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Andreikin Mounts Spectacular Comeback, Qualifies With Sarana

Andreikin Mounts Spectacular Comeback, Qualifies With Sarana

AnthonyLevin
| 11 | Chess Event Coverage

GMs Alexey Sarana and Dmitry Andreikin claimed the last spots in the 2023 Chess.com Speed Chess Championship Presented by Coinbase by winning their respective brackets in the SCC Qualifier 2 on Thursday.

Sarana had the best event of anybody, placing first in the Swiss on day one and then finishing atop the Winners Bracket in two matches on day two. He beat Andreikin in the Winners Final.

Andreikin didn't let one setback ruin his day; following the match loss in the Winners, he won the Losers Bracket. He scored an impressive 3.5-0.5 against GM Eduardo Iturrizaga in the Losers Final, winning with two games to spare, the best match score this week.

This completes the qualifier phase of this year's main event as all 16 players are set to fight for the crown in September.

How to watch?
You can watch the 2023 Chess.com Speed Chess Championship Presented by Coinbase on Chess.com/TV. You can also enjoy the show on our Twitch channel and catch all our live broadcasts on YouTube.com/ChesscomLive. Games from the event can be viewed on our events page.

The live broadcasts were hosted by IM Kostya Kavutskiy


Swiss

One hundred ninety-five players joined the 14-round Swiss on Wednesday. GM Alexey Sarana finished in clear first with 11 points, the same score GM Hikaru Nakamura achieved to win Qualifier 1 Swiss. Once again, having 10 points was enough to move on to the bracket portion, although two players on that score were left out due to lower tiebreaks: GMs Denis Lazavik and Jeffery Xiong.

(See full results here.)

There were some sharks swimming in the water in this qualifier, just as in the last. GMs Magnus Carlsen and Nakamura have already been invited to the main event, but they were allowed to play in the Swiss portion only. This is why GM Aram Hakobyan made it into the bracket stage for finishing in the top-nine.

Carlsen, fresh off his quick draw with GM Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu in the FIDE World Cup, decided to prepare for his over-the-board tiebreaks (to be played the next day) by cleaning up online. He played eight rounds, calling it a day after a draw with Nakamura (in a game that started 1. a3 h6). 

It seemed to work out for Carlsen in the end, for he won the World Cup for the first time ever the next day.

Besides a loss in round four to GM Kirill Shevchenko, the tournament winner Sarana accumulated nine wins and four draws. His standout result was a win with the black pieces over former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik in round seven.

In that game, Kramnik opted for the time-tested and strong Ne2-f3-e4 plan in the Carlsbad structure, a favorite of at least two other world champions, his former teacher Mikhail Botvinnik and also GM Garry Kasparov.

In response, Sarana showed defensive prowess when facing a strong center, and Kramnik's piece sacrifice 30.Nxg6, sound at first, did not pan out well for White after an inaccurate follow-up.

A game against Nakamura can often be a death sentence for his opponents, but it wasn't for GMs Alexandr Shimanov, Shevchenko, and Andreikin. All three players beat the five-time SCC champion, and all three players also made it through to the bracket.

Andreikin's win was the most technically impressive, where he converted an extra pawn in a long endgame. But Shimanov's game was more striking, as he achieved a strategically winning position by move 18.

It started with 1. e4 a6, an opening that is becoming kind of a main line in online chess these days.

After making it into the top-nine spots, the players returned the following day to play in the bracket portion. Just two players would make it into the main event.

All Games | Qualifier 2 Swiss