Reports | July 10, 2012 17:10

Grischuk wins 2nd World Blitz title in Astana (VIDEOS)

Grischuk raises the trophy, standing behind his $40,000 cheque

Alexander Grischuk won his second World Blitz Championship on Tuesday in Astana, Kazakhstan. Six years after his first title, won in in Rishon Lezion, Israel the Russian grandmaster finished clear first in Astana. Just like in the Rapid World Championship, Magnus Carlsen of Norway finished second. The third place went to the winner of the rapid event: Sergey Karjakin of Russia.

Grischuk raises the trophy, standing behind his $40,000 cheque | Photo © ChessVibes

Event World Blitz and Rapid Championships | PGN: Rapid | Blitz via TWIC
Dates July 2-10, 2012
Location Astana, Kazakhstan
System Rapid: 16-player single round robin | Blitz: 16-player double round robin
Players Magnus Carlsen, Teimour Radjabov, Sergey Karjakin, Alexander Morozevich, Vassily Ivanchuk, Alexander Grischuk, Veselin Topalov, Peter Svidler, Boris Gelfand, Viktor Bologan, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Alexey Dreev, Igor Kurnosov, Vladislav Tkachiev, Murtas Kazhgaleyev, Anuar Ismagambetov, Dmitry Andreikin, Le Quang Liem, Nikolai Chadaev, Pavel Kotsur and Rinat Jumabayev
Rate of play Rapid: 15 minutes + 10 seconds increment per move, starting from move 1 | Blitz: 3 minutes + 2 seconds increment per move, starting from move 1.
Special rule The players are not allowed to offer draws directly to their opponents. Any draw claim will be permitted only through the Chief Arbiter and accepted in case of a triple-repetition of the position or the 50-move rule
Prize fund US $200,000 for each tournament; first prize US $40,000


Even though it wasn't his first world blitz title, Alexander "Sacha" Grischuk was quite surprised that he actually won it in Astana. The reason? He was not in his best physical shape. Probably suffering from a flu, after the first day Grischuk declined an interview before our camera because of a sore throat. Just after the tournament finished, we did have a brief interview. "Somehow I started to score points and score points..."

Grischuk already started with a lead, as we know from our previous report: at half time he was a point ahead of Dmitry Andreikin, Vassily Ivanchuk and Sergey Karjakin. Magnus Carlsen was one more point behind.

Of these players only Karjakin won in the 16th round and so he came half a point closer to Grischuk. Ivanchuk fell back a bit; he lost to Gelfand and then to Andreikin.

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Le Quang Liem had a much better second day. In fact over rounds 16-30 the Vietnamese player finished shared second with 9.5/15, the same score as Morozevich and Grischuk. In round 17 he defeated the eventual winner convincingly:

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Magnus Carlsen again needed some rounds to warm up. His score over rounds 16-22 wasn't good: just 3/7. This included losses with White against Mamedyarov, Morozevich and Svidler.

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However, when the Norwegian motor was finally running, it didn't stop. Carlsen finished with an amazing 8/8 which got him in fact the best score of the second day: 11.0/15. Grischuk's 9.5 was just half a point enough to finish ahead.

Carlsen won his last eight games | Photo courtesy of the organizers, more here

Carlsen won all three games against Sergey Karjakin. The last of these encounters was the most convincing:

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After 17 rounds everything was possible, as Andreikin, Grischuk and Karjakin were all on 11 points, followed by Carlsen on 10. Grischuk then immediately regained clear first place in the standings by beating his compatriot Morozevich with Black.

Dmitry Andreikin kept on doing excellent, and after 21 rounds he caught Grischuk again; both were on 13.5 points. Topalov didn't have a chance.

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In the same round, Grischuk and Karjakin drew their game.

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Then one of the crucial games of the tournament followed. Andreikin went for exactly the same ending has Le Quang Liem had done the day before, and again Grischuk outplayed his opponent with the black pieces. Instructive stuff for KID players!

