame (without the black b-pawn) has occurred a number of time in tournament practice. The results are unconclusive: Andreikin beat Ehlvest, but Giri survived against Ragger.} Ra4 65. Ke4 Rb4 66. Ke5 Rb6 67. Rc7 ({Here with the b-pawn present White can try to weave a mating net by bringing his knight to f6 and rook to the 8th rank, because Black won't have a stalemate defense.} 67. Nf3 Ra6 68. Nd2 Ra5+ 69. Kf4 {However,} Kf8 70. Ne4 Rf5+ 71. Kg4 b5 72. Rb7 Rd5 73. Nf6 Rf5 {defends.}) 67... Kg8 68. Re7 Kg7 69. Rd7 Kg8 70. Rd6 Rb2 71. Rd8+ Kg7 72. Rd7 Rb6 73. Rc7 Kf8 74. Kd5 Kg8 75. Rd7 Rb1 76. Ke4 Re1+ 77. Kf4 Rb1 78. Nf3 Kg7 79. Ne5 Rf1+ 80. Kg4 Rg1+ 81. Kh4 Rh1+ 82. Kg3 Rg1+ 83. Kf4 Rf1+ 84. Nf3 Rb1 85. Rc7 Rb4+ 86. Ke3 Rb3+ 87. Ke4 Rb5 88. Nd4 Rb6 89. Kd5 Kg8 90. Nf3 Rb5+ 91. Ke4 Rb4+ 92. Nd4 Rb1 93. Nf3 Rb4+ 94. Ke5 Rb5+ 95. Ke4 Rb4+ 96. Nd4 Rb1 97. Ke5 Re1+ 98. Kf4 Rf1+ 99. Nf3 Rb1 100. Ne5 Rf1+ 101. Ke4 Rf5 102. Nf3 b5 103. Re7 Kg7 104. Rb7 Kg8 105. Rc7 Kg7 106. Nd4 Rf1 107. Rb7 Kg8 {[#]} 108. Rxb5 {Bortnyk played too many moves without making progress. Both time on the clock and energy supplies must have been running low.} ({Still,} 108. Nf3 {would have won him the b-pawn without allowing f7-f6, because} Rb1 $6 109. Rb8+ Kg7 110. Nd2 $1 {is really dangerous for Black, e.g.} Rb2 $4 111. Ke3 {followed by Ne4-f6.}) 108... f6 109. Rb8+ Kf7 110. Rb7+ Kg8 111. gxf6 Rxf6 112. Ke5 Rf7 113. Rb6 Kh7 114. Ne6 Rf5+ 115. Ke4 Kh6 116. Nf4 Rg5 117. Ra6 Rg1 118. Ra8 Re1+ 119. Kf3 Rf1+ 120. Kg3 Rg1+ 121. Kf2 Rg4 122. Kf3 Rg1 123. Ne6 g5 124. Nd4 Kg6 125. Ke4 1/2-1/2 [Event "FIDE World Blitz-ch Men 2017"] [Site "Riyadh"] [Date "2017.12.29"] [Round "8"] [White "Anand, Viswanathan"] [Black "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B00"] [WhiteElo "2782"] [BlackElo "2837"] [Annotator "Alex Yermolinsky"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/5pkp/6p1/p7/5P2/P1R1N1K1/4r1PP/4n3 b - - 0 42"] [PlyCount "12"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [EventType "blitz"] [SourceTitle "playchess.com"] [Source "ChessBase"] {[#] For a while Vishy was up a pawn, but now it's Magnus who's trying to make something happen.} 42... h5 43. h3 $2 {This one helps his cause.} (43. a4 h4+ 44. Kh3 Ra2 45. Kxh4 $11) 43... h4+ $1 44. Kg4 (44. Kxh4 Rxe3) (44. Kh2 Nf3+ 45. Kh1 Re1+) 44... f5+ $2 {Too fast.} ({The pawn check had to be prepared by} 44... Kh6 $1 45. f5 Nxg2 46. Nc4 (46. Nxg2 Rxg2+ 47. Kxh4 g5#) 46... Rf2 47. Rf3 Rc2 48. Nd6 f6 {and Black has legitimate winning chances.