Rapid Chess Championship Week 1: Nepo Strikes Back And Wins

Rapid Chess Championship Week 1: Nepo Strikes Back And Wins

| 17 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Ian Nepomniachtchi won the knockout phase of the inaugural 2022 Rapid Chess Championship tournament presented by Coinbase. GM Anish Giri finished second in the knockout—after taking first in the preliminary Swiss tournament—while GMs Jose Eduardo Martinez Alcantara and Fabiano Caruana finished in the semifinals and GMs Kirill Alekseenko, Amin Tabatabaei, David Paravyan, and Vladislav Kovalev finished in the quarterfinals.

Participating in the event were 41 elite players of the invited FIDE top 100, top 10 women, and top 10 juniors in the world, alongside 10 wildcards. The event will continue next weekend, February 19-20, starting at 9 a.m. Pacific / 18:00 Central European.

How to watch?
You can watch the 2022 Rapid Chess Championship presented by Coinbase on You can also enjoy the show on Twitch channel and catch all our live broadcasts on
Live broadcast of this weekend's tournament, hosted by GMs Daniel Naroditsky and Robert Hess

The Rapid Chess Championship is a weekly tournament held by It is a nine-round Swiss event with a 10+0 time control held every Saturday, followed by a knockout event on Sunday between the top eight finishers and a 10+2 time control. If players draw, they play another 3+2 game; if drawn, they play a 1+1 game; and if that is drawn, a single armageddon game is played.


The time control of 10+0 allows for plenty of drama that might not occur in events having longer time controls as many grandmasters struggled to find wins, hold draws, or simply not lose on time in the Swiss event. Although there were many hair-pulling cases of time trouble, as we shall see, one of the most nerve-racking had to be 16-year-old GM R Praggnanandhaa's win with just 0.7 of a second left.

Another fantastic case born out of time trouble was the following missed win by Tabatabaei, who ultimately finished in sixth with 6/9 and therefore qualified for the knockout anyway.  With Black to move, can you find the elegant finishing blow?

Wildcard Martinez (often referred to by his username, Jospem) did not fail to impress as he finished second in the Swiss with a score of 6/9.  Also defeating reputable players such as Alekseenko and GM Anton Demchenko in the first two rounds, the highlight of his Saturday had to be a miraculous save against GM Wesley So in the final round.

Had Jospem lost this final game, he would not have made it to the knockout; conversely, this draw ended any hope of So crossing over to the Sunday event.

Nepomniachtchi, having a reputation for being a quick player even in classical games, played at an alarmingly rapid pace, even for such fast time control. Although he dropped a loss to GM Andrei Volokitin in the second round, he recovered with wins against notable players such as the FIDE 2022 Grand Prix participant GM Vincent Keymer and the winner of the Tata Steel Chess 2022 Challengers, GM Arjun Erigaisi, a clutch victory in the last round to finish fifth in the Swiss on 6/9. 

In the following clip featuring one of his early wins, it is hard to tell whether he is premoving or not as he quickly sails to victory.

Giri was in first for virtually the entire tournament, from start to finish, and finished with 7/9. After defeating top dogs like GM Vasyl Ivanchuk and GM Aleksey Dreev in the first two rounds, his most important win was ironically—now, in hindsight—against Nepo in round six as he benefited from a shocking and completely unforced blunder.

Saturday Swiss | Final Standings (Top 20)

