Rapid chess

Chess Piece
Bobby Ang

Posted on January 07, 2013

ACTIVE CHESS (30 minutes per game) was introduced in 1987 by FIDE and caught in very quickly. In the Philippines the visionary Rey Gamboa (formerly of Shell) organized the Shell Active Chess Championship, a nationwide competition which is still very much alive as of this date. Most of the Philippines’ new stars, including Wesley So, graduated from this Shell project.

Mr. Saturnino “Bong” Belen of Diwa Publishing fame also set up the Active Chess Center for Asia (ACCA), which for many years, under the guidance of its director Manolito “Toto” Ferrer, organized the weekly executive chess tournaments from which your humble scribe graduated.

The first official Active Chess (30 minutes per game) tournament was held in Gijon, Spain, in 1988 and won by Karpov. Karpov, in December of 1988, won the World Active Championship (a FIDE event with 61 players) in Mazatlan, Mexico, and received $50,000. To the surprise of many, no less than Garry Kasparov, the world chess champion then, strongly opposed active chess. He was quoted as saying, “Active Chess? What does that make me, the Passive World Champion?” This Active Chess initiative was one of the good projects that Kasparov effectively stalled for many years.

This is all chess politics, of course. Kasparov really did not oppose active chess -- he simply did not want to share his thunder as world chess champion with another, possibly more exciting, variant. You don’t believe me? Well do you know that he actually organized his own brand of fast chess, called “Rapid Chess” with a time control of 25 minutes a game. This name and event was adopted by FIDE in 1989 so as not to imply an inactive chess title if FIDE awarded an Active Chess title.

It took a while to get there, but in November 2011 FIDE agreed to launch the “Rapid” and “Blitz” rating lists in 2012. For players with existing FIDE ratings, their initial rating on both of the new lists will be that rating. Their rapid play or blitz ratings will be adjusted depending on their results in those forms of chess. It also formalized the definition of the two terms:

1. Rapid Chess must have at least 15 minutes, but less than 60 minutes thinking time; or the time allotted + 60 times any increment or delay is at least 15 minutes, but less than 60 minutes for each player. That is the exact wording in the resolution, but not quite so clear, so perhaps I will give an illustration. Supposing you want a time control of 15 minutes + 10 second increment per move, is that eligible? Well, the 10-second increment over 60 moves comes out to 600 seconds, or 10 minutes. This 10 minutes added to original time of 15 minutes totals 25 minutes -- well within the 15-60 minute eligibility time control.

2. Blitz games have the same method of computation, except that the eligible time control is 5-15 minutes, after adjustment for any increment. Thus, the time control of three minutes plus two second increment or all the moves in five minutes is acceptable.

This has led to another explosion of interest in these forms of chess. Last December the Polish insurance company Metlife Amplico, sponsored the European Rapid and Blitz chess championships. The winners were:

EU-Ch Rapid 2012
Warsaw, Poland
Dec. 15-16, 2012

Note: take note that these events typically take only 1-3 days, which is why organizers like this form of chess

Final Standings (in tie-break order)

1-4. GM Alexey Dreev RUS 2748, GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave FRA 2711, GM Alexei Shirov LAT 2723, GM Sergei Rublevsky RUS 2712, 9.5/11

5-13. GM Arkadij Naiditsch GER 2708, GM Vladimir Malakhov RUS 2713, GM Vladislav Tkachiev FRA 2635, GM Alexander Motylev RUS 2677, GM Markus Ragger AUT 2665, GM Richard Rapport HUN 2623, GM Bartosz Socko POL 2628, IM Vladislav Kovalev BLR 2482, GM Michal Olszewski POL 2533, 9.0/11

Total of 775 (!) players
EU-Ch Blitz 2012
Warsaw, Poland
December 14, 2012

Final Standings (in tie-break order)

1. GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave FRA 2749, 18.5/22

2. GM Gabriel Sargissian ARM 2666, 17.5/22

3. GM Vladislav Tkachiev FRA 2647, 17.0/22

4-8. GM Ivan Bukavshin RUS 2632, GM Alexey Dreev RUS 2696, GM Evgeny Romanov RUS 2538, GM Markus Ragger AUT 2603, GM Andrei Istratescu FRA 2654, 16.5/22

Total of 439 players

Just before the end of the year was the Final of the Rapid Grand Prix of Russia which took place from December 23-24. The final was a knockout event with 16 participants who scored most points in the Grand Prix rapid events throughout the year.

Alexey Dreev, fresh from his victory in the European Rapid championship, added another title by winning this event as well. In the final match Dreev defeated the 14-years old prodigy Vladislav Artemiev from Omsk. In the earlier rounds Dreev eliminated Yana Kim, Pavel Maletin and Anton Shomoev.

Here is the decisive game of the finals.

Artemiev, Vladislav (2474) -- Dreev, Alexey (2654) [B11]

Russian Rapid GP Final 2012 Kirov RUS (4.2), 24.12.2012

1.e4 c6 2.Nc3 d5 3.Nf3 Bg4 4.h3 Bxf3

[4...Bh5 is also played but is nowhere near as popular as the game move]

5.Qxf3 e6 6.d3

You might be interested to know that in the 2012 USA Championship the following game occurred in the first round: 6.g3 Nd7 7.Qe2 d4 8.Nb1 h5 9.h4 g5 10.hxg5 Qxg5 11.d3?? 0-1 Stripunsky-Onischuk, Saint Louis 2012.