}) 45. Kg5 $11 Kf7 46. a4 Nxg2 47. Nxg2 Rxg2+ 48. Kxh4 1/2-1/2 [Event "FIDE World Blitz-ch Men 2017"] [Site "Riyadh"] [Date "2017.12.29"] [Round "10"] [White "Melkumyan, Hrant"] [Black "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D10"] [WhiteElo "2633"] [BlackElo "2837"] [Annotator "Alex Yermolinsky"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "1R1k4/4b2p/8/3pBpp1/p2P1P2/P1r4P/6P1/6K1 b - - 0 37"] [PlyCount "39"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [EventType "blitz"] [SourceTitle "playchess.com"] [Source "ChessBase"] {[#]} 37... Rc8 ({Obviously, Carlsen wasn't interested in repetition after} 37... Kd7 38. Rb7+) 38. Rb5 Rc3 $2 {Off the mark.} ({The a3-pawn was doomed anyway, so} 38... Ra8 39. Rxd5+ Ke8 40. fxg5 Bxa3 41. Rb5 Be7 $15 {was the way to go.}) 39. Rxd5+ Kc8 40. fxg5 Rxa3 {[#]} (40... Bxg5 41. Bd6 $16) 41. Ra5 $4 ({In all likelihood Hrant would have caused a major upset had he played the obvious} 41. Bf6 $1 {One line goes} Bb4 42. Rd8+ Kc7 43. Rh8 Kd7 (43... Kc6 44. Rxh7 Bd6 45. g6) 44. Rxh7+ Ke6 45. Be5 Be1 46. g4 $1 (46. g6 Bg3 47. Bxg3 Rxg3 48. Ra7 Rxg6 49. Rxa4 Rg3 50. Kf2 Rd3 {would require some technique to convert. }) 46... fxg4 47. g6 {queening.}) 41... Bxg5 42. d5 $2 ({Get the king off the back rank!} 42. Kf2 $11) 42... Be3+ 43. Kf1 Ra2 $2 ({Same story here.} 43... Kb7 $1 44. d6 Bb6 45. Rb5 Kc6 $15) 44. d6 ({Setting up a perpetual with} 44. Rb5 {would have saved White.}) 44... a3 45. Ra8+ Kd7 46. Ra6 Rf2+ 47. Ke1 a2 $19 48. Ra3 Bc5 49. Ra5 Bb4+ 50. Kxf2 Bxa5 51. Ke2 Bb4 52. Kd3 Bxd6 53. Ba1 Ke6 54. Kc2 Be5 55. Bxe5 Kxe5 56. Kb2 Kf4 0-1 [Event "World Blitz Women 2017"] [Site "Riyadh KSA"] [Date "2017.12.29"] [Round "10.1"] [White "Cramling, Pia"] [Black "Bodnaruk, Anastasia"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E92"] [WhiteElo "2450"] [BlackElo "2428"] [Annotator "Alex Yermolinsky"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r3q1kb/2nb1r2/3p1pp1/2nPp3/pp2P1P1/4B1N1/PP1QBP2/R2NK2R w Q - 0 25"] [PlyCount "33"] [EventDate "2017.12.29"] [EventType "blitz"] {[#] A standard Kings Indian situation now, and look what's coming next.} 25. Bxc5 $3 {yep, that trade again.} dxc5 26. Ne3 {While objectively weaker this move shows that Cramling's idea was more of a long-term solution than odd tactical chance.} (26. Qh6 {was possible right away.}) 26... Nb5 27. Nc4 Rb8 $2 (27... Bg7 {was a must. Black's position is tough, but tenable after} 28. f3 Bf8 29. Kf2 Nd4 30. Rh3 Rh7) 28. Qh6 Bg7 29. Qxg6 {It's not just a pawn, it's the whole spectrum of light squares.} b3 30. a3 Qe7 31. Nf5 Bxf5 32. gxf5 $18 Nd4 33. Rc1 Nxe2 34. Kxe2 Qa7 35. Rc3 Kf8 36. Rch3 Ke7 37. d6+ Kd8 38. Rh8+ Bf8 39. Rg8 Ke8 40. Rhh8 Qa6 41. Rxf8+ 1-0
Following the action on giant video screens, the action was easy to follow, even if understanding the action might be less so | Photo: Anastasia Karlovich To make matters even worse, Magnus lost in Round 11 to Yu Yangyi in the manner that is becoming alarmingly common. Once again, a random opening, this time the Vienna Game, led him to a decent middlegame position. Then things went wrong, terribly wrong.
