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Trent Upsets Shahade: 2022 IMSCC, Round Of 16

Trent Upsets Shahade: 2022 IMSCC, Round Of 16

AnthonyLevin
| 17 | Chess Event Coverage

IMs Greg Shahade and Lawrence Trent threw down on Wednesday in the second round of 16 match of the I'M Not A GM Speed Chess Championship. This longtime rivalry was settled for the first time ever in favor of the underdog, Trent, who won with a score of 13.5-9.5. Shahade had won their previous two encounters.

After the match, Trent professed: "Even with the greatest of men, they sometimes have to just come back down to earth. And I think tonight is a humbling night for Greg Shahade." 

The next round of 16 match, FM James Canty III vs. IM Kostya Kavutskiy, will take place on Friday, May 13, at 11 a.m. PT / 20:00 CET. 

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.

Live broadcast of the match, hosted by GMs Robert Hess and Aman Hambleton.


The I'M 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.


About a week before the event, both players continued their longstanding tradition of trash-talking on social media, which hyped up fans for this exciting matchup. Our producer put together the following epic video of several exchanges between the players over the years. 

Blitz 5|1: Shahade-Trent 3-4

The SmarterChess prediction looked rather bleak for Trent at the start of the day, with Shahade having an approximate 300-rating-point advantage and an expected victory in each one of the three segments. Nevertheless, Trent took an early three-point lead to set the tone for the match, and this perhaps set a negative psychological trend for Shahade, who was unable to convert some winning positions, especially when short on time.

The players played a consistent opening repertoire in this first segment, as every time Shahade was White the players entered a Caro-Kann, and every time Trent was White he played an English with an h4-h5 attack.

The first game started in Trent's favor after Shahade dropped a pawn early on in the Caro-Kann Defense. The game ultimately petered out to a drawish opposite-colored bishops endgame (for some reason, many more opposite-colored bishop positions continued to thematically turn up in this match), but Trent won after his opponent failed to find a somewhat difficult Ba6-b7 maneuver (hard to see when playing on a few seconds) to hold the position.

After the game, commentator Hess already warned: "I think Greg is pretty quiet now, and it's not just because he thinks he's the favorite in the match."

Trent won the next two games, taking a one-sided three-point lead against zero—until Shahade struck back and won the fourth game. In what started as an English Opening—an Anti-Grunfeld move order in which Shahade played in Grunfeld-style anyway—Trent went for an optimistic h4-h5-type of attack that backfired pretty quickly after he played the mysterious 8.d4? (probably not a mouse slip since he played it again in another game), blundering a pawn according to the engines. Shahade nearly let the advantage slip in the end, making the commentators worried he might flag, but he pulled through and took the full point in the end.

The following game was another Caro that traded into an endgame very quickly. While the engine said the position was dead equal, the grandmaster commentators pointed out that the position was much easier for White to play. As commentator Hambleton portended, Trent made a mistake and Shahade earned a second win, bringing the score to within one point.

In the following game, Trent improved on his English h4-h5 idea, this time playing to lock the position with 8.h6 (improving on the earlier 8.d4?). A fearsome attack by Black, however, traded into another opposite-colored bishop endgame with a slight advantage for Black.

Trent was dead in the water, but after a desperate pawn sacrifice on move 32, he was able to generate enough counterplay to confuse his opponent and secure the first of only three draws in the entire match.

The last game was another Caro-Kann in which Shahade played a great game and found the awesome 37.Ng4!!. Up a piece, he was unable to win the game, which ended in a draw. The failure to convert games like this one were surely instrumental in allowing Trent's upset to occur.

Blitz 3|1: Shahade-Trent 4-4

Despite the 4-4 even score in this segment, it seemed more opportunities were missed by Shahade than by Trent. The English player seemed to usually be up on the clock and the American favorite often got into trouble when low on time.

The first game of this segment featured a brief opening change. Trent abandoned the 1.c4 Anti-Grunfeld setup and started with 1.d4. Predictably, the players got a Grunfeld now.

Shahade played a model game, won a pawn, and ultimately won the game with a checkmating attack in the endgame. 

Can you find the final move Shahade played in the game? (I included the full variation for the puzzle.)

