Hikaru Nakamura wins Speed Chess Championship

by Klaus Besenthal
12/13/2020 – The final of the Speed Chess Championship between Hikaru Nakamura and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave was played on Saturday, with Nakamura getting a clear 18½:12½ victory. A total of 31 blitz and bullet games were played with three different time controls. Nakamura’s superiority only came to light in the bullet-chess section. This surprised no one, as the American grandmaster is known for his astounding strength in 1-minute games. | Image: chess.com

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Winning in bullet

The format used in this championship consisted of 90 minutes of 5+1 games, 60 minutes of 3+1 games and 30 minutes of 1+1 games. After the first two phases of the final, Nakamura had a +1 lead. The ten 5+1 games had produced a 5½:4½ score in favour of the American; ten more games were played in the 3+1 section, which finished with a tied 5:5 score.

In the seventh game of the 5+1 phase Nakamura obtained a remarkable attacking win:


Bullet chess, i.e. games played online with a time control of around one minute for each player, is probably still unknown territory for many chess followers who have been active club members for decades. After all, it is a world of its own: virtuosity in operating the computer mouse is perhaps more important than chess knowledge. In addition to the purely physical skills, quick recognition of tactical motifs also plays an outstanding role.

Thus, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but Hikaru Nakamura loves this discipline — he even wrote a book about it! So Nakamura’s reputation as a bullet-chess specialist is not in doubt, and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave did not really have anything to counter his opponent’s amazing skills in this format. Nakamura obtained an 8:3 victory in the bullet section.

For example, game 28 (of the 31 played) showed how things can quickly go wrong with moves being played so rapidly:


All games



Klaus Besenthal is computer scientist, has followed and still follows the chess scene avidly since 1972 and since then has also regularly played in tournaments.
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Minnesota Fats Minnesota Fats 12/17/2020 11:25
marcweeks are you paid by Hikaro? stop posting this biblical preaching about bullet chess .
marcweeks marcweeks 12/15/2020 04:43
Bullet chess is not ALL about mouse clicks. Rapidity of thought, resourcefulness, and exploitation of the pre-move are the hallmarks, at least that's why I've witnessed in most of Hikaru's bullet games. He sometimes has atrocious positions as Black, but time and again he's able to set his opponents so many problems, move after move, that they eventually spend too much time trying to find the crusher or defending a suddenly lost position. Along with this, I believe GM Saidy has written an article or two about how the quality of quick, albeit GM, games is not to be denigrated. I'm sure I could toss a couple into any book on chess and the reader would be none the wiser as to which games were bullet.
hurwitz hurwitz 12/15/2020 09:47
"MOUSE CLICKING CHAMPION OF CHESS", nicely said by Minnesota Fats!
Minnesota Fats Minnesota Fats 12/14/2020 10:30
All this (bullshit?) bullet adoration, i don't get it .

Let's put a BLIND chess game at normal time (90min or so) or if you really want faster a blind 15 min game as a DECIDER of a chess game or a FISCHER RANDOM CHESS game at 90min, instead of this bullet, much more realistic for a player's strength, than a MOUSE CLICKING CHAMPION OF CHESS!
tom_70 tom_70 12/14/2020 07:29
@Minnesota Fats, I would love to see a blindfold competition. They should bring that back. It would be interesting to see how well these guys can compete with each other in that format.
Minnesota Fats Minnesota Fats 12/14/2020 06:59
Why is there no blind chess included anymore? I remember in Monaco there used to be blind chess competition, much more interesting than bullet Lucky Luke style of chess.. (Was it called Amber tournament?)
tom_70 tom_70 12/14/2020 06:46
@Keshava, I doubt he intentionally specialized in fast time controls. It just suits his playing style and ability better than slow time controls.
Keshava Keshava 12/14/2020 02:44
Nakamura guessed right about the future many years ago when he decided to specialize in blitz and bullet.
It has become quite lucrative for him.
Gerald C Gerald C 12/14/2020 01:29
Bullet games, the worse of online chess ...