chessbase india logo

Daniil Dubov and Ju Wenjun are the new World Rapid Champions

by Aditya Pai - 29/12/2018

In the open group, the 2018 King Salman World Rapid Championship seemed wide open at the close of day 2. It would not have been unlikely if more than one player had remained in the lead after the final round. In fact, three players could have joined Dubov at the top had they won their final round game but since none of them managed to pull out a victory, Dubov, being clear first by score, was crowned as the world rapid champion. Vishy Anand had his chances to contend for the big prizes but drawing all of his games on the final day, he finished 20th on the leaderboard with a score of 9.5/15. In the women's group, Ju Wenjun cruised to victory, conceding draws in her last two games. Among Indians, Harika Dronavalli was the top scorer. With 8.0/12, she finished 14th in the final standings. Koneru Humpy remained half a point behind Harika and finished 20th.

The final third of the King Salman World Rapid Championship had begun with as many as seven players leading the tournament in the open segment. In addition, ten more were within striking distance of the leaders. The possibility of a tiebreak to determine a winner at the end could not have been denied. But as the action unfolded, a tiebreak wasn’t needed after all. Scoring an undefeated 11/15, Russian GM Daniil Dubov finished clear first, half a point ahead of his nearest rival, and was crowned as the World Rapid Champion of 2018. Of the four players who finished at 10½/15, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Hikaru Nakamura were placed second and third respectively due to their better tiebreak score.

GM Daniil Dubov is the new World Rapid Champion | Photo: Lennart Ootes

In the women’s group, Chinese GM Ju Wenjun had led all the way through and did not have much problems winning with a full point’s margin. In her last two games, she conceded draws to Sarasadat Khademalsharieh of Iran and Zhansaya Abdumalik of Kazakhstan to finish with a score of 10/12. There was a tie for the second and third places between Sarasadat Khademalsharieh and Aleksandra Goryachkina who had both scored 9/12. After the application of the tiebreaks, the former was awarded the higher prize.

Ju Wenjun comfortably won in the women's group. She finished a full point ahead of her nearest rival with a score of 10/12 despite back to back draws in the last two rounds | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Harika Dronavalli was the best Indian performer in the women's group. On the last day, she scored three wins and a draw out of her four games and finished 14th on the final standings with a final score of 8.0/12. In the final round, she won deploying some nice tactics against WGM Lela Javakhishvili | Photo: FIDE World Cup Official site

Half a point behind Harika was GM Koneru Humpy who finished 20th scoring 7.5/12 | Photo: Maria Emelianova

After the event, Dubov said that it was his win over Anton Korobov in the twelfth round that proved important in turning the tide for him. “There was absolutely nothing to hope for; it was more or less a draw. He was pushing till the very end and then he blundered. Getting such a gift gives you pretty good chances to win the whole thing. At least, I started to feel that things will go my way.”

And indeed, things did go Dubov’s way until the very end. His win over Korobov put him in joint tournament lead alongside Yu Yangyi of China at the conclusion of round 12. And as the tournament progressed, Dubov scored another important victory in the penultimate round over Wang Hao to take sole lead.

The twelfth round had also seen the clash between the two world champions – Magnus Carlsen and Viswanathan Anand. Carlsen had sacrificed a pawn in the game in an attempt to generate initiative from the white side of a Symmetrical English. Anand countered perfectly and after the fireworks had fizzled out, the players agreed to sign peace.

While both Carlsen and Anand needed a win, neither was able to bring down the other | Photo: Maria Emelianova

This wasn’t, however, the only draw that Anand played on the final day. In fact, all of his last five games had concluded with the same result.  The day had begun for him with a short draw with black against Spaniard David Anton Guijarro and the game that followed his twelfth round draw against Carlsen was, perhaps, the one that changed his mindset altogether.

Anand was well in contention for the title after his game against Carlsen. He just needed to win, and he needed it desperately. In the antepenultimate round, he had the white pieces against Ukrainian GM Anton Korobov. The opening was a Sicilian Najdorf. Anand strode confidently, thrusting his queenside pawns and got a better position out of the opening. But on his 32nd turn, he backed down from complications allowing his passed 'd’ pawn to be exchanged for Korobov’s pawn on the e-file. The exchange rendered the position equal immediately and peace was signed nine moves later.

After the draw against Anton Korobov (pictured), Anand seemed to have lost his motivation to fight for the top spots | Photo: Maria Emelianova

After this missed opportunity, Anand just seemed unwilling to fight for the top spots. In his 14th game, he agreed to a draw with black against GM Peter Svidler in merely nine moves before conceding another draw in the final round to Daniel Fridman.

