World chess events explode as play in Britain moves away from Omicron
Global chess is thriving despite the pandemic, while in Britain cancellations and postponements are commonplace. The Christmas period highlighted the contrast, as thousands of players flocked to watch Magnus Carlsen in action or even play in the same tournament with the iconic world champion, alongside the Kingdom’s longest-running Congress. Kingdom, previously halted only by World War II, canceled its 2021-22 release due to Omicron dangers.
Carlsen was expected to retain his fast (15 minutes) world title in Warsaw on Tuesday, following his victory in Dubai last month in slow classical chess, but instead there was a shock result. 17-year-old Nodirbek Abdusattorov of Uzbekistan became the youngest world champion ever by beating Carlsen for the first time and then beating Russia’s Ian Nepomniachtchi in the play-off after leveling 9.5/13.
Now, Carlsen will look to retain his world blitz crown on Wednesday and Thursday. The game starts at 2pm GMT on both days, is free and live to watch with fast-paced action and expert commentary, and should be good holiday entertainment for chess fans.
The blitz lasts three minutes for each player for the entire game, plus an increment of two seconds per move. There are almost 300 players in the open and women’s events. David Howell, who finished well in the top half at Rapide with 8/13, is the only English entrant.
Carlsen’s main blitz rivals are expected to be five-time U.S. champion Hikaru Nakamura and 18-year-old world No. 2 Alireza Firouzja. All three were already in action before Christmas in a mammoth online event. The top prize was a single bitcoin, which, coupled with the allure of playing in the same tournament as Carlsen, attracted 17,000 entrants. The time limit was a quick blitz, two minutes per player for the entire game.
There was a bizarre ending when, less than an hour into the scheduled two hours and with Nakamura leading, Firouzja second and Carlsen around sixth, the lichess matchmaking server crashed. The tournament has been suspended and will end later in January when player schedules permit.
Hastings was scheduled to start on December 29, but had to be canceled in mid-December as Omicron’s numbers grew. First held in 1920, it is the oldest annual chess event in the world. In the 1930s, a decade when four world champions played there, Hastings was the most prestigious annual chess tournament.
The London League postponed all matches from January to June, while the Four Nations League canceled its January weekend, giving the possibility of a shortened season with weekends in March and May still to come. , or to postpone the matches until the summer.
There are a few bright spots. ECFs online events are popular and can be recommended to anyone who wants to try competitive online chess. Several strong tournaments have been staged or are planned in the North East of England, which is currently the unlikely epicenter of over-the-board play in Britain.
Ian Nepomniachtchi vs Sanan Sjugirov, Russian teams 2015. White moves and wins. The recent world title challenger is two pawns down, so drastic action is needed.
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