Nakamura Wins 6th Knockout: ‘In Bullet, I Have A Better Chance Of Winning’


GM Hikaru Nakamura won week 20 of the 2022 Rapid Chess Championship presented by Coinbase, defeating GM Wesley So in the final in a bullet tiebreaker.

GMs Vladimir Fedoseev and David Paravyan made it to the semi-finals. GM Oleksandr Bortnyk won the Swiss tournament and finished in the quarterfinals along with GMs Daniil Dubov, Benjamin Bok, and Abhimanyu Puranik.

Participating in the event were 45 competitors—now open to all GMs as well as the top-10 women, top-10 juniors, as well as 10 wildcards. The event continues on July 16-17, starting at 9am PT / 6pm CEST.

How to watch?
You can watch the 2022 Rapid Chess Championship presented by Coinbase on Chess.com/TV. You can also enjoy the show on the Twitch channel and catch all our live broadcasts on YouTube.com/ChesscomLive.


Switzerland

Bortnyk clinched clear first with seven points, starting the tournament with a 5-0 winning streak, including a victory against Nakamura. Bortnyk’s knights danced through his opponent’s position to win material.

Bortnyk also defeated the reigning world rapid champion, Abdusattorov, in 29 moves in round five.

So, finishing second with the top tiebreaks of players with 6.5, defeated Bok by sacrificing a bishop to unleash a deadly king attack in the fifth round.

Paravyan finished third, including a victory against GM Alexey Sarana by battling it out in the endgame, gaining an extra pawn, then another, and then a piece.

Saturday Swiss | Final Standings (Top 20)

Number Rk Fat Title Username Name Rating Score SB
1 14 GM Oleksandr_Bortnyk Oleksandr Bortnyk 2673 7 35
2 4 GM GMWSO Wesley So 2739 6.5 32.25
3 10 GM dropstoneDP David Paravyan 2663 6.5 31
4 3 GM Bigfish1995 Vladimir Fedoseev 2757 6.5 27
5 18 GM abhidabhi Abhimanyu Puranic 2653 6.5 25.75
6 7 GM Duhless Daniil Dubov 2693 6 29.5
6 24 GM GMBenjaminBook Benjamin Book 2597 6 29.5
8 1 GM Hikaru Hikaru Nakamura 2817 6 27.5
9 37 GM Hrant_ChessMood Hrant Melkumyan 2505 6 25
10 5 GM mishanick Alexey Sarana 2701 5.5 25
11 9 GM ChessWarrior7197 Nodirbek Abdusattorov 2667 5.5 24.25
12 26 GM Jumbo Rinat Jumabayev 2537 5.5 19.5
13 6 GM viditches Vidit Gujrathi 2685 5.5 18.5
14 15 GM Joseph Jose Eduardo Martinez Alcantara 2629 5 21.5
15 2 GM FairChess_on_YouTube Dmitry Andreikin 2767 5 17.5
16 31 GM Njal28 Aram Hakobyan 2519 5 16.25
17 13 GM ChessLover0108 Mohammad Muradli 2592 4.5 21
18 45 GM TregubovP Pavel Tregubov 2334 4.5 13.75
19 33 GM ActorXu Xu Yi 2439 4.5 11
20 40 GM rococo Gil Popilski 2506 4 20.5
21 12 GM Shield12 Shamsiddin Vokhidov 2604 4 16.75
22 27 GM Sychev_Klementy Klementy Sychev 2518 4 16.25
23 29 GM Anton_Demchenko Anton Demchenko 2505 4 7.75

(Full final standings here.)

Knockout

The knockout kicked off with Swiss winner, Bortnyk, against the overall Rapid Chess leader, Nakamura. In a game loaded with dynamic piece play and tactics, Nakamura came out victorious.

Fedoseev defeated Puranik by weakening his opponent’s pawn structure, pressing this advantage for the next 40+ moves, and converting in the endgame.

In the rapid, So vs. Bok started with a closely-fought draw, agreed to in a rook and bishop ending. In their blitz playoff, So gained a 20+ second time edge but, to the surprise of all watching, agreed to a draw.

After the game, So shared his reasoning behind the draw offer: “I was just thinking not to lose. Today I had the mindset to just play it safe. Because when I get too ambitious, sometimes it backfires.

“When you feel like offering a draw, sometimes you should just offer it than hesitate too much and anything can happen. If your opponent declines, that means he’s playing for the win, and [with] a few seconds on the clock, it might work out.

“I was actually quite pleased when he accepted the draw because the final position with the bishop pair would be better for White.”

In the bullet playoff, So prevailed in a time-scramble pawn race.

The last quarterfinal match, Paravyan vs. Dubov, began with a draw in a close game that gradually traded into an equal ending. The blitz tiebreaker looked to be nearing another draw when Paravyan won by supporting his passed e-pawn down the board.

Despite highly tactical play in the Nakamura vs. Fedoseev rapid game, when the dust cleared, the players had traded into an equal endgame to draw. In their blitz playoff, Nakamura came back from a worse position by creating a sneaky mating net.

So vs. Paravyan was a 90+ move duel where So used the “cat and mouse” technique in a slightly better endgame to eventually wear down Paravyan defenses.

The final match featured two chess heavyweights, Nakamura vs. So, and went all the way to a bullet tiebreaker. In the rapid game, the players agreed to a draw in an even middle game. The blitz playoff also ended peacefully, trading down to an even rook ending where the players soon drew.

In the bullet tiebreak, So played the opening surprisingly slowly and ran out of time, likely due to technical difficulties.

Although it was unfortunate that technical difficulties affected the result, Nakamura certainly earned his victory with dynamic, clever, and practical play throughout each match.

In the post-game interview, Nakamura shared his thinking behind accepting draws in matches: “The assumption on my part is that in bullet, regardless of color, I have a better chance of winning than I would in blitz with the white pieces.”

Standings, Results, Prizes

The winner of the Swiss tournament is Bortnyk, and the winner of the knockout tournament is Nakamura. Below are the full standings and prizes of the knockout:

Sunday Knockout | Final Standings

# Fat Player Place Prize
1 Hikaru Nakamura Winner $7,500
2 Wesley So Finalist $3,500
3-4 Vladimir Fedoseev Semi-finalist $2,500
3-4 David Paravyan Semi-finalist $2,500
5-8 Daniil Dubov Quarterfinalist $1,000
5-8 Benjamin Book Quarterfinalist $1,000
5-8 Oleksandr Bortnyk Quarterfinalist $1,000
5-8 Abhimanyu Puranic Quarterfinalist $1,000

The Rapid Chess Championship is a weekly tournament held by Chess.com. It is a nine-round Swiss event with a 10+0 time control held every Saturday, followed by a knockout event on Sunday between the top-eight finishers and a 10+2 time control. If players draw, they play a 3+2 game; if drawn, they play a 1+1 game; and if that is drawn, a single armageddon game is played.


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