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The winner: Grischuk, here against Kotsur | Photo courtesy of the organizers, more here

Here's another win by the winner from the 27th round.

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We'll return to Carlsen once more, because one of his victims during his 8/8 streak was the eventual winner.

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The following game needs some explanation, because Carlsen starting his game against Radjabov with 1.a4 had a little history. During the previous World Blitz Championship, in Moscow, November 2010, Radjabov had said to Carlsen:

Everyone is getting tired. You might as well start with 1.a4 and you can still beat them.

And so it was little inside joke (and a successful one):

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The playing hall on the last day | Photo courtesy of the organizers, more here

Games rounds 16-30

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World Blitz Championship 2012 | Final standings


Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


Anonymous's picture

Apart from Grischuk and Karjakin some participants were: Svidler, Morozevich, Caruana, Andreikin, Jakovenko, Liem, Andreikin and Carlsen slayers Nepomniachi and Sjigurov.
The fact that Karjakin had to play so many <2700 players only demonstrates that blitz ratings are not equal to standard ratings. Morozevich finished 42 f.e.
Defenitely a top event and you defenitely didn't even know it was played.

Anonymous's picture

2nd example: the world rapid cup in 2010 was won by Karjakin. I suppose you didn't know that one either. He eliminated Grischuk in one of the last rounds btw. It seems Karjak won more speedplay events than your "best" player really. He certainly lost fewer..

Bigglesworth's picture

Any event missing *all five* of the top players in the world can hardly be compared to events that contain several of them. It's much easier to win an event when the strongest players decide not to participate. As to Amber, Grischuk and Karjakin both participated in both years I referenced. Combined, they managed to score a grand total of -3 - hardly anything to write home about. They were also both in the World Blitz in 2009 and 2010. The highest either managed to place in either year was Karjakin's 3rd-4th place finish in 2009 - 6.5 points behind Carlsen. That's not bad at all, but it in no way shows that either of them comes close to being the best.

Don't misunderstand me - I'm not trying to take anything away from their victories here. They were well-played and well-deserved against a strong field. But one victory doesn't make you the best - and they have no other results to indicate that they truly are the strongest.

Anonymous's picture

Results in blitz at world ch tournaments:
Grischuk 1rst, 3/4, 3, 9,1
Karjakin -, - , 3, 6, 1
Carlsen: -, 9, 1, 3, 2
Apart from that Carlsen lost a blitz match to Nakamura while Grischuk and Karjakin have won events like the Aeroflot blitz. Like you said, one victory doesn't make you best, especially when it was 3 years ago. Only Grischuk stands out a bit with his 2 titles and the best most recent performance.

At rapid Carlsen has only won Amber (1/2 2010, 1 2011) where nothing big is at stake and no serious title can be won (and I do wonder if all players took it as serious as him ). Do these results outweigh Anand and Aronians monsterscore in rapids like Mainz, Corsica and Amber? Or Karjakins achievements in more serious events?
I really think it isn't as clear (and as important, so I'll quit:-) as you seem to think.

Anonymous's picture

Your presentation of "facts" is both incorrect and misleading in many ways as you know, so understandable that you quit.

"Apart from that Carlsen lost a blitz match to Nakamura"

Carlsen won a blitz match against Nakamura 24.5-15.5.

"At rapid Carlsen has only won Amber (1/2 2010, 1 2011) where nothing big is at stake and no serious title can be won (and I do wonder if all players took it as serious as him ). Do these results outweigh Anand and Aronians monsterscore in rapids like Mainz, Corsica and Amber? Or Karjakins achievements in more serious events?"

