This week it’s all about blitz tournaments, with the Met Life European Blitz and Rapid Championship in Warsaw, as well as the 2012 Sport Accord Mind Games Tournament in Beijing. A really different beast from classic board chess, rapid or blitz games are all about speed, and the players seem to take more risks, making for exciting play.
Amplico European Blitz and Rapid Championship, Warsaw
With each pairing having two games, one with black, one with white, this eleven round event in Warsaw on 14th December, saw Maxime Vachier-Lagrave emerge as blitz winner. Conceded to be one of the world’s quickest thinkers at this kind of play, the Frenchman took Gold in Friday’s Blitz tournament with 18.5 playing white against Darius Swiercz with opening A88 Dutch, Leningrad, Main Variation with(c6). However, he was beaten in the Rapid tournament which took place on Saturday and Sunday, when Alexei Dreev won on tie break, seeing Sergei Rublevsky, Alexei Shirov and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave all finish on 9.5/11.
Beijing 2012 Sport Accord World Mind Games
From the 12th to the 19th December, Beijing hosts the impressive Mind Games tournament. With Chess, Bridge, Go, Draughts and Chinese Chess all represented and some of the world’s greatest players in attendance. Rapid, Blitz, Blindfold and Pair are the chess disciplines for both men and women. On the first day of the tournament, all players played in a dominant and attack lead style, so draws were rare. Pushing their opponents to the limit, the fast thinkers soon forged ahead with Sergey Karjakin, Levon Aronian and Hikaru Nakamura taking the lead after the first 8 rounds, each with 6 points out of the 8 possible. In the women’s tournament Alexandra Kosteniuk emerged as the clear leader on the first day of play with 7 points, after losing only one game against Humpy Koneru of India. Anna Muzychuk, Koneru and Elizabthe Paehtz shared second place at the end of the first day’s play.
On the second day, Sergey Karjakin battled on to take the lead one round before the final in a win over Victor Bologan of Moldova. Although this was the winning game of his tournament, he take played equally well in the final game, winning against Vassily Ivanchuk, and ending 1.5 points ahead of Hikaru Nakamaru who came in second. Alexandra Kosteniuk didn’t have such a great start on her second day, making several mistakes, culminating in a defeat by Bela Khotenashvili in the 14th round, allowing Anna Muzychuk to take the lead with just one round to go. However, Kosteniuk went on to victory over Anna Zatonskikh in the final round, after Mazychuk could only reach a draw against Elizabeth Paehtz in a frantic game.
In the end, the Gold went to Russians in both the men’s and the women’s tournaments with Sergey Karjakin and Anna Kosteniuk both emerging as winners. Hikaru Nakamura took the Silver for the USA, while the battle for the Bronze was where the real competition was. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Levon Aronian and Laurent Fressinet were all on 9 points, but finally they all lost their matches, so the third placing was decided on a tie break. Ultimately, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov took third place for Azerbaijaan. Anna Mazychuk took the Silver for the ladies and third place was shared by Humpy Koneru and Elizabeth Paehtz, with Paehtz finally being awarded the Bronze for Germany.
All in all, two exciting fast paced tournaments, with some risky decisions resulting in victory for those who dared. Fast and furious, with less time to plan ahead than in classic board chess, this is entertainment chess at its best.