Paravyan, Lazavik, Andreikin, Arjun Qualify For BCC Main Event

Paravyan, Lazavik, Andreikin, Arjun Qualify For BCC Main Event


All 16 participants in the 2023 Bullet Chess Championship are now determined. Along with 10 invited players, the six additional spots have been filled—four of them on Friday.

GMs David Paravyan and Denis Lazavik won in Qualifier 2, while GMs Dmitry Andreikin and Arjun Erigaisi won in Division 3. In all three qualifiers, the player who lost in the Winners Final was able to qualify nevertheless in the Losers Final.

The main event begins on July 17, at 3:30 p.m. ET/21:30 CEST.

Qualifier 2

Just as on Thursday, each qualifier started with an hour-long arena where players accumulated as many points as they could. The time control was 1+0. The top eight finishers moved on to the knockout stage. 

Early in the arena, something rare occurred: in a trivially winning position, GM Rauf Mamedov accidentally promoted his pawn to a knight instead of a queen, and the game ended in a draw. Playing bullet chess without auto-queen on is quite a brave endeavor!

Paravyan ultimately won the arena with 31 wins, five losses, and three draws—nearly the same score as GM Hikaru Nakamura, but with one less loss.

He and Nakamura played five times, and Paravyan won three while losing two. The cleanest win was the following, where a space advantage transformed to connected passed pawns on the queenside. Although the engine found defenses, in a practical game it was too tall an order.

Nakamura and GM Jose Martinez (Jospem) did not advance to the knockout because they are already admitted to the main event. Thus, the others in the top 10 moved on.

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

The top four finishers played in the Winners Bracket, while the bottom four played in the Losers. The benefit of playing in the Winners Bracket is having a “second life” in the double elimination system.

Winners Bracket

Paravyan finished his Friday evening with another first-place finish. He beat GM Alexander Grischuk 7-4 and GM Denis Lazavik 7-3 to claim his spot in the main event.

Although blunders are to be expected, some games featured unexpectedly high-quality chess. Paravyan won game one and their second game ended in a draw. The quality of moves and the speed with which they played them in that second game might deceive you into thinking this was a blitz game not 1+0 with zero increment.

After game seven, Paravyan led by one point, but he broke away with three wins in the last three games.

Lazavik blundered a piece in the first game of that decisive streak, and the last two games ended with checkmate on the board. The penultimate game was the nicest, where a misstep by White allowed Paravyan to demonstrate the danger of opposite-colored bishops with heavy pieces still on the board.

Losers Bracket 

Lazavik avenged himself in the Losers Bracket by defeating IM Renato Terry in a one-sided match ending with a 7-3 score. After an equal score following two games, Lazavik won four in a row and then made three draws to close out the match—a disappointing ending for the Peruvian GM who made it to the Final in Qualifier 2 as well.

The games weren’t positional masterpieces. What was important was that Lazavik played solidly and quickly. The fourth win featured a cute checkmate. Can you find it?

Qualifier 3

If playing with Nakamura in the arena made entering the top eight challenging, then imagine playing with both Nakamura and GM Magnus Carlsen in the mix. Carlsen was also already invited to the BCC, but that didn’t stop him from jumping into the fun.

Ultimately, the top five finishers were already invited into the event, so places six through 13 advanced to the knockout. GM Andrew Tang won all the pride points, ahead of Carlsen and Nakamura.  

Although it didn’t have significance for the tournament, Carlsen had the better score against Nakamura in this tournament, with a score of +3 -2 =2. Both led the tournament at different points, and the following mouse slip by Carlsen may have brought back sour memories.

Terry, who had already gotten into the finals of the last two qualifiers, once again made it into the knockout. He won the following game against Martinez with four queens on the board.

Besides Terry, Grischuk and Mamedov also returned to the knockout after failing to win in Qualifier 2. All the others were fresh faces.

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

Winners Bracket

Andreikin beat GM S.L. Narayanan 5.5-3.5 in the Semifinals, thanks largely to a three-game winning streak between games three to five. He faced Arjun in the Final. 

This was an extremely close match. After one draw, the next nine games were decisive. The final score was 5.5-4.5 and was settled only in the last game. There, Erigaisi went for an ambitious and erroneous piece sacrifice (although sacrificing the piece a different way may have worked)—after a few moves, there was no attack, and Andreikin converted the advantage.

Losers Bracket 

After losing in the Winners Final, Arjun completed the pattern of attaining the second qualifying spot in the Losers Final. Again, that’s the bright side of landing in the top four of the arena. He defeated Mamedov with a powerhouse score of 5.5-1.5. 

Mamedov made it to the Losers Final by defeating GM Cristobal Henriquez Villagra 7-3, Narayanan 6-4, and then Grischuk 7-5.

That last match, against Grischuk, was uncharacteristic for a bullet match, as the commentators pointed out. In a time control more commonly associated with dirty flagging, the two grandmasters showed a surprisingly high level of honor by resigning positions that were lost, without trying to win on time.

The Azerbaijani grandmaster won the final game by skewering Black’s rook.

Arjun didn’t lose a single game in the match, winning four and drawing three. Unlike the match with Grischuk, no chivalry was shown. The clock mattered in, for example, game two, where Arjun was down a queen but won on time.

To be fair to Arjun, he did win most of the games by position and not just flagging, but the clock certainly helped!

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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