Hikaru Nakamura won the Fisher World Championship | So Good News


On Sunday, GM Hikaru Nakamura won the Armageddon tiebreaker final against GM Jan Nepomniachtchi to become the FIDE Fischer Random Chess World Champion.

Splitting the points in the four-game mini-match, Nakamura went all out for the decider and won his first world title in 50 years in Reykjavik, paying homage to the feat of the format’s namesake, GM Bobby Fischer. At the height of the Cold War, the American general defeated Boris Spassky.

Nakamura won $150,000 for winning the event, while the rest of the $400,000 prize pool was split between the other contestants.

In the consolation matches, GM Magnus Carlsen defeated World Rapid Champion GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov in a 1-0 come-from-behind victory.

For Nakamura and Nepomniachtchi, the final day of Fischer’s fortuitous world championships would end with a first world title for either player and the tension ran high from the 3pm local time kick-off.

The starting positions for the first two games were relatively straightforward. The main features include the queen in the corner and the bishops remaining in their normal squares.

Nakamura played with the black pieces and quickly took control of the center and pushed Nepomniacci back. Unable to deal with Nakamura’s initiative, Nepomniacci eventually succumbed to the tactic and lost some of it.

Although the early loss hurt his chances of a title shot, Nepomniachtchi knew a comeback was possible after a sensational shot against Carlsen in Saturday’s semi-final.

One of the most expressive players on the circuit, Nepomniacci doesn’t always convey the power of his stance with his facial expressions. Photo: Maria Emelyanova/Chess.com.

In the second game, Nakamura was able to switch to a position similar to his trusted Nimzowicz-Larsen opening, which has been to great effect in online tournaments for years. With 40 moves, Nakamura had a +2.5 advantage, but instead of trying to win, he decided to repeat the moves.

Nepomniacci suffered a shoulder injury and landed a perfectly timed pinfall in the third game to lose his first (and only) event to Nakamura. Nepomniachtchi was clinical with the black pieces and confidently sacrificed the exchange in turn 20.

Nakamura shocked the crowd in the fourth game as he suggested a draw on move 15 after an early draw with the black pieces, prompting commentator Hess to exclaim, “Are they allowed to draw?!” Both players were happy to settle the matter with an Armageddon tiebreaker, but the loser will surely regret his unfinished business in the fourth round.

A bid was held to determine who would play which suit in a tiebreaker. Nepomniacci won a bid to play black and Nakamura up to 15 in 13 minutes. The final starting position was announced soon after, and players had five minutes to strategize.

Nepomniacht looked to take control of Armageddon early on after trading the middle game of the opposite-suited bishop, but Nakamura muddied the waters and stormed home to claim his first world title. GM Rafael Leitao explained our game of the day below.

Nakamura celebrated his historic victory, as many expected at this point, with a quick YouTube video of his performance! At the end of the video, he said that he will soon fly to Toronto, where he will compete in the finals of the Chess.com Global Championship. Given his astronomical performance rating of 2924 (calculated based on FIDE’s rapid ranking), Nakamura is undoubtedly one of the favorites to win in Toronto as well.

In addition to the title clash in Reykjavík on Sunday, three consolation matches were played to determine the finishing order for the rest of the field. After a disappointing semi-final loss, Carlsen struggled early against Abdusattorov, losing the first game after the Uzbek general carefully trapped his bishop.

Finally, Carlsen returned to the match and climbed to the podium, defeating Abdusattorov 3-1. Overall, the world champion was not in the best form, but will have two more chances to claim the world titles at the world blitz and rapid championships in December.

Despite a poor performance by his lofty standards, Carlsen finished third. Photo: Maria Emelyanova/Chess.com.

Leader Vladimir Fedoseev continued to outperform his ranking, pipping reigning champion GM Wesley So by two points to fifth, while Major General Matthias Blubaum and local Hjorvar Gretarsson took seventh and eighth.

This year’s Fischer Random World Championship reignited the debate about the future of chess and took a refreshing step away from the best performances of the world’s elite in classical competitions. As Nepomniachtchi graciously tweeted after losing his match on Sunday, the chess world “hopes to see more Fischer Random tournaments in the future.”

Brought to you by the Government of Iceland and the City of Reykjavík, the Fischer Random World Championship brings together the best players from around the world to compete in a series of classic Fischer Random games for a share of the $400,000 prize pool and the FIDE Fischer Random World title. Champion. Fischer Random (also known as Chess960) is a chess variant in which all the standard chess rules are the same except for the initial position of the pieces, which can be in one of 960 semi-random settings. Endorsed by 11th World Champion GM Bobby Fischer, this option opens the door for players to show their true understanding of chess.

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