GM Hikaru Nakamura won week 14 of the 2022 Rapid Chess Championship presented by Coinbase, defeating GM Dmitry Andreikin in a hard-fought knockout final.
GM Jeffery Xiong won the Swiss tournament and finished in the semifinals along with GM Arjun Erigaisi. GMs Alexey Sarana, Amin Tabatabaei, Jose Martinez, and Olexandr Bortnyk made it to the quarterfinals.
Participating in the event were 65 grandmasters, including several of the world’s top 100, as well as participants from the top-10 women, top-10 juniors, and 10 wildcards. The event will continue next weekend, May 21-22, starting at 9 a.m. Pacific / 18:00 Central Europe.
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 another 3+2 game; if drawn, they play a 1+1 game; and if that is drawn, a single armageddon game is played.
Jeffery Xiong won the Swiss tournament with a convincing and undefeated seven-point score. In round seven, he defeated Anish Giri in 21 moves with a clever Zwischenzug tactic.
The other seven qualifiers all tied with 6.5 points each. It was a particularly high-scoring Swiss where six points were not enough to qualify, and even one player with 6.5 points didn’t make it.
Andreikin finished second also with an undefeated score. He won a critical victory in round seven when he outplayed Nakamura to win a tricky yet theoretically drawn rook ending.
Erigaisi placed third with a five-game winning streak from rounds three to seven, capped off with a victory over Sarana. Erigaisi maneuvered his knights into powerful posts on Sarana’s kingside to lead his attack. Watch the b8-knight’s journey across the board, starting on move 14.
Nakamura finished fourth, including an eighth-round victory against GM Maxim Matlakov. When his opponent moved his knight to an undefended square, Nakamura discovered a clever tactical sequence.
Martinez placed fifth, winning a must-win last round by inducing a blunder from his opponent in an even ending.
Tabatabaei finished sixth, including a swindle victory over Giri in a theoretically drawn rook vs. bishop ending in round eight.
Saturday Swiss | Final Standings (Top 20)
|6||12||GM||Jospem||Jose Eduardo Martinez Alcantara||2681||6.5||29.75|
|15||35||GM||Salem-AR||Salem AR Saleh||2586||5.5||21.75|
(Full final standings here.)
Xiong began the day in similarly strong form as Saturday. In his quarterfinal game vs. Tabatabaei, he started to gain an advantage by maneuvering his knight to the powerful c6-outpost and then advancing his center pawns down the board. Tabatabaei sacrificed a knight and fought hard in his defense, but Xiong was able to simplify into a winning ending with 39. Re6!
In the Nakamura vs. Bortnyk rapid quarterfinal, Bortnyk gained the advantage out of an unusual Alekhine’s Defense position but overlooked a tactical blow to break into Nakamura’s king’s position. Can you find what he overlooked?
Bortnyk continued to press his attack against the opponent’s king in the middlegame and extra pawn in the rook ending, but Nakamura held the draw.
The blitz tiebreaker featured another unorthodox opening choice, the Bishop’s Opening, leading to a double-edged position with the kings castled to opposite sides. Again, Bortnyk was pressing an advantage for most of the middlegame and endgame, but just as he was nearing victory, he misplayed a critical move.
The bullet tiebreaker looked to be nearing another draw in a four pawns vs. three pawns rook ending when, in the time scramble, Nakamura snuck his way into a winning position.
The Andreikin vs. Martinez quarterfinal rapid game was a close one that led to a draw in an equal rook ending. In the blitz playoff, Martinez had the advantage but missed a couple of opportunities and then blundered to lose the ending.
In the Erigaisi vs. Sarana quarterfinal, Erigaisi navigated his way to victory in a tricky king and pawn ending.
The Xiong vs. Nakamura semifinal rapid game was a double-edged duel with both sides attacking each other’s kings. After making a mistake, Xiong fought back resourcefully and the game ended in a draw.
In the blitz playoff, Nakamura gradually increased his advantage, won a pawn, and traded into a winning two-bishop ending after Xiong blundered.
In the Andreikin vs. Erigaisi semifinal, Andreikin won a beautiful attacking game with the simple, yet unstoppable knight maneuver of Nd4-f3-g5.
The Andreikin vs. Nakamura rapid final led to a drawish ending out of the opening. Andreikin pressed his extra pawn, but Nakamura defended accurately to hold the game.
In the blitz playoff, the players struggled for the upper hand in a two-bishops and two-rooks middlegame until Andreikin made a tactical error.
This is Nakamura’s fourth knockout victory, further solidifying his lead in the overall standings. In his interview, Nakamura shared how the RCC fits into his Candidates preparation: “One of the most important things in a tournament like the Candidates is when you get these slightly worse positions, being able to save them and not crack and lose. I did that quite well in the first game. So I think, overall, it’s actually great prep for the Candidates.”
… I think, overall, it’s actually great prep for the Candidates.
—GM Hikaru Nakamura
Standings, Results, Prizes
The winner of the Swiss tournament is Xiong, and the winner of the knockout tournament is Nakamura. Below are the full standings and prizes of the knockout:
Sunday Knockout | Final Standings
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