I started well with 3/3. The quality of my play was pointing in the right direction, indicating that I handled the early rounds better than in Rapid.
After a draw in round 4 I met leader Karjakin (4/4) with white and achieved a pleasant position from an innocuous opening. I somehow blundered a queen and rook fork and had to give my queen for a rook. In a normally dead lost position I managed to hang on, but eventually lost the king and queen versus king and rook ending having missed to claim a threefold repetition as some point.
The rest of the tournament I played many good games and overall I have to be very satisfied with my play.
After day 1 Karjakin and I shared the lead at 10/12, with the rest trailing by 1,5 points and more. Day 2: After a bit hesitant start, and another loss to Ivanchuk, I won round 17 and 18 and was sole leader with 14 points head of Karjakin at 13.5. Amazingly 2.5/3 in the finish was not enough. Karjakin managed to win all three and had slightly higher rating opposition overall. Losing another title on tie-break after the excellent score 16.5/21 was quite devastating.
In summary, I was clearly the biggest favorite in the Blitz, and I played reasonably well generally being able to slowly outplay my opponents. That is not always enough as one of the others may have a brilliant event. This time, Karjakin had margins on his side and turned several lost positions into victory. He also played very well throughout the event and got a partial revenge from the New York-match. Dubov took third edging out Nakamura and Grischuk on tie-break, all at 14.5 points.
Overall tying for first in both events is of course objectively a good performance, but I’m not satisfied, and I have to find better ways to improve and prepare for the 2017 World Rapid and Blitz and other fast time control events.
Thank you organizer Mohamed Al-Medaihki and all the others involved in staging this great event!
Magnus Carlsen, January 1st, 2017