Carlsen beats Nakamura in 3-hour blitz battle

by Albert Silver
10/28/2016 – World Champion Magnus Carlsen and elite player, as well as renowned blitz specialist Hikaru Nakamura, played a three-hour blitz match online as the final of an online invitational tournament hosted by It was broadcast live at the online service Twitch where the two players could be seen via Skype connections as they played. Magnus Carlsen won the encounter 14.5 – 10.5. Report and games.

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Bringing in eight players, who played out the series in a knockout event, it was no great surprise to see Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura emerge as the finalists of the event called the Grandmaster Blitz Battle Championship.

The match was hosted by, and shown at Twitch TV, a service dedicated to online video broadcasts for games. Twitch has most prominently been used for streaming screencasts of competitions in games such as League of Legends, DOTA, and others of their kind, but the platform has now expanded its audience to a wide variety of others.

The full broadcast on Twitch can be seen above with games and live commentary 

Played on a typical 2D chessboard, the two finalists also connected via Skype allowing the viewers to share their facial expressions as the games unfolded. For the most part there were few moments in the spirit of Kasparov’s memorable outbursts and gestures, captured on camera in the past, but one could still clearly see the expressions of frustration when a position suddenly went sour. Perhaps the most notable was a game that the World Champion seemed to all but have in the bag, but got thoroughly confused by Nakamura’s energetic attempts to fight back, and ultimately lost. Acknowledging he had been outsmarted, he was seen clapping on video.

Nevertheless, it was his match, as he generally got the upper hand throughout. The final was split into three phases: the first was 90 minutes in which the two would play non-stop blitz games of five minutes plus two seconds of increment. This went badly for the American who found himself constantly far behind in time, with easily two minutes difference. A line of the Nimzo-Indian seemed to plague him especially badly as he lost in it three times with white. This phase ended 5.5 - 3.5 for Carlsen.

The second phase was 60 minutes long, with non-stop games of three minutes plus two seconds increment. If anything, it went even worse and ended in a 5.0 – 2.0 victory for Magnus. Finally, the last and fastest set was thirty minutes for unlimited bullet games of one minute plus a one-second increment. Finally the expertise of Nakamura came through as he managed to edge out his opponent and take it 5.0 - 4.0, but this was insufficient to balance the overall bout.

For his efforts, and winning the final 14.5 – 10.5, Magnus Carlsen took home the first prize of US$4000.

In his post-match comments, Magnus Carlsen was asked where he was and the Norwegian replied that he was in the Caribbean at that moment, immersed in his World Championship preparations. He added that of course he was playing training games continuously during this period, and he viewed this match against Nakamura as extra preparation, allowing further training games against an elite player.

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Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications.
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joachimus joachimus 11/1/2016 02:46
Thanks Chessbase for covering this event. Finally!!:) I whined a bit about previous part not being covered, so it is great to see improvement! Great event, let' s hope it will be something on regular basis with best players!
guest1227491 guest1227491 10/31/2016 01:22
Maybe Carlsen defended better because Naka did not attack better.
Resistance Resistance 10/31/2016 09:31
First of all, I have to say, as some have already mentioned, that this was an exciting event. Maybe because of the two players involved, yes (Magnus vs Hikaru: you wanna see this kind of confrontations).

Secondly, regarding the games themselves, I have three words for you: Nakamura. Got. Owned. Play over the games, without seeing who's having which pieces, and only knowing that the players (A & B, for instance) are alternating colors each game. Already in the first games you'll notice that there is a clear difference between both players. One of them plays naturally beautifully and effortlessly; the other one, continuously finds himself struggling to match the strength and simplicity of his opponents' ideas and higher vision.

At times, the easiness with which Magnus outplays Hikaru is just striking. If Naka really wants to wrest the World Championship crown from Magnus at some point, he'll have to upgrade his chess significantly; he'll have to learn to see chess from a new, different, higher all-encompassing perspective. For, as things look right now, Magnus is simply playing well above him.

yesenadam yesenadam 10/31/2016 05:33
Carlsen "simply defended better, and no matter how small that may seem, it makes a difference" blah blah. Wow. Naka frequently is such a whiner when he loses. Extremely grating. And he seems to think he's being modest! Or something..
Aighearach Aighearach 10/30/2016 07:36
In one game Nakamura blundered his queen in an = ending, so the quality of play was probably less important than the clock. Carlsen blunders less even in fast time controls, "for whatever reason" as they say.
roadback roadback 10/30/2016 05:07
roadback roadback 10/30/2016 05:06
Queenslander Queenslander 10/30/2016 01:03
Carlsen won the chess 14-8. Just saying.
fons fons 10/29/2016 08:58
@ Karbuncle: 2½ out of 3 is not a big enough sample size to make any definite conclusions. Especially as Nakamura had 2 whites, which is an even bigger advantage in chess960 than it is in regular. And on top of that they were blitz and bullet games.

To be fair the difference between the two is probably smaller in wild tactial complications, but even then it's hard to say whether that's due to tactical skill or just the increase of randomness. Carlsen is no slouch when it comes to tactics, his positional style notwithstanding.
ChiliBean ChiliBean 10/29/2016 03:53
Really entertaining. Wish we had more of these epic battles.
Rama Rama 10/29/2016 12:58
@Karbuncle, I think Nakamura is still the 960 world champion; however it must be said that he had white in the 960 games in the first and last segment and as IM Rensch pointed out, sometimes a 960 position will give White an inordinate advantage. For that reason I hope in the future they have the players play that 960 position with both colors.
Karbuncle Karbuncle 10/29/2016 11:49
I find it interesting that Nakamura ended up dominating Carlsen in the chess960 games. It would seem that is at least one area that Nakamura appeared naturally better at aside from bullet chess.
APonti APonti 10/29/2016 04:27
No, he is just much, much stronger...
Steven E DuCharm Steven E DuCharm 10/29/2016 02:17
If Carlsen keeps his title he should compensate Nakamura imo.
koko48 koko48 10/29/2016 12:54
He defended better, he played better