Amber is the by far strongest rapid event, but you count Corsica instead. In Corsica 2011 Anand played three opponents, Grigoryan, Sasikiran and Mamedyarov. In 2006 he lost the final against Kasimdzhanov after beating Golog, Gurevich and Kazhgaleyev. Compare with the field and result in the latest Amber rapid:

Also, when lining up Grischuk's results one could mention that he failed to qualify for last year's (later cancelled) blitz world championship after finishing 8th in the qualification. There's also the Tal Blitz 2012, with Carlsen as shared first, ahead of Grischuk:

Thomas's picture

Karjakin has considerably improved in the fairly recent past, so it's pretty odd and a bit unfair to him to include results from more than two years ago - Carlsen fans would also (understandably) object if sufficiently dated results of Carlsen are used to make a point.

Recent results by Karjakin at least suggest that his latest success wasn't an accident or fluke. In the given events, Karjakin and Grischuk were at least equal to Carlsen - I would say the best ones won, best ones _at this occasion_.

On longer timescales, Carlsen has an edge, the future will tell if he keeps an edge. Does Carlsen also have an edge over Anand and Aronian who were absent this time? One can certainly find statistics to prove this, one can also find statistics to prove the opposite.

Anonymous's picture

I should have mentioned Tal blitz, I suppose I forgot about it because this event was in the same year. Anyway, Carlsen was 1/2 and Grischuk 3/4rd. It doesn't change the fact that Carlsen hasn't won more events than Grischuk at all.
And as for me only mentioning Nakamura's won match-the other one was a friendly all night gig at Carlsens hotel room and has no meaning what so ever. For once it wasn't an official event, and secondly Nakamura had just finished Tal memorial and Tal blitz whereas Carlsen had only played the blitz and was comparatively fresh. At any rate it's pretty bad that he lost a match against Nakamura at all. That's not being "clearly best", is it?

RealityCheck's picture

@ Anonynous

Another sore loser. Yes you are. I state the obvious for People like you---just in case you missed it. There's a big chance you got all caught up in the hype. You thought a 2830+ Rating was some kind of guarntee to win a tough Wch tournament like this. You're wrong. You think a 2830+ rating makes a better player than the World Champion. Wrong again.
But we (people who aren't that impressed with Dudley-Do-Right--Carlsen--since he backed out of the Wch qualifer) have to listen to your redundant exagerated praise of anything (draw win sneeze lose blunder) the guy does.

In 2010 Anand took second three tournaments in a row (Nanjing, Bilbao, London) and was ridiculed to no end by people just like you. Now what?

Listen buddy, I remember when movies were in black and white. And so was everything else.

Johnnie's picture

Cheers :)

Niima's picture


Had a good laugh. Cheers

RealityCheck's picture

Prosit !!

Johnnie's picture


Cheers :-)

giovlinn's picture

And you play it sideways?

MW's picture

Now now, lets be nice to RealityCheck. Being a Carlsen detractor almost never gives any reward - Carlsen has been world #1 almost constantly for three years, has placed 1st in 11 of his last 16 tournaments etc.

Let him bask in what little vindication he can muster from seeing Carlsen place "only" second in both tournaments.

Of course Carlsen's combined score from both events was 30 points (tied for first with Karjakin), but we'll ignore that measure of Carlsen's performance...

dave's picture

Second is also not bad, I guess? There are many great players, but Magnus is getting all the weird comment just because he came 2nd within 14 player event. People mostly prefer to hate that is the pathetic part!

S3's picture

Maybe Carlsen fanboys should stop with the silly predictions and comparisons as well. After all it was neither nice nor smart to (f.e.) say that Carlsen has no competition in this event. When those people are proven wrong these reactions are bound to happen. And usually it's only then that guys like you object to such comments.

By the way, it was a 16 player event even.

Anonymous's picture

Congrats to Grishuk and Karjakin for winning a tournament each, great pleayers in really interesting event. World number 1 Magnus Carlsen finishes 2nd in BOTH events - clearly proving his consistency and overall class despite a very bad start in blitz. On a side note, I guess he probably also takes the highest prize money in Astana.

