Speed Chess Championship 2021, Chess.com: It was an all-American clash in the finals of the Speed Chess Championship 2021 edition. GM Hikaru went out with full throttle not giving any chance to GM Wesley So to get back in the game.
Wesley So had to go through Indian GM Nihal Sarin in the semifinals, which was a tight affair. But the tightest game was Hikaru against Ding Liren in the second semifinals. They went to armageddon to play the most epic match in Speed Chess Championship history.
Speed Chess Championship 2021, Blitz 5+1: Nakamura 5.5-3.5 So.
The finals started with a draw. But straight away Hikaru took the lead with the Black pieces. The game ran for just 18 moves and Hikaru dominated it.
Wesley went on the attack in the next game but Nakamura defended it superbly and managed to win the match. Thus taking a double-point advantage.
It was then two draws and Wesley So followed it with a win. The next game too looked good the US Champion but Hikaru’s counterplay was solid. Still So had a chance and he picked it up, reducing the lead to one point.
The last game of this section was utter chaos in a not so simple rook and knight endgame. It was anyone’s game and a draw was on the cards, however, So defending his stuck rook nicely. However, when the time scramble came, you know how it went, Hikaru claimed the victory.
Blitz 3+1: Hikaru Nakamura-Wesley So 7-2.
When looking in the past, this time control is Wesley So’s powerhouse. He has beaten Hikaru and Magnus in this time control. However, things got worse very rapidly.
Hikaru made a five-game winning streak with four in this time control. Hikaru’s fourth opening win looked likely to be a critical victory for So who had a crushing attack when he missed or miscalculated 27.Qxe5+!, and things got out of hand as Hikaru’s king successfully prepared to flee the pocket and find total safety on e3.
Then came a draw and followed by Wesley’s victory in a beautiful endgame. The next game was another one that came to Wesley’s radar and then snatched away. So overcalculated his attack and in that process, his bishop got trapped on g7. It was dust all around don’t know what to expect. However, when the dust settled Hikaru took the point.
The last game was similar to the previous one. So gained control but magician Hikaru found this idea, which engine suggests as a brilliant move, closed the game out. GM Benjamin Bok stated: “This is insane, and you can see Wesley is just incredulous.”
Speed Chess Championship 2021, Bullet 1+1: Hikaru 10.5- So 2.5
If a four-game winning streak seemed impressive in the 3+1 time control, the 1+1 section was even more shocking. Nakamura started with six consecutive victories.
Wesley So tried to use Hikaru’s pet opening, Bongcloud, in his first game as white pieces. Getting a solid laugh from Nakamura who played 2.Ke2 himself in the next game.
Tired after getting beaten 6 times in a row, Wesley initiated with a pretty counter, …Qe2! which got Nakamura to smile.
As promised previously, the final game in each time control finished with brilliance and chaos. The final bullet game, and the final game in the entirety of the 2021 Speed Chess Championship, saw So repeat the opening that gave Nakamura a chance to play the classic Greek Gift sacrifice.
Nakamura was clearly aware of the missed opportunity as he immediately seized his second chance and revealed the point he’d most likely missed in his previous calculations. 22.Rxe6! The sacrifice revealed multiple nice themes.
The capture of the rook permitted a royal fork, but non-capture meant that So had to surrender oodles of material to narrowly evade mate.
Next up in the Chess world is the 2021 FIDE World Rapid and Blitz Championship taking place in Warsaw, Poland between Dec. 26-30. The FIDE World Chess Champion, Magnus Carlsen, and 2021 Speed Chess Champion, Hikaru Nakamura, are registered to play.