Right Move, Wrong Idea (Magnus Carlsen 0-1 Yu Yangyi)
[Event "FIDE World Blitz-ch Men 2017"] [Site "Riyadh"] [Date "2017.12.29"] [Round "11"] [White "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Black "Yu, Yangyi"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C25"] [WhiteElo "2837"] [BlackElo "2751"] [Annotator "Alex Yermolinsky"] [PlyCount "76"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [EventType "blitz"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. f4 exf4 4. Nf3 Bb4 5. Nd5 Ba5 6. c3 Nge7 7. d4 O-O 8. Nxf4 d5 9. Bd3 dxe4 10. Bxe4 Bf5 11. Bxf5 Nxf5 12. O-O Bb6 13. Qd3 Nce7 14. g4 Nd6 {[#]} 15. Ng5 $2 {Actually, Carlsen's 14.g4 was quite strong, but he played it with the wrong idea in mind.} ({Instead pf playing for mate he could have won a piece by using a typical trick:} 15. c4 Qc8 16. h3 c5 17. b4 $1 { leading to a technical task after} cxb4 18. c5 Bxc5 19. dxc5 Qxc5+ 20. Be3) 15... Ng6 16. Nxg6 fxg6 17. Bd2 $2 {It's hard to explain this either.} ({ What kept Magnus from trading rooks first to deny the black queen her best square d7?} 17. Rxf8+ Qxf8 18. c4 Nf7 19. c5 Ba5 20. Qc4 h6 21. Nf3 {keeps White's advantage.}) 17... Qd7 18. h3 c5 {Black is already out of danger.} 19. dxc5 Bxc5+ 20. Kh2 Qc6 21. Ne6 Rxf1 22. Rxf1 Ne4 23. Nxc5 Nxd2 24. Qxd2 Qxc5 { There are no realistic chances for White to win, not with his king open like this.} 25. Qf4 (25. Qd4 $11) 25... h6 26. Qe4 Qb6 27. Qe2 Rd8 28. Kg2 Kh7 29. Rf3 Qc6 30. Kg1 Rd6 31. a3 a5 32. Re3 a4 33. Re4 b5 {Only Black has improved his position in the past 10 moves or so.} 34. Rd4 $6 (34. Re3 $142 Qd7 35. Qf2 {and stay put.}) 34... Re6 35. Qf2 $4 {A decisive blunder.} (35. Qd2 Qe8 36. Kf2 {would have kept Black from getting through.}) 35... Qe8 $1 {Nothing helps White now, he's already lost.} 36. Kf1 Re3 37. Rd8 Qe4 38. Qg2 Re1+ 0-1

Enjoying some rest time between games: Ian Nepomniachtchi, Kateryna Lagno, Alexandra Kosteniuk, and her husband Pavel Tregubov | Photo: Anastasia Karlovich

The heroes of the Rapid Championship, Anand and Fedoseev, experienced a somewhat expected letdown. On the contrary, those who didn't do too well in the past three days seem poised to make their statement now.

Vladimir Fedoseev's first day in the Blitz was lukewarm | Photo: Anastasia Karlovich

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave was the man who kept pace with Carlsen at the rapid and blitz events of the Grand Chess Tour last summer, and he showed his chops today, succeeding in both attack and endgame play.
