GM Hikaru Nakamura won week 15 of the 2022 Rapid Chess Championship presented by Coinbase. He gained a victory from a losing position against GM Dmitry Andreikin, winner of the Swiss in the knockout final.
GMs David Paravyan and Jose Martinez made it to the semifinals. GMs Alexander Grischuk, Jeffery Xiong, Xu Yi, and Ori Kobo finished in the quarterfinals.
Participating in the event—now open to all GMs!—were 49 competitors as well as participants from the top-10 women, top-10 juniors, and 10 wildcards. The event will continue next weekend, May 28-29, starting at 9 a.m. Pacific / 18:00 Central Europe.
Andreikin won the Swiss with an undefeated seven points. In round six, he achieved a key victory over fellow qualifier Martinez. He sacrificed a pawn for active piece play in the opening, and his pieces soon crashed through.
Parayvan and Nakamura tied for second with 6.5 points each. In their head-to-head game, Paravyan pressed his advantage in the ending to win.
Martinez finished fourth. In a victory over Xiong in round five, he grabbed an extra pawn early in the game and converted it into a victory 70 moves later.
One fascinating game outside of the qualifier was the strategic duel between GM Daniil Dubov and GM Harsha Bharathakoti. Dubov had an immense amount of activity and center control while Harsha had a lead in material. Harsha defended accurately against Dubov’s powerful-looking position and then found a tactical shot to break down his opponent’s intimidating pieces and increase his lead in material.
Saturday Swiss | Final Standings (Top 20)
(Full final standings here.)
In the Andreikin vs. Xiong quarterfinal, Xiong as Black pressed for much of the game and entered the bishop ending with an extra pawn. Andreikin complicated matters with king activity and his passed c-pawn and ultimately won after a couple of inaccuracies by Xiong who was in time trouble.
In the next game, Grischuk had an edge over Martinez as they went into the ending but missed an opportunity to press with his extra pawns and ended up drawing.
In their blitz playoff game, Grischuk missed a tactical opportunity. Then Martinez capitalized on a remove-the-guard tactic on the very next move.
The next quarterfinal match, Kobo vs. Paravyan, began with both players opting to continue the battle in shorter time controls with a quick draw in the rapid game. The blitz tiebreaker was a beautiful 23-move attacking victory for Paravyan.
In the last quarterfinal, Nakamura broke open the position with the resourceful 19.e4. When Yi didn’t respond in the most accurate way, Nakamura gained counterplay and soon won material.
Commentator GM Robert Hess summed it up well: “That is what Hikaru does: he finds tactical measures to solve some huge issues in his position.”
That is what Hikaru does: he finds tactical measures to solve some huge issues in his position.
—GM Robert Hess
The semifinals kicked off with a hard-fought draw between Andreikin and Martinez where Andreikin displayed excellent technique to draw in the classic tricky rook vs. rook-and-bishop ending.
In the blitz playoff, Andreikin responded actively to an inaccurate piece sacrifice by Martinez and gained a number of harmoniously-placed pieces that led to a winning king attack.
In the next semifinal game, Paravyan fell behind on time by seven minutes against Nakamura, which led to his downfall later in the game when he overlooked a defensive resource in the time scramble.
In the final, the rapid game traded early into a drawish, pawn-up ending for Andreikin. Nakamura defended tenaciously and held the draw without trouble.
Their blitz tiebreaker featured Andreikin again pressing for the win in the endgame, this time with an extra exchange. However, after an oversight, Nakamura’s passed h-pawn snuck into promotion, and he soon checkmated with his new queen. As Hess put it, “Nakamura stole victory from the jaws of defeat.”
Nakamura steals victory from the jaws of defeat.
—GM Robert Hess
This is Nakamura’s fifth knockout victory and third in a row, growing the distance in the overall standings between him and the rest of the field.
Despite his vast lead in the event, Nakamura isn’t taking any game for granted. In his winner’s interview, Nakamura explained that his opening choice in the final game was due to respect for his opponent: “I have a lot of respect for him. I think Dmitry is a very strong player…. That was the main sort of equation for me: take the risk out and also knowing that Dmitry is so strong, didn’t want to walk into some line that he might’ve prepared.”
I have a lot of respect for him. I think Dmitry is a very strong player.
—GM Hikaru Nakamura
Nakamura also shared some useful advice on time management in rapid vs. classical chess:
Standings, Results, Prizes
The winner of the Swiss tournament is Andreikin, and the winner of the knockout tournament is Nakamura. Below are the full standings and prizes of the knockout:
Sunday Knockout | Final Standings
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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