Magnus Carlsen grabs the lead in World Rapid Championship
Magnus Carlsen has taken the sole lead in the Open with 8½/10 after the second day of the King Salman World Rapid and Blitz Championships in Moscow.
Wang Hao, Jan-Krzysztof and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave are three players who are chasing him who and are with 7½.
Irina Bulmaga from Romania is having a great tournament as she continues her strong performance on the second day – leading the pack of top four players on 6½/9.
Magnus Carlsen had mentioned at the end of day one that he is slowly getting into his game and that he hopes to peak on the second day. He drew against Wang Hao and Aleksandr Rakhmanov in round six and seven respectively. He then beat Czech GM Viktor Laznicka in round eight. In the ninth round Carlsen played against Alexander Zubov who achieved a significantly better position against the World Champion. However, as luck would have it, the Ukrainian missed several chances for a win and – lost.
Carlsen in round ten forcefully defeated Le Quang Liem, ending the second day with half a point ahead of everybody else. In round eleven Carlsen will be playing against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave who is on 7½ points.
After ten rounds in the Open Rapid, there are three players in the main competition to take Carlsen down. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Wang Hao and Jan-Krzysztof Duda, all on 7½/10. Wang Hao, however, seems to be taking a more cautious approach – accepting fast draws with solid players and looking for his chances against the slightly weaker ones.
The Women’s tournament
After eight rounds in the Women’s World Rapid, four players are share first place. Irina Bulmaga is the leader, joined by two Chinese players – Tan Zhongyi and Lei Tingjie, as well as and Mariya Muzychuk. All are on 6½/8.
Irina Bulmaga is performing very well and has scored 2½/4 on the second day, including a win against Humpy Koneru. Her preparation for this tournament, which was done together with Ekaterina Atalik, seems to be paying off.
Mariya Muzychuk provided the biggest surprise with four wins all against Russian players. She defeated the young Russian prodigy Aleksandra Maltsevskaya, Alina Kashlinskaya, Daria Charochkina and, finally, Natalia Pogonina.
Katerina Lagno, who also celebrated her 30th birthday, had an excellent day. After a surprise loss in the fourth on the first day, Lagno bounced backed winning three games in a row. She ended the day with a quick draw with Humpy Koneru in round eight. Lagno is now in seventh place, half a point behind the leaders.
Olga Girya, had a poor start on the second day, losing two games (to Koneru and Pogonina). She managed to fight her way back to the upper ranks by defeating Alexandra Kosteniuk and Zhansaya Abdumalik in final two rounds of the day. In Round Nine, she will be playing with black pieces against Katerina Lagno.
Alexandra Kosteniuk is certainly not having a good tournament. The second-seeded player finished the second day of the Rapid with 4.5/8. Kosteniuk started day two with a defeat to Alisa Gaillamova. She defeated Maria Manakova in the fifth round then lost to Olga Girya. She then drew against Sofio Gvatadze in round eight.
Russian footballer Dmitry Bulykin
Dmitri Bulykin, the famous Russian footballer, made the first move in the Open on day 2. “It is a rare thing to see chess played at a football stadium”, Bulykin said. He was referring to the fact that the tournament is taking place at the famous Luzhniki Stadium, the home 2018 World Cup finals.
Bulykin started his career in Locomotiv Moscow, before moving on to other great clubs in Europe. These clubs included Dynamo, Bayer Leverkusen, Anderlecht, and Ajax. He also played for the Russian national team at the European championship in 2004. He is a chess fan who “plays chess a bit”. Bulykin pointed out that “ There are similarities between chess and football – you need to think before you make a move, and you need to plan”.
One of the other guests of the day was Alexander Zhukov, the acting Deputy Chairman of the Russian Parliament and IOC member. Zhukov is also an avid chess player, and he made the first move on the top board in one of the rounds.
Vladimir Kramnik on life after leaving active chess
Vladimir Kramnik, the former World Champion, made an appearance on the second day of the Rapid. He will be playing in the Blitz Open tournament.
Kramnik said he does not follow chess as much as he did when he was an active player. “Since I left active chess, I have been involved in other projects, not all connected to chess. I am still looking for my main project. Nowadays, I am mainly in the field of Artificial Intelligence.”
The presentation of the trophies
Arkady Dvorkovich FIDE President and Rami Altassan, the President of the Saudi Chess Federation, presented the trophies in a brief ceremony. The trophies are crafted in sterling silver and then coated in gold. They stand at 35cm high and weight approximately 1.5kg each. It took about 150 hours to make each trophy.
All photos by Lennart Ootes, Maria Emelianova, David Llada.
Article adapted from Milan Dinic.
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