RUSSIAN Grandmaster Sergey Karjakin was all smiles after he turned the tables on classical world champion Magnus Carlsen to win his maiden World Blitz Championship at the Ali bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena in Doha last week.
Both Karjakin and Carlsen finished on 16.5 points from 21 rounds spread over two days, but the former won by virtue of his better tie-break (average rating of opponents).
Karjakin had played against more higher-rated opponents than Carlsen in the tournament. Karjakin won 13 games and drew seven while his only defeat came against Hikaru Nakamura of the US. Though Carlsen won 14 and drew five, he lost two, against the eventual champion and Vassily Ivanchuk, who won the rapid title.
Blitz competition has a time limit of three minutes and an additional two seconds per move, forcing a very rapid pace unlike in the classical tournaments.
Interestingly, Karjakin won the world title after losing the FIDE World Championship (classical) to the Norwegian in New York in December.
“I’m happy with my performance. I’m on top of the world,” Karjakin told Doha Stadium Plus. “It was a difficult tournament. There were ups and downs. I think this was the best blitz event I’ve played in my life.”
The 26-year-old said his mediocre performance in the rapid event motivated him to do better.
“My performance in rapid wasn’t up to the mark. I was a bit angry with myself. On the first day, when I beat Carlsen, I realised I could win the title,” said Karjakin.
A similar tie-break score was used to decide the third, fourth and fifth positions.
Russia’s 20-year-old Daniil Dubov finished third, Nakamura fourth and last-time winner Alexander Grischuk fifth, though they all finished with 14.5 points.