Trent did not repeat the Grunfeld again this match, a decision he said was critical to winning this match in the interview afterward. The score was suddenly even at 4-4 overall.

Shahade got a pleasant position out of a Caro-Kann with the bishop pair in the next game, but with a strong knight maneuver by Black, Trent was able to trade down to yet another opposite-colored bishop position with all the heavy pieces on the board. 

A slip by Shahade allowed Trent to expand on the kingside and break apart the white pawn structure in crushing style.


In the lead by a point, Trent went back to the Anti-Grunfeld systems, starting with 1.c4 again. In this game, Shahade demonstrated that while opposite-colored bishop endgames are the most likely to end in a draw, they can be lethal in a middlegame with heavy pieces left on the board.

The most exciting moment of this segment was the following game. In what could have been an immensely tilting moment, Trent dropped a full piece after missing the x-ray on his queen on the a3-f8 diagonal.

Shahade took a lead for the first time this match, with a 6-5 overall score. What makes this game particularly remarkable is that Trent, who had been putting up great resistance from a piece-down position, actually had an opportunity to draw the game with an underpromotion. 

The next game saw the Van Geet Opening (1.Nc3) from Trent, which he would play with the white pieces for the rest of the match. In a blow-for-blow standoff, Trent again tied the match.

After this game, commentator Hambleton observed: "Greg needs to fix the openings." As if on cue, Shahade crushed his opponent in the next game with White after an innocent ...Kb8 move by his opponent led to a powerful initiative.

Shahade won yet again to take a 7-6 score overall. The final sequence of the game was very instructive in attacking an exposed king.

Can you find the finishing blow? White to move and win. 

Again, Trent won the next one with 1.Nc3 to even the score. The final game, which absolutely should have ended in a draw and could have allowed Shahade to recover, featured a shocking blunder:

Trent finished the 3+1 portion with quite the confidence boost after converting the game with precision. 

Bullet 1|1: Shahade-Trent 2.5-5.5

Going into the final segment of the match, Hess still favored Shahade slightly, but the margin was nothing compared to what it would have been before the match. "I would've thought that Greg was a slight favorite in the bullet, but he's been hesitant, and that makes me nervous for his chances." The match result was never clear, and Shahade had chances all the way until game 20, where he let slip three losses in a row.

The bullet portion started with another 1.Nc3 by Trent. The nerves really showed in this first game as both players made gigantic, decisive mistakes in the early going, but Trent seemed to have the better nerves and was just about to squeeze out a rook endgame until they reached this unique draw:

In the following game, the trend of missed opportunities continued for Shahade when he missed an absolutely free and hanging knight on g4. Trent ultimately won an all-heavy-pieces ending, and Shahade would recall this game later in the post-match interview as a game he should have won.

Shahade then started playing double-fianchetto setups. Game 19, which started with the Nimzovich-Larsen Opening (1.b3), ended in a resounding win for Shahade, who once again evened the score at 9.5-9.5 overall:

However, Shahade would not win a single other game and, in fact, he would go on to lose all the remaining four games.

Trent blew his opponent's "Hippo" setup out of the water in the following game, then won again on the Black side of a 1.b3 opening. With the match clock running out, the next game was Shahade's last chance to come back. It looked like he was going to win after Trent blundered a pawn with 44.Na5?, but the underdog was miraculously in the game—equal, with engine approval—despite losing his entire queenside.

Tensions rose in this final, climactic game, and when Trent suddenly found the counterplay he needed via Ne8-Nf6, Shahade flagged. He even seemed to fall out of his chair after:

The final game was won by Trent, but the match was already mathematically over.

In the post-match interview, Trent started off humbly: "I think I squandered a bazillion positions ... but, in general, I was quite happy with my play ... Greg is a phenomenal player and he's been a good sport, and I enjoyed the back-and-forth very much."

Shahade was graceful: "I just want to say something I thought I'd never in my life have to say. Congratulations, Lawrence, you outplayed me."

All Games - Round of 16

 I'M Not A GM Speed Chess Championship 2022 Bracket

The 2022 I'M Not A GM Speed Chess Championship (IMSCC) is an online event where some of the strongest IMs compete in a series of speed chess matches. The event runs May 9 through June 15, with players vying for their share of the $10,000 prize fund and the title of fastest IM in the world.


Previous reports:

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