News
Nakamura Unstoppable vs. Nihal, Naroditsky Overcomes Sevian's Comeback

Nakamura Unstoppable vs. Nihal, Naroditsky Overcomes Sevian's Comeback

NM_Vanessa
| 12 | Chess Event Coverage

GMs Hikaru Nakamura and Daniel Naroditsky have knocked everyone else out of the Winners Bracket of the Bullet Chess Championship 2024 (BCC). 

Nakamura led by a vast margin throughout his match vs. GM Nihal Sarin. Naroditsky fought off GM Sam Sevian's comeback to prevail. Nakamura and Naroditsky will meet in the Final on Wednesday. 

In the Losers Bracket, GM Alireza Firouzja defeated GM Anish Giri with nearly double his score. Fueled by his victory vs. GM Vladimir Fedoseev, GM Jose Martinez went on to eliminate GM Andrew Tang. GM David Paravyan won a tight match vs. GM Minh Le. GM Oleksandr Bortnyk knocked out GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.

The action continues on Wednesday, June 12, at 12 p.m. ET / 18:00 CEST / 8:30 p.m. IST

Winners Bracket - Day 2:

Losers Bracket - Day 2:


Losers:

Winners Semifinals:


Losers Round 1:

Out of the gate, GM Anish Giri went 5-0 vs. GM Fabiano Caruana, never letting his fellow super-GM back into the match. 

Early in the match, Fedoseev gained the lead vs. Martinez. In game eight, he extended the margin to four points by gaining immense activity in the middle game. When Fedoseev brought three of his pieces to his opponent's sixth rank, IM Kassa Korley crafted a fitting simile: “It’s like you have your feet up on their couch in their living room.”

Yet, Martinez fought back to a tied score. The players started to trade punches as the match went into overtime. In the end, Martinez found a mating idea to clinch victory.

GM Christopher Yoo and Vachier-Lagrave were tied for much of the match. At the 10-minute mark, Yoo began to pull ahead. His premove anticipation skills helped him steal victory in a rook ending.  

Vachiere-Lagrave countered, picking up the pace to a win a bishop vs. knight ending with pristine technique. 

Then Yoo tied up the match with his puzzle rush skills. Can you find his winning combination in the puzzle below?

White to move and win.

The competitors fought on deep into overtime. It took 10 tiebreaker games before Vachier-Lagrave gained a decisive two-point lead. 

After a close start, Le began to grow his lead vs. GM Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu in the second half, finishing with an 11-6 score.

Losers Round 2:

Martinez, inspired in his match vs. Tang, started with a 5-2 lead. Tang retaliated, gaining victory with his anti-premove shuffling skills. 

Martinez held his lead into the last moments, engaging in a king hunt to seal the match. 

Bortnyk went on a 5-0 rampage to kickstart his match vs. Vachier-Lagrave. Bortnyk's lightning-fast tactical skills fueled his victories.

Midway through the match, Vachier-Lagrave nearly equalized the score. Bortnyk won three of the last four to end the French grandmaster's comeback. 

Firouzja gained a five-point lead early against Giri. By the end, the 2021 champion won by 12.5-6.5.

Parayvan started with a three-point lead vs. Le. Yet, the Vietnamese grandmaster recovered, bringing the score within one point as the match clock neared zero. In the last two games, Paravyan won and then forced a perpetual, winning the match without overtime. 

Naroditsky vs. Sevian: 15-10

While Naroditsky has speed, rating, and scramble strength on his side, Sevian is the higher-ranked classical player, and he excels at speedy premoves. 

Naroditsky started with three victories in a row. Game two displayed the depth of calculation possible even in his bullet games. He paused for two seconds to calculate all the way to mate in the king and pawn ending. 

Known for his tricky bullet comebacks, Naroditsky caught Sevian in a shocking trap from a dead-lost position in game six.

Halfway through, Naroditsky looked to be running away with the match with an eight-point lead. As GM Benjamin Bok expressed: “Danya is a beast. Danya is an absolute beast in bullet. He’s really difficult to handle when he’s playing his A-game.”

Danya is an absolute beast in bullet.

—Benjamin Bok

Unfazed by the scoreboard and his opponent's vast bullet experience, Sevian started to fight back, winning four in a row.

With 10 minutes left on the match clock, Sevian brought the score to 11-8. The momentum began to swing in Sevian's favor as he brought the score closer and closer.

Naroditsky kicked back into gear just in time. He won the last three games, clinching the match with a sharp tactic. 

Nakamura vs. Nihal: 19-12

Though the four-time champion Nakamura is the favorite against any opponent, Nihal is a force to be reckoned with himself. He's currently just below Nakamura in both Chess.com's bullet and blitz rankings.

Nakamura started with a 3-0 lead. In game four, Nihal’s quick defensive abilities halted Nakamura’s winning streak. 

As the match progressed, Nakamura built his lead to six points. Yet, in several games, Nihal was able to go toe-to-toe vs. the reigning champion. In game 12, he prevailed in a game of sheer insanity with both players running their kings for dear life. Even the commentators could not make sense of the blistering-fast madness.

Korley: What is going on?

Bok: I have no idea!

With 11 minutes on the match clock, Nakamura had achieved double his opponent’s score: 14-7. Many of Nakamura’s victories turned small edges and drawish endgames into wins. 

After the match, Nakamura shared: 

I think in bullet, the main thing is basically how the opening goes. The reason that 1.b3, 2.Nf3 is so effective is you can just play like 20 moves very quickly... That gives you more time later in the game if you need to think three or four seconds. Maybe next time I'll play the Cow or something. Any opening where you get 10 or 15 moves without having to think, that's all you need in bullet.

Any opening where you get 10 or 15 moves without having to think, that's all you need in bullet.

—Hikaru Nakamura

Nakamura and Naroditsky will face each other in the Winners Final. Nakamura shared his thoughts on their upcoming match.

Meanwhile, the fight to rise out of the Losers Bracket will continue. Coming off convincing victories, Firouzja and Bortnyk will meet. Martinez and Paravyan will also duel—while Nihal and Sevian await the victors. 

How to watch?
You can watch the 2024 Bullet Chess Championship on Chess.com/TV. You can also enjoy the show on the 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 Tuesday's matches, hosted by GM Benjamin Bok and IM Kassa Korley.

The Bullet Chess Championship 2024 (BCC) is Chess.com's most elite bullet chess event where players compete to see who's the fastest chess player in the world. The event's qualifiers happened on May 14, with the main event occurring on June 10 through 13. Players compete for their share of the $100,000 prize fund.


Previous coverage

NM_Vanessa
NM Vanessa West

Vanessa West is a National Master, a chess teacher, and a writer for Chess.com. In 2017, they won the Chess Journalist of the Year award.

You can follow them on X: Vanessa__West

More from NM NM_Vanessa
Kids Prevail: Sivanandan, Radzimski Defeat Nemo, Kazarian

Kids Prevail: Sivanandan, Radzimski Defeat Nemo, Kazarian

Sevian Stuns Firouzja; Nakamura, Nihal, Naroditsky Advance

Sevian Stuns Firouzja; Nakamura, Nihal, Naroditsky Advance