Hikaru Nakamura wins fourth straight Speed Chess Championship

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
12/21/2021 – For a fourth year in a row, Hikaru Nakamura won the online Speed Chess Championship organized by chess.com. His opponent in the deciding match was Wesley So, who lost a third final against his compatriot. It was a one-sided affair, as the online blitz and bullet specialist won by an impressive 23-8 score.

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A more than convincing victory

After showing his superiority in classical chess at the World Championship match, Magnus Carlsen will try to get the triple crown at the World Rapid and Blitz Championships that are scheduled to begin in less than a week in Warsaw. The Norwegian will be the rating favourite in both categories, and will have Hikaru Nakamura as his closest pursuer in terms of rating.

Most likely Nakamura will arrive in Warsaw in good spirits, as he was recently granted a wild card in next year’s FIDE Grand Prix and yesterday won his fourth consecutive title at the Speed Chess Championship organized by chess.com.

Runner-up Wesley So was clearly defeated by the blitz and bullet specialist, as Naka won the event with a more than convincing 23-8 victory. This was the third time the champion beat So in a final of the Speed Chess Championship, while last year — when Naka beat Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in the final — So was knocked out by his compatriot in the semifinal.

The prizes at the online events hosted by chess.com are split based on who wins the match and how many points each player gets. Given the massive score in favour of Nakamura, there was a major disparity in the prizes received by both players, with the champion getting $16,364 ($10,000 for winning the match and the rest based on his score) and the Filipino-born grandmaster receiving $3,637.

Speed Chess Championship 2021

Naka’s path to the championship

On his way to a fourth consecutive title, Nakamura knocked out three players before reaching the final. His first two victories were almost as convincing as his triumph in the final, as the 5-time US champion got the better of Peter Svidler by a 22-10 score and defeated Anish Giri by an 18½-10½ score.

The champion’s biggest hurdle was Ding Liren, whom he knocked out in the semifinals after drawing both ‘in regulation’ and the blitz tiebreakers. Naka confessed that the match had been the hardest match he had ever played in the championship — including his confrontations against the world champion.

Speed Chess Championship 2021

Naka’s focus on online chess and streaming has worked wonders for him in financial terms and in competitive terms — he also won season 8 of the ‘Arena Kings’ tournaments played on chess.com. We can only hope that he proves to be a worthy opponent for Carlsen in over-the-board, quick-paced games!

All games - Nakamura vs. So

 

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Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.

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