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Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Bibisara Assaubayeva are the World Blitz 2021 champions

by Shahid Ahmed - 31/12/2021

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave ended Levon Aronian's fantastic momentum in Round 17 and tied three-way for the first place along with Jan-Krzyzstof Duda (POL) and fellow countryman, Alireza Firouzja. As per tournament regulations, only top two according to the tie-break had to play the Playoffs. MVL beat Duda 2-1 in the Playoffs to win his first world title, World Blitz 2021. Previous day leader, 17-year-old IM Bibisara Assaubayeva continued her dominance as she won the World Blitz Women 2021 with a round to spare and finished 1.5 points ahead of the competition. The cash prize for top three were US$ 60000, 50000 and 40000 in Rapid and Blitz event each respectively. There will be separate overviews of Indian performances in both Rapid and Blitz event. Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE

The year of the 17-year-olds

If anyone has followed the recent performance trajectory of GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov (UZB) and IM Bibisara Assaubayeva (KAZ), one would not be surprised by their triumph. The hunger to prove to the world burns brighter and makes them work that much hard to become stronger among the younger talent than the older battle-hardened ones.

World Rapid and Blitz 2021 winners (L to R) - Nodirbek Abdusattorov, Bibisara Assaubayeva, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Alexandra Kosteniuk | Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE

World Rapid 2021 top 3 (L to R) - 2nd Ian Nepomniachtchi, 1st Nodirbek Abdusattorov and 3rd Magnus Carlsen | Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE

World Rapid Women 2021 top 3 (L to R) - 2nd Bibisara Assaubayeva, 1st Alexandra Kosteniuk and 3rd Valentina Gunina | Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE

World Blitz 2021 top 3 (L to R) - 2nd Jan-Krzysztof Duda, 1st Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and 3rd Alireza Firouzja | Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE

World Blitz Women 2021 top 3 (L to R) - 2nd Alexandra Kosteniuk, 1st Bibisara Assaubayeva and 3rd Valentina Gunina | Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE

World Rapid 2021 champion - Nodirbek Abdusattorov 9.5/13

Abdusattorov's key victory or the turning point of the tournament was certainly his win against the defending champion, Magnus Carlsen in Round 10.

Abdusattorov - Carlsen, Round 10

Position after 51.Be3

One of the simplest draw in the endgame was in the above position. 51...Qxh5 52.Qxh5 Ng3+ and the game ends in a draw. Of course, Magnus did not miss it. He did not want to go for a draw, instead he wanted to test himself and his opponent, whether he can get wrrigle himself out of the position and get a full point, or is my opponent capable of converting a win when it matters the most. The latter turned out to be true. The player side of Magnus was definitely shattered as he lost the lead, however, the chess lover Magnus must have been delighted to find someone like who can seize his opportunity even in tough situations, even if he is only 17 years of age.

Magnus Carlsen stunned by 17-year-old super talent Nodirbek Abdusattorov | Video: ChessBase India

Just to jog your memory, two years back Abdusattorov gave a hard time to Magnus at World Blitz 2019.

15-year-old Abdusattorov makes Carlsen lose his cool | Video: ChessBase India

Is Abdusattorov the next-generation talent Magnus looking for? | Photo: Michal Walusza/FIDE
Magnus Carlsen on his aim of reaching 2900 in Classic | Video: ChessBase India

Four players - Nodirbek Abdusattorov, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana scored 9.5/13 each. However, as per the tournament regulations, only top two according to the tie-breaks will get to play the Playoffs. Thus Abdusattorov and Nepomniachtchi had to play the Playoffs to determine the World Rapid 2021 winner. It is obvious that Caruana was unaware of the exact tie-break rules, else he certainly would not have drawn the game in a mere six moves.

