Naroditsky Defeats Ultrabullet Virtuoso, Matches Nakamura For Top Winning Margin

Naroditsky Defeats Ultrabullet Virtuoso, Matches Nakamura For Top Winning Margin


GMs Daniel Naroditsky and Hikaru Nakamura won their matches by the highest margins in the Winners Quarterfinals of the Bullet Chess Championship 2023 on Tuesday. They each defeated formidable grandmasters, Andrew Tang and Jose Martinez respectively, by an eight-point margin. Fittingly, Naroditsky and Nakamura will face each other next in the Winners Semifinals.

GM Tuan Minh Le gave GM Magnus Carlsen a serious run for his money, very close to bringing the match into overtime, though the world number-one ultimately prevailed. 

IM Emin Ohanyan rebounded from yesterday to knock out GM Anish Giri today. GM Denis Lazavik curbed GM Fabiano Caruana‘s comeback in overtime. 

The action continues on Wednesday, July 19, at 12:00 p.m. ET / 18:00 CEST / 8:30 p.m. IST.

How to watch?

Selected Matches:

Winners Quarterfinals 

Losers Round 1 

Naroditsky vs. Tang 14.5-6.5

Between these two incredible bullet players, Tang was considered the favorite. In fact, regular bullet is a rather slow time control for Tang, who specializes in ultrabullet (15 seconds). 

This was further supported by games like number 15 where Tang displayed stunning tactical insights on the board while maintaining a 20-second lead on the clock. As Hess described: “He’s up 20 seconds and he’s playing Pacman taking all of Daniel’s pieces.”

Yet, Naroditsky’s speed, accuracy, and deep understanding of bullet strategy gained him a comfortable lead. Always vigilant of the match situation, Naroditsky adapted his play and clock usage to maximize his chances.

As the minutes ticked away, Tang found himself in a must-win situation. He set up two dangerous threats, but Naroditsky struck first―displaying his complete board awareness. Can you find the finish?

Black to move and win. 

Naroditsky was visibly thrilled to claim this victory, finishing with a considerable eight-point lead.

In his interview, Naroditsky shared his take on strategic and tactical thinking in bullet:

Almost every game goes off the rails at some point. Rare is the occasion when you follow some sort of main line. You can make positional moves in bullet, but it mostly reduces down to: Oh, I see a good square! I see the e5-square, my knight’s on a1, I’m just going to telescope onto that square. That’s the extent of strategic reasoning that you have in bullet.

Almost every game goes off the rails at some point. 

—Daniel Naroditsky

Mostly, it’s spotting two- or three-move tactics. It’s so so important to avoid one-move blunders because that really kills your momentum. And I think it’s good to go into positions that you generally understand… it really brought me a lot of comfort that we had structures where I knew that I was playing decent ideas. Mostly, it is just flash pattern recognition. And almost all games, no matter how they begin, ultimately boil down to who sees more short tactics.

Naroditsky also shared about his efforts preparing for the match and hopes to face the reigning bullet champion.

Carlsen vs. Le 10-7

Entering the competition as the seventh seed, Le fought with great determination to give Carlsen one of the closest matches of the day. In fact, for most of the match, the score hovered around equal with each player pulling off amazing feats of focus multiplied by speed. 

Game 12 was one such game. After realizing he missed a blunder by Carlsen, Le was unfazed, continuing to press and winning the game all over again in the ending. 

The very next game, Carlsen retaliated with brilliant play in the opposite-color bishop ending while outpacing his opponent. 

In the last few games, Carlsen took over the match with his keen ability to excel when the pressure’s on. Le even applauded the world number one as their final duel finished.

Nakamura vs. Martinez 14-6

Fascinatingly, some of the top seeds of this event warmed up in the early Titled Tuesday, including Carlsen, Firouzja, Nakamura, and Martinez. In fact, Nakamura and Martinez faced each other in the last round. Their time scramble in the final moments of that encounter offered us a little preview of their match. With a small time edge, Nakamura converted an equal rook ending into a win. 

Along with Naroditsky, Nakamura won his match by the largest margin of the day of eight points. Though Martinez scored a few sprinkled victories, Nakamura gained an early commanding lead and increased it as the match wore on. Between his swift tactical awareness and ability to put his opponent under pressure, he was able to create winning chances from virtually any position. In his first victory, Nakamura flipped the script on Martinez, stealing the point as his opponent tried to hunt down his king.

Ohanyan vs. Giri 8.5-6.5

This round, Ohanyan showed that his low score vs. Nakamura in round one wassn’t representative of his overall abilities. Facing the speedy super-GM Giri, Ohanyan held his own with perceptive dynamic play, such as his marvelous tactical find in game three.

Position after Ohanyan’s 27.Bxg7+!!

Ohanyan edged ahead in the neck-and-neck match in the final minutes, but Giri stayed close. As the match clock hit zeros, the players continued playing out their last game. Since they were within a point of each other, the match was likely headed into overtime―unless Giri lost. 

Tragically, he blundered his queen, and the match ended immediately. With one oversight, Giri was eliminated from the event.

Ohanyan’s compelling performance against such a strong fellow competitor showcases his own skills and also adds new depth to Nakamura’s overwhelming score against him in the previous round. 

Lazavik vs. Caruana 11.5-9.5

Lazavik vs. Caruana was a great fight from start to finish. While Caruana is less experienced than his younger opponent at this time control, he won several games in impressive style. Watch how he skillfully weaves his queen into the enemy king’s camp to checkmate in game five. 

Still, Caruana often struggled in the opening stage of the game, getting inferior positions even with white. Over the course of the match, this allowed Lazavik to get the upper hand on the scoreboard.

As the last seconds on the match clock ticked down, Lazavik looked to be closing out the match with a two-point lead when the 17-year-old grandmaster mouse slipped to blunder his queen―sending the match into overtime.

With his ability to play well under pressure, Caruana won the next two games, taking over the lead. After three losses in a row, could Lazavik regain composure and fight off his super-GM opponent to reclaim the match?

The prodigy was up to the challenge. He tied the score and then won the last game of overtime by sneaking his queen into Caruana’s camp for a forced checkmate.

Tomorrow the top dogs of the event are finally matched up. Carlsen will meet the 2021 champion, Firouzja, while Naroditsky will meet the defending champion, Nakamura.

Winners Bracket – Quarterfinals

Losers Bracket – Round 1

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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