World #6 Junior Triumphs in Knockout and Swiss


GM Hans Niemann, ranked sixth in the world for juniors in live ratings, won week 24 of the 2022 Rapid Chess Championship presented by Coinbase, accomplishing the rare feat of winning both the knockout and Swiss in the same week.

GM Jeffery Xiong made it to the finals. GMs Hikaru Nakamura and Kirill Alekseenko made it to the semi-finals. GM’s Sam Sevian, Vladimir Fedoseev, Le Liem, and Vugar Rasulov finished in the quarterfinals.

Participating in the event were 39 competitors—open to all GMs as well as the top-10 women, top-10 juniors, as well as 10 wildcards. The last knockout before the finals will take place on August 13-14, starting at 9am PT / 6pm CEST.

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Switzerland

Niemann clinched clear first with an undefeated seven points. He won the critical penultimate round by creating unexpected tactical chances in the endgame against world championship challenger, GM Ian Nepomniachtchi.

Xiong also went undefeated, scoring 6.5 and finishing second. In round five, he defeated GM Saleh Salem by pressing on Black’s weakened kingside.

Alekseenko finished third with six points, defeating GM Oleksandr Bortnyk in a tricky ending in round seven.

The early rounds featured several surprising upsets, including Rasulov defeating Nakamura with a seige of tactics in round two.

Saturday Swiss | Final Standings (Top 20)

Number Rk Fat Title Username Name Rating Score SB
1 8 GM HansOnTwitch Hans Niemann 2700 7 35.5
2 5 GM jefferyx Jeffery Xiong 2760 6.5 28.5
3 25 GM BilodeauA Kirill Alekseenko 2609 6 30
4 3 GM Konavets Sam Sevian 2756 6 28.25
5 1 GM Hikaru Hikaru Nakamura 2802 6 27.75
6 9 GM LiemLe Liem Lee 2677 6 25.25
7 4 GM Bigfish1995 Vladimir Fedoseev 2747 6 21.75
8 21 GM vugarrasulov Vugar Rasulov 2619 5.5 25.25
9 15 GM Joseph Jose Eduardo Martinez Alcantara 2639 5.5 22.25
10 10 GM Grischuk Alexander Grischuk 2662 5.5 22
10 7 GM FairChess_on_YouTube Dmitry Andreikin 2724 5.5 22
12 27 GM Infernal_XaM Pavel Ponkratov 2583 5.5 20.25
13 6 GM mishanick Alexey Sarana 2729 5.5 19
14 18 GM Salem AR Salem AR Saleh 2634 5 23
15 16 GM ChristopherYoo Christopher Woojin Yoo 2634 5 16
16 29 GM shimastream Aleksandr Shimanov 2543 4.5 22.75
17 2 GM laca hesisQ Ian Nepomniachtchi 2721 4.5 19.75
18 26 GM platy3 Alan Pichot 2572 4.5 16.5
19 31 GM SergeiAza Sergei Azarov 2519 4.5 16.25
20 13 GM Oleksandr_Bortnyk Oleksandr Bortnyk 2631 4 13

(Full final standings here.)

Knockout

Niemann vs. Rasulov started with a highly tactical game that ended in a perpetual check draw.

In the blitz playoff, the players fought until king vs. king, drawing again. The match culminated in a thrilling bullet tiebreaker. In a crazed time scramble, Niemann blundered his rook yet continued to play unfazed, winning Rasulov’s rook right back in a couple of moves.

Nakamura had an extra pawn in the ending, but Sevian’s bishop pair provided sufficient compensation. They drew their rapid game when they reached an equal opposite-color bishop endgame. In the blitz tiebreaker, Nakamura discovered a clever king maneuver to unsettle Sevian’s pieces and soon obtain an unstoppable passed pawn.

Xiong conjured up a vicious attack out of the opening against Fedoseev.

Le defended solidly on the kingside for a while but then blundered a pawn. Alekseenko traded into a knight ending and converted cleanly.

The semifinals kicked off with a closely-fought rapid game between Nakamura vs. Niemann that eventually traded into a drawish ending. In the blitz playoff, Nakamura made an error by playing 23.Qb4, putting his queen on an undefended square. Niemann immediately capitalized tactically, defeating the seven-time Rapid Chess knockout winner in 25 moves.

Xiong built up significant queenside pressure against Alekseenko, breaking through with his queen to win his opponent’s weak d6-pawn.

In the final, Niemann established a potent knight on the d4-outpost, pressing on Xiong’s backward c6-pawn. He broke through with his queen to win this pawn, gaining his own powerful passed pawn.

Niemann’s resourcefulness and focus regardless of the circumstances on the board and clock were the keys to his immense success this week.

In the post-tournament interview, Niemann shared about his progress in Rapid Chess events throughout this season: “The last three weeks, I’ve made the knockout, so it seems like I’ve figured it out. For a long time, I would play in the RCC and do absolutely terribly. The time control was so foreign to me. It took me so long to adjust to the 10+0. I’ve never played anything like it. Obviously, it’s nice to beat Hikaru and Jeffery , especially after Jeffery beat me last week. It’s obviously nice, but it’s just a normal Sunday.”

Obviously, it’s nice to beat Hikaru and Jeffery… but it’s just a normal Sunday.

– Niemann

Standings, Results, Prizes

The winner of both the Swiss and knockout tournaments is Niemann. Below are the full standings and prizes of the knockout:

Sunday Knockout | Final Standings

# Fat Player Place Prize
1 Hans Niemann Winner $7,500
2 Jeffery Xiong Finalist $3,500
3-4 Hikaru Nakamura Semi-finalist $2,500
3-4 Kirill Alekseenko Semi-finalist $2,500
5-8 Sam Sevian Quarterfinalist $1,000
5-8 Vladimir Fedoseev Quarterfinalist $1,000
5-8 Le Liem Quarterfinalist $1,000
5-8 Vugar Rasulov 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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