S3's picture

Guess again. That's Karjakin (1rst and 3rd place). For some time it actually looked like he might make it a double 1rst despite what looked like a rather bad form today.

Anonymous's picture

Carlsen 66.000
Kajakin 65.000

S3's picture

Karjakin 67.500

Anonymous's picture

Guess you're right, misread sth (since 3rd and 4th prizes were shared in rapid).

S3's picture

Combining both tournaments they earned exactly the same number of points but Carlsen won convincingly 3-0 of Karjakin, so there is clearly some psychological problem for the latter to solve.

Anonymous's picture

Good point. I hope and believe he will solve it, at least this seems to be a clear task for him to work on. If he can overcome it, this will also be great for the fans - probably the two will battle out the world championship at some point.

Bias buster's picture

Congrats to Sergei and Sasha. A triple triumph for Russia (Rapid, Blitz and the Russia-China match).

Anonymous's picture

I agree, great stuff. Taking Russians lightly in chess never seems to be a good idea :-)

whzyerdaddy's picture

Congrats to Grischuk on his 2nd Blitz WC Title!

giovlinn's picture

@RealityCheck- I'm not a Carlsen fanboy. However the way you talk about Carlsen is kinda petty and childish. And no , I never said he would win those titels. You always come up with those things. Where are they, those comments? Show em to me.

Anonymous's picture

Prove that you are not a Carlsen fanboy! ;-)

Anonymous's picture


So, you are not a Carlsen fanboy. Good for you.

As for "the kinda petty and childish way I talk about Carlsen", this I do intentionally. I must in order to reach his petty and childish army of supporters.

In all honesty, I have no real beef with him. Lemme take a moment to congratulate him as our Vice Rapid & Bltiz World Champion. Oooo000ps! "Vice" as in Vice-President, is not a cool word in FIDE circles these days.

How about this: Congratulations Magnus Carlsen!! World No. 2 Rapid & Blitz Champion. You did a fine job clawing your way back up the score board. Better luck in Biel.

Longyearbyen's picture

Overall I saw great sport and had a lot of fun watching the games. I have to say though, that the organization of the FIDE is abysmal. Why are there so many top players missing? Imagine Wimbledon with that kind of line up. I think that a world championship deserves the best players and not just a dozen but the top 100 should compete like in any other sport. What really would be needed is are semifinals and a grand final. Before there could could be round-robin or swiss, but a real final is a must. Like in all other sports.

I also must say there were too many Russians and others from the area. That is not good for chess and unfair. It could not happen in any other sport. It also leaves room for manipulation. E.g. in round 27 in the very important game of Grischuk against Ivanchuk on move 46 Ivanchuk made a very strange move. He missed to take a pawn with check - very, very simple and obvious - which would have equalized the position. Maybe it was a honest error. But it secured the win for Grischuk.

Thomas's picture

What should FIDE have done to make all top players participate? Kidnap them and put them on a plane to Astana? Come up with drastic sanctions such as removing them from the Elo list if they don't play?

Location and date may have been inconvenient (the event was even stronger when it was held in Moscow right after Tal Memorial). The surplus of "Soviet" players merely reflects the situation at the world top (and a bit the fact that Anand and Nakamura declined their invitations), maybe that's not the case in other sports - even though marathon races are also dominated by runners from Kenya, Ethiopia and (less so) other African countries. I don't think that Ivanchuk from Ukraine was deliberately helping Grischuk from Russia - according to your handle you may be Norwegian so it's worthwhile mentioning that Ivanchuk's losses against Carlsen were far stranger than the ones against Grischuk.

And there actually was a qualifier, open to about the top 8000 (Elo >2300) which also attracted mostly "Soviet" players

rogge's picture

Ivanchuk played some strange moves against Carlsen too, don't forget it was blitz games.. Besides, Ivanchuk isn't even Russian.

rogge's picture

Ah, I see I agree with Thomas ;-)

h8dgeh0g's picture

Nor is Karjakin - oh, wait a minute!!

h8dgeh0g's picture

btw, i dont intend any collusion etc, but in a format like upcoming candidates tournament this kind of conspiracy theory will be in the air. on top of that, add a little clock breaking incident a la kramnik-radjabov in candidates rapid, and it will be a total soap opera.

