One of the most anticipated events in the chess calendar, the FIDE Rapid and Blitz Championship, is around the corner. The open and women’s championships that have been held concurrently since 2016 will take place from December 25-31 in Warsaw, Poland, at PGE Narodowy Stadium. Traditionally, the participants will fight not only for titles and glory but also for substantial prize money.
World Rapid & Blitz prize distribution:
|World Rapid||Prize||World Blitz||Prize|
|1st place||$60,000||1st place||$60,000|
|2nd place||$50,000||2nd place||$50,000|
|3rd place||$40,000||3rd place||$40,000|
|4th place||$30,000||4th place||$30,000|
|5th place||$25,000||5th place||$25,000|
|6th place||$22,000||6th place||$22,000|
|7th place||$18,000||7th place||$18,000|
|8th place||$14,000||8th place||$14,000|
|9th place||$11,000||9th place||$11,000|
|10th place||$8,000||10th place||$8,000|
|11-16th places||$5,000 each||11-16th places||$5,000 each|
|17-25th places||$3,000 each||17-25th places||$3,000 each|
|26-35th places||$1,5000 each||26-35th places||$1,5000 each|
Women’s World Rapid & Blitz prize distribution:
|Women’sWorld Rapid||Prize||Women’sWorld Blitz||Prize|
|1st place||$40,000||1st place||$40,000|
|2nd place||$30,000||2nd place||$30,000|
|3rd place||$20,000||3rd place||$20,000|
|4th place||$15,000||4th place||$15,000|
|5th place||$10,000||5th place||$10,000|
|6th place||$7,000||6th place||$7,000|
|7th place||$6,000||7th place||$6,000|
|8th place||$5,000||8th place||$5,000|
|9th place||$4,000||9th place||$4,000|
|10th place||$3,000||10th place||$3,000|
|11-15th places||$2,000 each||11-15th places||$2,000 each|
The reigning champion in all three formats (classical, rapid and blitz), Magnus Carlsen, is heading into the event as a clear favourite, but his old and new rivals are eager to challenge his supremacy. Can Magnus repeat his triumph of 2014 and 2019 and win a double-crown?
Fresh from Gashimov Memorial, Fabiano Caruana (the winner of the event), Richard Rapport, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and former World Rapid and Blitz Champion (2013 and 2016, respectively) Sergey Karjakin seem to be in good form and ready for battle.
The winner of the 2021 Speed Chess Championship, Hikaru Nakamura (who trounced Wesley So in the final of this competition), has not played OTB chess for quite a while, but you never discard the American when it comes to fast chess formats.
The second-rated player in the world, young star Alireza Firouzja who gave Carlsen a real run for his money in the last Rapid Championship (2019), will definitely try to climb one step higher this time. Another young player, a local hero, freshly-mint European Blitz Champion Jan-Krzysztof Duda, who competed with Magnus for gold to the very last round in the Blitz Championship three years ago, will do his best on the home turf.
Last but not least, let’s not forget about a quartet from CFR: the recent World Championship challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi, World Rapid Champion (2018) Daniil Dubov, three-time World Blitz Champion Alexander Grischuk and a speed-chess specialist Vladislav Artemiev.
The Chinese players are not coming to Poland due to Covid-19 restrictions, which makes Humpy Koneru’s task of defending her Women’s Rapid Champion title a bit easier, at least on paper. Still, she is up against the powerful opposition from top CFR, Ukrainian, Georgian and Kazakhstani players, and we can expect a very close race in the Women’s Rapid Championship.
As for the Women’s Blitz Championship, it will be interesting to see whether Kateryna Lagno can win her third straight title. Such a feat will not come easy, but it doesn’t look like “mission impossible” for the world’s #3 in Women’s Rapid List.
We have five days of exciting chess ahead of us. Unfortunately, not all the potential spectators will be able to watch the action live – the organizers will allow only 200 visitors a day due to Covid-19 restrictions (all 1,000 tickets were sold out within an hour). Luckily, the event will be broadcast on various websites, including the official one https://worldrapidandblitz.fide.com/ so chess fans from all around the world can enjoy it in real-time.
Photo: Maria Emelianova and Lennart Ootes