Magnus Carlsen clinched his second gold in Almaty after winning both the Rapid and the Blitz. Carlsen won the World Blitz Championship with 16/21. Kazakh player Bibisara Assaubayeva took her second consecutive gold in the Women’s World Blitz with 13/17
The World Blitz Chess Championship ended in Almaty (Kazakhstan) with the victory of Magnus Carlsen in the Open section and Bibisara Assaubayeva in the Women’s.
The Open Blitz
After a strong performance on the first day of the Blitz, Carlsen (third seed in the Blitz) maintained course, held on to the leading position and brought the tournament to a successful end. On day two Carlsen drew the game with his number one competitor in the Blitz (and leader after day one) – Hikaru Nakamura.
It wasn’t a smooth ride for Carlsen who suffered two defeats in critical moments: to Ian Nepomniachtchi (candidate for World Champion in classical chess) and the young Russian superstar Alexey Sarana.
In the final round of the Blitz, Carlsen was up against Uzbekistan’s Nodirbek Abdusatorrov (whom he had previously beaten in the Rapid). In an equal position, Carlsen showed to have steadier nerves and managed to snatch a victory, securing he is alone in first place.
Having previously won the World Rapid chess championship, Carlsen is currently the holder of all three world championship titles – in Classical, Rapid and Blitz. By winning the World Rapid and the World Blitz Magnus Carlsen, who has decided not to defend his crown in classical chess, has secured himself another year as world champion – in rapid and blitz categories. This is the third time that the Norwegian is the holder of all three world chess crowns.
“It feels great”, said Carlsen in his first reaction to winning two world championship titles in three days.
“This is a really tough event. It started great yesterday but I wasn’t feeling I had a lot of energy… Yesterday I was trying to survive until day two and see if I had some chance… Today I felt a little bit better than yesterday and I tried to win as many games as I could”.
Carlsen also asked which of his world titles is dearest to him.
“To some extent, the Blitz title is very important because it’s [won in a tournament with] more rounds… As far as the classical championship [goes] I won it but it wasn’t dear enough to hold on to”.
Carlsen also reflected on his main competitor in the Blitz, GM Hikaru Nakamura who finished second, pointing out that he was under incredible pressure being the leader after day one.
“While he is used to winning tournaments he’s never won this one… When he started a bit shakey, then I knew I had a chance”.
The second and third place went to GM Hikaru Nakamura and the Armenian GN Haik M. Martirosyan who both finished a point behind Carlsen (15/21).
The Women’s Blitz
With 13 points out of 17 rounds in the Women’s section, Bibisara Assaubayeva of Kazakhstan finished in first place. Her success is significant because she managed to defend the world title in Blitz (the previous women player to defend her Blitz crown was Kateryna Lagno, in 2018 and 2019).
Humpy Koneru of India took second place after finishing with 12,5 points, and Polina Shuvalova and this year’s Women’s Rapid winner Tan Zhongyi tied for fourth place after both scoring 12 points.
Having started day two of the Blitz a full point and a half behind the leaders (6/9), Assaubayeva had a spectacular second day. She won seven games and lost just one (to Polina Shuvalova).
In the press conference following her victory, Assaubayeva said she felt very emotional having managed to defend her crown (“which is more difficult than to win it”), but also that she achieved this in her home country.
– I am very delighted that I won in my home country. I felt I had a lot of responsibility on my shoulders. Unfortunately, I got sick after the first day of the Rapid so I wanted to show all my strength in the Blitz.
Kazakhstan won two medals in the Women’s tournaments: silver in the Rapid and gold in the Blitz). This is a huge success for this Central Asian country which has recently expanded investment in the game and is hoping to organize additional international chess competitions.
The Closing ceremony
The Closing ceremony of the World Rapid and Blitz Chess Championships took part at 8 PM local (Almaty) time in the Baluan Sholak Sports Palace where the tournaments took place. Players, guests, sponsors and officials joined the winners of the 2022 Rapid and Blitz in the playing hall where a big podium was set up.
The ceremony started with the intonation of the national anthem of Kazakhstan.
Speaking on behalf of FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich, Grandmaster Victor Bologan thanked the Chess Federation of Kazakhstan and the local teams for successfully organising the event, emphasizing a friendly and positive atmosphere which surrounded both tournaments.
Bologan congratulated the winners and also compared Magnus Carlsen to Lionel Messi.
The winners in both Rapid and Blitz walked to the podium to receive prizes delivered by FIDE officials, sponsors and the Akim (mayor) of Almaty. After the medals, trophies and national anthems, the 2022 World Rapid and Blitz Championships were declared officially closed.
The organisation of the event and support
The World Rapid and Blitz championships are held by the Kazakhstan Chess Federation together with the International Chess Federation and with the support of the Ministry of Culture and Sports, as well as the Akimat of the city of Almaty.
The event is made possible thanks to the agreement with Freedom Finance, which becomes a General Sponsor of the event. Freedom Broker is an investment company and a stockbroker. Provides access to NYSE, NASDAQ, LSE, HKEX and other largest stock exchanges on the planet.
Text: Milan Dinic
Photo: Anna Shtourman and Lennart Ootes