In the nearly 180 Titled Tuesdays since the event moved to 11 rounds on October 20, 2020, GM Hikaru Nakamura has now won 50, a ridiculous percentage of nearly 30% despite hundreds of participants gunning for first place in every tournament. His victory in the late event on February 28 was his 50th, after GM Maxim Matlakov won the early event.
The first tournament of the day, with its 526 participants, ended in a three-way tie for first place between Matlakov, GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda , and GM Wesley So. All three lost one game in the first four rounds but then recovered to win the rest of their games, except for one draw each.
Duda and So made their draw against each other in the 11th round, which lasted 56 moves and ended in a repetition. That ultimately opened the door for Matlakov, who defeated GM Adhiban Baskaran.
That was far from Matlakov’s only strong performance in the tournament, of course. In the previous round he had put himself in position to try for the tournament victory by defeating a player you may have heard of, named GM Magnus Carlsen, doing so with Black no less.
With his performance in the last two rounds, Matlakov overcame what had been, after nine rounds, a half-point deficit behind four other players for the lead.
And although he only finished in seventh place—this time—Nakamura only had positive things to say about the event.
February 28 Titled Tuesday | Early | Final Standings (Top 20)
|6||11||GM||@wonderfultime||Tuan Minh Le||3049||9|
|17||14||GM||@BogdanDeac||Bogdan Daniel Deac||3015||8|
(Full final standings here.)
Matlakov’s win earned him $1,000 while Duda settled for $750 and So for $350. GM Etienne Bacrot finished in fourth place with the best tiebreaks among players on nine points, winning $200, while IM Elham Abdrlauf made Norway’s highest finish with $100 for fifth place. IM Nataliya Buksa of Ukraine won the $100 women’s prize, scoring 7/11.
The late tournament was Nakamura’s time to shine, for the 50th time in the last 29 months. Like the early tournament, the 417-player late tournament ended in a three-way tie on 9.5 points. This time, Nakamura’s tiebreaks secured him the edge over GMs Alireza Firouzja and Pranav V. In fact, it was one of the strongest top fives you can see in Titled Tuesday, with Carlsen finishing fourth and GM Gata Kamsky fifth (and GM Eric Hansen a tough-luck sixth despite also scoring nine points).
But, as happens so often, Nakamura outlasted them all. Many times, Nakamura wins by beating other top-five finishers, but this week he did it by holding them off. In rounds seven through nine, Nakamura made draws with Firouzja, Carlsen, and Kamsky. Then he blasted back into the winner’s circle in the final two rounds to claim the tournament.
First, he defeated GM Vugar Rasulov in round 10 with a double check and mate that is either picturesque or claustrophobia-inducing depending on your point of view. Rasulov decided to allow it to appear on the board.
Then Nakamura used the Bishop’s Opening to defeat GM Aleksandar Indjic and reach the victories milestone.
Despite these last two successes, Nakamura still needed some help, as he entered the final round trailing both Firouzja and Carlsen by half a point. But Firouzja drew with Kamsky while Pranav pulled off the following win over Carlsen, where he was about to deliver checkmate in the middle of the board when Carlsen resigned.
Of course, to score 17/22 on the day with a top-five finish, it couldn’t have been all bad for the world champion Carlsen, despite the fact we’ve shown two of his losses. Here he is defeating Duda in the 10th round.
February 28 Titled Tuesday | Late | Final Standings (Top 20)
|18||58||GM||@moro182||Luca Moroni Jr||2849||8|
|19||50||GM||@Genghis_K||Federico Perez Ponsa||2891||8|
(Full final standings here.)
As the top three finishers, Nakamura won $1,000, Firouzja $750, and Pranav $350. Carlsen won $200 and Kamsky $100 to round out the top five. GM Zhongyi Tan was the women’s leader, earning $100 with 7/11.
Titled Tuesday is a weekly tournament for titled players which Chess.com holds every Tuesday, with two 11-round Swiss tournaments held at 8:00 a.m. Pacific Time/17:00 Central European and 2:00 p.m. Pacific Time/23:00 Central European.