World Blitz Chess Championship

The World Blitz Chess Championship is a chess tournament held to determine the world champion in chess played under blitz time controls. Since 2012, FIDE has held an annual joint rapid and blitz chess tournament and billed it as the World Rapid & Blitz Chess Championships. The current world blitz champion is the French grandmaster Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.[1] Bibisara Assaubayeva from Kazakhstan is the current women's blitz world champion.

Current world blitz champion, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France

Time controlsEdit

Starting in the early 1900s, chess clubs began to organize tournament played at accelerated time controls; these early games usually required a set number of moves from each player within a certain time interval. One of the earliest examples was the local chess club at Hastings, England, where 10 seconds were allowed per-move during a blitz tournament held after the 1904 British Chess Championship. By 1950, the time controls had changed to the familiar five minutes per player, hence the "five-minute game" moniker; the term "blitz chess" would not be coined until the 1960s.[2]

FIDE-recognized eventsEdit

FIDE World Blitz Championship (2006–2010)Edit

The first blitz chess tournament to be recognized by FIDE as a "world championship" took place on 6 September 2006 in Rishon Lezion, Israel. Structured as a 16-player round-robin, the tournament featured seven of the world's top 20 Grandmasters, as well as a young Magnus Carlsen. After 15 rounds, Alexander Grischuk and Peter Svidler finished atop the leaderboard with 10½/15; Grischuk subsequently defeated Svidler with Black in an armageddon game to win the championship.[3] The following year, the tournament (now branded as the FIDE World Blitz Cup) was held in Moscow, Russia following the Tal Memorial tournament and was re-structured as a 20-player double-round robin with a significantly stronger field. After Ukrainian grandmaster Vasyl Ivanchuk and Indian grandmaster Viswanathan Anand entered the final round tied on points, Ivanchuk defeated Anand from a disadvantaged position to win the tournament with 25½/38.[4]

In 2008, the championship reverted to a 16-player round robin. Despite a late charge from the defending champion Ivanchuk, who won seven of the final eight rounds, the tournament was won by Leinier Domínguez, a 25-year-old GM from Cuba who scored 11½/15 to edge out Ivanchuk by a half-point.[5] In 2009, the championship returned to Moscow, where the format was once again switched to a 22-player double round-robin with revised time controls of three minutes per player plus a 2-second increment. The event was won by the young Norwegian chess prodigy Magnus Carlsen, who finished three points clear of the field with 31/42 and went 8/8 against the 2nd through 5th-place finishers.[6]

2010 would prove to be the final year of the event – hosted again in Moscow, the tournament was dubbed the VI World Blitz 2010 and held immediately after the Tal Memorial tournament. Despite losing both his final games, Armenian Grandmaster Levon Aronian was able to clinch the title with 24½/38, half a point ahead of Teimour Radjabov.[7] In November 2010, a nine-round Swiss tournament was scheduled for February 17, 2011, to serve as a qualifying event for the World Blitz Championship 2011; however, after no bids for the event were made the tournament was eventually cancelled.[8]

Editions and medallistsEdit

Year Host city Champion Runner-up Third place
2006   Rishon Lezion   Alexander Grischuk (RUS)   Peter Svidler (RUS)   Teimour Radjabov (AZE)
2007   Moscow   Vasyl Ivanchuk (UKR)   Viswanathan Anand (IND)   Alexander Grischuk (RUS)
2008   Almaty   Leinier Domínguez (CUB)   Vasyl Ivanchuk (UKR)   Peter Svidler (RUS)
2009   Moscow   Magnus Carlsen (NOR)   Viswanathan Anand (IND)   Sergey Karjakin (UKR)
2010   Moscow   Levon Aronian (ARM)   Teimour Radjabov (AZE)   Magnus Carlsen (NOR)

