FIDE World Rapid & Blitz Championships 2021: Preview

One of the most anticipated events in the chess calendar, the FIDE Rapid and Blitz Championship, is around the corner. The open and women’s championships that have been held concurrently since 2016 will take place from December 25-31 in Warsaw, Poland, at PGE Narodowy Stadium. Traditionally, the participants will fight not only for titles and glory but also for substantial prize money.

World Rapid & Blitz prize distribution:

World RapidPrizeWorld BlitzPrize
1st place$60,0001st place$60,000
2nd place$50,0002nd place$50,000
3rd place$40,0003rd place$40,000
4th place$30,0004th place$30,000
5th place$25,0005th place$25,000
6th place$22,0006th place$22,000
7th place$18,0007th place$18,000
8th place$14,0008th place$14,000
9th place$11,0009th place$11,000
10th place$8,00010th place$8,000
11-16th places$5,000 each11-16th places$5,000 each
17-25th places$3,000 each17-25th places$3,000 each
26-35th places$1,5000 each26-35th places$1,5000 each

Women’s World Rapid & Blitz prize distribution:

Women’sWorld RapidPrizeWomen’sWorld BlitzPrize
1st place$40,0001st place$40,000
2nd place$30,0002nd place$30,000
3rd place$20,0003rd place$20,000
4th place$15,0004th place$15,000
5th place$10,0005th place$10,000
6th place$7,0006th place$7,000
7th place$6,0007th place$6,000
8th place$5,0008th place$5,000
9th place$4,0009th place$4,000
10th place$3,00010th place$3,000
11-15th places$2,000 each11-15th places$2,000 each

The reigning champion in all three formats (classical, rapid and blitz), Magnus Carlsen, is heading into the event as a clear favourite, but his old and new rivals are eager to challenge his supremacy. Can Magnus repeat his triumph of  2014 and 2019 and win a double-crown?

Fresh from Gashimov Memorial, Fabiano Caruana (the winner of the event), Richard RapportShakhriyar Mamedyarov and former World Rapid and Blitz Champion (2013 and 2016, respectively) Sergey Karjakin seem to be in good form and ready for battle.

The winner of the 2021 Speed Chess Championship, Hikaru Nakamura (who trounced Wesley So in the final of this competition), has not played OTB chess for quite a while, but you never discard the American when it comes to fast chess formats.

The second-rated player in the world, young star Alireza Firouzja who gave Carlsen a real run for his money in the last Rapid Championship (2019), will definitely try to climb one step higher this time. Another young player, a local hero, freshly-mint European Blitz Champion Jan-Krzysztof Duda, who competed with Magnus for gold to the very last round in the Blitz Championship three years ago, will do his best on the home turf.

Last but not least, let’s not forget about a quartet from CFR: the recent World Championship challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi, World Rapid Champion (2018) Daniil Dubov, three-time World Blitz Champion Alexander Grischuk and a speed-chess specialist Vladislav Artemiev.

The Chinese players are not coming to Poland due to Covid-19  restrictions, which makes Humpy Koneru’s task of defending her Women’s Rapid Champion title a bit easier, at least on paper. Still, she is up against the powerful opposition from top CFR, Ukrainian, Georgian and Kazakhstani players, and we can expect a very close race in the Women’s Rapid Championship.

As for the Women’s Blitz Championship, it will be interesting to see whether Kateryna Lagno can win her third straight title. Such a feat will not come easy, but it doesn’t look like “mission impossible” for the world’s #3 in Women’s Rapid List.

We have five days of exciting chess ahead of us. Unfortunately, not all the potential spectators will be able to watch the action live – the organizers will allow only 200 visitors a day due to Covid-19 restrictions (all 1,000 tickets were sold out within an hour). Luckily, the event will be broadcast on various websites, including the official one so chess fans from all around the world can enjoy it in real-time.

Photo: Maria Emelianova and Lennart Ootes


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