WRBC 2019 / News

Rapid Championship Day 2: Carlsen outpaces the rest of the field

Magnus Carlsen has taken the sole lead in the Open with 8/10 after the second day of the World Rapid Championship in Moscow. Close behind are three players on 7½ - Wang Hao, Jan-Krzysztof Duda, and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. In the women’s competition, the Romanian Irina Bulmaga is having a great tournament as she continues her strong performance from the first day – she is leading the pack of top four players, all on 6½/8.

The Open

The second day of the Open Rapid started with many draws in Round 6 – there were just three decisive outcomes on the top ten boards. As the day progressed draws continued to dominate the rounds, but important breakthroughs and turnarounds were happening anyway.


At the end of the first day, World Champion Magnus Carlsen mentioned that he was slowly getting into his rhythm and hoped to peak on the second day. That is exactly what happened: after two draws in sixth and seventh rounds (against Wang Hao and Aleksandr Rakhmanov), Carlsen crushed Czech GM Viktor Laznicka in Round 8. This was the key moment as all the other top-boards drew in that round. In the ninth round, Carlsen played against Alexander Zubov who achieved a better position against the World Champion, but as luck would have it, the Ukrainian missed his chances and eventually lost. In Round 10, Carlsen was determined to keep the momentum going as he quickly and forcefully defeated Le Quang Liem, ending the second day half a point ahead of everybody else. In Round 11, Carlsen is taking on Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.

After 10 rounds in the Open section, there are three players who can be considered as Carlsen’s main competitors: Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Wang Hao and Jan-Krzysztof Duda, all on 7½/10. Among them, Wang Hao seems to be taking a more cautious approach – not objecting to fast draws with very strong players and looking for his chances against the slightly weaker opponents.


The end of the second day of the Open Rapid in Moscow saw more strong players come up in the ranks after having a slow start on the first day such as Hikaru Nakamura, Peter Svidler, Sergey Karjakin, Dmitry Andreikin, to name a few.

1. Magnus Carlsen (NOR) 2886 – 8
2. Wang Hao (CHN) 2748 – 7½
3. Jan-Krzysztof Duda (POL) 2751– 7½
4. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (FRA) 2873 – 7½
5. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (AZE) 2752 – 7
6. Ian Nepomniachtchi (RUS) 2745 – 7
7. Le Quang Liem (VIE) 2740 – 7
8. Leinier Dominguez Perez (USA) 2755 – 7
9. Gadir Guseinov (AZE) 2691 – 7
10. Hikaru Nakamura (USA) 2819 – 7

…205 players

The Women’s tournament

After eight rounds in the Women’s World Rapid, four players are sharing first place: Irina Bulmaga (who was also in the lead after the first day), two Chinese players – Tan Zhongyi and Lei Tingjie, as well as and Mariya Muzychuk. All are on 6½/8.


Bulmaga – who unlike some other players has not had much experience in top tournaments – 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 made a breakthrough of the day winning all four games – all against Russian players. In Round 5, Mariya defeated the young Russian prodigy Aleksandra Maltsevskaya; Alina Kashlinskaya fell in Round 6; Daria Charochkina – in Round 7 and, finally, the Ukrainian downed Natalija Pogonina, the runner-up of the Women's World Chess Championship 2015.

The second day was also good for Kateryna Lagno who celebrated her 30th birthday. After a surprise loss in Round 4 on the first day, Lagno bounced back winning three games in a row and ending the streak with a quick draw with Harika Dronavalli in Round 8. Lagno is now in seventh place, half a point behind the leaders.


Olga Girya, who was one of the three leaders after the first day with a maximum result, had a poor start on the second day, losing two games (to Koneru and Pogonina) and falling to the middle of the score-board. She managed to fight her way back to the upper ranks by defeating Alexandra Kosteniuk in Round 7 and Zhansaya Abdumalik in Round 8. In Round 9, she will be playing with black pieces against Kateryna Lagno.

