Welcome to Beijing!An architectural jewel and brilliant minds!
Chess feels like an Olympic sport nowTough times for the Cuban GM deciding on where could the weak link be in the Chinese WallDifficult to find it, against a fierce yet kind opponent like Hou YifanLet's see what happened on the indoor boards
Decisions, decisions, decisions...
Hou,Yifan - Valentina Gunina
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:
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!36.Qxh6+!
and mate next move, out of the blue!1–0Anna 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.1–0Top board always in the limelightAnd the arbiters on the lookoutLevon 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
renewing the threat on the knight, Ian saw himself forced to resign. 1–0Vassily 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 for26.Be6!
winning an exchange and soon after, the game.1–0Shakhriyar 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.1–0In executionShakhriyar 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 oppositionDifficult 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'AmiDay1 Blitz photos by Gu Xiaobing