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Shuvalova Eliminates Pruess: 2022 IMSCC, Round Of 16

Shuvalova Eliminates Pruess: 2022 IMSCC, Round Of 16

JackRodgers
| 11 | Chess Event Coverage

The 2022 IM Not A GM Speed Chess Championship resumed on Wednesday with a gripping round of 16 match between IM Polina Shuvalova and IM David Pruess, in which Shuvalova won with a convincing 16.5-6.5 score.

The match was a tactical slugfest that was decided in the bullet portion after a remarkable eight-point winning streak from Shuvalova. After a tug of war in the earlier blitz sections, Pruess' inability to crack Shuvalova in the 1+1 games proved decisive in favor of the former World Girl's Junior Champion.

The next match in the IMSCC will be the highly anticipated quarterfinal between popular streamers IM Eric Rosen and IM Levy Rozman, which begins on May 26, at 10 a.m. Pacific / 19:00 Central European.

How to watch?
You can watch the 2022 I'M Not A GM Speed Chess Championship on Chess.com/TV. You can also enjoy the show on our Twitch channel and catch all our live broadcasts on YouTube.com/ChesscomLive. The games can also be followed from our Events Page.

Live broadcast of the match, hosted by GM Robert Hess.


Blitz 5|1: Shuvalova-Pruess 5-3

The match between the tournament's top and bottom seeds started with a crushing win for Pruess, the lower-rated player bringing his A-game with the black pieces in a Closed Sicilian. Pruess played with an accuracy level worthy of a super-GM after Shuvalova inaccurately moved her knight to the rim in the middlegame. The mistake allowed Pruess to win a pawn in the center and pile on the pain.

Pruess showed signs of his upset potential at the beginning of the match, also managing to win the second game, taking an early lead of 2-0.

After a slow start, Shuvalova turned up the heat, winning four games back to back. In the fourth game, she showed sound understanding of an opposite-side-castling position and, after defending against Pruess' Richter-Veresov Attack, was able to dismantle his castled king with a flurry of tactical shots including a queen sacrifice on the a3-square.

Spicing up the openings seemed to be a part of both players' plans in the match on Wednesday and it was rare to see a repeat of setups in the early stages. Shuvalova showed in game three that she was ready for Pruess' varied repertoire and had no problem dealing with his Chigorin Variation in the Queen's Pawn Opening.

Shuvalova's most convincing victory came in the sixth game of the match, where she had to deal with the flamboyant Fantasy Variation against her solid Caro-Kann. The miniature ended up lasting only 24 moves.

The top player looked to be settling into the match after her four-game streak and was well on her way to a seventh-game draw but was stunned, either mouse-slipping or blundering back rank checkmate in a drawish rook endgame.

The result allowed Pruess to recover somewhat and a Shuvalova win to cap off the 5+1 games left the top seed with a slim two-point lead.

Blitz 3|1: Shuvalova-Pruess 3.5-3.5

The early stages of the 3+1 section saw Pruess claw his way back into the match with his opening roulette strategy beginning to pay off. He was able to win a fine game on the white side of the King's Gambit and then immediately followed up with Black, employing the Sicilian Defense: Canal, Main Line, completely juxtaposing his playing style and keeping Shuvalova guessing.

Getting into a sticky situation on the white side of a Sicilian Defense: Najdorf Variation, Pruess almost found an opportunity to draw the game and keep the match close but fell short at the last hurdle. Pruess found the right idea but executed it incorrectly, which commentator Hess demonstrated after the game.

With Shuvalova's lead beginning to expand, Pruess was able to score an opportune win, converting with seconds left in the 3+1 portion and reducing the deficit to two points. The position was not an easy conversion, though, and Pruess risked falling into threefold repetition or blundering after Shuvalova lined up her queen and rook like a battering ram against the American IM's king.

A draw to close out the 3+1 games set the match score at 8.5-6.5 with Shuvalova carrying a two-point lead into the 1+1 section. Commentator Hess was quick to note that Pruess is not fond of bullet chess. However, he had so far proven he was sharp under time pressure. Shuvalova, with a monstrous bullet rating over 2600, would have felt quietly confident up against her opponent's much lower 2250 rating on Chess.com.

Bullet 1|1: Shuvalova-Pruess 8-0

Pre-match insights indicated that Shuvalova would heavily outscore Pruess across the board in today's match, but despite the advantage, the blitz stages were far closer than anticipated. One of the key metrics in these predictions was the fact that Pruess loses 46% of his games by flag fall as opposed to Shuvalova's 19 percent, a damning statistic that begged the question: would Pruess be able to match the pace of the top seed in the bullet portion?

The answer to this question was unfortunately a resounding no for Pruess. However, this was largely due to Shuvalova living up to her Chess.com username (Flawless_Fighter) and putting in an outstanding bullet performance on Wednesday. An 8-0 obliteration in the portion featuring breakneck speed, powerful pre-moves, and tactical strikes left Shuvaloa ahead by a full ten points.

Pruess did manage to get himself into a number of winning positions, but the top seed was just too resourceful when the push came to shove and was able to swing games back in her favor time and time again.

As expected, the American IM also dropped points due to significant time pressure. In one game after surviving a brutal attack and almost consolidating, Pruess heartbreakingly lost on time. The match score could have been quite different had he picked up some of these points.

The position where Pruess lost on time, playing Black, in game 17:

After a blistering back-end to the match, Shuvalova was able to comfortably get over the line with a 16.5-6.5 score. Pruess' effort in the blitz time controls was commendable and his opponent gave credit to him in the post-match interview by stating that in the first games of the match she was "very nervous," but as the match went on she was able to "play more comfortably."

With this result, Shuvalova's progress to the quarterfinals, where she will take on FM James Canty III, who showed exceptional fighting spirit in his round of 16 match against IM Kostya Kavutskiy. In the meantime, we have another highly anticipated match to look forward to on Thursday, when two of chess' top personalities, Rosen and Rozman, face off.

All Games - Round of 16

IM Speed Chess Championship 2022 Bracket

The IM Not A GM Speed Chess Championship (IMSCC) is an online event where some of the 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 segment, and a 1+1 bullet segment, with the player who scores the most points winning the match. If there's 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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