GM Nakamura, GM So to square off in epic Death Match 28
Fans of blitz chess, hold on to your hats. The highest-rated Death Match in history is coming to Chess.com.
World number-five GM Hikaru Nakamura and world number-12 GM Wesley So will meet in October's Death Match 28.
The Death Match will air live on Chess.com/TV.
The tentative match date and time is Saturday, October 4, 2014 at 12 p.m. Eastern (GMT -5), 9 a.m. Pacific, but it is subject to change due to both players' busy schedules.
The match will feature three frenetic hours of world-class chess with games in three time controls: 5+1 blitz, 3+1 blitz, and 1+1 bullet. The event also will include pre- and post-match interviews.
The current rating average of the two super GM combatants is 2771, much higher than the previous record in Death Match 17.
The two players have much in common. They are both residents of St. Louis, Missouri and will both be on the same team at the Norway Chess Olympiad (Nakamura as the top U.S. player, So as the coach). So recently declared his intention to transfer his FIDE federation to the United States, so the match could be the U.S. #1 vs. The U.S. #2 by the time it takes place.
GM Hikaru Nakamura -- FIDE 2787
Nakamura, a three-time U.S. champion, set numerous "youngest" records in his junior years. He has since reached a peak of world number-three and the highest rating of any American in history. (He passed legendary GM Bobby Fischer during the 2012 Olympiad.)
Besides the trio of national titles, his biggest tournament win was likely the 2011 Tata Steel Tournament in the Netherlands. Nakamura finished in clear first ahead of such luminaries as GMs Carlsen, Anand, Kramnik, Grischuk and Aronian.
Nakamura has honed his chess skills at various open tournaments in the U.S. As such, he is known to employ many openings and play uncompromising chess.
Here he is beating the current world number-nine player en route to winning the 2008 rapid play event in Cap d'Agde, France.
Nakamura has played tens of thousands of blitz games online, and some pundits claim he is the best bullet player in the world.
You can count himself among that crowd -- during Chess.com's coverage of the 2014 U.S. Championship, Nakamura wrote this to the online audience:
Nakamura's message was a reference to a famous quote by the late poker champion Stu Ungar, who was similarly confident about his own abilities:
"Some day, I suppose it's possible for someone to be a better no-limit hold 'em player than me. I doubt it, but it could happen. But I swear to you, I don't see how anyone could ever play gin better than me."
Nakamura was the highest-rated blitz and rapid player on FIDE's first list of the kind, published earlier this year.
Nakamura frequently plays bullet and blitz on Chess.com under the name "Hikaru."
Prudence demands showing one of his blitz games. This one was played over the board in 2009. Take note of Nakamura's sparkling 33rd move.
Nakamura has also been an integral part of the U.S. national team since 2006. In his four Olympiad appearances, he has two team bronze medals and four top-ten finishes.
Were it not for a last-round loss in Istanbul 2012, he would have had an individual medal as well. In his two World Team Championship appearances, the team has finished second and fourth, while he has banked an individual gold and silver.
Chess.com's Peter Doggers recently profiled Nakamura -- click here to read it again.
GM Wesley So -- FIDE 2755
What Nakamura has been to the U.S., So has been to the Philippines. Despite the country's storied chess history, So became its highest-rated player in history while still a teenager.
So's rise to the world's elite has been equally as impressive. So became a GM shortly after his 14th birthday. He also broke GM Magnus Carlsen's record for youngest to reach 2600. He's only been a super GM for a little more than one year, but is already more than halfway to 2800.
So made a big splash on the world scene at the 2009 FIDE World Cup. He went in as the top under-16 player in the world and advanced to the fourth round thanks to upsets over GM Vassily Ivanchuk and defending champion GM Gata Kamsky.
Here So proves that he, too, can drum up mating attacks out of nowhere.
Like his opponent, So has played in the last four Olympiads -- he's only lost one game ever, and that was during his first appearance as an FM.
This time around he will actually be the coach of Nakamura's U.S. team. Perhaps that could give him a sneak peek into Nakamura's Death Match preparation!
So has been hot recently, winning two major tournaments in the last few months. In May, So won the Capablanca Memorial, and in July he took top honors in the ACP Golden Classic. He has held or gained rating in 24 of the last 25 ratings lists.
Just for good measure, here's another unexpected mating attack.
So began his studies at Webster University in St. Louis in 2012. He has led his chess team to two national collegiate championships.
Tune in to Chess.com/TV on Saturday, October 4 at 12 p.m. Eastern (GMT -5), 9 a.m. Pacific, for live coverage with IM Danny Rensch and special guests.
Check the schedule at the bottom of that page for any possible time or date changes.