Nakamura Wins Third Knockout: Rapid Chess Championship Week 13

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The 13th week of the Rapid Chess Championship, brought to you by Coinbase, saw GM Hikaru Nakamura outwit a strong field and take home the top spot in the knockout while GM Samuel Sevian won the Swiss event by a convincing one-point margin. 

GM Vidit Gujrathi couldn’t topple Nakamura in their semifinal match that was the closest the American GM came to losing in this event. Finalist GM Vladimir Fedoseev, semifinalist GM Parham Maghsoodloo and quarterfinalists GMs Anish Giri, Rinat Jumabayev, Anton Demchenko, and Sevian were unable to go the distance but put in notable performances to qualify.

Participating in the event were 35 players from the top-100 list, top-10 women, top-10 juniors, as well as 10 wildcards. The event continues next weekend, May 14, starting at 9 a.m. PT/18:00 CEST.

How to watch?

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.


Swiss

Sevian was the standout in this week’s Swiss event. The American GM went undefeated against an illustrious lineup of world-class rapid chess players and accrued a winning score of 7.5/9.

Off the back of a performance at The American Cup that saw him cross into the realm of super grandmasters (2700 FIDE rating), Sevian showed that he is ready to contend with the best of the best. 

Sam Sevian is this week’s Swiss winner. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club

After scoring 4.5/5 points, Sevian came up against the most formidable player in the field, Nakamura, and was able to score a dramatic upset victory, courtesy of a startling exchange sacrifice.

GM Vladimir Fedoseev was also impressive in the Swiss event and was able to finish second with a score of 6.5/9. He was clinical in his match against compatriot GM Dmitry Andreikin and surgically removed any chance of the latter proceeding to the knockout when he sacrificed his queen for a rook and shattered Andreikin’s king’s safety.

GMs Alexey Sarana and Jeffery Xiong were the subjects of a moment of disbelief where Xiong was able to pre-move his way to a threefold repetition with a second each time left on the clock. Sarana, who was compensated with a queen for his opponent’s rook, could only chuckle after stumbling into the draw.

Picking up more than just the prized scalp of Nakamura, the Swiss winner Sevian also humbled the reigning world rapid chess champion GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov and eliminated GM Amin Tabatabaei in the final round after trapping his opponent’s rook in an instructive endgame.

Giri was able to slide into third after overcoming one of the toughest draws of the Swiss while Demchenko again proved himself to be one of the most consistent top performers among participants rated under 2700 and came in fifth.

Saturday Swiss | Final Standings 

Swiss standings

(Full final standings here.)

Knockout

The first quarterfinal saw form player Sevian take on one of India’s sharpest GMs, Vidit. who was able to equalize early in the Berlin Defense with the black pieces. He eventually found a way to coordinate his knight and rook and punish Sevian after he refused to liquidate into a drawn ending.

The result was a heartbreaking one after his run on Saturday, though Sevian picked up some healthy points on the season leaderboard for his efforts.

Nakamura was his usual stinging self, putting his “juicer” to use and dismantling Demchenko’s fortress.

By all counts, the match between Fedoseev and Jumabayev looked to be heading for a peaceful draw; however, the Kazakh was coaxed into playing a dubious check that allowed Fedoseev to take control of an otherwise drawn ending.

The moment where Jumabayev went wrong with Rh5+. Without the check, a version of the Philidor position would have resulted in an easy draw.

Week eight winner and regular knockout-attendee, Maghsoodloo, rolled with the punches in his quarterfinal game against Giri and certainly found the perfect time to hit back, capitalizing on an uncharacteristic blunder by the Dutch GM who was in time trouble. 

The Nakamura-Vidit semifinal was the most captivating match of the day, with both players tiptoeing on the edge of destiny throughout the match.

Nakamura should have been eliminated after missing the brilliant 35.Rb4!, although he showed his proclivity for coming back from the jaws of defeat and somehow managed to hold his opponent to a draw after 101 moves.

Although equally enthralling, a blitz tiebreak was still not enough to separate the players, and Nakamura’s extraordinary defensive skills were again on display as he held down the fort to take the match to a bullet tiebreaker. Then Nakamura entered his domain. Despite once again stepping up and gaining a good position, Vidit struggled under time pressure and also had to deal with some lag in the critical moments, with flag fall determining the first finalist.

The semifinal between Fedoseev and Maghsoodloo was determined by a single blunder by the Iranian GM. Fedoseev, a positional powerhouse, was able to take advantage of the mistake with absolute precision.

Nakamura was able to predict on stream that Fedoseev would opt for a Catalan in the final game of the match and brought his best preparation to face him. The two busted out 20 moves without thinking, including an exchange sacrifice that was clearly known to both players.

A single passive move 10 moves later, though, was the only invitation Nakamura needed to back up his recent Arena Kings Championship win with yet another Rapid Chess Championship knockout victory.

Nakamura extensively broke down his difficult match against Vidit in the post-match interview and expressed his hopes for a good performance in the upcoming Candidates tournament, which takes place next month.

Standings, Results, Prizes

The winner of the Swiss event this week was Sevian, and the winner of the knockout was Nakamura. Below are the full standings and prizes of the knockout.

Sunday Knockout | Final Standings 












# Fed Player Place Prize
1 Hikaru Nakamura Winner $7,500
2 Vladimir Fedoseev Finalist $3,500
3-4 Vidit Gujrathi Semifinalist $2,500
3-4 Parham Maghsoodloo Semifinalist $2,500
5-8

Anton Demchenko Quarterfinalist $1,000
5-8 Anish Giri Quarterfinalist $1,000
5-8 Rinat Jumabayev Quarterfinalist $1,000
5-8 Sam Sevian Quarterfinalist $1,000

Week 13 brackets


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