World Rapid & Blitz Chess Championships (since 2012)Edit

On May 31, 2012, FIDE announced the inaugural World Rapid & Blitz Championships, set to take place in Astana, Kazakhstan, from July 1 to 11. The 2012 tournament consisted of a qualifying round, followed by the rapid and blitz events held consecutively over five days. The championship was originally structured as a 16-player round-robin tournament, set to coincide with the first release of FIDE's rapid and blitz ratings in July 2012; invited were the top 9 players in the FIDE ratings list, the defending champion Levon Aronian, the three medalists of the qualification competition, and three wild-card nominees by the organization committee and FIDE.[9] The event has since been changed to a Swiss tournament with a field of over 100 grandmasters. The top three finishers in the standings are awarded gold, silver, and bronze medals respectively; tiebreaks are determined by the average rating of opponents.[10]

The World Rapid & Blitz Chess Championships 2020 was postponed to 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.[11] It was planned to be held in Kazakhstan in December 2021; however, due to new regulations imposed by the Kazakh government, which would have required many participants to quarantine, the event had to be cancelled again on December 8, 2021. FIDE was considering to either hold the event in Kazakhstan in 2022, or to move it to a different host country.[12] On December 10, 2021, Warsaw, Poland was announced as the new host city, with the tournament taking place from December 25–30, 2021.[13]

Editions and medallistsEdit

World Blitz Chess Championships (since 2012)
Year Host city Champion Runner-up Third place
2012   Astana   Alexander Grischuk (RUS)   Magnus Carlsen (NOR)   Sergey Karjakin (RUS)
2013   Khanty-Mansiysk   Lê Quang Liêm (VIE)   Alexander Grischuk (RUS)   Ruslan Ponomariov (UKR)
2014   Dubai   Magnus Carlsen (NOR)   Ian Nepomniachtchi (RUS)   Hikaru Nakamura (USA)
2015   Berlin   Alexander Grischuk (RUS)   Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (FRA)   Vladimir Kramnik (RUS)
2016   Doha[14]   Sergey Karjakin (RUS)   Magnus Carlsen (NOR)   Daniil Dubov (RUS)
2017   Riyadh[15]   Magnus Carlsen (NOR)   Sergey Karjakin (RUS)   Viswanathan Anand (IND)
2018   Saint Petersburg   Magnus Carlsen (NOR)   Jan-Krzysztof Duda (POL)   Hikaru Nakamura (USA)
2019   Moscow   Magnus Carlsen (NOR)   Hikaru Nakamura (USA)   Vladimir Kramnik (RUS)
2020 Not held due to COVID-19 pandemic
2021   Warsaw[13]   Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (FRA)   Jan-Krzysztof Duda (POL)   Alireza Firouzja (FRA)

The World Blitz Chess Championship 2022 is scheduled to take place on December 29–30, 2022.[16]

Women's World Blitz Chess Championships (since 2012)
Year Host city Champion Runner-up Third place
2012   Batumi[17]   Valentina Gunina (RUS)   Natalia Zhukova (UKR)   Anna Muzychuk (SVN)
2013 Not held
2014   Khanty-Mansiysk[18]   Anna Muzychuk (UKR)   Nana Dzagnidze (GEO)   Tatiana Kosintseva (RUS)
2015 Not held
2016   Doha[19][14]   Anna Muzychuk (UKR)   Valentina Gunina (RUS)   Kateryna Lagno (RUS)
2017   Riyadh[20][15]   Nana Dzagnidze (GEO)   Valentina Gunina (RUS)   Ju Wenjun (CHN)
2018   Saint Petersburg[21]   Kateryna Lagno (RUS)   Sarasadat Khademalsharieh (IRN)   Lei Tingjie (CHN)
2019   Moscow   Kateryna Lagno (RUS)   Anna Muzychuk (UKR)   Tan Zhongyi (CHN)
2020 Not held due to COVID-19 pandemic
2021   Warsaw[13]   Bibisara Assaubayeva (KAZ)   Alexandra Kosteniuk[n 1](CFR)   Valentina Gunina[n 1] (CFR)

