December, 13 2023
Everything ready for the start of World Rapid and Blitz in Samarkand
In the backdrop of the historical city of Samarkand, the stage is set for the convergence of top world chess players at the FIDE World Rapid and Blitz Championships
The past, present and future of chess will meet in Samarkand, as the city where the world’s oldest chess pieces have been found (dating from the 6-8 century AD) will play host to many of the greatest chess players of today.
From December 26 to 30, this highly anticipated five-day event is poised to witness the world’s premier chess players vie for the prestigious titles of World Champion in Rapid and Blitz across both Open and Women’s categories. The prize fund totals one million US dollars, with $700,000 for the Open and $300,000 for the Women’s tournaments.
The event boasts an impressive lineup featuring illustrious names synonymous with chess brilliance.
In the Open section, the lineup will be headlined by Magnus Carlsen. The former World Champion is defending both the Rapid and the Blitz crown he secured in Almaty in 2022. At that point, he was still the holder of the world crown in classical chess. This was the third time for the Norwegian to hold all three chess crowns. While he has decided that the contention for the crown in classical chess is out of the question, the 33-year-old Norwegian has not given up on Blitz and Rapid and will be looking for his fourth title in both competitions.
Fabiano Caruana is heading to Samarkand eager to continue his fantastic run in 2023. He won the Superbet Chess Classic, defended his crown as US champion, took third place in the World Cup, came first in the Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz and came on top at the 2023 Sinquefield Cup. With such great form and successful performances, Caruana will be looking to finish the year on a high in Samarkand.
With a notable exception of world champion Ding Liren and Hikaru Nakamura, almost all of the strongest figures in the chess realm will be in Samarkand, including two-time World Championship match participant Ian Nepomniachtchi, the experienced Levon Aronian, Anish Giri and Yu Yangyi, young stars Jan-Krzysztof Duda and Vincent Keymer as well as several top world players from India, led by Praggnanandhaa, Vidit, Erigaisi and Gukesh.
The host country, Uzbekistan, pins its hopes on the 2021 World Rapid Champion Nodirbek Abdusattorov and Javokhir Sindarov.
In the women’s section, Tan Zhongyi will be there to defend her Rapid crown, while Bibisara Assaubayeva will try to merge the previous two successes – from 2022, when she won the Blitz event and 2021, when she took the Rapid title. Standing in their way, however, will be the four-time Women’s World Champion Ju Wenjun and the 2023 World Cup winner and former world champion candidate Aleksandra Goryachkina. They are joined by world number two Koneru Humpy, this year’s Women’s World Championship challenger Lei Tingjie, as well as top-10 world players Kateryna Lagno, Anna Muzychuk and Nana Dzagnidze, whose adaptability in diverse game formats make them strong contenders for both the Rapid and the Blitz crowns.
In the mix are also three former World Champions, Antoaneta Stefanova, Alexandra Kosteniuk and Mariya Muzychuk, whose remarkable achievements and unyielding determination have propelled them to the summit of women’s chess.
The forthcoming event marks an important moment for the local organizers as Uzbekistan gears up to host the 2026 Chess Olympiad, leveraging the World Rapid and Blitz Championships to fortify their preparations for this upcoming grand affair.
The competition will unfold amidst the architectural marvel of the Silk Road Samarkand, a multifaceted resort boasting eight world-class hotels, cultural sites, and a state-of-the-art international congress center.
As the chess elite get ready to converge on Samarkand, their participation in the World Rapid and Blitz Championships is promising thrilling excitement and high drama, where nerves and speed will be (the) key.
Information about the event:
Opening ceremony: December 25
World Rapid: 26 – 28 December
World Blitz: 29 – 30 December
Closing ceremony: December 30
For the Open, a rating of at least 2550 in any of the twelve most recent FIDE rating lists (Standard, Rapid or Blitz) at the moment of the beginning of the WRB; the reigning National Champions (in Standard, Rapid, Blitz) representing their National Federation regardless of their title or rating, as well as up to 30 nominations by FIDE and 15 by the Uzbekistan chess federation.
For the Women’s tournaments, a rating of at least 2250 in any of the twelve most recent FIDE rating lists (Standard, Rapid or Blitz) at the moment of the beginning of the WRB; the reigning National Champions (in Standard, Rapid, Blitz) representing their National Federation regardless of their title or rating, as well as up to 20 nominations by FIDE and 10 by the Uzbekistan chess federation.
Both the Rapid and the Blitz will be played under the Swiss System.
The Open Rapid will consist of 13 rounds, while the Blitz will have 21 rounds.
The Women’s Rapid will have 11 rounds, while the Blitz will have 17 rounds.
Rapid: 15 minutes + 10 seconds increment per move, starting from move one.
Blitz: Three minutes + 2 seconds increment per move, starting from move one.
Photos: Lennart Ootes, Maria Emelianova/Chess.com