Caruana vs Nepomniachtchi - World Rapid 2021 Round 13 | Video: ChessBase India

Nepomniachtchi - Abdusattorov, Playoff 1

Position after 16.Qc2

White offered a momentary sacrifice of the bishop at g5 as he will regain it via Rd1. Abdusattorov was not worried about the e4-bishop pinning the c6-knight. He accepted it anyway, 16...hxg5 17.Rad1 Nb4 18.Qxc3 Bxf2+ 19.Kxf2 Nd5. It is immaterial what the evaluation says after 19...Nd5. what's more important is Abdusattorov showed nerves of steel and did not seem to faze by Nepomniachtchi's attempt at a conjuring trick. Although White got substantial advantage in the end, you have to factor in the time and the pressure of World Rapid title on the line. The first 3' + 2" Blitz Playoff ended in a draw.

In the second Blitz game, Nepomniachtchi overpushed and things got out of hand.

Abdusattorov - Nepomniachtchi, Playoff 2

Position after 31...d5

After 32.dxe5 Black had to play 32...f5 to continue the fight. Instead, 32...fxe5 just turned things in White's favor 33.exd5 cxd5 34.e4. Later White may have missed mate in two twice but you cannot fault him for that. After all, he is 17-years-old, playing against the World Championship 2021 Challenger for the World Rapid championship, stakes were at an all time high for him. The young talent prevailed and created history.

Abdusattorov vs Nepomniachtchi - Playoff 2 | Video: ChessBase India

The final handshake between Abdusattorov and Nepomniachtchi at the conclusion of Playoff 2 | Photo: Rafal Oleksiewicz/FIDE

He faced almost all top players and showed true grit after suffering a loss against Korobov and then made a strong comeback
Behind the scenes - How Abdusattorov became the youngest World Rapid champion in history | Video: ChessBase India
The Nodirbek Abdusattorov interview - youngest World Rapid champion | Video: ChessBase India

World Rapid Women 2021 champion - Alexandra Kosteniuk

Valentina Gunina was completely winning against Kosteniuk in Round 5.

Gunina - Kosteniuk, Round 5

Position after 27...Rxe6

Black's position is completely lost. 28.Nxg6 is the best and simple way for White to win. Instead, White opted for a flashy 28.Rxg6 which allowed Black to restore some kind of semblance to the position 28...fxg6 29.Nf7 Kh7 30.Nxd8 Re1 and Black is out of the woods. Eventually Black won the game. This win certainly breathed a new life into Kosteniuk whereas a loss could have had a huge impact in the final standings.

World title continues to elude Gunina | Photo: Anna Shtourman/FIDE

Humpy was the only other who got real close to beating Kosteniuk in Round 9.

Humpy - Kosteniuk, Round 9

Position after 32.Bd4

White already has a protected center passed pawn. 32...Nxd4 did not help Black's case. Sure, Black was looking to create a center passed pawn of her own and get rid of White's deadly bishop, but the resultant pawn mass at the center was definitely more powerful than Black wanted it to be. White was unable to capitalize on her advantage and a series of mistakes allowed Black to escape with a draw via perpetual check.

A win by Humpy against Kosteniuk would have reduced the gap between them | Photo: Michal Walusza/FIDE

Kosteniuk started the event with a double hat-trick and remained undefeated

World Blitz 2021 champion - Maxime Vachier-Lagrave 15.0/21

Three players - Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Jan-Krzysztof Duda and Alireza Firouzja finished the Blitz event with the same score 15.0/21. As per tournament regulations, only top two players according to tie-breaks will get to play Playoffs. Thus, MVL and Duda played the Playoff matches. Before we get to that, one must not forget that Levon Aronian was dashing towards the finish line as he was the sole leader 13.0/17, heading into Round 17. It was the France no.2 MVL who derailed Aronian's momentum.

Vachier-Lagrave - Aronian, Round 17

Position after 29...d5

30.f4 traps the rook for a while and keept it out of play for a while. White went for 30.Re1 and eventually won the endgame after a back and forth battle.

Vachier-Lagrave won a topsy-turvy battle against Magnus in the final round.

