Monday, 15, April, 2024

Magnus Carlsen, the highest ranked player in history, led a 202-player field almost all the way to retain his World Rapid crown at Samarkand on Thursday with an unbeaten 10/13 total, seven wins and six draws.

It was the fifth Rapid title for the Norwegian, 33, who abdicated his classical crown last year as he preferred faster time limits. In rapid chess, each player has 15 minutes for all the moves plus 10 additional seconds for each move starting from move one.

Final leading scores were Carlsen (Norway) 10/13, Vladimir Fedoseev (Slovenia) 9.5, Yu Yangyi (China) and 11 other players on 9 including the world No 2, Fabiano Caruana, and the teenagers Volodar Murzin, 17, Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa, 18, and Nodirbek Abdusattorov, 19.

The direct encounter between Fedoseev and Carlsen proved the Rapid decider, as the No 1 enticed the white king up the board into a mating attack.

Carlsen said “It feels great.” I thought the key moment was against Fedoseev. He is the only one who could catch me. Sometimes I was playing my games a little bit too safe, but I don’t think I was ever really in trouble.”

On Friday and Saturday Carlsen will aim for his seventh world blitz title over 21 rounds, where each player has just three minutes for the entire game plus two seconds per move increment. Games will be broadcast live online (10 am start).

Earlier, Carlsen demolished Tigran L Petrosian (no relation of the former world champion) by exploiting the Armenian’s weakened king defenses. The creative Daniil Dubov and the rising talent Murzin both won miniatures. The world under-8 champion, Roman Shogdzhiev, beat two grandmasters, with the final stages of one of his victories captured on video. There were blunders, too. This game is the nearest you will ever get to a grandmaster falling for Scholar’s Mate.

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