Martinez, Ohanyan Qualify For Bullet Chess Championship Main Event

Martinez, Ohanyan Qualify For Bullet Chess Championship Main Event


GM Jose Martinez and IM Emin Ohanyan won the Qualifier 1 Winners and Losers brackets, respectively, to qualify for the 2023 Bullet Chess Championship main event, which begins on July 17.

In the Winners Bracket, Martinez won a one-sided match against Ohanyan, attaining his qualifying spot with a convincing score of 6.5-1.5. But Ohaynan was not disheartened and went on to defeat IM Renato Terry in the Losers Final. 

Four more qualifying participants will be determined in Qualifiers 2 and 3, which start on Friday, July 7, at 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. ET/18:00 and 21:00 CEST, respectively.

The qualifier started with a one-hour arena. The top eight finishers, in a field of 216 players, would move on to play knockout matches in a double-elimination bracket. All games at every stage of the event are played at the 1+0 time control. 

GM Hikaru Nakamura is already one of 10 players to be invited to the event, but he was still allowed to participate in the arena. He won the tournament by a wide margin, maintaining a lead that was never in doubt, capping off at 128 points total—35 wins, three losses, one draw. 

The American bullet specialist gave up his spot in the knockout portion to the next finisher—meaning finishing in the top nine was the goal for other players.

Indonesian IM Yoseph Theolifus Taher came in second with 82 points. One of the most aesthetic wins came in an early game against GM Oleksandr Bortnyk. Go ahead and put it on the board below.

GM Aydin Suleymanli finished just a point behind. In a game against GM Jeffery Xiong, he nicely demonstrated that objective evaluations do not neatly apply to bullet chess. He was a piece down but with constant play against the white king. While the super-GM Xiong would convert the advantage with his eyes closed in slow chess, king safety proved too big a factor in this game.

(Full final standings and arena games can be found here.)

The top four finishers (minus Nakamura) played in one bracket, while the bottom four finishers played in the second bracket. The winner of each would qualify for the main event, without playing in a grand final.

The players would face off in one-on-one matches with a 15-minute timer counting down. The player to win the most games in the allotted time would win the match.

Winners Bracket

Martinez beat GM Aydin Suleymanli and then Ohanyan to finish atop the Winners Bracket and secure his spot in the main event. 

The first match was toe-to-toe as Martinez and Suleymanli had 1.5 points apiece after three games. But it was in the next three that the Peruvian GM broke away.

In a typical situation for bullet chess, he outpaced his opponent on the clock with lightning speed in a rook endgame with equal pawns.

After a draw, he won the second game in a similar style, pre-moving to glory in an equal opposite-color bishop endgame. The final score was 5 to 3 in favor of Martinez.

The final match against Ohanyan was more one-sided. Martinez won the first game, dropped a loss, but then won three games in a row. After a draw, he won two more to finish 6.5-1.5. 

The last one was an absolutely blistering attack where he followed GM Bobby Fischer‘s advice of pushing the h-pawn and proceeding to “Sac, sac, mate!” after sacrificing his knight on e5.

Losers Bracket

Ohanyan had the last laugh in the Losers though, where he defeated IM Renato Terry in the Final. The Peruvian IM Terry, who finished ninth (just barely qualifying for the knockout), came oh so close to adding a second Peruvian name to the main event.

Terry’s ascension to the top of the Losers Bracket was marked by miracles and comebacks. After he defeated GM Dmitry Andreikin 5.5-2.5 in Round 1, and Taher 6-3 in the Quarterfinals, he staged an unbelievable comeback against Suleymanli in the Semifinals.

In that match, he lost the first three games in a row, but then he went on to win four consecutive games and take the lead himself. 

After dropping a loss in game eight, he won the very last one (game 10) to end the match. The final score was 5.5-4.5. 

Although Terry won the first game in his final match against Ohanynan, the Armenian IM won games three and four to usurp the lead. Game four was perhaps the most critical turning point of all, as Terry was completely winning but overlooked the miraculous save for his opponent.

Ohanyan would lose game six and a wild game seven ended in a draw, leaving the match completely level. The Armenian youngster was able to flag his opponent in an equal rook endgame to win the match with a final score of 4.5-3.5. 

The Bullet Chess Championship 2023 (BCC) is’s most elite bullet chess event and part of the Speed Chess Championship series. The event’s qualifiers happen on July 6 and 7, with the main event occurring on July 17 through 21. The fastest players in the world compete for their share of the $100,000 prize fund and a spot in the Speed Chess Championship’s main event.  

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