Harikrishna had an even worse final day. He lost four out of his five games of the day. His only win came in round 12 against Francisco Vallejo Pons | Photo: Maria Emelianova 

Wunderkind, GM Nihal Sarin finished with 7/15 and gained a whopping 112 rating points in the process! | Photo: Maria Emelianova

Magnus Carlsen, in the meanwhile, fought tooth and nail, trying to make a comeback and even came quite close to catching up with Dubov. After his draw against Anand, he won back to back games against Grigoriy Oparin and Dmitry Andrekin. Since Dubov had agreed to a short draw in the final round against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, three players including Carlsen, Nakamura and Artemiev had a chance to catch up in the pole position.

However, none of the three chasers managed to pull off a win. While Artemiev drew against Sergey Karjakin, Carlsen, despite all his efforts, failed to break through the defences of Hikaru Nakamura as the game ended in a stalemate after 58 moves.

As can be seen, neither Carlsen nor Nakamura was happy with their game | Photo: Lennart Ootes

These two draws meant that Daniil Dubov, the 25th seed of the tournament, had clinched the title of the World Rapid Champion. In the interview that soon followed, the 22-year-old Russian spoke modestly, saying he was lucky. “Sometimes you play well and you win thanks to it, but sometimes you can just be lucky. I think the latter thing is more about me in the tournament. It was not that I was playing very well actually,” Dubov said after the event. 

Standings (Open)

Rk.SNo NameFEDRtgIPts. TB1  TB2  TB3 Krtg+/-
125GMDubov DaniilRUS272311,02860132,5140,52055,8
26GMMamedyarov ShakhriyarAZE278610,52846131,5138,52024,0
32GMNakamura HikaruUSA284410,52833125,5131,020-1,4
43GMArtemiev VladislavRUS281210,52828131,5139,0209,0
51GMCarlsen MagnusNOR290310,52779121,5127,020-34,4
6169GMFirouzja AlirezaIRI241210,02848130,0136,020157,4
711GMYu YangyiCHN275810,02820132,0138,52026,4
816GMGiri AnishNED273910,02815129,5135,52030,2
98GMKarjakin SergeyRUS277410,02794126,5133,5206,8
1043GMPetrosian Tigran L.ARM267610,02791125,0132,02044,8
1115GMKorobov AntonUKR274010,02780132,0139,02019,0
1235GMMatlakov MaximRUS269010,02765124,5132,02031,6
1338GMDuda Jan-KrzysztofPOL268310,02759117,5124,02032,6
1429GMAnton Guijarro DavidESP270810,02750124,0130,02017,6
1519GMGrischuk AlexanderRUS273210,02746122,0129,5205,6
1621GMJakovenko DmitryRUS273110,02731114,0119,020-0,4
1759GMPonkratov PavelRUS265010,02679112,5118,02014,4
1822GMAndreikin DmitryRUS27259,52801134,0139,52033,6
197GMWang HaoCHN27829,52772130,0136,020-0,6
2040GMZubov AlexanderUKR26819,52770124,0129,52039,0

All Games (Open)

Standings (Women)

Rk.SNo NameFEDRtgIPts. TB1  TB2  TB3 Krtg+/-
12GMJu WenjunCHN258410,0270888,092,52034,4
225IMKhademalsharieh SarasadatIRI24029,0258583,087,02058,4
311GMGoryachkina AleksandraRUS24779,0256384,089,02027,2
41GMMuzychuk AnnaUKR25958,5257783,589,520-3,0
516GMTan ZhongyiCHN24428,5256585,089,02039,8
615IMAbdumalik ZhansayaKAZ24448,5253386,090,52028,8
75GMLagno KaterynaRUS25398,5248879,083,020-10,6
83GMLei TingjieCHN25458,5247277,082,020-16,8
917IMBodnaruk AnastasiaRUS24428,5245967,572,5206,4
1030IMSaduakassova DinaraKAZ23818,0255586,592,52056,2
118GMMuzychuk MariyaUKR24938,0254790,597,02017,8
1226GMGunina ValentinaRUS23968,0250582,086,52037,8
1318IMArabidze MeriGEO24318,0244075,580,5203,4
149GMHarika DronavalliIND24848,0239870,575,520-23,0
1524WIMShuvalova PolinaRUS24118,0233469,574,520-21,8
1640IMGaponenko InnaUKR23208,0229772,576,020-1,4
1795FMAssaubayeva BibisaraRUS21537,5252490,597,520108,2
1829IMMammadova GulnarAZE23827,5249283,089,02035,6
1910GMKoneru HumpyIND24797,5245580,085,020-7,2
204GMKosteniuk AlexandraRUS25407,5244280,085,520-28,4

All Games (Women)

Contact Us