So Prevails In Last Knockout

So Prevails In Last Knockout


GM Wesley So won week 25 of the 2022 Rapid Chess Championship presented by Coinbase, defeating GM Ian Nepomniachtchi in a hard-fought final that culminated in an armageddon playoff. 

GMs Hikaru Nakamura and Oleksandr Bortnyk made it to the semifinals. GMs Sam Sevian, Hans Niemann, Jose Martinez, and Benjamin Bok finished in the quarterfinals.

Participating in the event were 39 competitors—open to all GMs as well as the top-10 women, top-10 juniors, as well as 10 wildcards. The Round of 16 of the finals begins on August 18, starting at 9 a.m. PT / 18:00 CEST.

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Nepomniachtchi finished first undefeated with 6.5 points. He won a critical game against Martinez in round five by discovering the stunning 21.Bxh6+! to open up Black’s kingside. 

So finished second, also with 6.5. He won his first four games in a row, including a victory against GM Pavel Eljanov where he turned a structural advantage into a material one.

Bok finished third. He earned his qualification spot by defeating GM Shamsiddin Vokhidov in 31 moves in the final round by accepting his opponent’s pawn sacrifices and defending actively. 

One of the most impressive upsets of the event was when Niemann with the black pieces outplayed GM Fabiano Caruana with pristine middlegame play in round seven. 

Saturday Swiss | Final Standings (Top 20)

Number Rk Fed Title Username Name Rating Score SB
1 8

GM lachesisQ Ian Nepomniachtchi 2748 6.5 32.5
2 2 GM GMWSO Wesley So 2782 6.5 28.25
3 20 GM GMBenjaminBok Benjamin Bok 2651 6.5 27.75
4 15 GM Jospem Jose Eduardo Martinez Alcantara 2667 6.5 24
5 18 GM Oleksandr_Bortnyk Oleksandr Bortnyk 2667 6.5 21
6 1 GM Hikaru Hikaru Nakamura 2799 6 33
7 4 GM Konavets Sam Sevian 2758 6 29.25
8 9 GM HansOnTwitch Hans Niemann 2718 6 26
9 11

GM Grischuk Alexander Grischuk 2677 6 24.25
10 10 GM champ2005 Raunak Sadhwani 2673 6 24
11 22 GM vladislavkovalev Vladislav Kovalev 2641 6 22.25
12 35

GM shimastream Aleksandr Shimanov 2587 6 20.75
13 37 GM Jumbo Rinat Jumabayev 2573 5.5 17.5
14 27 GM Shield12 Shamsiddin Vokhidov 2604 5 24.5
15 3 GM FabianoCaruana Fabiano Caruana 2734 5 22.75
16 12 GM VincentKeymer Vincent Keymer 2636 4.5 21.75
17 17 GM Salem-AR Salem AR Saleh 2620 4.5 16.25
18 21 GM AlexanderL Aleksandr Lenderman 2602 4.5 14.5
19 23

GM dropstoneDP David Paravyan 2601 4.5 14.25
20 40

GM SergeiAza Sergei Azarov 2539 4.5 12.75

(Full final standings here.)


The knockout kicked off with a highly dynamic game in Nepomniachtchi vs. Niemann. Nepomniachtchi, launching an attack on the kingside and center, sacrificed an exchange to open up Niemann’s king. Niemann defended with incredible accuracy for most of the game, discovering the incredible 30.Rd7!

In the final seconds of the game, however, with the draw within his grasp, Niemann made a mistake, and Nepomniachtchi won material.

Martinez sacrificed a pawn in the opening to loosen Bortnyk’s kingside. But Bortnyk gained an advantage by consolidating his center and gaining a second extra pawn. 

So gained an extra pawn and better center control early in the game against Sevian.

In Nakamura vs. Bok, the rapid and blitz games traded down to endings early and ultimately led to draws, though Bok missed an opportunity to press when ahead a pawn in the first game. In the 1+1 tiebreaker, Nakamura’s bullet prowess showed as he gained the better position and time edge. However, he blundered his passed a-pawn and had to win all over again in the time scramble, which he successfully accomplished.

In a bishop pair vs. knight pair ending, Nepomniachtchi fought for over 50 more moves to outmaneuver his opponent, gaining one extra pawn and then a second to win. 

Nakamura pressed So for much of the game but ended up overpressing. So gained an extra pawn and converted it to a victory in the rook ending.

In the final, to the great surprise of the commentators, So missed a winning tactical opportunity in the rapid game. 

Then the players drew in both the blitz and bullet games, leading to an armageddon playoff. In a tense duel, Nepomniachtchi sacrificed the exchange to castle queenside and activate his pieces to support his passed d-pawn. Despite his excellent compensation, Nepomniachtchi blundered tactically, and So swiftly discovered the mistake. 

Throughout the knockout, So displayed incredible board awareness, make few errors, and capitalized on many of the opportunities his opponents offered him. Unfortunately for Nepomniachtchi, this loss caused him to finish just outside of the top 12 and qualification to the upcoming finals. 

In the post-tournament interview, So shared about his Rapid Chess experiences throughout this season: “The first few months of my RCC have definitely been quite awful. I would qualify most of the time, but then I would lose in the quarterfinals. But in the last few weeks, my fortunes have started turning around. I’m playing a lot more online these days. Also, I won twice, and I finished in the semifinals once. Things have certainly been looking up.” 

Standings, Results, Prizes

The winner of the Swiss tournament is Nepomniachtchi, and the winner of the knockout tournament is So. Below are the full standings and prizes of the knockout:

Sunday Knockout | Final Standings

# Fed Player Place Prize
1 Wesley So Winner $7,500

Ian Nepomniachtchi Finalist $3,500
3-4 Hikaru Nakamura Semifinalist $2,500
3-4 Oleksandr Bortnyk Semifinalist $2,500
5-8 Sam Sevian Quarterfinalist $1,000
5-8 Hans Niemann Quarterfinalist $1,000
5-8 Jose Martinez Quarterfinalist $1,000
5-8 Benjamin Bok Quarterfinalist $1,000

The Rapid Chess Championship has been a weekly tournament held by It has been a nine-round Swiss event with a 10+0 time control held every Saturday, followed by a knockout event on Sunday between the top-eight finishers and a 10+2 time control. If players draw, they play a 3+2 game; if drawn, they play a 1+1 game; and if that is drawn, a single armageddon game is played.

The Rapid Chess Championship is brought to you by Coinbase. Whether you’re looking to make your first crypto purchase or you’re an experienced trader, Coinbase has you covered. Earn crypto by learning about crypto with Coinbase Earn, explore DeFi and web3 with Coinbase Wallet, get exclusive rewards when you spend with Coinbase Card, and much more. Learn more at and get $10 in bitcoin when you sign up and verify your account.

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