Reports | February 20, 2010 23:50

Vachier-Lagrave wins World Blitz Championship Preliminaries

Biel 2009Maxime Vachier-Lagrave Thursday won the World Blitz Championship Preliminaries, held in Moscow after the Aeroflot Open. Together with Bu Xiangzhi, Nepomniachtchi, Mamedov, Savchenko and Grachev he qualified for the 2010 World Blitz Championship, to be held after the Tal Memorial later this year.

The World Blitz Championship Preliminaries took place February 18 at the same venue where the Aeroflot Open was held: in hotel “Gamma – Delta” of the tourist complex “Izmailovo”, in Moscow, Russia.

The tournament consisted of a 9-round Swiss in which the players played two games against each other, one with White and one with Black. The rate of play was 3 minutes plus 2 seconds increment per move. In the final standings, the first tiebreak rule was Median Buchholtz score (i.e. Buchholz score without the best and the worst results).

2010 World Blitz Championship Preliminaries | Final Standings (top 30)

(Full final standings here)

World Junior Champion Maxime Vachier-Lagrave from France collected 13.5 points out of 18 games to finish clear first. Seven players ended shared 2nd, with 13 points each, but only five qualified for the World Blitz Championship: Bu Xiangzhi (China), Rauf Mamedov (Azerbaijan), Boris Grachev (Russia), Ian Nepomniachtchi (Russia) and Boris Savchenko (Russia).

Alexei Dreev (Russia) and Loek van Wely (Netherlands) also scored 13/18 but just missed qualification. Top GMs like Dmitry Jakovenko, Sergei Karjakin and Ruslan Ponomariov, as well as rising star Le Quang Liem, also failed to qualify.

Just like last year the 2010 World Blitz Chess Championship will be held just after the Tal Memorial, in November in Moscow.

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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.


sulotas's picture

If only the five participants were decided at Aeroflot, who else will be participating in the World Blitz Championship and more than that, who is in charge of making decisions? If I remember correctly, there were 22 players in the last championship.

CAL|Daniel's picture

because he at Vancouver watching the olympics.

ebutaljib's picture

Because it is not at all certain that he would qualify, and his reputation would be tarnished. I don't think he will ever participate in World Blitz Championship, or one of the qualifying tournaments. Year after year he doesn't want to participate.

Sander's picture

I can see you guys never play at the ICC, cuz Naka is mostly demolishing very strong GM's there. I'm not saying hes the best blitz player in the world, but he's very, very strong. Meaningless internet blitz rating? If it's really so random, why is Naka always (almost) at the top. And if blitz in general is really so random, why did Magnus and Vishy (arguably the 2 best players in the world) end up 1 and respectively and not, say Kosteniuk and Tkachiev? But keeping that in mind, it is unfortunate Naka doesnt play more blitz tournaments like these, be them online or OTB cuz I'd wager he'd do quite well indeed.

S's picture

Thomas...woopsie. I humbly stand corrected. Still I fail to see your point. He played in the B group, so he tried to qualify. If he later got invitations and decided that Bilbao was a better offer I don't see how it would make a difference.

Guillaume's picture

Nakamura probably wants to retain the possibility to move his pieces during the time of his opponent, just like he does for instance in this video (around 8:30):

It's perfectly legit online (pre-move), but I doubt it would go unchallenged in a World Blitz Championship.

Thomas's picture

@ebutaljib: Are you sure about the top10 from the FIDE rating list - if so, which list will count?
Isn't it rather the ten players from the Tal Memorial? Of course there is considerable overlap, at least for the 2009 edition ... .

dilben's picture

Why did Nakamura not take part?

Alexander's picture

Oh, so you know him personally?

CAL|Daniel's picture

No ebutaljib is just talking utter bullshit again.

ebutaljib's picture

Then tell me, bullshit|Daniel : Why doesn't he want to participate?

Thomas's picture

Only Nakamura himself (or maybe someone who DOES know him personally) could really answer dilben's question. Fact is that he never tried to qualify, and that he (or at least his fans) think that there's no need because he should receive a wildcard. Same story for Corus: he declined several Corus B invitations, but accepted one for the A group.
For Naka's fans it doesn't matter: he beat Carlsen in a 4-game blitz match which makes him the real champion - never mind that the Tal Memorial blitz was longer and tougher.

CAL|Daniel's picture

I never said anything like that Thomas. I'm just calling out ebutaljib for the piece of sh-t he is. Why Nakamura doesn't want to participate? Who knows? he seems to be pretty happy to be in Vancouver watching the olympics. Happy enough to blog about it anyways. Russia is quite a long, expensive trip for him anyways to just play 18 games of blitz.

ebutaljib's picture

I wish he would get a wildcard, but in reality there are absolutely no grounds for him getting a wildcard. It is proven that internet ratings don't mean a thing. Le Quang Liem was 27th, Sargissian was 63rd. Also no other top internet player has ever achieved something in real blitz competition. Internet ratings are mianuingless and are no indication of players real strength. Hence Nakamura's real strenth is unknown because he doesn't want to show it. Yeah he won that 4 game match against Carlsen but the result could have as easely been the other way around. If he wants to be recognised as the best blitz player then he should prove it in a real blitz tournament with all the best players (like World Blitz).

ebutaljib's picture


CAL|Daniel's picture

The truth about blitz though is any good player can beat any other good player. At that time control... you miss things. Everyone does. It would be nice to see Nakamura at the World Blitz and there are certainly grounds for him to get a wild card (unlike Kosteinuk who somehow got a wildcard last year). But as it stands the World Blitz is fun to watch regardless of who participates.

ebutaljib's picture

And on what grounds should he get the wildcard? Because he tops some meaningless internet rating list? And it's not even true that he always tops the internet rating list. At the time before 2009 World Blitz Championship Le Quang Liem was toping the ICC blitz list. Should he have been invited for World Blitz then???

