FIDE World Rapid and Blitz Chess Championships 2023

December, 13 2023

Carlsen, Yu, and Fedoseev lead Open; Bodnaruk shines in Women's Rapid

The second day of the World Rapid Championships saw intense action, with Carlsen, Yu and Fedoseev emerging as leaders with seven points out of nine in the Open. In the Women’s event, Anastasia Bodnaruk’s stellar performance secured her the sole lead with seven out of eight points.

Four rounds were played today in both the Open and the Women’s Rapid.

In the Open tournament, Magnus Carlsen maintained his position among the leaders. Despite a strong start with a crucial win against Vidit, the Norwegian had to settle for draws in the remaining three games. He shares the lead with Yu Yangyi and Vladimir Fedoseev, all tallying seven points from nine games.

Anastasia Bodnaruk stole the day in the women’s tournament. With a score of 3.5/4 – including victories over the two frontrunners from day one, Zhu Jiner and Salimova – she emerged as the sole leader, with seven points out of eight. Bodnaruk is trailed by two players, India’s Koneru Humpy and China’s Zhai Mo, who are on 6.5/8.

The Open

The day started well for Carlsen as he scored a critical victory against India’s Vidit Santos Gujrathi. Both sides were evenly matched for the most part, but in a knight endgame, Vidit’s nerves gave way – he blundered one pawn and then another, ending completely lost. After the game, Vidit – visibly shaken – was seen standing over the board for about a minute, wandering aimlessly into the distance.

Things didn’t go Carlsen’s way in the remaining three games, where he drew with Erigaisi, Yu and Keymer. While the line played against Yu was sharp, the position was always even. The only real opportunity Carlsen had was in the final game of the day against Germany’s Vincent Keymer. Magnus managed to force an endgame where his white knight was stronger than Keymer’s dark-squared bishop, but – despite being significantly better on time – the Norwegian blundered and allowed Keymer to draw.

China’s Yu Yangyi continued steadily – like Carlsen, he also scored 2.5/4, with three draws and one victory (over India’s Bharath). Yu was also lucky today, as he managed to save a lost position to Fedoseev in the ninth (last) round.

Vladimir Fedoseev joined the leaders today after having a good run – scoring three consecutive wins (against Narayanan, Gareyev and Erigaisi). In round nine, Fedoseev had a golden opportunity to defeat Yu Yangyi and emerge as the sole leader in the Open. However, he misplayed a winning endgame and allowed the Chinese GM to escape with a draw.

With a tight competition brewing, 13 players trail just half a point behind the leading trio in the Open tournament. The list includes very strong players such as Erigaisi, 2018 World Rapid winner Dubov, Vidit, Vachier-Lagrave, Radjabov, and Keymer, as well as Bulgarian Ivan Cheparinov, who continued his good run from day one.

Among other heavyweights, Nepomniachtchi, Caruana and Aronian are on six points. Rapport – who had a good start on day one – finished the second day with 2/4 and has 5.5 points altogether.

With four more rounds left, the stage is set for an unpredictable and thrilling final day in the Open section.

The Women’s Tournament

The second day of the Women’s tournament saw leaders changing in the last three rounds.

The day started with a direct duel for first place between two frontrunners – Zhu Jiner and Nurgyul Salimova, in which the Chinese emerged victorious.

In the following sixth round, China’s Zhai Mo – 29th in the ranking list – stunned her compatriot Zhu Jiner with an impressive victory in the Benko and overtook the lead. It was in this round that the seasoned Indian Koneru Humpy caught up with the top group by defeating Azerbaijan’s Gunay Mammadzada.

In round seven, Koneru scored a splendid victory against Zhai Mo, propelling her to joint leadership alongside Zhu Jiner, who triumphed over Estonia’s Narva Mai, and Anastasia Bodnaruk, who also ascended to the top after defeating Nurgyul Salimova.

In round eight, Anastasia Bodnaruk was playing with white pieces against Zhu Jiner. In a rare line of the Sicilian, Bodnaruk created a dominating position and won, becoming the sole leader of the tournament.

In the same round, Humpy missed a crucial opportunity, letting slip the decisive advantage away against Lei Tingjie. Her victory would have placed her in a tie for first place with Bodnaruk. Instead, she is tied in 2-3rd place with Zhai Mo, with 6.5 points.

Winners from day one, Zhu Jiner and Nurgyul Salimova, finished the second day with six points and are in a group of seven players with the same score, which includes Goryachkina, Garifullina, Lei, Lagno and Priyanka.

The defending women’s rapid champion, Tan Zhongyi, is on 5.5 and will have to pick up speed if she wants to be in the race for the podium.

As we approach the final day of the World Rapid Championships, neither the Open nor the Women’s category has a clear-cut leader. With four rounds left in the Open and three in the Women’s, the outcome remains uncertain, leaving the field wide open for dramatic twists and turns.

About the event:

The World Rapid and Blitz is one of the most exciting and most watched chess events in the world, attracting the strongest Grandmasters.

The prize fund totals one million US dollars, with $700,000 for the Open and $300,000 for the Women’s tournaments.

The event is taking place from December 25 to December 30, at the Samarkand Congress Center.

Written by Milan Dinic

Photos: Anastasia Korolkova, Lennart Ootes, Maria Emelianova