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Guillotine in Berlin part one

The World Championship in rapid and blitz took part in Berlin in Alt Moabit region. This was the location of one of the oldest prison in Germany which was built between 1842 and 1849 by order of King Frederick William IV of Prussia. Later in this very prison according to some historians the guillotine was used. The rapid and blitz is a format where the execution is fast like with the guillotine. The tournament took place in the beginning of October and the results are already published. Somehow nobody gave deeper look onto the games and into the process itself. Funny videos were circulating on internet showing undisputed World Champion’s frustration.

The rapid format of chess became popular in Estonia at the end of 80-s last century. The father of rapid format was late World Champioship contender David Bronstein. After he lost the Word Championship match to Mikhail Botvinnik in 1951 he never recovered as a chess player and instead focused on other aspects of chess. He tried to devalue the meaning of winning in chess. His ideas did not find any ground, but the idea of rapid chess somehow grow in popularity and finally the European and World Championships took place.

I was among the participants of World rapid Championship in Mexico in 1989. The tournament was won by Anatoly Karpov. Back then and also today the top players were among winners. Time to time some superb blitz players arose to the elite, but when the time control was changed, adding increments for both blitz and rapid time control the outsiders the real fast players were not any more among the favorites. There were probably in every country some superb blitz players who only mastered the blitz game and not the regular chess.

They were strange personalities like gamblers who were giving time odds to their higher rated players and ofcourse there were some small stakes involved. Once I saw in Tallinn when some Latvian blitz professional was giving time odds to local masters one minute to five. Today it is like equivalent for playing bullet chess on internet which unfortunately is very popular among youngsters. In my opinion this does not improve your chess skills at all and can only harm your chess in long run. Most famous internet chess aficionado is ofcourse Hikaru Nakamura. He did not participate in Berlin because he was involved and won the other tournament in Las Vegas the

How to prepare for rapid and blitz? Mikahil Botvinnik the man who prepared thorough fully for his World Championship matches and defended his title in several times was however big antagonist of blitz. No advise from him. I had participated in numerous chess camps during Soviet Union era and again no such a training existed. Before Berlin event I had a serious training camp, but we mainly focused on openings and probably we missed the practice. Still the openings are the most important part of preparation today, because of use of computers we more or less know the evaluation of nearly every move and every line.

I can not answer today what is the best approach to prepare to win the blitz World Championship. I have some ideas and in the future I like to share them and hope to have some feedback from my students. One is clear however you need to be a very strong player in regular chess already. Ofcourse chess can be fun as well and the rapid format is very emotional experience. This is why was saw so many chess veterans among participants in Berlin.

The opening ceremony in Berlin was short and conducted professionally by the new chess PR company Agon. The European premier of the chess movie “Pawn sacrifice” was the main attraction of the opening ceremony. I could not really enjoy it, not only because there was some technical problem when the movie was interrupted, but because I was eager to start the tournament.

Our team – Alexander Shabalov, Ottomar Ladva and myself did not fulfill our expectations. We all were around 50% throughout the tournament during the rapid and blitz. Missing to meet the very top finishers. Still I had very strong opponents. I had my moments as well. In rapid I missed a forced mate against Nikita Vitugov. The final results are here for rapid and for blitz.