6...Nd7 7.Bd2 Bc5 8.Qg3 Bd4 9.0-0-0

Trying to chase away the bishop is futile. After 9.Ne2 Be5 10.f4 Bf6 White cannot play 11.e5 because of 11...Bh4

9...Qb6 10.f4 Ne7 11.Be2 0-0 12.Kb1 Nc5

Black’s attack is coming in faster than White’s. He is already threatening 13...dxe4 14.dxe4 Nxe4! and White cannot recapture because of mate on b2.

13.Bf3 Rfd8 14.Qe1 Bxc3 15.Bxc3 Na4

Intending to push his d-pawn to d4. If he protects this with 16.d4 then 16...dxe4 17.Bxe4 Nd5 18.Bxd5 Rxd5 keeps up the pressure.

16.Ka1 d4 17.Bb4 c5 18.Ba3 Qc7 19.e5 Rab8 20.c4 dxc3 21.b3 Nb2 22.Qxc3?

Artemiev did not like 22.Bxb2 cxb2+ 23.Kxb2 a5 with a strong attack, but the text is not an improvement.

22...Nxd1 23.Qxc5 Qxc5 24.Bxc5 Rbc8 25.Ba3 Rxd3 26.Bxd1 Nd5 27.Bf3 Rc2 28.Rc1 Rxc1+ 29.Bxc1 Rd4 30.Kb1 b6 31.Kc2 h6 32.a3 Kf8 33.g3 Ne7 34.Be3 Rd7 35.g4 Nd5 36.Bd2 Ke7 37.f5 f6 38.exf6+ Nxf6 39.fxe6 Kxe6 40.b4 Ke5 41.a4 Ne4 42.Bc1 Rc7+ 43.Kb2 Nc3 44.Kb3 Nxa4 45.Bd2 b5 46.Be2 a6 47.h4 Rf7 48.Be3 Ke4 49.Bg1 Rc7 50.Bd1 Rc3+ 51.Ka2 Rc1 52.Bxa4 Rxg1 53.Bc2+ Kf4 0-1

Artemiev is the sensational discovery of the tournament. He defeated Alexander Galkin, Russian champion Dmitry Andreikin and young star Sanan Sjugirov on his way to the final. Artemiev’s nerves of steel served him well during the entire duration of the event. In the following game Galkin, a former World Junior Champion, just loses his head in the complications and Artemiev mows him down.

* * *

Sjugirov, Sanan (2643) -- Artemiev, Vladislav (2474) [D48]

Russian Rapid GP Final 2012 Kirov RUS (3.2), 23.12.2012

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e3 e6 5.Nf3 Nbd7 6.Bd3

We have just discussed this Meran line in Kasimdzhanov vs Kasparov column a few days ago.

6...dxc4 7.Bxc4 b5 8.Bd3 a6 9.e4 c5 10.d5 Qc7 11.0-0 c4 12.Bc2 e5!?

As I pointed out to the readers, the main lines here are either 12...Bb7 or 12...Bc5.


This maneuver was thought up by Anatoly Karpov. Instead of leaving his knight on c3 to be a perpetual target for the black queenside pawns, he relocates it right away to the kingside. Karpov is known for his intuitive feel for where the pieces belong, so if he feels the white knight should be on the kingside then we should all start playing Ne2.

13...Bd6 14.Ng3 g6 15.Bh6 Ng4 16.Bd2 0-0 17.h3 Ngf6 18.Bh6 Re8 19.Qd2 Kh8 20.Nh2 Bb7 21.Rac1 Rac8 22.Bb1 b4

Black decides to push his queenside pawns forward. This is a mistake, I will show you why later.

23.Bd3! Nb6 24.Be3

Pity that White misses 24.Nf5! Rg8 (24...gxf5? 25.Qg5 Black has to give back the sacrificed piece and so White has a strong kingside attack at no material investment; 24...Kg8 25.Ng4 Nxg4 26.hxg4 Qd8 27.Nxd6 Qxd6 28.Be2 Black is still holding but his position is under pressure on all three fronts) 25.Bg5 Ne8 26.Nxd6 Qxd6 27.Bb1 White obviously has a strong initiative.

24...Nfd7 25.Be2 a5 26.Ng4 f6 27.Nh6 Rf8 28.Bg4 Rce8 29.Be2

White has been indecisive and Black seizes the opportunity to counter-strike.

29...Ba6 30.h4 Nc5 31.h5 Qd7 32.hxg6 hxg6 33.Qd1 Nba4 34.Rb1 c3 35.Bxa6 Nxa6 36.b3 N4c5 37.Kh2 Re7 38.Rh1 Rh7 39.Kg1 f5 40.exf5 gxf5 41.Bg5?

[41.f4 is correct]

41...f4! 42.Nf1 [ <D>

Position after 42.Nf1

Artemiev cooly assesses the position and finds White’s decisive weakness.]


That’s it, the f2 square.

43.Qh5 Qg7 44.Bd8 Bc5 45.Rh2 Bxf2+ 46.Kh1 Bg3 47.Nf5 Nf2+ 48.Kg1 Bxh2+ 49.Qxh2 Rxf5 0-1

And now for the big news. The gigantic Aeroflot Open in February 2013, traditionally the strongest open tournament in every year that it has been held, has been converted to a rapid tournament.

Of course there will be the usual complaints that chess is being degraded into a sideshow, but consider: more people can participate and therefore there is now a much wider clientele for chess. People like me, for instance, who do not have time for “real” tournaments can now consider taking 2 days off to play in international events. Also, for organizers, it becomes much cheaper to set up a tournament and with more players willing to take risks (shorter time controls means more mistakes) to win a game, overall tournaments becomes more exciting. Personally, I love it.

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