# Rk Fed Title Username Name Rating Score SB
1 6 GM @AnishGiri Anish Giri 2805 7 40
2 41 GM @dropstoneDP David Paravyan 2840 6.5 30.25
3 34 GM @Jospem Jose Eduardo Martinez Alcantara 2595 6 31.5
3 2 GM @FabianoCaruana Fabiano Caruana 2840 6 31.5
5 14 GM @BilodeauA Kirill Alekseenko 2755 6 29.75
6 18 GM @amintabatabaei Amin Tabatabaei 2703 6 29.25
7 1 GM @lachesisQ Ian Nepomniachtchi 2836 6 26.5
8 35 GM @vladislavkovalev Vladislav Kovalev 2684 6 22.25
9 39 GM @BillieKimbah Maxim Matlakov 2764 6 22
10 5 GM @GMWSO Wesley So 2710 5.5 27.25
11 27 GM @champ2005 Raunak Sadhwani 2677 5.5 25
12 8 GM @Micki-taryan Haik Martirosyan 2660 5.5 24.75
12 16 GM @ChessWarrior7197 Nodirbek Abdusattorov 2708 5.5 24.75
14 33 GM @GHEEVAM2003 Arjun Erigaisi 2690 5.5 23
15 29 GM @Igrok3069 Alexey Dreev 2587 5 19
16 28 GM @rpragchess Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu 2594 5 17
17 26 GM @viviania Vassily Ivanchuk 2599 5 16.75
18 31 GM @g3god Sasikiran Krishnan 2501 5 9.5
19 36 GM @HansOnTwitch Hans Niemann 2628 4.5 18.5
20 30 GM @VincentKeymer Vincent Keymer 2591 4.5 18.25

(Full final standings here.)


Although there was an additional two-second increment in the knockout, unlike the Swiss, this did not prevent tragicomedies from occurring. While the rapid games clearly showed an uptick in quality, the blitz games at times caused the evaluation bar to start hula-hooping. 

After the rapid game ended in a draw, Giri and Kovalev played a 3+2 blitz game. After controlling the position and seemingly playing for two results, the Belarusian grandmaster panicked in time trouble and allowed a shocking mate in one. 

Tweeting shortly after the game (before the event was even over!), Giri compared the shock to an earlier incident on the same day when his Twitter account was hacked and several scandalous tweets went out under his name. 

Another dramatic encounter was between Caruana and Alekseenko, which ended in the very first rapid game, as the Russian grandmaster froze in a position where he had a simple skewer but lost on time: 

The final game, Nepomniachtchi-Giri, featured a Najdorf Sicilian, a great opening for generating winning chances for both sides. After missing an opportunity to play ...d5 at once, Giri never got another chance, and his position deteriorated as the 2021 World Championship Challenger planted a knight on the key d5-square and ultimately crashed through on the queenside. 

After the game, the winner shared his thoughts about his result and his play with a characteristically humble reply: "[The experience] is so far so good. ... I shouldn't be the person who whines quite a lot right now since I made it to first place in the end. But the format is quite fun. ... Besides, I played really poorly, especially yesterday. ... Sometimes you get a bit lucky and that's enough."

On whether this tournament feels different than over-the-board events where he often plays familiar faces, he smilingly responded: "I think it's more or less the same. ... It's easier to pour some tea... right here at your computer."

It's easier to pour some tea... right here at your computer.

—GM Ian Nepomniachtchi

Standings, Results, Prizes

The winner of the Swiss tournament was Giri, and the winner of the knockout tournament was Nepomniachtchi. Below are the full standings and prizes of the knockout:

Sunday Knockout | Final Standings

# Fed Player Place Prize
1 Ian Nepomniachtchi Winner $7,500
2 Anish Giri Finalist $3,500
3-4 Jose Eduardo Martinez Alcantara Semifinalist $2,500
3-4 Fabiano Caruana Semifinalist $2,500
5-8 Kirill Alekseenko Quarterfinalist $1,000
5-8 Mohammad Amin Tabatabaei Quarterfinalist $1,000
5-8 David Paravyan Quarterfinalist $1,000
5-8 Vladislav Kovalev Quarterfinalist $1,000

The Rapid Chess Championship is brought to you by Coinbase. Whether you’re looking to make your first crypto purchase or you’re an experienced trader, Coinbase has you covered. Earn crypto by learning about crypto with Coinbase Earn, explore DeFi and web3 with Coinbase Wallet, get exclusive rewards when you spend with Coinbase Card, and much more. Learn more at and get $10 in bitcoin when you sign up and verify your account.

NM Anthony Levin

NM Anthony Levin caught the chess bug at the "late" age of 18 and never turned back. He earned his national master title in 2021, actually the night before his first day of work at

Anthony, who also earned his Master's in teaching English in 2018, taught English and chess in New York schools for five years and strives to make chess content accessible and enjoyable for people of all ages. At, he writes news articles and manages social media for chess24.





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