Nihal Shines In Win Over Ding

Nihal Shines In Win Over Ding


GM Nihal Sarin emerged victorious from his intergenerational clash with world championship challenger GM Ding Liren in the 2022 Speed Chess Championship quarterfinals on Friday with a score of 17-9 after outpacing his opponent as the time control quickened.

Following his runner-up placing in the inaugural Global Championship and Junior Speed Chess Championship earlier in 2022, Nihal kept his momentum rolling and smashed his opponent by a 7.5-1.5 margin in the bullet portion.

The 18-year-old’s play was a reminder to spectators that he is one of the world’s pre-eminent chess players when it comes to blitz and bullet chess. 

The next quarterfinal between GMs Hikaru Nakamura and Levon Aronian will take on December 12 at 10 a.m. PT / 19:00 CET.

Blitz 5|1: Ding-Nihal 4.5-4.5

The match commenced with what would likely be the most competitive time control of the day and the 4.5-4.5 tie in the segment followed the script of what was to be expected. Ding, who is almost exclusively a 1.d4 player surprised with 1.e4 in the first game and scored the first point after crushing Nihal’s Caro-Kann. 

Not to be outdone, the Indian prodigy returned fire in the very next game and ruthlessly cut Ding’s position to pieces with a flurry of great and brilliant moves, taking only 19 moves to derail the Chinese challengers Sicilian Defense.

A second straight win followed and this time the world number-70 was able to show some tactical flair, spotting the slicing Bxg3!! which ended any hope of a draw for White.

The community bracket showed a 49% to 51% win prediction percentage, which indicated that the match would go down as one of the closest in Speed Chess Championship history. After four games apiece fans were not disappointed as the two had locked things up at 2-2. 

Dual wins for Nihal sprouting from chaotic middlegames made something apparent that had a great impact on the remainder of the match: the bullet maestro was riding his increment far better than his opponent.

Ding’s proclivity for flagging seemed to become apparent in the sixth game when his time expired in a better position, but it was later acknowledged that a connection issue was responsible for the loss. Ever the sportsman, Nihal resigned the following game in a show of solidarity.

The candidate’s runner-up recovered well from the earlier incident and won the penultimate game of the segment, tying up the scores once more with a picturesque exchange sacrifice and capitalization on a brain explosion from his opponent.

With neither player willing to risk heading into the break with a deficit, a tame draw transpired in the ninth game and the stage was set at 4.5-4.5. 

Blitz 3|1: Ding-Nihal 3-5

Momentum played its part as the 3+1 games kicked off and Ding took the lead for the first time in the match following a draw and two wins to kick off the segment. An injection of pace seemed to do the trick for the Chinese GM who kept things simple and trusted his intuition in games 11 and 12.

Little did Ding know that his lead would be short-lived and his opponent would run riot for the remainder of the match. A one-move blunder in the 13th game allowed Nihal to move within one point of the leader who proceeded to score 3.5/4.

Chess is very much a momentum-based game and Nihal rode the wave on Friday. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Another flagging transpired in game 16, which proved to be critical as it returned the lead to the Indian superstar.

The world number-two was slightly off-color throughout the middle stages of the match and made several harrowing blunders, but Nihal certainly took his chances when they arrived and created ample imbalance in order to throw off his opponent. Game 17 was a perfect example of this as he was able to transform a drawish Queens Gambit Declined into a rook and bishop versus queen ending (with pawns on each side) where he incited a blunder from White and won the full point.

Bullet 1|1: Ding-Nihal 1.5-7.5

Building on a three-game win streak and a two-point lead, Nihal boosted his chances by striking in the first two bullet games. Resilient defense was the focal point of the 19th game which was the deserving winner of our Game of the Day. Despite facing a +7 edge for White at one point of the game, he was able to produce a crucial swindle. 

GM Dejan Bojkov has outlined how the game unfolded below. Game of the Day Dejan Bojkov

Needing to act quickly to recover from an expanding deficit, Ding was able to win in the 21st game, but the endurance of Nihal was impossible to match and the unrelenting virtuoso piled on the misery, going on yet another five-game streak that closed out the match.

The streak was aided by several moments where time trouble plagued the Chinese super-GM, sometimes in equal or better positions.

For his quarterfinal win, Nihal received $4,950 and the opportunity to play in the semifinals against the winner of the Nakamura-Aronian match, while Ding received $1,050 for his efforts.

All Games – Quarterfinals

Speed Chess Championship 2022 Bracket

The 2022 Speed Chess Championships Main Event started on November 23 and will conclude on December 16. Top speed-chess players are competing at three different time controls in a 16-player knockout as they vie for a share of the $100,000 prize fund along with the most prestigious title in online chess.

The likes of GMs Magnus Carlsen, Hikaru Nakamura, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Ding Liren, Nodirbek Abdusattorov, and many more battle it out to determine the 2022 speed chess champion.

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