Daniil Dubov became the World Rapid Champion in St Petersburg. (Image credit: Twitter)
For the last two editions of the World Rapid championships, it was the veterans who had dominated the format. In 2016, Vasilly Ivanchuk of Ukraine, then 47-years of age, stunned the chess world with a dramatic victory in the World Rapid championships in Doha. In 2017, Viswanathan Anand silenced critics and stunned the new generation of chess players where he stayed unbeaten in the tournament in Riyadh to be crowned the new World Rapid Champion. However, the young brigade fought back and made the format their own. In the 2018 World Rapid Chess and Blitz Championship in St Petersburg, 22-year-old Daniil Dubov, who worked as one of the seconds for reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen, put up a clinical performance to become the new Rapid World Champion in St Petersburg on Saturday.
For Viswanathan Anand, heading into the final day of the tournament, Anand was in joint ninth place and was just one point behind the top. However, Anand failed to win the remaining games and registered draws from rounds 12 to 15 to finish joint 23rd. Carlsen, who had made a disastrous start losing his first two games, staged a stunning comeback but some more crucial losses at key intervals resulted in him managing a fourth-place finish. In fact, Carlsen could have forced a tie-breaker in the rapid and he won his final game against Hikaru Nakamura but the American displayed solid defence and the game ended in a draw. The fact that Carlsen managed a fourth place finish despite losing the most games among the top players was a tribute to his brilliance.
The final scores were Dubov 11/15, with Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan securing the silver medal while Nakamura settled for the bronze medal.
The action now shifts to the Blitz section of the tournament and Carlsen, who has won the title three times, including one in 2017, will once again be the star. However, apart from Carlsen and Dubov, the presence of Iraninan 15-year-old Grand Master Alireza Firouzja has drawn plenty of buzz. Alireza put up a magnificent performance in the rapid section finishing in eighth position, ahead of the likes of Anand, Sergey Karjakin and Ian Nepomniachtchi.