After 9 rounds of blitz, the tournament saw a new leader. Coming into the day, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Levon Aronian were tied for the lead with 13 points each but by the end of the day Vachier-Lagrave leapfrogged his closest rival and is leading by half a point. Ding Liren and Sergey Karjakin had the best showing today, scoring 6 points each and are in third and fifth place respectively. Tomorrow promises to be an exciting day as anyone in top five can win the event.
Combined rapid and day 1 blitz standings. In the rapid, a win is worth 2 points, a draw is 1 point and a loss is 0. In the blitz, a win is 1 point, a draw is .5 points and a loss is 0
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave had a difficult start to his day by losing two games in a row, first to Magnus Carlsen then to the wildcard of the event, Richard Rapport. His recovery was slow as he scored 1.5 points in the next three games defeating Mamedyarov, drawing Karjakin and losing to Ding Liren. He finished the day strong with wins over Caruana, Yu Yangyi and Levon Aronian. The big face off was in the last round between Vachier-Lagrave and Aronian. The Frenchman was half a point behind but was able to turn the tables around after Aronian erred on move 26, allowing Vachier-Lagrave to deliver a mating attack with a rook lift. With this win, Vachier-Lagrave overtook his opponent in the standings.
Levon Aronian had a more solid day with 2 losses, 1 win and 6 draws. His tournament could have gone either way as he was both on the giving and receiving end of a few lucky breaks. For example, in his game against Yu Yangyi, the Chinese player missed a backrank mate and barely survived the endgame. Richard Rapport had a huge time advantage on the clock against Aronian, but decided to end the game with a repetition instead of trying to flag his opponent. In the game against Caruana, he missed an opportunity to win a queen by force. These kinds of mistakes never happen at the top level, but are a common occurrence in blitz when both sides are playing with only seconds on the clock.
Ding Liren started and ended the day in third place mainly because he was three points behind the leaders after the rapid. The Chinese player was the only one who did not lose any games today and is now only half a point behind the leaders. His two crucial wins were against Carlsen and Vachier-Lagrave, which allowed to knock points off his closest competitors. The game against Vachier-Lagrave was a tumultuous affair; the Frenchman had a strong attack and was winning at some point but blundered instead. His win against Carlsen was particularly instructive and technical where showed good technique by creating a passed pawn, not getting greedy and keeping control of the position. A repetition of today’s result could potentially allow the Chinese star to win this event.
Yu Yangyi and Richard Rapport may be considered the spoilers of the tournament as they are the wildcards and do not qualify for Grand Chess Tour points. Both players had phenomenal start to their day but stumbled later on. Yu Yangyi scored an impressive 4./6, defeating Caruana, Dominguez and Carlsen in the process while drawing Ding Liren, Rapport and Carlsen. His first loss was in round 7 against Vachier-Lagrave, when with little time on the clock he entered a losing king and pawn endgame. He lost the next game to Karjakin after blunder a fork and losing an exchange. He ended the day with a win over Mamedyarov. He is now in fourth place.
Richard Rapport had a powerful day, scoring 5 points in 6 games. He started with two wins against Caruana and Vachier-Lagrave, with the latter result allowing Aronian take a temporary lead in the tournament. He was the only person to defeat Karjakin with a powerful attack. After drawing Aronian and Ding Liren in rounds 7 and 8 consequently, he succumbed to the World Champion in the final round, thus falling behind in the standings.
Sergey Karjakin’s result from today comes as no surprise as he is a former World Blitz Champion and has had extraordinary results in previous Grand Chess Tour blitz events. He showed excellent technique to defeat the World Champion in an endgame and finished the win with three consecutive wins against Caruana, Yu Yangyi and Dominguez. He is currently three points behind the leaders but can move up in the standings significantly if he can keep the momentum going tomorrow.
Magnus Carlsen has a topsy turvy day scoring 50% but his play remained shaky throughout. In the post game interview he confessed that his confidence is low and he simply wants the tournament to end.
Just as in the rapid, Dominguez had a poor start losing the first two games but shook up the standings by defeating both Vachier-Lagrave and Aronian later in the day. Caruana had a horrendous showing, drawing three games and losing the rest. Mamedyarov once again lost five games in a row and is in last place.