Matching Mocktails: Carlsen Defeats Chessbrah In Bullet Debut

Matching Mocktails: Carlsen Defeats Chessbrah In Bullet Debut


The favorites swept the underdogs in the opening round of the Bullet Chess Championship 2023 on Monday.

Debuting in the event, GM Magnus Carlsen won nearly every game vs. GM Eric Hansen. GM Oleksandr Bortnyk fought off GM Fabiano Caruana‘s comeback. GM Alireza Firouzja‘s score grew steadily vs. GM Denis Lazavik. Defending champion, GM Hikaru Nakamura, won his match vs. IM Emin Ohanyan by the largest margin.

GM Anish Giri proved himself to be the underdog to watch, battling GM Jose Martinez into double overtime before the latter edged ahead. 

The action continues on Tuesday, July 18, at 12:00 p.m. ET / 18:00 CEST / 8:30 p.m. IST

How to watch?

Round 1 – Selected Matches

Firouzja vs. Lazavik 14.5-3.5

As the 2021 Bullet Chess Champion with a peak rating of 3521, Firouzja was the heavy favorite against his younger opponent. Early in the match, he began to run away with the lead, gaining a commanding lead that grew continuously. Game 15 was an example of the high-quality tactical awareness Firouzja is capable of despite the lightning-fast time control. 

Bortnyk vs. Caruana 14-5

Even with Caruana’s many accolades in classical chess, rapid, and blitz, Bortnyk was the bullet favorite, due to his vast experience. His strength in the faster time control showed in the nature of the games. Caruana often played well on the board, but the intense time pressure in the critical positions led to uncharacteristic blunders and time losses. 

After a premove blunder in the first game, Bortnyk recovered with four wins in a row. Caruana countered with his own winning streak, tying the score at 4-4. As soon as he found himself back on solid ground, Caruana faltered, losing to an opening trap in the Jobava London in the critical ninth game. 

With Caruana unsettled, Bortnyk launched into an 8-game sweep, including a ruthless king hunt in the center of the board.

Position after 21.Qxc7+

Carlsen vs. Hansen 16.5-1.5

Carlsen and Hansen played their match in an unusual, impromptu hybrid style. Hansen has been on a European tour with the Chessbrahs since early July, and Carlsen has joined them for their final stop in Barcelona. This meant that the two of them were in the same room while competing against each other online. They even toasted with matching mocktails prepared by the Chessbrah team during the games. 

Despite the jovial off-board comradery, Carlsen was vicious on the board, starting the match 4-0. However, Hansen’s quick wit helped him mar Carlsen’s perfect score. In game seven as Carlsen tried to hunt down his opponent’s king, the Chessbrah snuck in a checkmate first.

This moment of glory was short-lived, though. Carlsen did not let him win again for the rest of the match. In fact, the Norwegian grandmaster soon replied in kind. In a position where Hansen believed that he had a draw in hand any time he wanted, Carlsen slipped in an unexpected checkmate with a laugh and jolly slip from his martini glass.

The world number-one finished the match with an 11-game winning streak. Afterward, Carlsen revealed his true hope for this matchup: “My only regret was that I was hoping to get a clean sweep.”

My only regret was that I was hoping to get a clean sweep.

-Magnus Carlsen

Nakamura vs. Ohanyan 22.5-1.5

Unsurprisingly, Nakamura won his match by the highest margin. The players began with a close 2.5-1.5 score in Nakamura’s slight favor. Then, the reigning champion won the next 20 games straight―a terrifying preview for his future opponents.  

In game 13, Nakamura had Ohanyan’s kingside so paralyzed that the 17-year-old international master resigned in 22 moves, even though he was ahead a pawn. 

Martinez vs. Giri 12.5-11.5

Martinez vs. Giri was the closest matchup. With two Bullet Brawl crowns to his name, Martinez was the favorite, yet Giri proved to be surprisingly quick: an underdog able to keep up on the clock. At times, he was able to outplay and outpace his more experienced rival. Giri showed his bullet savvy when he caught Martinez in a series of premoves in the middlegame, snatching a free knight as his opponent tried to stockpile nanoseconds. 

All tied up after the match clock elapsed, these closely-matched competitors went into overtime and the scoreboard continued to rock back and forth, repeatedly landing back at dead even. 

The match went into the next tiebreaker: sudden death. Finally, Martinez scored the last victory, showing sheer determination in his eyes as the match closed. 

The favorites of round one will begin to face off in exciting head-to-heads. Meanwhile, the underdogs in the Losers Bracket will get second lives, fighting off elimination as they dream of resurfacing in the Grand Final. 

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 happened 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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