The tournament is not going well for Alexandra Kosteniuk. The second-seeded player finished the second day of the Rapid with 4.5/8. Kosteniuk started day two with a loss to Alisa Gaillamova. Her victory over Maria Manakova in the fifth round gave her hope for repeating the scenario of the first day when she started with a loss and then cleared three wins. This was not the case, however: Kosteniuk lost to Olga Girya and then drew with Sofio Gvetadze in Round 8.

1. Irina Bulmaga (ROU) 2383 – 6½
2. Tan Zhongyi (CHN) 2496 – 6½
3. Lei Tingjie (CHN) 2498 – 6½
4. Mariya Muzychuk (UKR) 2518 – 6½
5. Humpy Koneru (IND) 2438 – 6
6. Olga Girya (RUS) 2365 – 6
7. Kateryna Lagno (RUS) 2533 – 6
8. Harika Dronavalli (IND) 2425 – 6
9. Ekaterina Atalik (TUR) 2360 – 6
10. Anna Muzychuk (UKR) 2592 – 6

…122 players

Russian footballer Dmitri Bulykin on similarities between football and chess

The second day of the World Rapid and Blitz started at 3 PM Moscow time, with the famous Russian footballer Dmitri Bulykin making the first move in the Open tournament.


“It is a rare thing to see chess played at a football stadium”, Bulykin said, referring to the fact that the tournament is taking place at the famous Luzhniki Stadium, the home of the 1980 Olympics and the 2018 World Cup finals.

Bulykin started his career in Lokomotiv Moscow, before moving on to other popular clubs such as Dynamo, Bayer Leverkusen, Anderlecht, and Ajax. He also played for the Russian national team at the European championship in 2004. Himself a chess fan who “plays chess a bit” (a claim which should be taken with a pinch of salt coming from a Russian), Bulykin pointed out that “a lot of footballers play chess, and a lot of chess players play football. There are similarities between the two – you need to think before you make a move, and you need to plan”.

Alexander Zhukov, on the chances of chess becoming an Olympic sport

One of the guests of the day was Alexander Zhukov, the acting Deputy Chairman of the State Duma (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.


As a former president of the Russian Olympic Committee and a member of the IOC, he was asked whether chess would become part of the Olympic Games. “That is a big question. Many attempts have been made, but that is still an open issue. On the other hand, we have about 200 countries competing in the Chess Olympics, so it would seem that chess is pretty good on its own”.

Vladimir Kramnik on life after leaving active chess

The former world champion Vladimir Kramnik made an appearance on the second day of the Rapid. Kramnik will be playing in the Blitz Open tournament.


According to Kramnik, he does not follow chess as much as he did when he was an active player. “Since I left active chess I’ve 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 former world champion mentioned his involvement with the AlfaZero project and that he is excited about the development of Artificial Intelligence.

Over the years, there have been many reports about the negative impacts of Artificial Intelligence – from the fear of the systems failing at tremendous human cost, to robots taking over the world. When asked to comment on this, Kramnik dismissed such claims saying people should not believe “scary tales”. “It’s up to us as humans to decide how we want to develop and use artificial intelligence. There are many issues, but also a lot of opportunities. To me, it is pretty clear it’s the future which will change our society and life in the next ten years and we need to adapt in advance. If we make the right decisions now, it will be very beneficial. Like everything in life – it will all depend on people and the moves we make”.

The trophies presentation


The trophies, which will be handed out to victors of the Rapid and Blitz World Championships, were officially presented at the Luzhniki Stadium. FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich and the President of the Saudi Chess Federation Rami Altassan revealed the cups in a brief ceremony. The trophies are crafted in sterling silver and then gilt using gold coating. They stand at 35cm high and weight approximately 1.5kg each. It took approximately 150 hours for each of the trophies to be made.

Text: Milan Dinic
Photos: Lennart Ootes, Maria Emelianova, David Llada

Photos are available for the press at our official Flickr account.