World Rapid Chess Championship Day 2: Carlsen and Kosteniuk Surge Ahead

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GM Magnus Carlsen finished the second day in sole first with 7.5/9, notably defeating two young up-and-coming GMs: Alireza Firouzja and Jan-Krzysztof Duda. He is pursued by three GMs with 7/9: Nodirbek Abdusattorov, who has produced numerous upsets against established names; Alexander Grischuk, who already made a draw with Carlsen; and Ian Nepomniachtchi, who will have to face the world champion on Tuesday, less than a month after their 11-round match.

GM Alexandra Kosteniuk leads the women’s event in sole first with 7.5/8, a full point and a half above the rest of the field, and looks to be the likely women’s world rapid chess champion.

Both rapid events will continue on Tuesday, December 28, at 6 a.m. Pacific/15:00 Central Europe

How to watch the 2021 FIDE World Rapid & Blitz Championship live

While our thousands-of-years-old game holds many surprises, romance is not always one of them. Amid the excitement and angst before today’s first round, two people shared a moment they will never forget.

Also before the day began, commentators GMs Jon Ludvig Hammer and Irina Krush speculated on what viewers may look forward to. The two most high-profile games in the first round were those among the leaders: Duda vs. Nepo and Carlsen vs. Jobava.

Krush observed: “Traditionally, Jobava has been somewhat problematic for Magnus… Jobava has pulled off some surprise results against him.” This, indeed, turned out to be the case as Jobava held a draw with the white pieces against the triple-crowned world champion, keeping his nerves together despite the fast time control.

As it turned out, the first fireworks occurred elsewhere. Caruana was the first to win in round six of the open section, finishing his game in under 30 minutes.

Caruana started the day with a barn-burner of a game. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

He showcased deep opening preparation as White in the Nimzo-Indian Defense, following theory all the way until move 20. After 20…Re8??, Vidit imploded and resigned before making his 29th move.

Literally one minute later, Nepo won his game against the Polish number one, taking down one of the tournament leaders. Curiously, Duda daring to enter the Russian grandmaster’s world championship preparation, opted for the now-topical Anti-Berlin line played with 8… Rb8, a la Carlsen. The former world championship challenger, clearly experienced in this line, conducted a formidable attack and won with the white pieces.

Amusingly, too, Nepo finished his game with almost one minute more on his clock than when he started. Since players gain 10 seconds on every move made, it is possible to finish with more time than the 15-minute start.

Duda, who had a tremendous day one, suffered defeats to both Nepomniachtchi and Carlsen today. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

GM Maxim Matlakov vs. GM Richard Rapport featured a peculiar queen sacrifice by the Hungarian player. Anyone familiar with Rapport’s games is almost unsurprised, by this point, with his creative powers. Although the game ended in a draw, it is still worth sharing.

GM Hikaru Nakamura showed some home-cooking as he played a new move in an extremely well-trodden opening. Although he won in round five, he drew in round six, drawing too many games to be at the very top of the leaderboard.



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