Nakamura beats Ding in Armageddon, will face So in SCC final

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
12/17/2021 – In the second semifinal of the Speed Chess Championship knockout event, defending champion Hikaru Nakamura had to work extra hard to defeat Ding Liren, as the match was only decided in Armageddon. The Chinese grandmaster drew the online blitz and bullet specialist both ‘in regulation’ and in the 4-game tiebreaker. Nakamura will face Wesley So in Sunday’s final match.

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Going for a fourth title

Hikaru Nakamura no longer appears as an active player in the latest FIDE ratings list. The American, a 5-time United States champion who has won the Tata Steel Masters and played in the Candidates Tournament, has put most of his focus on online chess and streaming. Much can be said about his decision, but there is no doubt he has succeeded in the online world.

In February 2021, Naka’s channel on Twitch reached the incredible milestone of having one million followers. Viewers enjoy watching an elite grandmaster challenging himself and others while playing quick-paced online chess. The American, who often mentioned that playing blitz and bullet was an important part of his chess development, does not disappoint, as he gets excellent results in the online tournaments taking place on

The main event of the year organized by the aforementioned online platform is the Speed Chess Championship. After Magnus Carlsen won the first edition back in 2017, Naka has shown his speed and resourcefulness to win the next three events, and is now going for a fourth consecutive title after beating none other than world number 3 Ding Liren.

Speed Chess Championship 2021

Ding stronger in first two sections

Much like regarding Wesley So in the first semifinal, the commentators thought Ding needed to go into the bullet section of the match with an advantage. A more classical player, it seemed unlikely that the Chinese would be able to stop Nakamura in the 1-minute games.

However, despite getting better positions in the late middlegame more than once, the Chinese went down 5-4 in the 5-minute games section. Nakamura showcased his incredible defensive skills to get ahead on the scoreboard in what should be the toughest phase of the match for him. But beating Ding is never easy.

In the 3-minute games, the Chinese bounced back and even got to enter the 1-minute section with an advantage. After getting a 6-4 victory in the second portion of the match, the 29-year-old from Wenzhou had a real chance of beating the tournament favourite. 

The bullet games were filled with tension, naturally, with Nakamura getting a final full point in a must-win situation to take the match to tiebreaks. After drawing again in the 4-game decider, the match went to Armageddon, where Naka had the better nerves and got the all-important victory with the black pieces.

Speed Chess Championship 2021

Nakamura later told commentators Daniel Naroditsky and David Pruess:

I thought this was the hardest match I’d played — and that includes the match I lost to Magnus, by the way. Obviously Ding couldn’t quite convert to the same degree as Magnus did, but after the match today, I’m gonna just try to play good chess and hopefully good things will happen.

All games



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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Minnesota Fats Minnesota Fats 12/18/2021 07:07
Same happened with Basketball, nowadays it is just a game of fast scoring 3 pointers, ala Stephen Curry... They changed the rules of the whole game of basketball. That's why u see now that alot of players are breaking records, but the game is not the same and MJJ. remains the goat.

The whole historical basketball game has been thrown in the basket and is now a fast pace running and 3 point scoring game.
Same is happening now with chess. It is becoming a fast paced game, with more entertainment?
Ajeeb007 Ajeeb007 12/18/2021 04:41
Watching speed chess is like watching a baseball game in fast forward. You see the plays but can't enjoy the game.
MauvaisFou MauvaisFou 12/18/2021 10:18
Is football dead because of two many draws and not enough goals ? Were Pelé and Maradona weak players ?
Hurinnl Hurinnl 12/18/2021 10:11
@Minnesota Fats of course Botvinnik would lose against nowadays superGMs. That's because they started their chess carreer with the chess knowledge what was turned over to them by their predecessors like Kasparov, Karpov, Kortschnooj. As Botvinnik learned about the chess styles and faults of Capablanca , Alekhine and Lasker, Fischer learned from Botvinnik, Bronstein and so on.

So it is no comparisation at all.
MauvaisFou MauvaisFou 12/18/2021 09:51
Botvinnik would forfeit against Carlsen because he is DEAD. It is nonsense to compare players.

Capablanca, also DEAD a long time ago, has already said that chess was DEAD, and invented a new piece.

And chess is still alive.
MauvaisFou MauvaisFou 12/18/2021 09:06
I disagree with you on every point.
Minnesota Fats Minnesota Fats 12/17/2021 10:46
@MauvaisFou Botvinnik won't stand a chance to Magnus , nor the rest of the super GMS these days. They know what they are feeling and witnessing: draws in classic chess and immens computer opening preparation.
Fischer also would have kicked Botvinnik's butt.
He even anticipated it 40 year's before, that chess is dead and we only need classic Fischer random 960 chess for the classical world champion title and we need a blitz champion for the new Chess game anno 2020 plus.
MauvaisFou MauvaisFou 12/17/2021 09:39
so we are supposed to re-play bullet games?
Botvinik must be turning over in his grave!
This is antinomic with chess.
Minnesota Fats Minnesota Fats 12/17/2021 08:46
blitz & bullet 960 Fischer Random chess: the new World Championship title to strive for!
Aighearach Aighearach 12/17/2021 07:34
There are lots of category events at all levels, but the prices are based on entry fees paid. No other way to do it...
CARLPOV CARLPOV 12/17/2021 07:17
Why arent there tournaments like these for amateur players.
It seems like they are keeping high prize money events for only elite players.
Organizers need to create category events with good cash prizes for amateurs.
mikolov mikolov 12/17/2021 05:57
I watch most of the match and the level of play was incredible for the time controls they played at.
Will definitely catch the finals.