Other eventsEdit

Herceg Novi Blitz Tournament of 1970Edit

On 8 April 1970, following the USSR vs. Rest of the World 'Match of the Century' hosted in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, a blitz tournament was held in Herceg Novi, featuring many of the same participants from the match. The event was a 12-player double round-robin, with no tiebreaks and five minutes per player. Featuring four World Champions, the field was considered the strongest of any blitz tournament in modern history. Heading into the event, two-time World Champion Tigran Petrosian was considered the favorite to win the event, with Mikhail Tal and Viktor Korchnoi also enjoying favorable chances.[22]

It was American grandmaster Bobby Fischer, however, who put up a dominant performance, scoring 19/22 to win the tournament by 4½ points. Fischer scored a staggering 8½/10 against the five Soviet grandmasters in attendance, dropping only one game in the entire tournament and frequently gaining huge time advantages in each game. According to one report, Fischer spent no more than 2.5 minutes on any game.[23] At the end of the tournament, Tal – who had been whitewashed by Fischer – gave his thoughts on the American's performance.

"I don’t know what Petrosian, Korchnoi, Bronstein, and Smyslov counted on before the start of the tournament, but I expected them to be the most probable rivals for the top prizes. Fischer had until recently played fast chess none too strongly. Now much has changed: he is fine at fast chess. His playing is of the same kind as in tournament games: everything is simple, follows a single pattern, logical, and without any spectacular effects. He makes his moves quickly and practically without errors. Throughout the tournament I think he did not lose a whole set of pieces in this way. Fischer's result is very, very impressive... We had known, of course, that Fischer is one of the strongest chessplayers in the world. He can defeat Petrosyan, Korchnoi, Spassky, and Larsen. Just as they can defeat him."[24]

Rk Player Rtg Pts
1   Bobby Fischer (USA) 2720 19
2   Mikhail Tal (URS) 2590 14½
3   Viktor Korchnoi (URS) 2670 14
4   Tigran Petrosian (URS) 2650 13½
5   David Bronstein (URS) 2570 13
6   Vlastimil Hort (CSR) 2610 12
7   Milan Matulović (YUG) 2560 10½
8   Vasily Smyslov (URS) 2620
9   Samuel Reshevsky (USA) 2590
10   Wolfgang Uhlmann (GDR) 2570 8
11   Borislav Ivkov (YUG) 2570
12   Predrag Ostojić (YUG) NR 2

1988 World Blitz ChampionshipEdit

Following the Candidates' matches for the 1988 cycle, a World Blitz Championship was hosted in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, on 19 February 1988. The event was a 32-player single-elimination tournament, with pairings determined by best-of-four matches. The field was headlined by long-time rivals Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov, with the former considered the favorite to win the tournament. Notable participants included:

  1.   Garry Kasparov (URS), 2750
  2.   Anatoly Karpov (URS), 2715
  3.   Mikhail Tal (URS), 2630
  4.   Rafael Vaganian (URS), 2625
  5.   Jon Speelman (ENG), 2625
  6.   Artur Yusupov (URS), 2620
  7.   Yasser Seirawan (USA), 2595
  8.   Kiril Georgiev (BUL), 2595
  9.   Valery Salov (URS), 2595
  10.   Jaan Ehlvest (URS), 2585
  11.   Kevin Spraggett (CAN), 2580
  12.   Alexander Chernin (URS), 2560
  13.   Jesús Nogueiras (CUB), 2560
  14.   Maxim Dlugy (USA), 2550
  15.   Margeir Pétursson (ISL), 2540
  16.   Michael Wilder (USA), 2535
  17.   Roman Dzindzichashvili (URS), 2530
  18.   Branko Damljanović (YUG), 2525
  19.   Helgi Ólafsson (ISL), 2510
  20.   Igor Ivanov (CAN), 2505
  21.   Aivars Gipslis (URS), 2505
  22.   Attila Groszpeter (HUN), 2495
  23.   Bogdan Lalić (YUG), 2495
  24.   Joseph Gallagher (ENG), 2480

