CHESS, it turns out, is three games. Last year, the world chess federation (FIDE) began the process of rating players in three categories of games rather than one: those played with traditional time limits, such as 40 moves in two hours; those played at a “blitz” speed, such as five minutes per player per game; and those played at a “rapid” tempo, somewhere in between.
The change recognises that the world’s top players now spend as much time in rapid and blitz tournaments as they do in the traditional so-called “classical chess.” The cynics, though, believed it was yet another controlled grab by FIDE, annoyed at other privately sponsored tournaments claiming rights – unofficial or otherwise – to world championship titles in rapid and blitz.
And now firmly under the FIDE umbrella, the World Rapid & Blitz championships began late last week in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia with a total prize fund of $415,000 (£267,000) contested by 58 players from 17 countries. First up was the rapid (15 minutes, ten seconds per move) and then followed by the blitz (three minutes, two seconds per move).
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan had a strong finish of winning his last five games for 11.5/15 to take the rapid title ahead of the faltering Russian front-runner Ian Nepomniachtchi, who collapsed in the final five rounds.
S Mamedyarov - N Vitiugov
FIDE World Rapid Ch., (12)
1 d4 e6 2 c4 Bb4+ 3 Bd2 Bxd2+ 4 Qxd2 Nf6 5 Nc3 d5 6 Nf3 0–0 7 Qf4 Qe7 8 e3 a6 9 a3 Re8 10 Rc1 Nc6 11 Ne5 Bd7 12 cxd5 exd5 13 Nd3 Rad8 14 Be2 Bc8 15 0–0 Rd6 16 Qh4 Qf8 17 Bf3 Ne7 18 Rfe1 Ng6 19 Qg3 c6 20 b4 Ne4 21 Bxe4 dxe4 22 Nc5 f5 23 Ne2 Qe7 24 a4 b6 25 Nb3 Be6 26 Nd2 Bd5 27 Nc4 Bxc4 28 Rxc4 Rf8 29 Rec1 Rff6 30 h4 Nf8 31 h5 Nd7 32 R4c2 Rh6 33 Qf4 Qf7 34 Ng3 Rhf6 35 Nxf5 Qxh5 36 Qxd6 Rxd6 37 Nxd6 Nf6 38 b5! axb5 39 axb5 Ng4 40 bxc6 Qh2+ 41 Kf1 Qh1+ 42 Ke2 Qxg2 43 Nxe4 1–0