KingTal's picture

For those who don´t understand. Names that end with -chuk or -ko are Ukrainian names, those ending with -ov and -in are Russian names...
Fact is you can´t really distinguish between them who is what because a lot of families are mixed up...

S3's picture

Ok I'll take the bait: Check your facts. Like Thomas said, Ivanchuk is not a Russian. Take a look at the games of Ivanchuk vs Carlsen. In 2 games he had won positions yet he didn't win any of them. Missing mate, blundering pieces. Those things happen. And today they happened mostly to the opponents of Carlsen. So do you think that Magnus paid Ivanchuk to throw the games?!
Excluding players because of their nationality, that would be unfair!
Besides, those "unknown" Russian players were refreshing playing stuff like 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nf3 Nxe4 and the Petroff..

As for the organisation, to me it looked pretty good and I think the organisers deserve praise.

S3's picture

p.s. Grischuk lost to Svidler in the 28th round seriously endangering his winning chances. He also didn't finish of Karjakin when he had the chance. Both are Russian.

Carabanchel's picture

What a fault of respectt by Carlsen during the national anthem of Russia! (official video provided by

Guillaume's picture

Which one? It was played twice in a row. Not exactly a short version at that. A kind of a running gag.

Niima's picture


I noticed it too - hand in pocket grinning. I don't think he meant disrespect. Generally speaking he is quite professional.

MH's picture

Congratz to Grischuk, but also a good performance of Carlsen.

Anonymous's picture

there will be doubts..russian playing against russian especially if one is in for the title.
carlsen still the best,one would think that he was prevented from winning by the russians.

Niima's picture

There will be no doubts; one would not think. Stop with the conspiracy theories. They are idiotic and boring.

Fireblade's picture
Thomas's picture

In two games it probably mattered that the players are from the same country, the quick draws between Radjabov and Mamedyarov - even Sofia rules cannot prevent early move repetitions (their drawn rapid game had been a bit longer with a little 'content').
The second time (round 26) Radjabov playing white had still certain medal chances so the game [not necessarily the result] was a bit surprising for me. If he had won - with or without a blunder from the opponent - eyebrows may have been raised, but it would be no evidence for collusion. From Mamedyarov's point of view, it would even be understandable if he wasn't fully concentrated!? "For me (10.5/25) it doesn't really matter any more, for my friend (14.5/25) it does."

robert's picture

Anyway, a rapid world championship without Anand is not really a "world championship" but still congrats to the "russians" new or old for their wins and Carlsen for his come back. Lots of fun an drama and this kind of events !

Thomas's picture

So it's easy for Anand (or Aronian or Kramnik or Nakamura, or Carlsen at an earlier occasion?) to 'invalidate' a world championship: all they have to do is decline their invitation(s)!?

RealityCheck's picture

This sort of reminds me of the Tournament vs Match debate launched after Anand won in Mexico. Which system to determine the World Champion was the real deal? At the time there was an overwhelming majority in favor of the Match system. This kind of argument was often posed by folks bent on invalidating the Wch Title Anand now owned.

Carlsens' management team used his withdrawl (a failed tactic) from the Candidates Matches in the same way: to invalidate the qualifier and ultimately the 2012 Wch. And, Kasparov kept the party line alive during the contest with his crude remarks....

Anonymous's picture

+1. But Anand has shown that he wins when it matters. In a WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP, no matter the format. And Carlsen just failed at that. He lost the fight for the title twice which is pretty bad if you market yourself as the best. And he was not even beaten by top players like Kramnik, Aronian and Anand but by supposedly second rate GM's.
Let's see if he does better in the classical cycle. At least he is playing this time.


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