Speed Chess Grand Prix 1: IM Drozdowski Triumphs

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Saturday, September 18 brought to chess fans all around the world the next leg of one of the most anticipated online tournaments of the year: the Speed Chess Championship Grand Prix.

This is an event that consists of four tournaments that take place between September 18 and October 9 with one tournament a week. Each week will feature a swiss tournament with prize money, and the top eight finishers will advance to an eight-player knockout where they will earn grand prix points. The player with the most grand prix points at the end of the event will earn a coveted slot in the main event of the Speed Chess Championship.

Let us dive in to see how action in the first event unfolded.

How to watch?
The Speed Chess Championship Grand Prix takes place Sept. 18, 25, Oct. 2, and Oct. 9. The winner of the Grand Prix qualifies for the 2021 Speed Chess Championship Main Event. Games and commentary will be broadcast on Chess.com/tv.
2021 Speed Chess Championship Grand Prix

The format of this tournament foresees eight people from the Swiss event qualify to the knockout. The top-20 players in the final standings score Grand Prix points, which eventually, after all four tournaments end, determine their ultimate standings.

While it is not possible to discuss even a considerable part of all games played in a huge Swiss tournament, I think it would be interesting to hear a couple dramatic facts about the event and see some instructive fragments.

To begin with, the eternal top seed of most online blitz events, GM Hikaru Nakamura, started by only scoring three points in the first four rounds, having drawn two games, versus GM Evgeniy Najer and versus GM Sanan Sjugirov; the latter one was a miraculous escape for Nakamura.

Having gotten rather lucky in round four, Nakamura went on to win an impressive five games in a row, followed by a quick draw versus GM Jeffery Xiong in the last round in the infamous variation of the Berlin.

Overall, among the players who qualified, we saw a few extremely strong grandmasters who are famous for their blitz results, namely the aforementioned GMs Nakamura and Xiong, as well as GMs Arjun Erigaisi, Matthias Bluebaum, Zviad Izoria and Baadur Jobava, who placed ninth, but got in the playoffs because Nakamura, who won the event, did not need to play the playoffs.

However, additionally, three non-GM players qualified: IM Tuan Minh Le from Vietnam, who placed second in the swiss event, having scored 8/10, IM Kacper Drozdowski, who placed third, and an untitled player Valery Sviridov from Russia, who shared seventh-eighth, having scored 7.5/10. Make no mistake. Sviridov is by no means a random player. Sviridov’s FIDE rating is 2562 in classical chess. He just happens to not have a title, which is often the case with players from Eastern Europe.

Among the amazing players who did not manage to qualify, we can name GMs Bogdan-Daniel Deac, Alexander Zubov, the bullet star Andrew Tang and many others.

In the playoffs, there were four matches: Minh Le versus Jobava, Xiong vs Erigaisi, Bluebaumversus Sviridov, and Izoria versus Drozdowski. The top-seeds started with the white pieces.

The lower-rated Drozdowski in his match versus Izoria went on to win with the perfect score of 2-0 to qualify for the next stage of the playoffs; Sviridov beat GM Bluebaum 1.5-0.5, having drawn the first games with the black pieces and won with the white ones in the next round. Xiong got to the next round by winning his match against Erigaisi with the score of 2-0, and finally, Minh Le beat Jobava 2-1, having tied 1-1 and then winning the tie-break game.

In the semifinals, Minh Le faced Xiong, while Drozdowski played Sviridov. Having drawn both blitz games, Xiong went on to win the tie-break bullet game to make it to the final; meanwhile, Drozdowski continued his amazing run by beating Sviridov 2-0.

In the final between Drozdowski and Xiong, the first game was drawn, giving the audience more intrigue than ever. A win would mean winning today’s event! And, this time, Drozdowski proved stronger. He won the second game with the black pieces to win the match. Xiong had advantage through the opening and middlegame, but he overpressed and ended up losing.

Let’s see how that happened.

As a result, Drozdowski earned 15 points to his name in the overall standings of the Grand Prix. Xiong got 12, while Minh Le and Sviridov, who shared 3rd-4th, got 8 points each. A fantastic result for everyone, but especially for the IMs and Sviridov, who obviously all are grandmaster strength; nevertheless, finishing ahead of so many strong grandmasters in an event of this caliber is a huge achievement.

Live broadcast of this week’s tournament, hosted by GM Daniel Naroditsky and NM James Canty III.

Speed Chess Championship Grand Prix 1 | Final Standings (Top 20)
























Number Rk Fed Title Username Name Rating Score
1 1 GM Hikaru Hikaru Nakamura 3184 8.5
2 8 IM wonderfultime Tuan Minh Le 2999 8
3 19 GM Msb2 Matthias Bluebaum 2936 7.5
4 42 IM Kacparov Kacper Drozdowski 2866 7.5
5 25 GM ArjunErigaisi2003 Arjun Erigaisi 2938 7.5
6 6 GM jefferyx Jeffery Xiong 2996 7.5
7 36 GM Izoria123 Zviad Izoria 2827 7.5
7 17 NM Sviridov_Valery Валерий Свиридов 2942 7.5
9 11 GM exoticprincess Baadur Jobava 2973 7
9 15 GM BogdanDeac Bogdan Daniel Deac 2951 7
11 22 GM Sanan_Sjugirov Sanan Sjugirov 2952 7
12 10 GM Fandorine Maksim Chigaev 2961 7
13 31 GM GeorgMeier Georg Meier 2864 7
13 12 FM yavrukurt40 Dincer Tasdogen 2937 7
15 30 GM moro182 Luca Moroni Jr 2865 7
16 16 GM Alexander_Zubov Alexander Zubov 2941 7
17 7 GM erichansen Eric Hansen 2965 6.5
18 23 GM penguingm1 Andrew Tang 2936 6.5
19 44 IM ChessLover0108 Mahammad Muradli 2787 6.5
20 5 GM champ2005 Raunak Sadhwani 2966 6.5

(Full final standings here.)

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