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Monday, 25 Nov 2019 18:11
Tata Rapid & Blitz: Carlsen loses to Ding, but still cruises

During 9 rounds of blitz, chess fans witnessed some dramatic and electrifying games. The tournament leader Magnus Carlsen continued to show his dominance over the field by scoring an impressive 6.5/9. This boosts his total score to 21.5 points and he maintains a 5 point lead over Hikaru Nakamura going into the final day.

Magnus Carlsen

Blitz score - 6.5

Total - 21.5

Best game: Anand - Carlsen (Round 8)

World Chess Champion was not as invincible as in rapid part of the event, but still was by far the best player of the day. He won 5 games but was visibly perplexed when asked by a charming tournament reporter Tania Sachdev what was his best win. Carlsen mentioned that he was trying to play solid chess and succeeded in not making many serious mistakes. Winning against Anand on his home soil is always nice although Magnus admitted that Vishy could have made a draw a few times.

Hikaru Nakamura

Blitz score - 5.5

Total - 16.5

Best game: Nakamura - Carlsen (Round 3)

Nakamura proved once again that his blitz skills are still almost impossible to match. He was the only one not to lose a single game throughout the day. Hikaru tried not to take any unnecessary risks, but it has nothing to do with his game against Carlsen, in which he did make the last brave attempt to start a real pursuit of the leader. Hikaru was very creative and sacrificed two central pawns to win time for a direct kingside attack. Although the World champion was quite pessimistic about his position during the game and even in the post-mortem, a beautiful draw with perpetual came as a logical outcome of this amazing duel.

Ian Nepomniachtchi

Blitz score - 5.5

Total - 12.5

Best game: Anand - Nepomniachtchi (Round 1)

Best combination: Vidit - Nepomniachtchi (Round 3)

The #2 in the FIDE blitz rating (after Nakamura, ahead of Carlsen) finally had some sleep in Kolkata started the day with all guns blazing. He won a very nice game with Black in a typical Sicilian endgame against Anand and came up with an excellent combo against Vidit. This game was far from perfect though as Vidit could have won exactly one move before he missed Ian's amazing idea.

Vidit – Nepomniachtchi

31…Qd1+ 32.Kg2 Ne3+! 33.fxe3 Rxb2+! 34.Nxb2 f3+ 35.Nxf3 Qxf3+ 0-1

A mediocre game against Carlsen somewhat slowed Ian down, but still, it was a much better day for him than Rounds 1-6 of rapid.

Viswanathan Anand

Blitz score - 4.5

Total - 12.5

Best game: Anand - So (Round 4)

Anand needs to finish in top 6 to qualify for Grand Chess Tour finals in London and with his sound play, he seems to be on the right course. Vishy lost two games with white pieces when his opponents were playing amazing chess but created a masterpiece of his own in the encounter with So. The tournament commentator, quick-witted Peter Svidler mentioned that he would have been proud to play such a game in classical chess.

Wesley So

Blitz score - 4.5

Total - 13.5

The Fischer Random Champion had an uneventful day. His only win came when Giri lost on time in a winning position. So definitely needs to pick up some steam tomorrow if he wants to retain his third place in overall standings.

Ding Liren

Blitz score - 4.5

Total - 12.5

Best game: Carlsen - Ding Liren (Round 5)

It would have been an event to forget for Ding if not for the game against Magnus Carlsen. Over the course of four days, Ding is the only one to outplay Magnus and he did it with Black. The moves 19...Kf7 and 27...f3 played in this game usually make any chess player feel good about himself.

Anish Giri

Blitz score - 4

Total - 13

Giri had a mediocre day in the office. His game against Aronian was thrilling, but despite a positive outcome, the ending was kind of disappointing - first Anish blundered a piece, but out-of-form Aronian blundered a rook in response. After a drama in the duel with So (Anish run out of time in a winning endgame) he was probably looking for the day to end.

Pentala Harikrishna

Blitz score - 4

Total - 12

It's tough to keep your head above the water against such a line-up but the more experienced of two Indian wild cards managed to do it most of the time. He capitalized on his opponents' hiccups twice and finished the day with respectable 4/9.

Vidit Santosh Gujrathi

Blitz score - 4

Total - 10

Best game: Ding Liren - Vidit (Round 2)

The young Indian is doing much better in blitz, comparing to the rapid part of the tournament. In Round 2 he had his first win of the event beating Ding with Black. He easily refuted premature 10.d5, got a better game and slowly ground Chinese GM down. 4/9 scored against such opponents is not too shabby.

Levon Aronian

Blitz score - 2

Total - 11

Let's just say that Levon needs to forget November 25, 2019, as soon as possible. Hopefully, he will rebound tomorrow.

Combined rapid and blitz Day 1 standings:

Photo: Lennart Ootes (Grand Chess Tour)

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