A Look at Carlsen's Win in the World Blitz Championship
Wednesday, January 2, 2019 at 6:50PM
Dennis Monokroussos in 2018 World Rapid & Blitz Championship, Magnus Carlsen

As most if not all of you know, Magnus Carlsen won the World Blitz Championship in St. Petersburg, Russia, several days ago. His finished with a huge score of 17/21, didn't lose a single game, and added 15 points to his massive blitz rating - he's now 2954. Despite the huge score, he only won the event by half a point, as Jan-Krzysztof Duda finished only half a point behind. (If his pummeling by Wesley So in the semi-final of Chess.com's Speed Chess Championship made us suspect that Duda's earlier wins over Sergey Karjakin and Alexander Grischuk were flukes, we should re-evaluate that conclusion! He is now #7 in the world in blitz, having picked up 124 rating points in the event.) Those two ran away with the event; Hikaru Nakamura was third, scoring 14.5 points - two behind Duda. Just missing the medals were Levon Aronian, Peter Svidler, Ian Nepomniachtchi, and the aforementioned Karjakin; all scored 14 points.

Lots of top players participated, obviously, but there were some notable absences as well. Fabiano Caruana may have had enough of rapid and blitz chess, and of reading about his (supposed) deficiencies in rapid and blitz, to want to bother with the tournament. More surprising was So's absence, especially given his fine performance in the Speed Chess Championship mentioned above. Another surprise was Maxime Vachier-Lagrave's absence. He's the #2 blitz player in the world, by rating, briefly reaching #1 a couple of weeks before in the London Chess Classic. No doubt they had their reasons, but it's a pity for us as chess fans that they elected to skip the event.

Let's get back to those who did play; in particular, to the winner. All 21 of his games can be replayed here, with some brief comments highlighting the key moments (where applicable). At some point around the middle of the tournament he played his way into form, but for the first 1/3 to 1/2 of the tournament he received one present after another, as if Norwegian TV was paying his opponents to take a dive. It wasn't good, but once he woke up he started playing consistently excellent chess.

I don't have time to scour the remaining games looking for gems, but readers, please help: if you saw especially good games not involving Carlsen, please mention them in the comments. Thank you, and Happy New Year!

Article originally appeared on The Chess Mind (http://www.thechessmind.net/).
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