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Nakamura Wins Arena Kings After Titled Tuesday Sweep

Nakamura Wins Arena Kings After Titled Tuesday Sweep

AnthonyLevin
| 19 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Hikaru Nakamura won the first week of Arena Kings Season 9 with a score of 3-1 in the final knockout match, defeating second-place GM Jose Eduardo Martinez Alcantara with one game to spare. Nakamura also swept both Titled Tuesday events the day before, performing dominantly in Chess.com's online events this week. 

IM Le Tuan Minh finished in third and Sundram Kumar, the only top-four finisher to have no verified title on his profile, finished in fourth. 1660 players participated in this week's arena. 

How To Watch?
You can watch Arena Kings on Chess.com/TV. You can also enjoy the show on Twitch channel and catch all our live broadcasts on YouTube.com/ChesscomLive.
Arena Kings Season 9 Chess.com

The tournament starts as a 2-hour arena, followed by a knockout tournament between the top eight finishing streamers. The time control for both the arena and knockout is 3+0. 

Live broadcast of this Wednesday's tournament, hosted by commentator NM James Canty III.


Arena

The event kicked off, as usual, with some surprises. After just over the first hour of play, the top six places in the area were taken by untitled players, with Le in seventh and Nakamura in eighth.

As almost two thousand people played for the coveted top eight spots, streamers were highlighted on the broadcast. Andrew Horne's karaoke-and-chess approach is quite familiar to regular spectators by now:

As Canty featured several other streams on the Chess.com broadcast, fans were able to enjoy players' thoughts in real-time. In at least one instance, the difficulty of interacting with the chat while playing surfaced as we saw blunders in the fast time-control without increment. 

Finishing as the number-one streamer in the arena, Nakamura won 21 games with zero losses and seven draws. His quick calculation and smooth ability to narrate make converting advantages, even against grandmasters, look easy as pie. Most people could imagine themselves struggling to win the following game, for example.

In the end, only three of the top eight spots for streamers were titled: Nakamura, Martinez, and Le. The other finishers were: SundramNaam2SunaHoga, ConcernedZipper, shreyas1609, hbkhan91, and The_Blessed. 

Knockout

After the arena, GM Raunak Sadhwani joined Canty in the commentary after he did not qualify for the knockout portion. Before it began, Canty jokingly called Nakamura a "bully," adding: "Let somebody else win something," likely a reference to the American winning both Titled Tuesday events on the previous day.

The knockout portion started with the titled players having a heyday. Despite there being a clear difference in ratings between the two players, Le played a nice attacking game, starting with a daring knight sacrifice. 

The most memorable part of today's knockout, however, has to be the two moments Nakamura underpromoted four pawns to knights and demonstrated checkmates that chess fans almost never get to see. 

Only a few minutes later, Nakamura did something similar with the black pieces. One must really wonder if Nakamura devotes any time to practicing these unusual piece configurations or if he just does it on the fly.

Ultimately, the final match went down between Nakamura and Martinez. The first two games were drawn with the latter giving up some opportunities to squeeze for a win. With that being said, their second game saw a nice, new opening idea from the Peruvian GM in 7.b4, a move championed by GM Jorden van Foreest, the highest-level encounter in the line being as recent as November 2021 in the FIDE Chess.com Grand Swiss. 

Nakamura, however, hit back hard and won games three and four, not having to play the fifth game to decide the match. Their last game pretty much summarized the character of their head-to-head battle: Nakamura showed greater patience and ability to squeeze while playing quickly while his opponent was not as comfortable in "shuffling with purpose," as one might say.

The tournament winner summed it up best: "He panicked. That comes back to one of the psychological problems that Jospem has, which is that he can't just sit there."

Standings, Results, Prizes

Nakamura will take home $500, Martinez $350, with Le and Kumar $200 each. Places 5-8 all earned $100 and places 9-16 received $50 each (pending confirmation of fair play). Below you can see the full standings of the knockout:

 Arena Kings Season 9 | Week 1 | Final Knockout Standings

# Username Country Rating
1 Hikaru 3204
2 Jospem 3035
3 wonderfultime 3021
4 SundramNaam2SunaHoga 2167
5 ConcernedZipper 1592
6 shreyas1609 1576
7 kbkhan91 1567
8 The_Blessed 1545

Full arena standings here.

All prizes are published in the results report here. 

Arena Kings season 9 prizes Chess.com

Arena Kings is a weekly tournament held by Chess.com. It is an arena event followed by a knockout with the top eight players which begins at 9:00 a.m. Pacific Time/18:00 Central European.

AnthonyLevin
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 Chess.com.

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 Chess.com, he writes news articles and manages social media for chess24.

Email:  anthony.levin@chess.com

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