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Day1 Blitz
Beijing-44For some of the players, the day started with a photographic session at Beijing National stadium, known as the Bird's nest and as the most striking structure of the 2008 Olympic Games. Top players Hou Yifan and Leinier Dominguez, were kind enough not only to wake up at a time when chess players, most of them night owls, have their best sleeping time, but also to stand the cold for almost two hours, all for the sake of chess!
The effect of this morning experience over the two players was debatable, so we can only speculate; after ten rounds, Hou Yifan is in sole lead with 7/10, while Dominguez could have hoped for better...

True, it is early to draw any conclusions, but the start may have a psychological impact over the next two days of Blitz. Even such a remarkable (not only) blitz player like Nepomniachtchi, the O'Sullivan of chess, didn't feel happy with his 4,5/10. But everything can turn upside down in the next ten or 20 rounds...
For the moment, Hou Yifan is half a point ahead while in the Men arena three players share the 1st position, with 7/10: Vassily Ivanchuk, Levon Aronian and Peter Leko.

Welcome to Beijing!

An architectural jewel and brilliant minds!
Chess feels like an Olympic sport now

Tough times for the Cuban GM deciding on where could the weak link be in the Chinese Wall

Difficult to find it, against a fierce yet kind opponent like Hou Yifan

Let's see what happened on the indoor boards

Beijing-47   Beijing-51
Decisions, decisions, decisions...

Hou,Yifan - Valentina

The gold and silver of the Rapid are once again in the same position after Day 1 of the Blitz. However, their direct encounter in round 10 changed the top in Hou Yifan's favour:

Beijing-57   Beijing-59


35...Kh7?? with 35...Rf8 36.Qg3 and now the rook-lift 36...Rf6! Black could have started a very dangerous-looking initiative. But in blitz accidents happen!


and mate next move, out of the blue!


Anna Ushenina - Pia Cramling

For Pia Cramling the first day of blitz didn't turn out that succesfully but during dinner she ensured your reporter that she is nevertheless greatly enjoying the event! She surely had her chances though, in the diagrammed position she just pushed her pawn to e4. Anna must have thought this loses a pawn to:


18.Bxf6 Qxf6 19.Nxe4 but Pia had looked two moves deeper:

19...Rxe4 20.Rxe4 Qxa1! and Black remained a piece up.

Extreme concentration is needed for such speed: 3min+2sec

But blitz is blitz and in the end the Ukrainian still managed to turn the tide and brought home the point.


Top board always in the limelight

And the arbiters on the lookout

Levon Aronian - Ian Nepomniachtchi

Aronian had played the opening very creatively and, as it is visible in the diagrammed position, that had obviously worked wonders. How to make use of the weaknesses in Black's camp?


16.c3! Rdf8 17.Qb3!

Game over! The duel threat of Bxe6 and Ba6+ forces...

17...Nc5 ...but after

18.Qb4 renewing the threat on the knight, Ian saw himself forced to resign.


Vassily Ivanchuk - Radoslaw Wojtaszek

Small tactics play a big role in blitz. Here Wojtaszek played the positionally justified:


24...Bxe3 25.Qxe3 Qc5 which would indeed be fine for Black were it not for

26.Be6! winning an exchange and soon after, the game.


Shakhriyar Mamedyarov - Alexander Grischuk

Another case of small tactics deciding the game. Black's last move, 26...Nf6–e4, is ruthlessly exploited by Mamedyarov:


27.Nxe4 Bxe4 28.Qg3!

Threatening Bxh5.

28...Kh7 29.Qh4! Bf5 30.Bxh5! and a pawn was won. Shakhriyar didn't allow his opponent back in the game anymore and won a few moves later.


In execution

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov - Radoslaw Wojtaszek

But most of all, we like creativity in chess, ideas which are out of the ordinary. The most imaginative move of the day? We once again return to the Azeri grandmaster Shakhriyar Mamedyarov:



Now that's worth a diagram! And, he even won the game!

Another point of attraction was the visit to the sports hall which hosted no less than 800 children, participants in the World Youth Mind Games, playing just like their elderly colleagues: Chess, Bridge, Draughts, Xiangqi and Go. The kids were all so cute and became so enthusiastic to meet grandmasters of their favourite game or representatives of the international federations or 'simply' the General Director of SportAccord!

Dutch GM Erwin l'Ami facing tough opposition

Difficult to play such cute 'enemies'

And to make this day perfect, we had blue sky, something very unusual here in December. But I should mention that the sun's smile was rather shy and it was so cold, making it perfect for the mind games, played indoors; this is exactly what will happen tomorrow: another session of speed show, spiced with errors or huge blunders, all in one package called: Blitz chess!

Text and photos: Alina l'Ami

Day1 Blitz photos by Gu Xiaobing

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