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Magnus Carlsen wins the 2015 FIDE World Chess Rapid Championship in Berlin

User Rating: / 2
Written by Administrator   
Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Stephan Oliver Platz reports from Berlin, Germany

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On Saturday, October, 10th, the 2015 FIDE World Chess Rapid and Blitz Championship began in Berlin. The playing hall Bolle Meierei is situated next to the German department of the interior and the river Spree. Participants from all over the world took part in this prestigious event. In the rapid tournament 15 rounds Swiss system had to be played on three consecutive days. The players got 15 minutes for the whole game plus an increment of 10 seconds per move.

On Saturday the first five rounds were played. Sergey Karjakin who had won the World Cup just one week before presented himself in top form. He won his first three games against Jure Borisek, Grzegorz Gajewski and Anton Korobov. Only Yuriy Kryvoruchko managed to reach a draw against him. In the fifth round Karjakin defeated the German grandmaster Georg Meier and took the sole lead with 4,5 out of 5 ahead of 16 players with 4 points each, amongst them Magnus Carlsen and Ian Nepomniachtchi. Carlsen had won three of his five games. Ehsam Ghaem Maghami, a grandmaster from Iran, surprisingly drew against Carlsen in round 1, and so did Yuriy Kryvoruchko in round 5. At the end of the day 16 players had reached 3,5 out of 5, one of them being former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik.

Natalia's team mate Kateryna Lagno whose win versus Yifan Hou contributed much to their successful defense of the Olympic title last year in Tromso/Norway was one of only a few women players. She had a very prominent opponent in round 1: Former World Champion Vishy Anand from India. After a mistake in move 27 her position collapsed and Anand finished off with a tricky combination. But in spite of that they both had 2 ½ points each after the first five rounds.

There were so many spectators that only a part of them were allowed to enter the playing hall.

The German grandmaster Jan Gustafsson commentated on the games. Here he is joined by Peter Svidler after having finished his game. On the left side you can see  a queue. They are waiting for an opportunity to enter the playing hall. Only after some fans had gone others were permitted to enter.

One of the highlights of the first day was the opening press conference with guest of honor, former World Champion Boris Spassky. I'm still alive, were his first words. With lots of humor he told stories about himself and Bobby Fischer. He mentioned that FIDE president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov had prepared two rooms in Elista for Bobby Fischer and for Spassky himself. But unfortunately Bobby Fischer could never make it to Elista. Fischer had to spend his last few years in Iceland where he had got asylum after he had been arrested in Japan. The evening before a movie about the 1972 World Championship match in Reykjavik had had its premiere in a Berlin cinema and Spassky had been invited to it.

Left to right: Ilya Merenzon (CEO of AGON), former FIDE president Fridrik Olafsson, FIDE president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, Herbert Bastian (president of the German Chess Federation) and 10th World Chess Champion Boris Spassky.

Boris Spassky (right) and Herbert Bastian.

On Sunday almost everybody expected that Karjakin would go on where he had finished the day before, but after two draws with Ian Nepomniachtchi and Gadir Guseinev he lost against Teimour Radjabov. After a win versus Vladimir Malakhov Karjakin suffered a second loss against Igor Kovalenko. So he made only 2 out of 5 on day 2 having now 6,5 points while Carlsen repeated his 4 out of 5 result from Saturday. Sergei Zhigalko from Belarus beat Ian Nepomniachtchi in round 10 and joined Magnus in the lead with 8 points. Like Carlsen he had made 4 out of 5 on both days. Behind them were Igor Kovalenko, Vladimir Kramnik and Vassily Ivanchuk (7,5 each).

Lots of cameras and reporters near the stage. Vladimir Kramnik, Magnus Carlsen and Sergey Karjakin were three of the favorites for the title. Magnus was always placed on board no. 1.