Former world champion Anatoly Karpov fell out of contention for the championship in just the second round, after dropping his first two games against fellow Soviet grandmaster Alexander Chernin. Reigning world champion Garry Kasparov steamed ahead into the quarterfinals but lost momentum after missing an elementary mate in two against Bulgarian grandmaster Kiril Georgiev;[25] a stunned Kasparov was subsequently knocked out of the tournament. In the final, Mikhail Tal clinched the championship with a 3½–½ victory over Armenian grandmaster Rafael Vaganian.[26][27]

Quarterfinals Semifinals Final
  Garry Kasparov 1
  Kiril Georgiev 3
  Kiril Georgiev
  Rafael Vaganian
  Rafael Vaganian 3
  Michael Wilder 0
  Rafael Vaganian ½
  Mikhail Tal
  Jaan Ehlvest 1
  Alexander Chernin 3
  Alexander Chernin
  Mikhail Tal
  Mikhail Tal 3
  Artur Jussupow 0

Mikhail Tal, the 51-year-old former World Champion, breezed through the final rounds with 5½/6. Joining him in the finals was Rafael Vaganian, who survived a controversial semifinal against Kiril Georgiev; the Armenian nearly punched his clock after making an illegal move in Game 2, an accusation that was eventually refuted after match officials resorted to a video review and found that Vaganian's hand had stopped just short of touching the clock. The final was a one-sided affair, with Tal repeatedly utilizing exchange sacrifices to find winning combinations; down 3–0 after three games, Vaganian offered his hand in the 4th game to concede the match to Tal. After the match, Tal claimed he took the event "none too seriously"; he chain-smoked throughout the tournament, and his "preparation" for the semifinal match against Chernin reportedly consisted of a double scotch.[28][29]

1988 World Blitz Championship – Final
Name Rating 1 2 3 4 Total
  Mikhail Tal (URS) 2630 1 1 1 ½
  Rafael Vaganian (URS) 2625 0 0 0 ½ ½

2000 World Blitz Chess CupEdit

The Plus GSM World Blitz Cup was a 367-player Swiss-system tournament held in Warsaw, Poland, on 9 January 2000. Hosted at the Warsaw Polonia Chess Club, the event consisted of 11 rounds, with each match comprising two 5-minute games for a total of 22 games per player. Indian grandmaster Vishwanathan Anand, the tournament's No. 1 seed, triumphed over a strong field that included 70 Grandmasters[30] and nine of the world's top-20 ranked players with a 17½/22 score. Anand's run saw him pick up 14 wins, 7 draws, and only 1 loss, highlighted by a 43-move win with the black pieces against Anatoly Karpov.[31] The tournament's sponsor, Plus GSM, set aside a $30,500 prize fund for the event as well as Nokia mobile communicators to be given to the top four finishers and the two top Polish players.[32][33]

Karpov vs. Anand, World Blitz Cup
Final position
Rk Player Rtg Pts TB1 TB2 TB3
1   Viswanathan Anand (IND) 2769 17½ 137½ 166 114½
2   Boris Gelfand (ISR) 2692 17 136½ 166 110
3   Anatoly Karpov (RUS) 2696 17 136 164 114½
4   Vladimir Akopian (ARM) 2660 17 132½ 160½ 108
5   Vasyl Ivanchuk (UKR) 2709 17 132 160 105½
6   Michael Adams (ENG) 2715 17 129 154 102½
7   Vladimir Epishin (RUS) 2667 17 125½ 152½ 104
8   Vladislav Tkachiev (FRA) 2670 16½ 134½ 164 107½
9   Zdenko Kožul (CRO) 2597 16½ 133 160 105½
10   Peter Svidler (RUS) 2672 16½ 132½ 162 107½
11   Alexei Shirov (ESP) 2751 16½ 132½ 160 109½
12   Andrei Shchekachev (RUS) 2509 16½ 128½ 157½ 101
13   Mikulas Manik (SVK) 2469 16½ 128 156 104
14   Rafael Vaganian (ARM) 2618 16½ 125½ 153 99
15   Robert Kempiński (POL) 2528 16½ 125½ 149½ 102
16   Alexey Korotylev (RUS) 2477 16½ 122 150½ 103
17   Kiril Georgiev (BUL) 2677 16 134½ 161 105
18   Aleksej Aleksandrov (BLR) 2606 16 124 152½ 104
19   Sergey Kasparov (BLR) 2465 16 123 150½ 96½
20   Paweł Blehm (POL) 2494 16 123 149 101½

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Kosteniuk and Gunina are Russian, but competed under the Chess Federation of Russia flag, due to WADA sanctions against Russia.