Thomas's picture

@CAL|Daniel: I was not, at least not specifically referring to you ... there were several posts during the last world blitz championship saying that Nakamura should have been invited - even hinting that Carlsen's victory was worth less because Naka didn't participate.

Obviously, Nakamura didn't have to make the trip to Moscow just for 18 blitz games, he could have played the Aeroflot Open before (and maybe qualify for Dortmund?). There were rumors (eventually refuted by Nakamura himself on his blog) that he would participate - maybe because the initial list of participants included a certain Christopher Nakamura, USA.

He was already in Europe to play Corus ... . But playing the World Team Championship, then Corus, then Aeroflot might have been too much - and too much time away from home.

The only thing to criticize about your first post: it could actually be read as "how could the organizers schedule the event to collide with the Olympics? Quite rude towards Nakamura ..." I hurry to add :)

ebutaljib's picture

It was enough rest days between Corus and Aeroflot blitz. OK, fine he is resting and want to experience the Olympic games. But what was his excuse last year? And the year before? And the year before that?

I'm telling you, he doesn't want to participate. And I doubt he ever will.

S's picture

@ Thomas: at least get your facts straight when you try to take a swing at his fans. Nakamura accepted the Corus B invitation in 2004 and didn't get any other.

blahblah's picture

jesus christ, you all are a bunch of super-nerd dorks. argue over something at least half way worthwhile

aun1's picture

nakamura is just a prima donna, and if he does not get an automatic slot in the world blitz, he will not play. he feels entitled to everything without actually having to do anything to justify it. a total and utter diva. he needs to swallow his pride and compete in some of these events if he ever wants to even come somewhere close to matching his real world accolades with the imaginary ones he thinks he has.

blueofnoon's picture

To be fair, Nakamura himself has never claimed that he is the best blitz player in the world, and he never expressed his desire to win any title related to blitz.

I do not see any evidence to suggest he believes he is entitled to invitation from World Blitz Championship.

jan van der marel's picture

It's nice for Vachier to win this tournament, but God, is he ugly!!!

Thomas's picture

@S: What's the source of your "facts"? Mine is a certain Hikaru Nakamura:
In the audio, he says that he was invited to Corus B "a million times", then narrowing it down stating that he declined at least two, if not three times. When Macauley Peterson asked for reasons: [paraphrasing] "the conditions weren't fair, and the weather is nicer in Gibraltar".

At the end of the interview, he talks about blitz on ICC: "It's just for fun, I don't take that seriously". BTW, it 'seems' (various sources diverge) that he was invited for the last World Blitz Championship, but declined because - in his opinion - the invitation came too late.

ebutaljib's picture

I have nothing against Nakamura and I have never heard him proclaim himself as the world's best blitz player, or that it is not a real World Blitz Championship without him, or something like that.

But I do constantly hear this from his fans. What is the first question that ALWAYS pops up when talking about some blitz event? (for the answer see the first comment here ;))

I bet you a milion that in November when World Blitz Championship will take place you will see the same question - "Where is Nakamura?"
And then when I or someone else will say that he didn't want to qualify and there are no grounds why he should get automatically invited, then we will have this whole conversation all over again. Just see reports about last World Blitz and you'll see what his fans write and how they belittle other players, because "Naka is the best". Now that is really bullshit.

I don't have anything against Nakamura, but I do have something against his "fans".

Thomas's picture

@S - My point is simple, and the same as for the World Blitz championship: Nakamura's fans (at least some of them) say that he should or must be invited, but he could try to qualify and didn't. Same story for Corus: Several other rising stars (Karjakin, Carlsen, Caruana, Giri) qualified via the B, often first via the C group - and sometimes it took more than one or two years:
- Carlsen won the C group in 2004, was 7th in the B group in 2005, shared first in 2006, invited to the A group in 2006 even though Motylev had won on tiebreak.
- Wesley So won C in 2009 and was 4th in the B group this year. I guess he will be re-invited and try again next year.
So Nakamura's 4th place in Corus B 2004 would have been a foundation to build on, but subsequently he preferred sunny Gibraltar or expected unreasonable VIP conditions (no idea what Corus offered him in terms of appearance fee etc., but presumably conditions were similar to other participants with comparable rating).

Fine with me, but some Nakamura fans complain that he didn't get top invitations at an earlier stage, that (European) organizers neglected him and that this delayed his career and rise to the world top. At least Corus did NOT neglect him, but offered him several chances - I guess even Naka fans will agree that he wasn't really eligible for the A group until this year by other means but qualifying (or applying for Dutch citizenship!?).

Adding some German perspective:
- the Aeroflot Open is a qualifier for Dortmund, Nakamura never participated (unlike other American players).
- Naiditsch played Corus B in 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2010. Rumors go that his second place this year might still yield him an invitation for next year's A group.

ebutaljib's picture

First 6 qualified from Aeroflot blitz.

Players eligible for World Blitz are:
- top 10 on FIDE's rating list
- 6 qualifiers from Aeroflot blitz
- 4 or 6 organizer nominees

sulotas's picture

Thanks for the info ebutaljib. I appreciate it.

ebutaljib's picture

Ooops, you are right. They are constantly changing things.

But this doesn't make sense. Tal Memorial is an invitational tournament, and championships are not. Organizers can invite or not invite as they please, but World Blitz Championship should be open for all eligible players. For example, it is unlikely that they will invite Topalov to Tal Memorial, so does this mean that Toaplov can't participate in World Blitz Championship???

Curiosly on FIDE's website you can only find regulations for World Blitz Championship 2012!?!

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