MVL: Master of attack and endgame
[Event "FIDE World Blitz-ch Men 2017"] [Site "Riyadh"] [Date "2017.12.29"] [Round "3"] [White "Li, Chao b"] [Black "Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D71"] [WhiteElo "2732"] [BlackElo "2789"] [Annotator "Alex Yermolinsky"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/1k5p/2p5/1p6/1P2P2P/3K1pr1/8/5R2 b - - 0 46"] [PlyCount "45"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [EventType "blitz"] [SourceTitle "playchess.com"] [Source "ChessBase"] {[#] Look at the technique here.} 46... f2+ 47. Ke2 (47. Kd4 Rf3 48. e5 Kc7 49. Ke4 Rf8 $19) 47... Rb3 48. Rxf2 Rxb4 49. Ke3 Rb3+ $1 50. Kd4 (50. Kf4 {would not have helped a whole lot.} b4 51. e5 Rb1 $1 52. e6 (52. Re2 Kc7 53. e6 Kd8) 52... Re1 53. Kf5 c5) 50... Kb6 $1 51. e5 Rb4+ 52. Kd3 Kc5 {The black king is out, and it spells the end.} 53. Re2 Rd4+ 54. Kc2 Rd7 55. Rf2 Re7 56. Rf5 Kd4 57. Rf6 c5 58. e6 Ke5 59. Rh6 Rxe6 60. Rxh7 Kd4 61. h5 Re2+ 62. Kb3 Re3+ 63. Kc2 Rh3 64. h6 Kc4 65. Kd2 b4 66. Ke2 Kb3 67. Rc7 Rxh6 68. Rxc5 Rd6 0-1 [Event "FIDE World Blitz-ch Men 2017"] [Site "Riyadh"] [Date "2017.12.29"] [Round "4"] [White "Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime"] [Black "Kravtsiv, Martyn"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C84"] [WhiteElo "2789"] [BlackElo "2672"] [Annotator "Alex Yermolinsky"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r4rk1/2p2ppp/3p4/1pn1P3/p2p1P2/P2P2QP/BPq3P1/R3R1K1 w - - 0 21"] [PlyCount "27"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [EventType "blitz"] [SourceTitle "playchess.com"] [Source "ChessBase"] {[#]} 21. f5 $1 {MVL is in his element!} Qxd3 (21... dxe5 {leads to a forced line} 22. f6 g6 23. Rac1 Qxb2 24. Rxc5 Qxa2 25. Qg5 Ra6 (25... Qe6 26. Rf1 Kh8 27. Rxe5 Qd6 28. Re7) 26. Rcxe5 Qxa3 27. Re8 {where White threatens R1e7, and there's no lotion for that!} h6 28. Qxh6 Rxf6 29. R1e7 $18) 22. Qg5 dxe5 $2 ({ Martyn had to defend with} 22... h6 23. Qg4 Qd2) 23. Rad1 Qc2 24. Rd2 $2 { The black queen is trapped, but there was an unexpected resource.} ({Better was } 24. Rc1 Ne4 25. Rxc2 Nxg5 {leading to the game continution.}) 24... Ne4 ({ There it is:} 24... Qe4 $3 {and Black gets enough material. The best line appears to be} 25. Rxe4 Nxe4 26. Qh5 Nxd2 27. f6 gxf6 28. Qh6 Ne4 29. Bb1 f5 30. Bxe4 fxe4 31. Qg5+ Kh8 $11) 25. Rxc2 Nxg5 26. h4 d3 27. Rd2 Rae8 28. hxg5 e4 29. g6 Re5 30. gxf7+ Rxf7 31. Rxd3 Kf8 32. Bxf7 Kxf7 33. Rd7+ Kf6 34. Rxc7 1-0
One of the surprise early runs came from none other than 15-year-old Andrey Esipenko, author of the queen sac against Karjakin that has been making waves in the chess world. After eight rounds he was actually tied for first (with four others), after beating Ivanchuk and then Grischuk. His nemesis in round nine was …. Sergey Karjakin, who exacted his revenge for his Rapid loss. He then drew against Harikrishna and then lost to Le Quang Liem, and is now 14th with 7.0/11. Another name to watch for. The only guy who bested MVL today was the defending World Blitz Champion Sergey Karjakin. He wasn't able to completely avoid blunders, which is next to impossible, but overall Sergey was very consistent. It's interesting how much better Karjakin looks in blitz as opposed to Rapid. In live rating lists he's now #2 in Blitz and #39 in Rapid. Go figure.
