Blitzcoin Invitational Day 1: Naroditsky, Jacobson, Shetty, Tang Win


On Wednesday, October 27, the chess fans got treated to the first day of the Blitzcoin Invitational, a bullet and blitz knockout event hosted by Charlotte Chess Club, where 16 top US players U-25 compete in blitz for a prize of one Bitcoin.

The first day featured four matches for the spots to quarterfinals, and the winners of the day were GM Daniel Naroditsky, GM Brandon Jacobson, IM Atulya Shetty, and GM Andrew Tang.


During the first day of this five-day-long event, four pairs were supposed to play matches to determine four winners that would make it to the quarterfinals. The next day, the other four pairs would compete, then on day three the quarterfinals would take place, then semifinals on day four, and the final match on day five.

In order to keep things entertaining and fun for the audience, the organizers made a decision to not host all four matches of the day at the same time, but instead to have each of them begin an hour and fifteen minutes later. Given the amazing team of commentators, which featured the two stars of Chessbrahs GM Eric Hansen and GM Aman Hambleton, as well as the CEO of Charlotte Chess Club FM Peter Giannatos, the viewers were guaranteed five to six hours of a great show.

The first match of the day was between GM Daniel Naroditsky, who is the entire reason why the tournament is taking place, as his Twitch fan Chad Engan donated the prize fund of one Bitcoin, and IM Carissa Yip, who recently won the US Women’s Chess Championship 2021 with a fantastic score of 8.5/11.

A week ago, Carissa Yip became the US Women’s Champion, but today Naroditsky proved stronger in a blitz match. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.

The format of the first two days foresees that every match would begin with a mini-match two bullet games, the point of which is to determine the time control for the main portion of the match. Then the winner picks a time control, choosing between three options: 1/0, 3/0 and 5/0, which will be in place for the main match, which lasts an hour.

In this match, Naroditsky won both bullet games and picked a time control of 3+0 for the one-hour-long match. He went on to win the first blitz game, the second one, and…ended up scoring twelve wins in a row, including the two bullet wins and ten blitz wins.

Of course, trailing by ten points with 11 minutes left, Yip had no chance. However, the question was, if she could score any points at all? This is when the new US Women’s Champion showed her character and came back, first by drawing a game, and then by scoring her first win in game 12. Naroditsky won the last game and the blitz match overall with a score of 11.5-1.5, as the two bullet wins do not count as match points. This outstanding result, of course, qualified him to the quarterfinals and made a large army of his fans rather happy.

The next match was between Jacobson and IM David Brodsky. The former went on to win the bullet match 1.5-0.5; of course, whenever the bullet match ends, commentators and viewers wonder, what’s the time control the winner would pick.

Jacobson is one of the best bullet players in the field, so it is no wonder he picked 1/0 as a time control for the match. It is especially logical, given his bullet rating is over 3100, while his opponent’s one is just around 2600.

Just as the difference in rating indicated, he did not offer Brodsky too many chances and won the match with a whopping score of 34.5-7.5  and also advanced to the quarterfinals.

Brandon Jacobson dominated the bullet match versus David Brodsky 34.5-7.5 and qualified to the quarterfinals. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.

In the next match, IM Praveen Balakrishnan faced Shetty. This was the first time in the tournament when the bullet mini-match ended in a draw 1-1. In such situations, the format foresees that the player with a lower USCF rating, this time Shetty, chooses the time control, and just like Jacobson in the previous match, he decided to compete in a one-hour bullet match.

When it came to online bullet ratings, the opponents were ranked roughly evenly, about 2700-2750, which meant the match would be very close and exciting. And, the players lived up to the expectations: they drew a lot of games, and for a long time, no one could get significantly ahead: for example, after ten games, Shetty was leading 5.5-4.5, after 19 games, with 27 minutes to go, he was up 9-8. However, after this long close battle, Balakrishnan lost a few games in a row and his opponent was leading 12.5-9.5 with 19 minutes to go; however, given it was a bullet match, that advantage could disappear in no time. 

After a very close fight, Atulya Shetty beat Praveen Balakrishnan 19-15 and qualified to the quarterfinals. Photo: Daaim Shabazz.

At some point, Shetty’s lead grew to five points, then decreased to three, but eventually, he clinched the match with 19-15 and qualified to the quarterfinals.

The final match of the day featured the star of online bullet Tang versus one of the most promising American juniors IM Christopher Yoo.

After a dramatic win in the bullet mini-match, where Yoo failed to convert a piece, Tang, of course, picked bullet as the time control. It is rather difficult for almost anyone in the world, including Carlsen, Alireza and other stars of online fast time controls, to compete with him in bullet, so the commentators and spectators were rather expecting the favourite to win comfortably.

The legend of online bullet Andrew Tang beat Christopher Yoo 23-11 on day one. Photo: Crystal Fuller/Saint Louis Chess Club.

Indeed, the top seed took the lead right from the start, and won with a comfortable score 23-11, even though, admittedly, his younger opponent delivered a very good fight: to lose to Tang with such a score in bullet is something even elite GMs should not be ashamed of! Besides, Yoo managed to score a couple of lovely fast wins that are certainly worth looking at; here is one of them.

As a result of today’s match, the four players qualified for the quarterfinals, and now two of the quarterfinals pairs are known. Those are Daniel Naroditsky versus Brandon Jacobson and Atulya Shetty versus Andrew Tang.

All games of Day 1

Standings after day 1

The prize fund of one Bitcoin is provided by one of Daniel Naroditsky’s supporters: Chad Engan, also known as “Montanachess” on Twitch.

The 16 invited elite US Chess members will compete in blitz and bullet matches to see who prevails. The event runs from October 27 through 31, with the first match starting October 27, 5 p.m. PT/October 28, 02:00 CEST.

Earlier reports:


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