World Rapid 2021 Day 1: Extreme Chess!
The World Rapid and Blitz 2021 kicked off on 26th of December at the Narodowy stadium in Warsaw, Poland with a total of 279 players - 176 in the open and 103 in women. At the end of day one we have three leaders in the open section - Carlsen, Jobava and Duda on 4.5/5, and in the women' section we have Kosteniuk and Gunina on a 100% score. For Indians the best performers of the day were Vaishali, who beat Kashlinskaya and Mariya Muzychuk and Harsha Bharathakoti who scored 3.5/5 only losing to World Champion Magnus Carlsen. Thumbnal image by Lennart Ootes.
Three-way lead for Carlsen, Duda and Jobava
Report from Warsaw by Sagar Shah and pictures by Amruta Mokal
To me it is quite clear why people love the rapid format of chess. There is something for everyone in here! If you are a hard core chess fan, you can see some amazing preparation, great tactics and endgame grinds. If you are a casual viewer, you are simply going to enjoy the huge number of blunders taking place in every round. Just to give you an idea, let's have a look at a couple of games.
Once you have played the World Championship Match, your preparation is altogether at a different level. That's what Nepo showed in his game against Vidit.
Vidit Gujrathi vs Ian Nepomniachtchi
When it comes to the Ragozin opening, Vidit is one of the leading experts from both colours. In the above opening, he already had a game until move 19 against Anton Guijarro with black! Nepo improved on Vidit's play and went on to beat the top Indian GM.
Just when this high class chess is making all chess amateurs crawl back in their seats, something much more exciting (at least visually) is happening on another board!
Anish was playing against the young German talent Rasmus Svane. After drifting into an inferior position, Anish was down two pawns in the endgame. It looked quite terrible for the Dutch no.1 when something unbelievable happened.
Rasmus Svane vs Anish Giri
It's true that winning this position is not the easiest task in the world, yet with careful play, White should be able to win this without too many difficulties. Being the last game of the round and already going on since an hour, Svane lost his focus and played Kh5?? Anish jumped at the opportunity with both his hands, played Qh2+ slammed the clock and retreated in his chair in relief! Kg5 is met with Qh6, which not only loses the queen, but is also checkmate!
While the level of play fluctuated for almost all players, World Champion Magnus Carlsen was rock solid. He ground out several wins in the endgame, the most amazing one was against Merab Gagunashvili in the first round where both sides had equal material - a rook, minor piece and a pawn. Magnus first got the game into a rook + bishop vs rook endgame and then put so much pressure on his opponent that he collapsed. This is what Magnus does really well.
Magnus not only won hearts over the board, but also off it. In round 3 the pairing was put up and it looked something like this:
The arbiters had made this error and so they shifted all the players one board backwards and asked Magnus to come to board no.1. But Magnus declined, saying that everything has been set up, all the players are in place and let's do this (him being on board no.1) from next round onwards.
Duda seemed very sharp on day one showcasing nice understanding of material imbalances. Each of his games had a sacrifice. Sometimes a pawn, sometimes an exchange and sometimes even a piece! Check out this crazy game against Baadur Jobava.
It has been well-known to everyone in the chess community how good Baadur Jobava is as a chess player when he is sufficiently motivated. It seems like Baadur seems to be in top form at the World Rapid Championship as he leads the event along with Carlsen and Duda on 4.5/5.
A lot is expected from the Indian youngsters and they are showing flashes of brilliance in this event. Nihal Sarin drew with Shirov and Fedoseev and then went on to beat Ponkratov and Antipov. In a very close game with Alireza Firouzja, Nihal succumbed in the endgame and lost the battle.
Arjun Erigaisi, fresh from his successes at Tata Steel Chess India, started with a bang by beating Ponkratov and Petrosian. He was also doing very welll against Boris Gelfand but drew that game. With 2.5/3 it seemed like Arjun was going to play against the best players in the event, but two losses in rounds 4 and 5 put brakes to his ambitions. Arjun lost to Korobov and Predke. Raunak Sadhwani is also on 2.5/5 with a win over Heimann and three draws against Howell, Dreev and Demchenko.
Harsha beat Mamedov, Kovalev and Onyschuk to reach 3.0/3. In the fourth game he lost a tense encounter against Magnus Carlsen. "It was an amazing experience to play against the World Champion", said Harsha. "I felt that my position was fine, but Magnus was so accurate." In the last round Harsha did get a better position against Movsesian but agreed to a draw as he was running out of energy.
Standings in Open after round 5
|8||45||GM||Anton Guijarro David||ESP||2627||4,0||13,5||15,5||2354||0,0|
|9||154||GM||Niemann Hans Moke||USA||2327||4,0||13,0||16,0||2633||0,0|
|16||49||GM||Petrosian Tigran L.||ARM||2621||4,0||10,0||12,0||2499||0,0|
Vaishali beat Mariya Muzychuk with a tremendous game. Usually, the youngster from Tamil Nadu loves to attack. But this time it was the endgame where Vaishali showed her brilliance. She brought her king into the game and making used of the weakened dark squares, scored a full point! It's a game from which you can learn a lot.
Standings in Women after Round 4
Performance of Indian players
|44||GM||Vidit Santosh Gujrathi||2629||IND||1||1||0||1||½||3,5||24||Open|
FIDE did a commendable job of making this event happen at such a short notice
Videos on ChessBase India Channel:
We have a lot videos from day one of the World Rapid and Blitz on our YouTube channel. These videos are brought to you in partnership with ChessNFT for this event. ChessNFT is FIDE's official platform for NFTs. You can check it out here.