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2017: Norway and India on the throne in both speed chess and traditional chess

2017 was a very good year for chess in Norway and India. In November, the 18-year-old Norwegian Aryan Tari became Junior (under 20) World Chess Champion, with Chithambaram Aravindh from India finishing second and the prodigy Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu (only 12 years old!) number four. This indicates a bright future for chess in both countries. At present, we have the unusual situation that both the World Chess Champion and the Junior World Chess Champion come from the same country. For a small country like Norway, this is even more spectacular. Last week there were new successes for India and Norway in the World Championships in Rapid and Blitz Chess.

Last week the World Blitz and Rapid Chess Championships 2017 took place in Saudi Arabia. Contrary to traditional chess, where one game usually lasts for 5 – 6 hours, things happen very quickly in the speed disciplines: A rapid game normally lasts for less than one hour, and a blitz game less than 10 minutes. In the Rapid Championship, 15 games were played over three days, while 21 games were played over 2 days in the Blitz discipline – both extremely exhausting for the players.

The championships turned out to be a big success for Viswanathan (Vishy) Anand. In the Rapid chess, he ended up as World Champion after tiebreak matches against Vladimir Fedoseev from Russia. World’s number one chess player for the last 5 years, Magnus Carlsen from Norway, ended as no. 4, half a point behind. According to Anand himself, his victory was a big surprise since he has had some quite disappointing results recently. Anand, aged 47, is now very much a senior in these events – he has belonged to the world’s elite for more than 20 years, which is extremely impressive.

Magnus Carlsen had stated that his goal was to win both the Rapid and the Blitz titles. Thereby he would repeat his incredible achievement from 2014, being the first person ever to hold simultaneously the three titles of World Chess Champion, World Rapid Chess Champion and World Blitz Chess Champion. Thus, ending fourth in the Rapid discipline was a little disappointing. However, he won the Blitz title in a very convincing way – he was already Champion before the 21st and last match. Also in this tournament, Anand played very well and finished third after Sergey Karjakin from Russia.

Blitz chess is very audience-friendly, since the players seldom use more than 10 seconds before they make the next move. In Norway, the championships were broadcast live on national television. For the last five years, it has surprisingly managed to reach a big audience with its chess broadcasts. Many non-chessplayers have also been captured by the broadcasts, where chess experts, TV personalities and other celebrities are giving comments to the games, suggest possible plans and next moves etc., making it very exciting and understandable for the viewers – along with chess anecdotes, jokes and fun facts. The achievements of Magnus Carlsen have of course also contributed a lot to this TV success.