  1. ^ "The winners of FIDE World Rapid & Blitz Championships".
  2. ^ "A Brief History of Fast Chess". Archived from the original on 2017-01-03. Retrieved 2017-01-10.
  3. ^ "CB News: Grischuk wins FIDE World Blitz Championship". 12 September 2006.
  4. ^ "TWIC 681: FIDE World Blitz Cup".
  5. ^ "Dominguez-Perez wins World Blitz Championship in Almaty". 8 November 2008.
  6. ^ "World Blitz Championship: Carlsen wins by three-point margin". 18 November 2009.
  7. ^ "CB News: Aronian wins World Blitz Championship". 18 November 2010.
  8. ^ "Information and Regulations of the International Chess Open Festival "AEROFLOT OPEN 2011" and the Qualification Tournament for the World Blitz Championship 2011" (PDF).
  9. ^ "Regulations for the World Blitz Chess Championship 2012" (PDF).
  10. ^ "Regulations for the FIDE World Blitz Championship 2015" (PDF).
  11. ^ "World Rapid and Blitz Championship postponed to 2021".
  12. ^ "FIDE World Rapid & Blitz Championships will not be held in Kazakhstan in December". FIDE. 8 December 2021. Retrieved 8 December 2021.
  13. ^ a b c "World Rapid & Blitz 2021 to be held in Warsaw, Poland". FIDE. 10 December 2021. Retrieved 10 December 2021.
  14. ^ a b "The winners of FIDE World Rapid & Blitz Championships". Archived from the original on 2020-01-01. Retrieved 2017-01-10.
  15. ^ a b Saudi chess tournament starts without Israeli players
  16. ^
  17. ^ georgian chess federation. "Women's World Blitz Championship 2012". Chess-Results. Retrieved 2 January 2019.
  18. ^ "FIDE World Blitz Chess Championship 2014" (PDF). FIDE. FIDE. Retrieved 2 January 2019.
  19. ^ chess house. "FIDE Women World Blitz Ch. 2016". Chess-Results. Retrieved 2 January 2019.
  20. ^ "King Salman World Blitz Championship 2017 Women". Chess-Results. Retrieved 2 January 2019.
  21. ^ Fedorov, Vladimir. "King Salman World Blitz Championship 2018 Women". Chess-Results. Swiss-Manager. Retrieved 2 January 2019.
  22. ^ "TWIC: World Blitz Mini-Site 2009".
  23. ^ " – Herceg-Novi 1970".
  24. ^ "The Chess Drum: Bobby's Blitz Chess". 16 March 2012.
  25. ^ " – Garry Kasparov vs Kiril Dimitrov Georgiev".
  26. ^ " – Wch-blitz 1988".
  27. ^ Goodman, David (February 20, 1988). "World Champion Eliminated From Blitz Chess Tournament". Associated Press. Retrieved January 26, 2017.
  28. ^ "SPORTS ILLUSTRATED – Your Move, and Make It Snappy (1988)".
  29. ^ "21-Player Salute: Mikhail Nekhemyevich Tal".
  30. ^ "Vishy Anand Strikes At Warsaw: Rapid King Also Blitz King". Archived from the original on 2001-04-24.
  31. ^ " – Anatoly Karpov vs. Viswanathan Anand, GSM World Blitz Cup 2000".
  32. ^ "TWIC: World Blitz Cup 2000".
  33. ^ "Plus GSM World Blitz Chess Cup – ORGANIZERS' REGULATIONS".