Karjakin: Defending champion
[Event "FIDE World Blitz-ch Men 2017"] [Site "Riyadh"] [Date "2017.12.29"] [Round "9"] [White "Karjakin, Sergey"] [Black "Esipenko, Andrey"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A01"] [WhiteElo "2760"] [BlackElo "2564"] [Annotator "Alex Yermolinsky"] [PlyCount "61"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [EventType "blitz"] [SourceTitle "playchess.com"] [Source "ChessBase"] 1. b3 {It turns out Sergey can take a page out of Jobava's opening book.} e5 2. Bb2 Nc6 3. e3 Nf6 4. Bb5 Bd6 5. Na3 e4 ({Black's best chance to equalize is represented by a strange looking} 5... Na5) 6. Nc4 Be7 7. Bxc6 dxc6 8. Ne2 { Baadur has had a lot of success with this position.} O-O 9. O-O c5 10. Ng3 Re8 $6 ({White's next had to prevented by} 10... Bg4 $5 {Jobava-Giri, 2012,l the only game Baadur lost in this variation.}) 11. f3 $1 exf3 12. Qxf3 Rf8 13. e4 Bg4 14. Qf2 Be6 15. d3 {The structrure is similar to Anti-Berlin variations of the Ruy Lopez, but White's way ahead of the schedule here.} Ng4 16. Qf3 b5 ( 16... Bf6 17. e5 Bh4 18. Ne4 b6 19. h3 Nh6 20. Qh5 $16) 17. Na5 Bf6 18. Bxf6 Nxf6 19. a4 a6 20. Qe3 Nd7 21. Nc6 Qh4 22. Nf5 Bxf5 23. Rxf5 Rae8 {[#] White seemed to be on the roll, until...} 24. Rd5 $4 (24. axb5 axb5 25. Ra7 $16) 24... Qg4 $4 (24... Qf6 {would have turned the tables.}) 25. Qg3 {Back to the grind.} Qe6 26. Qxc7 Nf6 27. Rxc5 Kh8 28. Nd4 Qg4 29. Nf3 Rc8 30. Qd6 Rxc5 31. Qxf8+ 1-0 [Event "FIDE World Blitz-ch Men 2017"] [Site "Riyadh"] [Date "2017.12.29"] [Round "11"] [White "Karjakin, Sergey"] [Black "Andriasian, Zaven"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B09"] [WhiteElo "2760"] [BlackElo "2585"] [Annotator "Alex Yermolinsky"] [PlyCount "71"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [EventType "blitz"] 1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nc3 g6 4. f4 Bg7 5. Bd3 e5 6. dxe5 dxe5 7. Nf3 exf4 { I'm no expert on this line, but isn't Black better off not helping White's development?} (7... Nc6 8. fxe5 Ng4 9. Bg5 Qd7) 8. Bxf4 O-O 9. Qd2 Bg4 (9... Nc6 10. O-O-O Ng4 11. Nd5 Nce5 12. h3 Nxf3 13. gxf3 Ne5 14. Be2 $14 {Giri-Van Wely, 2015}) 10. O-O-O Nc6 11. Kb1 a6 12. h3 Bxf3 13. gxf3 Nd4 {White will not pay much attention to that knight, as he has other plans.} 14. Qf2 c5 15. Bg5 $1 Qb6 16. e5 Nh5 17. f4 Ne6 (17... f6 18. Nd5 Qe6 19. Nxf6+ Nxf6 20. exf6 Bxf6 21. h4 {might lead to a dangerous attack on the exposed black king.}) 18. Nd5 Qa5 19. h4 $1 Rfe8 20. Be2 h6 21. Bxh5 hxg5 22. hxg5 gxh5 23. Nf6+ Kf8 24. Nxe8 Rxe8 25. f5 $18 Nxg5 26. f6 Rxe5 27. fxg7+ Kxg7 28. Rxh5 Qb6 29. Qg3 Qf6 30. a3 Rf5 31. Qb8 Kg6 32. Rhh1 Rf2 33. Qxb7 Qf5 34. Qxa6+ f6 35. Qc4 Nf3 36. Qg8# 1-0