Vachier-Lagrave - Carlsen, Round 21

Position after 18.Qe4

18.Qe4 is a mistake because of 18...Nxe3 19.Qxb7 Nexg2 and Black is completely winning because White's kingside is completely wrecked. However, Magnus was not in his element. He had already lost five Blitz games which is the highest in over five years at the same event. After several mutual errors, Vachier-Lagrave came out on top and tied for the first place with Duda and Firouzja.

After first two Playoff games ended in draws, it was time for Golden game. It's very much like Golden Goal in football, first person to score a win, clinches the Playoff and the World Blitz title. Beating the final boss, Magnus Carlsen in the final round increased Vachier-Lagrave's confidence by that much. Moreover, Duda had the intangible psychological pressure of playing in his home country, Poland.

Vachier-Lagrave - Duda, Playoff 3

Position after 20.Nb5

Duda's big decisive mistake turned out to be 20...Bxb5. 21.axb5 tied Black's pieces especially the rook at a7. White also got a stronghold by putting his bishop at c6 which did not help Black's case either. The result became evident and Vachier-Lagrave won the match.

World Blitz 2021 Final Playoff game | MVL vs Duda | Video: ChessBase India

The final handshake and MVL is the new World Blitz champion | Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave made a brilliant comeback after suffering two consecutive losses

World Blitz Women 2021 champion: Bibisara Assaubayeva

17-year-old IM Bibisara Assaubayeva (KAZ) decimated the field as she beat the likes of GM Anna Muzychuk (UKR), GM Alexandra Kosteniuk (RUS), IM Elisabeth Paehtz (GER), IM Polina Shuvalova (RUS), IM Vaishali R, GM Koneru Humpy, GM Aleksandra Goryachkina (RUS). She lost only two games against GM Valentina Gunina (RUS) and GM Kateryna Lagno (RUS). Then also she managed to win the tournament with a round to spare, that shows her dominance.

Kosteniuk - Bibisara, Round 6

Position after 19...Ne3

White was already having a difficult position. 19...Ne3 kind of accelerated things in Black's favor. 20.fxe3 Rxd3 21.Rf1 Rxe3 22.b4 Nc6 23.Qf4 Re2 24.Ne4 Nxb4 and things just fell apart quickly for White.

IM Bibisara Assaubayeva is your new World Blitz Women 2021 champion | Photo: Rafal Oleksiewicz

Bibisara faced all top women there was to face in World Blitz Women 2021

Some tweets

MVL after winning the tournament

World champion, Magnus Carlsen who lost both of his Rapid and Blitz titles, congratulated both MVL and Duda

Nepomniachtchi on the event

Nakamura congratulated both MVL and Abdusattorov

Photo Gallery

Are we winning the World Blitz title? Nope, not today | Photo: Anna Shtourman/FIDE

A world title has been long overdue for Maxime Vachier-Lagrave | Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE

Nodirbek Abdusattorov won three consecutive tournaments this month including World Rapid | Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE

Kosteniuk had a fantastic year, finishing with 1st in World Rapid Women and 2nd in World Blitz Women | Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE

Bibisara will certainly give a tough competition to Kosteniuk for the years to come | Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE

What an event it was for Bibisara - 1st in Blitz and 2nd in Rapid | Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE

Valentina Gunina secured third place in both Rapid and Blitz event | Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE

Gunina checks her reflection on the shining trophy | Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE

Video Gallery

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave on how he won the World Blitz Championships 2021 | Video: ChessBase India
17-year-old Bibisara Assaubayeva is the new speed queen in the chess world | Video: ChessBase India
Anish Giri beats Magnus Carlsen, pumps his fist, winks at the camera | Video: ChessBase India
'Thug life' Grischuk vs 'Endgame God' Magnus | Video: ChessBase India
Magnus Carlsen on his aim of reaching 2900 in Classical Chess | Video: ChessBase India
Interview with Jan-Krzysztof Duda, Silver medalist in World Blitz 2021 | Video: FIDE
Press conference with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, World Blitz 2021 Champion | Video: FIDE
FIDE World Rapid & Blitz Chess Championship 2021 - Closing Ceremony | Video: FIDE

