Canty Upsets Shuvalova: 'She's An Absolute Beast'

Canty Upsets Shuvalova: 'She's An Absolute Beast'

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FM James Canty III upset the top seed, IM Polina Shuvalova, in the quarterfinals of the 2022 IM Not A GM Speed Chess Championship presented by on Monday. It was a closely-fought match with many double-edged games and the scores hovering around tied for much of the duel.

The next IMSCC match is the semifinal between Canty and IM Lawrence Trent. It begins on June 24 at 9 a.m. Pacific / 18:00 Central Europe.

How to watch?
You can watch the 2022 IM Not A GM Speed Chess Championship on You can also enjoy the show on our Twitch channel and catch all our live broadcasts on The games can also be followed from our Events Page.

Live broadcast of the match, hosted by GMs Aman Hambleton and Jeffery Xiong.

Blitz 5+1: Shuvalova 3.5-4.5 Canty

Shuvalova won the first game in a fascinating double-edged position that arose after the thematic ...f6 break.

Canty struck back in the next game by winning a pawn in the opening and cleanly converting it into a victory in the ending.

Shuvalova often proved to be closely matched with many games that could've gone either way. In game five, Shuvalova pressed her advantage for much of the game, but the tables turned when Canty played 33...Bc2!, shutting the white queen out of her own camp, and then reorganized his pieces to target his opponent's kingside.

Shuvalova defended actively, and the game resulted in a double-edged draw. Both players overlooked winning opportunities in the time scramble. Can you find the mating attack idea that Canty overlooked?

Game six was another back-and-forth battle between the two resourceful players. Shuvalova blundered a piece early but fought back in the double rook ending with active rooks and her pawns rolling down the board, despite being down a piece. Just when it looked like Shuvalova had fully recovered and had even winning chances, Canty found a resource to create a mating net. 

In the last game of the segment, Canty set up a clever and unique piece trap.

Canty entered the 3+1 blitz one point ahead, and the momentum on his side after his three game winning streak to take over the lead. 

Blitz 3+1: Shuvalova 3.5-3.5 Canty

The 3+1 blitz kicked off with a shaky yet must-needed win by Shuvalova, resetting the momentum in the new segment. Game three was beautifully played by both competitors at different points. In the middlegame, Canty discovered the stunning move 29...Qc6! to tactically protect the c4-knight and win a pawn.

In the endgame, Shuvalova played the bishop pair vs. knight pair ending in a mutual time scramble with incredible clarity. 

Canty played in a beautiful attacking style to win game five.

Game six was a display of Canty's speed chess tactical abilities, keeping his own king on g3 safe with his arrangement of pieces while hunting down all the weak points in Shuvalova's position.

Shuvalova closed out the 3+1 segment with a victory, narrowing the score down to a one-point match heading into the bullet. 

Bullet 1+1: Shuvalova 4-5 Canty

Game one showed how vicious Canty can be in bullet. He managed to achieve a winning position with 50 more seconds left on the clock than Shuvalova!

Shuvalova struck back immediately with two wins in a row to tie up the match, including a game where she eviscerated Canty's king in the center when he was a little too adventurous with his kingside pawn cover.

In game five, Canty was figuring out how to continue his kingside attack against Shuvalova's resilient defense when he surprisingly flagged.

The players began game eight with Canty leading by a point and 4:42 remaining on the match clock, meaning likely just one or two games left. Shuvalova fought well to hold a draw with less time in a worse position.

The game finished with 17 seconds left on the match clock, meaning one last game in this one-point match. The entire match was on the line! 

Canty played well to gain an advantage on the kingside and carefully converted it into a victory. 

Canty earned the match victory over his higher ranked opponent with his speed and tactical play. As GM Jeffery Xiong commented: "The thing with Canty is the sharper the position, the faster he plays." GM Aman Hambleton added: "The more there is to calculate, the more he trusts his intuition."

The more there is to calculate, the more he trusts his intuition.

-GM Aman Hambleton

In the interview with the players, Canty explained how time and his opponent's strength worked to his advantage: "She's an absolute beast. The only thing I knew was she'd get in time trouble because she thinks. That's why she's got a 2500 FIDE rating because she uses her time. In fact, that's exactly what was going on here in these games. She was getting lower on time, and that helps a lot in pressure for me."

She's an absolute beast. The only thing I knew was she'd get in time trouble because she thinks. 

-FM James Canty III

All Games - Quarterfinal

IM Speed Chess Championship 2022 Bracket


The IM Not A GM Speed Chess Championship (IMSCC) is an online tournament where some of the world's strongest IMs and other invited players compete in a series of speed chess matches. Each match consists of a 5+1 blitz segment, a 3+1 blitz section, and a 1+1 bullet portion, and the player who scores the most points wins the match. In the event of a tie, players play a four-game 1+1 match to decide the winner. If the tie persists, an armageddon game with a bidding system decides the winner.

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