The biggest story of the day did not come out of the open section. The Women's tournament saw veteran Pia Cramling posting an unbelievable score of 9½ / 11 to lead the field by a full point. Amazingly, Pia started off with a loss to Gunina, so it's a 9½ / 10 streak. Wow

With peerless passion and fighting spirit, Pia Cramling bounced back from a first round loss | Photo: Anastasia Karlovich

The Amazing Pia Cramling
 
[Event "World Blitz Women 2017"] [Site "Riyadh KSA"] [Date "2017.12.29"] [Round "8.2"] [White "Lagno, Kateryna"] [Black "Cramling, Pia"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B62"] [WhiteElo "2547"] [BlackElo "2450"] [Annotator "Alex Yermolinsky"] [PlyCount "94"] [EventDate "2017.12.29"] [EventType "blitz"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 {Cramling doesn't care for modern fashion, she plays what she knows best - always a sound strategy in blitz,} 6. Bg5 e6 7. Qd3 Be7 8. O-O-O O-O 9. f4 h6 10. Bh4 Nxd4 11. Qxd4 Qa5 12. Bc4 Qh5 {This odd move has been given some attention in recent practice.} 13. Bg3 Rd8 14. Kb1 (14. Rhe1 Bd7 15. f5 {appears to be a critical continuation.}) 14... Bd7 {[#]} 15. e5 $2 {This is connected to an oversight that will be highlighted in the next note.} dxe5 16. fxe5 Bc6 17. Qf4 Rxd1+ 18. Rxd1 Nd5 19. Bxd5 Bxd5 {Black is already doing well, thanks to her Qh5 that keeps an eye on d1, thus delying White a possibility of Nxd5.} 20. Qf1 Bc6 21. a3 a6 22. Rd2 Rd8 23. Rxd8+ Bxd8 24. Bf4 Qf5 25. Qd1 Bc7 26. Qd4 Bxg2 27. Bg3 Bc6 28. b4 g5 29. a4 Kg7 30. Kb2 Qf1 31. Qc5 Bd8 32. b5 axb5 33. axb5 Bh1 34. Qd4 {[#] Black is doing great, no doubt, but Pia finds the right path, which would stay hidden for less experienced players.} Ba5 $1 {A decision on the level of chess understanding of World Rapid Champion Vishy Anand, who showcased similar ideas in his games against Leko and Grischuk in Riyadh.} 35. Qa4 Bxc3+ 36. Kxc3 Bd5 {What clarity of chess vision! Black traded away her bishop pair advantage to remove the white king's most faithful defender. The situation is stable now, and Pia can easily make further threats.} 37. Kb2 Qc4 $1 {It's essentual to correctly judge possibly simplifications.} 38. Qa5 (38. Qxc4 Bxc4 39. b6 Kg6 40. Kc3 Bd5 41. Kd4 Kf5 {No trace of counterplay for White and she's helpless against h5-h4.}) 38... Be4 39. c3 Bd3 40. b6 Be4 41. Qa7 Bd5 42. Kc2 ({Checks would run out quickly in case of} 42. Qa3 h5 43. Qe7 Qb3+ 44. Kc1 Qxc3+ 45. Kb1 Be4+ 46. Ka2 Qc1 47. Qf6+ Kg8 48. Qd8+ Kh7) 42... Be4+ 43. Kb2 Qb5+ 44. Ka3 Bd5 45. Qa4 Qxb6 46. h4 Qe3 47. hxg5 Qxc3+ 0-1
 

Replay all Open games

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