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A preview of the World Rapid and Blitz 2021

by Sagar Shah - 26/12/2021

After extensive coverage at the World Championship 2021 in Dubai, the ChessBase India team has made its way to Warsaw, Poland for the coverage of the World Rapid and Blitz 2021. The tournament is going to being from the 26th of December 2021 (3 p.m. local time). IM Sagar Shah brings you a preview, that gives you information about the players who are taking part, the format, schedule, prize money and more. We also bring you a lot of exclusive pictures and videos from the venue. Not to miss the Polish Quiz that Sagar tested some of the top players with!

Each calendar year ends with two exciting events in the world of chess - they are the world rapid and blitz tournaments. Amidst all the chaos ensuing in the world due to the Covid-19 pandemic, FIDE has done a commendable job of rescheduling the event at the last moment and making sure it happens. The World Rapid and Blitz 2021 was supposed to be held in Kazakhstan. However, at the last minute, the event was cancelled due to the Covid-19 policies in Kazakhstan. This left FIDE with just a fortnight in hand to organize this event. It felt like in such a situation the tournament would not take place. However, FIDE did not give up hope. FIDE Vice President Lukasz Turlej travelled from the World Championship in Dubai back to Poland and ensured that the World Rapid and Blitz Championship 2021 will take place in Warsaw.

The venue of the tournament is the famous PGE Narodowy Stadium. The capacity of the stadium is 58,580 people and was built in the year 2011.

This is the schedule of the tournament

The World Rapid event has a time control of 15 minutes + 10 seconds increment, while the World Blitz tournament has a time control of 3 minutes + 2 seconds increment. This year instead of 15, the rapid tournament will witness 13 rounds. It's going to be 5 days of high speed chess that will be filled with excitement and a lot of drama. In 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the World Rapid and Blitz tournament was not held. In 2019 it was Magnus Carlsen who had won both rapid and blitz titles. Humpy had won the rapid in women's section and Kateryna Lagno took home the gold in blitz.

In the open section, Magnus Carlsen won two golds and Hikaru won a silver and bronze! Hence, six medals were distributed among four individuals! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

There were six medals at stake in the women's section and six different players received them. Rapid: Humpy, Lei Tingjie and Ekaterina Atalik. Blitz: Lagno, Muzychuk and Tan Zhongyi | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The prize money in the open section of rapid and blitz. There are in all 15 prizes.

The prize money in the women's section. Here too there are 15 prizes in both sections - rapid and blitz


Top attractions

Without doubt, it's going to be thrilling to watch the World Champion in action at the World Rapid and Blitz. After reaching Warsaw Magnus put up an Instagram story which said, "Hunt for more title starting tomorrow!"

Hikaru Nakamura doesn't play too much over the board chess these days, but when it comes to rapid and blitz, he is an absolute beast. It will be interesting to see if Hikaru will be able to show the same level of play that he does in the online blitz events, or will this be a completely different ball game

The youngest 2800 player in the history of the game. It's going to be amazing following Alireza Firouzja at the World Rapid and Blitz

Vishy Anand had a bad experience at the Gashimov Memorial after commentating at the Wworld Championship 2021. Will Caruana's fate be the same, or will he be able to win this event. He certainly has it in him to finish at the top!

The World Championship was tough for Ian Nepomniachtchi. He would want to show the world what a mentally tough guy he is by winning these events!

The crowd favourite in Poland, the local boy Jan Krzysztof Duda. Will he be able to rise to the occasion in his home country, or will he crumble under pressure!

Classical chess is definitely Anish's forte. But at the recently concluded Tolstoy Cup, he showed what a beast he can be! If he plays in the same vein, he might well go back with his first medal at the World Rapid and Blitz

Top 25 seeds in Open Blitz

Top 25 seeds in Open Blitz

Top 25 seeds in Women Rapid

Top 25 seeds in Women Blitz



Indians at the World Rapid and Blitz 2021

17 Indians are taking part in the world rapid and blitz. They include top female players Humpy and Harika, top male players Harikrishna and Vidit and top young talents like Nihal, Gukesh, Arjun, Raunak and others.

Indians at the World Rapid 2021

Indians at the World Blitz 2021

Humpy Koneru, Rapid: 2483, Blitz: 2483

Humpy will be looking forward to not just defending her World Rapid title that she won in 2019, but also fight for the World Blitz title

Harika Dronavali, Rapid: 2475, Blitz: 2382

Fresh from some high quality practice at the Tata Steel Chess India Blitz, Harika has excellent chances of being on the podium in both rapid and blitz formats

Harikrishna, Rapid: 2705, Blitz: 2614

The highest rated player in rapid for India, Harikrishna will be looking at showing a powerful performance in both rapid and blitz

Arjun Erigaisi, Rapid: 2397, Blitz: 2765

After his scintillating performance at the Tata Steel Chess India Rapid and Blitz, Arjun has become India no.1 in blitz ratings. He is the 10th seed of the tournament and will be looking to prove that he belongs right up there

Vidit Gujrathi, Rapid: 2629 Blitz: 2628

Vidit has lost a lot of rating recently at the Tata Steel Chess India. So he clearly is under-rated. This is the tournament where he can pump up both his rapid and blitz ratings to 2700 and beyond

Nihal Sarin, Rapid: 2500 Blitz:2705

All eyes are on Nihal Sarin, the young talent of India, who has shown that when it comes to blitz, he can even beat the World Champion. Can Nihal do well in this big event?