Former challengers Boris Gelfand and Peter Leko (right) 

On Monday Magnus Carlsen maintained his lead while the positions behind him changed several times. In round 14 Ex World Chess Champion Vladimir Kramnik might have stopped the young Norwegian, but to the the surprise of the spectators after only 16 moves their game ended with a draw by a threefold repetition. Kramnik had to play with the Black pieces and Carlsen wisely opened with 1.e4. A Berlin defense (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.o-o Nxe4) was offered by Kramnik, but Carlsen avoided the well known endgame by playing 5.Re1 instead of 5.d4. Perhaps Kramnik should have risked another defense, e. g. 3. f5!? or 3. Bc5 4.c3 f5!?, because after this draw he could no longer win the tournament. In the same round Vassily Ivanchuk had lost his game on time in a winning position against Teimour Radjabov.


Before the last round Carlsen had 11 out of 14. Only Ian Nepomniachtchi, Teimour Radjabov and Leinier Dominguez (10 points each) now had still a theoretical chance to catch him. Shakriyar Mamedyarov did his best, but was not able to win against Carlsen. Their game ended in a draw after 54 moves. Ian Nepomniachtchi drew against Leinier Dominguez, and so did Teimour Radjabov versus Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. So Carlsen defended his title with 11,5 points followed by three players with 10,5. According to the tie-break rules Ian Nepomniachtchi became 2nd, Teimour Radjabov 3rd and Leinier Dominguez 4th.

The final standings were:

 1. Magnus Carlsen (Norway)                                  11,5

 2. Ian Nepomniachtchi (Russia)                              10.5

 3. Teimour Radjabov  (Azerbaijan)                         10,5

 4. Perez Leinier Dominguez (Cuba)                        10,5

 5. Dmitry Bocharov (Russia)                                   10

 6. Vladimir Kramnik  (Russia)                                10

 7. Vladimir Onischuk (Ukraine)                              10

 8. Vassily Ivanchuk   (Ukraine)                               10

 9. Igor Kovalenko (Latvia)                                      10

10. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan)              10

11. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (France)                    10

12. Ernesto Inarkiev  (Russia)                                 10

13. Denis Khismatullin (Russia)                              9,5

14. Rustam Kasimdzhanov (Uzbekistan)                 9,5

15. Vladimir Malakhov  (Russia)                             9,5

16. Yuriy Kryvoruchko  (Ukraine)                           9,5

17. Anton Korobov (Ukraine)                                  9,5

18. Sergei Zhigalko (Belarus)                                  9,5

19. Sergey Karjakin (Russia)                                   9,5

20. A.R. Saleh Salem (United Arab Emirates)        9,5

21. Vladimir Fedoseev  (Russia)                              9,5

22. Radoslaw Wojtaszek (Poland)                            9,5

23. David Navara (Czech Republic)                        9,5

24. Gadir Guseinov  (Azerbaijan)                            9,5

25. Viswanathan Anand  (India)                              9,5

(158 participants)

World Cup finalist Peter Svidler ended up on rank 34 with 9 points.

Best female player was Kateryna Lagno on rank 67 with 8 points.

A complete list can be found here.


Magnus Carlsen needs a drink.

Rustam Kasimdzhanov and Vishy Anand.

Vladimir Kramnik and Magnus Carlsen, the 14th and 16th World Chess Champions.

Ready to rumble? Shakriyar Mamedyarov and Magnus Carlsen.

At the press conference after the last round Carlsen had a simple explanation for his success: I didn't blunder much and usually had more time left than my opponents. Ian Nepomniachtchi said that his loss versus Zhigalko may have cost him the chances of winning the tournament. But he was content with his 2nd place and admitted that Magnus' victory was well deserved.

Press conference with winner Magnus Carlsen and runner-up Ian Nepomniachtchi.

Teimour Radjabov (3rd), Ian Nepomniachtchi (2nd) and Magnus Carlsen (1st) at the official medal ceremony with FIDE president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. Carlsen successfully defended his title.

Let's have a look at some games:

1) Vallejo Pons - Carlsen


Bezold - Lagno


3) Zhigalko - Nepomniachtchi



All the games

  Copyright 2015 by S. O. Platz

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 21 October 2015 )
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