Exciting news for chess fans worldwide as over 250 of the world’s top players are gathered in Poland to play over-the-board matches.
Online rapid and blitz chess games can certainly be entertaining and this form of play has become necessary due to the pandemic. But nothing beats the adrenaline rush of two Grandmasters face-to-face slamming the clock to eke out every second of a blitz game. This tournament will be very fun to watch – especially for fans that appreciate the difficulty of thinking and moving at a much faster pace than classical chess.
The World Rapid and Blitz Championships have become a nice tradition for the last days of the yearFIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich
The 2021 version of the FIDE World Rapid and Blitz Championships will take place in Warsaw, Poland. The tournament will be held at PGE Narodowy Stadium, the home stadium of the Polish national football team. The total prize fund for the event is $1,000,000. The prize fund’s allocation is $700,000 for the open tournament and $300,000 for the women’s event. The tournament starts on December 25th and ends on December 31st, right before the start of the new year.
The announcement by Fide indicates that Tatneft has become the official sponsor of the event. Tatneft is one of the largest Russian vertically integrated oil companies developing oil, gas, and petrochemical products.
“We are extremely happy that we have been able to host this event despite all the difficulties. The World Rapid and Blitz Championships have become a nice tradition for the last days of the year, like the hockey NHL Winter Classic, the Boxing Day football match in the UK, or the NBA Christmas Day games. Many people in the world enjoy a holiday during this period, and they look forward to watching their favorite sport,” said FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich. “We are very grateful to Tatneft for their contribution towards this event. While the pandemic is still not over, chess life shall continue, and Tatneft’s support has been decisive to make these championships happen,” he added.
Fide’s preview announcement of the event mentions a number of high-profile participants in the event. The list is headed by five-time Classical World Champion and the reigning Rapid and Blitz World Champion Magnus Carlsen (Norway), followed by the number 2 in the FIDE rankings Alireza Firouzja. The Iranian-born Firouzja recently became the youngest ever 2800-rated player. The three latest challengers to the world championship title, Ian Nepomniachtchi (2021), Fabiano Caruana (2018), and Sergey Karjakin (2016), will also be present. Other favorites are Hikaru Nakamura (USA), who won bronze (in rapid) and silver (in blitz) in the last edition of the Rapid and Blitz Championships (2019), and the three-time world blitz champion Alexander Grischuk.
From the Polish perspective, all eyes will be on the local star, Jan-Krzysztof Duda (Krakow, Poland), whose popularity has reached new heights after winning the 2021 World Cup this summer in Sochi. This weekend Duda became the European Blitz Champion with a remarkable score of 18/22.
In the women’s section, the highest-rated players are the defending Women’s Blitz World Champion Kateryna Lagno, Aleksandra Goryachkina, Alexandra Kosteniuk, Valentina Gunina (all representing CFR), Anna Muzychuk, Mariya Muzychuk (both Ukraine), Nana Dzagnidze (Georgia), the reigning Women’s Rapid World Champion Humpy Koneru and Harika Dronavalli (both from India), and Antoaneta Stefanova (Bulgaria).