Nakamura Confirms Spot In Final, Nears 5th SCC Title

Nakamura Confirms Spot In Final, Nears 5th SCC Title


The showdown between two of’s pre-eminent blitz and bullet chess players in the 2022 Speed Chess Championship was comfortably won by GM Hikaru Nakamura on Thursday.

The defending champion took an early lead over GM Nihal Sarin and never let go, once again opting to play unorthodox openings to spice up the semifinal.

Nakamura, who went into the match feeling “burned out,” will need to find some energy if he is to secure his fifth straight title on December 20, where a mouth-watering clash with GM Magnus Carlsen is still possible.

The second grand finalist will be determined when Carlsen takes on GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave on December 16 at 10 a.m. PT / 19:00 CET.

Blitz 5|1: Nakamura-Nihal 5-3

After one of his best and busiest years over the board, Nakamura made it clear in his post-match interview that his strategy today was to preserve energy, stating: “Going into this match I figured I’d just play anything and have some fun … try to save what little I have left in the tank for the World Rapid & Blitz [Championships].”

Speaking of “fun,” the Anderssen and Clemenz Openings (1.a3 and 1.h3 respectively) made their triumphant return on Thursday and were crucial in helping Nakamura gain an early lead. Although he found himself in a worse position with White in the first game, the opening was annoying enough that Nihal found himself content with a tactical threefold repetition as he settled in.

Game two was a foreshadowing of the type of repertoire we can expect to see from the blitz maestro at the World Rapid and Blitz Championship later this month as he was able to easily equalize in the Queen’s Gambit Accepted and deftly punish Nihal with a passed d-pawn.

A 2.5/3 score to kick off the match had commentators Naroditsky and Hess starting to ponder whether another blowout in the championship would occur, but Nihal, never one to be counted out, bounced back to win his first full point in game five with some enterprising endgame play.

The most telling game of the 5+1 section came in game six when the pair traded into a queen and pawn ending on move 34, with neither player realizing that a decisive result would take 66 moves to come to! Nakamura was able to demonstrate how to make progress in the seemingly drawn queen endgame, utilizing his queen and b-pawn to run a block play worthy of NFL offensive linemen as Nihal ran out of checks.

Both players seemed relatively happy with the two-point deficit that had opened up and undramatically drew the last two games of the segment to finish with a 5-3 score. Nihal, whose 3,200+ bullet rating on makes him one of the few that can go toe to toe with Nakamura in blitz, seemed more than happy to attempt to close the gap as the time control quickened.

Although the bullet leaderboards change often, both players comfortably sit within the top 10 at all times.

Blitz 3|1: Nakamura-Nihal 4.5-4.5

Two wins for the Fischer Random world champion in the first and second 3+1 games left the Indian prodigy with a lot of work to do, but soon after he would swing the momentum of the match and win three of the next five games to reel in the lead to two points once more.

The first of Nihal’s wins in this passage of play was nothing short of extraordinary, a combo of incisive moves leaving the commentators gobsmacked with little more to say than: “What a move!”

In between wins, the American blitzer would steal a point from his opponent in a time scramble that Hess would describe as a “backbreaker.” In classic style, all three results were possible by move 37, but it was the world number-five who came up truimphant.

Our chaotic game of the day has been analyzed by GM Rafael Leitao below.

GM Rafael Leitao GotD

A well-timed knight sacrifice four games later felt quiet in comparison to the action of the previous games, but the pressure on Nakamura certainly began to build around this time as the scores locked at 4.5-4.5 in the 3+1 section.

Heading into the 1+1 games with a lead of two, the pressure for Nakamura to prove his mettle against one of the most cunning bullet chess players in the game.

Bullet 1|1: Nakamura-Nihal 5-3

Nakamura was like a bull out of the gates as he charged to a hat-trick of wins, the Indian prodigy having a torrid time dealing with his opponent in the early minutes of the final stage. 

The “grizzled veteran” used the same strategy as he did against GM Levon Aronian just days ago, sponging up the match clock and creating a pressure-cooker environment for his trailing opponent. The pressure was so immense on his 18-year-old opponent that it led to several incomprehensible blunders in completely drawn positions.

The chess was anything but clean, but this played right into the multi-time Speed Chess Championship winner’s hands as he sped and swindled his way to a five-point lead. Nihal was still impressive and resourceful during this period and nearly made a miraculous save in the 18th game but was shut down at the last moment.

Having soaked up several minutes on the match clock with an 84-mover, Nakamura was able to sustain dual losses as the clock wound down and finish with a 14.5-10.5 score. The result means that the American’s attention will immediately turn to his potential opponent in the final, Carlsen or Vachier-Lagrave, whose December 16 match will determine the pairing for a blockbuster finale.

Could it be that the Carlsen-Nakamura rematch takes place? Sounds like an internet breaker!

Besides his ambitions in the Speed Chess Championship, Nakamura also provided insight into his dream to win either the world rapid or blitz chess titles in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

Nakamura received $4,740 for his semifinal victory while Nihal received $1,260 in consolation.

All Games – Semifinals

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.

Previous reports:


Source link

Tinggalkan Balasan