Harsha Bharathakoti Rapid: 2484 Blitz: 2576

Harsha is a rapid and blitz specialist. His recent performance includes finishing 2nd at the Yerevan Blitz and beating Praggnanandhaa in the final round. He is surely a player that no one can underestimate.

Narayanan SL, Rapid: 2482 Blitz: 2570

When it comes to his classical rating, Narayanan has been moving up steadily and has reached 2658. He will have to show the same form in rapid and blitz!

Raunak Sadhwani, Rapid: 2454 Blitz: 2562

A lot can be expected out of Raunak, who is a fantastic player in the shorter time formats. He gained rating at the Tata Steel Chess India event and also at the recently concluded Abu Dhabi Rapid.

D. Gukesh, Rapid: 2050 Blitz: 2506

Extremely under-rated. With a rating of just 2050 in the rapid, we can expect Gukesh to at least gain a 100 points here!

Abhimanyu Puranik, Rapid: 2472 Blitz 2437

Fresh from his fine performance at the Sunway Sitges Open where he finished at the top, a lot can be expected from Abhimanyu Puranik at the World Rapid and Blitz

Mitrabha Guha, Rapid: 2107 Blitz: 2370

The current online national champion of India has known for his solid play. He has also beaten Magnus Carlsen twice in online games! Don't be fooled by his rating, Mitrabha is sure to make heads turn at this event.

Aditya Mittal, Rapid: 1488 Blitz: 2245

This boy is an IM with two GM norms! No way is he 1488 in rapid! It will be exciting to see how many Elo points Aditya Mittal gains at this event!

Sankalp Gupta, Rapid: 2266, Blitz: 2323

Sankalp Gupta recently became a grandmaster and this tournament will prove to be an invaluable learning experience for his future progress!

R. Vaishali, Rapid: 2201, Blitz: 2323

R. Vaishali is soon going to be one of the finest players of the country in classical format. Can she also do that in rapid and blitz?

Vantika Agrawal, Rapid 1729, Blitz: 1917

Very determined and very talented national champion of India Vantika Agrawal will also fight it out in Poland

Padmini Rout, Rapid: 2337, Blitz: 2276

The girl who likes to always keep fighting and has a never-say-die spirit - Padmini Rout

The coach of the Indian team is the experienced grandmaster Pravin Thipsay

Photo Gallery

This happened after a preliminary visit to the playing hall. It was so cold outside that Amruta had frost bites on her legs. Here she is using a heating pad to warm her legs.

The playing hall on one side...

...and the playing hall on the other!

The Narodowy Stadium has many entrances, but the right way to enter the tournament hall is through gate 5

What a view of the stadium!

Two old friends reunite and have a good time with a glass of lassi! Anish goes for the Classic flavour, while Vidit chooses the Mango!

Being one of the best players in chess, Anish has a lot of fans all across the world!

A beautiful photo! Three youngsters from different countries are so happy to meet each other. Amin Tabatabaei from Iran, Aryan Tari from Norway and Hans Niemann from the USA. As Judit Polgar likes to say, "Chess connects us all!"

Vidit meets arbiter Oleksandr Prohorov!

All the players including World Champion Magnus Carlsen are in the same hotel - the Marriott, near Central Warsaw station

One can travel by Tram to the stadium from the official hotel, but then eventually you have to walk a bit. The official buses or taxi looks like the most convenient form of transport as of now for the players.

The Narodowy stadium looks spectacular and more so at night! We will bring you the night pictures of the stadium in our subsequent reports

Meeting friends after a long time, is truly a wonderful feeling. With Amruta, Vidit and Anish at the India Gate restaurant in Warsaw.

Video Gallery

A heart to heart conversation with GM Vidit Gujrathi on the streets of Warsaw in sub zero temperature! Vidit opens up about chess, his future plans and his expectations from the World Rapid and Blitz event.
First look at the World Rapid and Blitz Championship venue where the players will fight it out
Anish Giri takes on the Polish quiz
Boris Gelfand crushes the Polish quiz!
Newly minted India no.1 in blitz ratings, Arjun Erigaisi speaks about his feelings of being no.1 ahead of Anand, and who are the opponents he wants to play at the World Rapid and Blitz
FIDE Vice President Lukasz Turlej on how he and his team managed to pull off the organization of the World Rapid and Blitz 2021 in just 15 days!
Kirill Shevchenko speaks about how young talents in Ukraine are leaving the country and going for new opportunities and how he has changed his goals after winning the Lindores Abbey Blitz ahead of Caruana, MVL and other world class players
Mehrdad Pahlevanzadeh, the former president of Iranian Chess Federation and the current Secretary of the Rules Commission talks about the chess boom in Iran and Firouzja deciding to leave Iran and move to France


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