In the tie-break blitz shootout, the Frenchman defeated local superstar Jan-Krzysztof Duda with 2:1. In the women’s event, Bibisara Assaubayeva – the 17-year-old prodigy from Kazakhstan – spectacularly won the Women’s World Blitz Chess Championship, securing the title with a round to spare
The open section of the World Blitz Chess Championship ended in a tie-break shootout where 31-year-old Frenchman Maxime Vachier-Lagrave clinched the title after defeating local star Jan-Krzysztof Duda with 2:1. This is the first world championship title for the 31-year-old French Grandmaster who is one of the top-rated players on the planet.
The atmosphere in Warsaw’s PGE Narodowy Stadium was electric as a big audience – including the Polish Prime Minister – came to root for their countryman fighting for the world blitz crown. Although Duda played well and held his own in the first two blitz games which finished in a draw, the 23-year-old Polish chess superstar ended in time trouble and lost the third game to the more experienced Frenchman. Although disappointed, the local crowd gave a big round of applause to both players.
Regardless of the loss in the tiebreaks, Jan-KrzysztofDuda (who earlier this year won the World Cup ahead of Carlsen and many of the top world players) made history. He gave Poland the first world silver medal in blitz chess and his achievements are likely to have a huge impact on the popularity of the game in the country where even the Prime Minister got involved in promoting the tournament.
Overall, it was an exciting and open race until the very end of the last day of the world blitz championship as defender Magnus Carlsen lost three games and couldn’t get in reach of the top.
After the final round, there were three players tied for first place, on 15/21: Jan-Krzysztof Duda, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and, the latecomer to the top-boards, world number two Alireza Firouzja.
According to the rules, only the first two among them (Jan-Krzysztof Duda and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave) could go to tie breaks. The third place went to 18-year-old Alireza Firouzja who was struggling through the tournament but in the final stage made a miraculous recovery to reach the top boards.
Daniil Dubov – the winner of the bronze medal in the 2016 World Blitz – finished fourth, making quick draws in the critical moments, including the final round. Fifth place went to the 2010 World Blitz champion Levon Aronian who was the tournament leader after the first and for most of the second day, but then couldn’t recover after suffering three consecutive defeats in the final rounds.
Magnus Carlsen, who was defending the title of world champion in blitz, had another bad day – again losing three games – and with 13.5/21 finished on 12th place. In the five-day event in Poland, Carlsen lost two of the three chess crowns in his possession – in rapid and blitz chess.
The top three prizes were shared among all three of them equally (150,000 USD altogether, split three ways). The total prize fund for the open section of the World Blitz Chess Championship was 350,000 USD.
17-year-old prodigy Bibisara Assaubayeva dominates the Women’s Championship
Assaubayeva – who also finished alone in second place in the women’s rapid – dominated the women’s world blitz tournament, taking the lead from Round Eight and keeping it until the end.
After a loss to defending champion and three-time blitz crown winner Kateryna Lagno in Round Fifteen, she went on to beat Aleksandra Goryachkina, the world’s second highest-rated woman player. With this victory, Assaubayeva secured the crown with a round to spare.
Although the outcome didn’t affect her taking the crown, Assaubayeva drew the final game of the tournament. With 14/17, the 17-year-old prodigy from Kazahstan – who earlier this year had made a great mark in the Women’s Speed Chess Championship – confidently, comfortably and deservedly won the title of Women’s World Blitz Chess Champion and pocketed a prize of 40,000 USD.
The second place (and a prize of 30,000 USD) went to Alexandra Kosteniuk (who won first place in this year’s women’s rapid). In the last round, Kosteniuk defeated Kateryna Lagno, to finish on 12.5/14 and clinch second place.
Valentina Gunina and Polina Shuvalova shared third place with 12/14.
The total prize fund for the women’s World Blitz Chess Championship was 150,000 USD.