Replay Blitz Open Round 13-21 and Playoff games

Replay Blitz Women Round 10-17 games

Final standings in Blitz Open

Rk.SNo NameFEDRtgPts. TB1  TB2  TB3  TB4 
GMVachier-Lagrave MaximeFRA278715,0244,0251,526600,0
GMDuda Jan-KrzysztofPOL279215,0242,0249,526400,0
GMFirouzja AlirezaFRA281015,0237,0245,526090,0
GMDubov DaniilCFR274914,5253,5262,026700,0
GMAronian LevonUSA274014,0256,0264,526820,0
GMMamedyarov ShakhriyarAZE275414,0249,5258,526400,0
GMArtemiev VladislavCFR283014,0245,0253,526460,0
GMSindarov JavokhirUZB245213,5259,0269,526890,0
GMFedoseev VladimirCFR269013,5258,5267,026740,0
GMOparin GrigoriyCFR258013,5256,0266,026780,0
GMMartirosyan Haik M.ARM270713,5252,5262,026590,0
GMCarlsen MagnusNOR289213,5252,0262,526640,0
GMKravtsiv MartynUKR263813,5250,5258,526410,0
GMGrischuk AlexanderCFR275713,5248,5257,026650,0
GMKobalia MikhailCFR253213,5247,5257,526770,0
GMGiri AnishNED277813,5247,5256,526510,0
GMAlekseenko KirillCFR266313,0247,0257,026190,0
GMVidit Santosh GujrathiIND262813,0238,5247,025940,0
GMNihal SarinIND270513,0236,0244,025840,0
GMSarana AlexeyCFR267213,0234,5243,525760,0
GMMamedov RaufAZE268613,0225,0233,525690,0
GMDreev AlekseyCFR264113,0225,0233,525490,0
GMQuparadze GigaGEO265813,0223,0231,525480,0
GMErigaisi ArjunIND276512,5252,0260,026640,0
GMNepomniachtchi IanCFR279212,5249,0258,026580,0


Final standings in Blitz Women

Rk.SNo NameFEDRtgPts. TB1  TB2  TB3  TB4 
IMAssaubayeva BibisaraKAZ228514,0170,0177,523280,0
GMKosteniuk AlexandraCFR247512,5157,5164,522740,0
GMGunina ValentinaCFR245212,0173,0181,523320,0
IMShuvalova PolinaCFR230612,0167,5174,022710,0
GMKoneru HumpyIND248311,5168,5176,023260,0
IMBuksa NataliyaUKR219911,5167,5173,523290,0
GMDzagnidze NanaGEO239411,5156,5164,021930,0
GMGoryachkina AleksandraCFR244111,0166,5174,022980,0
GMMuzychuk AnnaUKR250911,0161,0168,522740,0
GMLagno KaterynaCFR259211,0156,5163,022740,0
GMStefanova AntoanetaBUL247711,0152,0158,022300,0
IMPaehtz ElisabethGER241211,0148,5155,522340,0
GMGirya OlgaCFR226211,0144,5150,521830,0
IMVaishali RIND231310,5168,5174,523070,0
WGMMamedjarova ZeinabAZE225010,5155,5162,022630,0
IMGaponenko InnaUKR229210,5149,0156,022170,0
IMBodnaruk AnastasiaCFR240610,5147,0154,021950,0
IMKulon KlaudiaPOL226510,5145,5151,522060,0
IMZatonskih AnnaUSA237110,5144,0150,521900,0
GMAbdumalik ZhansayaKAZ238010,0170,0174,522810,0


Replay the Live Stream

FIDE World Blitz Round 13-21 Open and 10-17 Women - Live Commentary by IM Lawrence Trent and WGM Keti Tsatsalashvili | Video: FIDE


Official site

Tournament Regulations: Open and Women

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