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Bullet Chess Championship 2022: Erigaisi, Bortnyk Advance In Losers Bracket

Bullet Chess Championship 2022: Erigaisi, Bortnyk Advance In Losers Bracket

JackRodgers
| 8 | Chess Event Coverage

The 2022 Bullet Chess Championship presented by DigitalOcean continued today with the first round of the Losers Bracket. Although these players lost their first match in this double-elimination tournament, they are some of the fastest bullet chess players on the site, including GMs Oleksandr Bortnyk and Arjun Erigaisi, who both showed their class in the format with convincing wins over GMs Eric Hansen and Jordan van Foreest respectively.

GM Fabiano Caruana was able to take down GM Sergei Zhigalko, showing great resilience after a tough loss in his first-round match against 'The Penguin', GM Andrew Tang. The final match of the day between GMs Alexey Sarana and Federico Perez Ponsa was a one-sided affair with Sarana showing his potential to challenge the best in the Losers bracket.

How to watch?
You can watch the 2022 Bullet Chess Championship presented by DigitalOcean on Chess.com/TV. You can also enjoy the show on the Twitch channel and catch all our live broadcasts on YouTube.com/ChesscomLive.Live broadcast of today's round, hosted by GMs Daniel Naroditsky and Robert Hess.

The 2022 Bullet Chess Championship presented by Digital Ocean is a double-elimination bracket knockout on Chess.com and with $100,000 in total prizes. All games are played at a 1+0 time control, and matches are 30 minutes long, with a break at the 15-minute mark. In the event of a tie, players continue to play while alternating colors until a player wins a game.


Van Foreest vs. Erigaisi: 5.5-8.5

The convincing winner of the Tata Steel Challengers tournament in January, Erigaisi ramped up the speed to take an early 3-0 lead against Dutch GM van Foreest. With a peak bullet chess rating of over 3200 on Chess.com, Erigaisi was able to hold his nerve and managed his time well to win several balanced endgames with seconds on the clock.

The match, however, was a tale of swinging momentum, and it was not long before van Foreest hit back with three wins of his own. With Erigaisi plagued by internet issues during the middle phase of the match, the score seemed to be slipping away from him, and van Foreest moved in front for the first time in the ninth game. An exciting single draw was a key talking point in the match, as the stunning 26. Nf3! led to a dicey position where both players miraculously found sufficient tactics to draw.

Erigaisi made a stellar recovery with ten minutes left on the match clock and managed to win three games back-to-back-to-back. An uncharacteristic rook blunder from van Foreest in the thirteenth game proved to be decisive and Erigaisi will now proceed to round two of the Losers Bracket.

If Erigaisi can keep up his winning form he still has a chance to earn his way back into the Winner's bracket and play for the title. Van Foreest, after his earlier loss to GM Ray Robson, has now been eliminated from the event.

Zhigalko vs. Caruana 7.5-8.5

After a nail-biting first round loss to Tang, the match favorite Caruana looked hungry to bounce back against Zhigalko. 

A shaky start from Caruana allowed his opponent to show his bullet prowess, as Zhigalko won several games where both players had less than one second each left on the clock. This helped set the tone for the match as they would not be the last games that Zhigalko won on time.

The two competitors had the commentators Naroditsky and Hess broadcasting in a fashion that one would expect from the final sprint of a horse race, with almost every game coming down to the wire on the clock. During this time, Zhigalko showed that he had a considered and promising match strategy, which earned him a two-point lead with five minutes left on the match clock.

Caruana showed his class by coming back, and when the match came down to the very last game with the scores locked at 7.5-7.5, he blasted open a locked up position to mate Zhigalko's king on c6 and advance by an 8.5-7.5 margin.

Bortnyk vs. Hansen: 11-9

Bortnyk is well-known as one of Chess.com's most bruising bullet chess players, and his match against Hansen was no exception. Despite being one of the speediest players on the site, and with thousands of Chessbrah fans behind him, Hansen fell agonizingly short against his seasoned opponent, and was no doubt affected after losing six out of the first seven games.

The halfway point was a much-needed break for Hansen. He was able to reset and, in commentator Hess' words, started "feeling it" as he managed to reduce the deficit to just two points after thirteen games.

With the score at 7-5, it was beginning to look like Hansen might pull off a comeback for the ages. However, once Hansen came within one point of his opponent at 9-8, Bortnyk decided enough was enough, found his feet, and won several games to put the match just out of reach. With this victory, Bortnyk was able to knock out an extremely dangerous bullet player in Hansen.

Sarana vs. Perez Ponsa: 12.5-5.5

The match between Sarana and Perez Ponsa had been expected to be one of the closer duels of the day. Naroditsky and Hess predicted that Perez Ponsa would take the match and by all counts, proceedings were heading in that direction. After three games, the score was 2.5-0.5 in favor of Perez Ponsa.

Just five minutes later, a returning spectator would have been surprised to see Sarana had taken a commanding lead after winning seven consecutive games and taking his score to an unassailable 7.5-2.5.

The dejected Perez Ponsa desperately tried to pull himself back into contention with some colorful, offbeat openings, including the curious Snake Variation of the Benoni Defense, but was unable to match Sarana's dynamic and precise play throughout the match. 

Perez Ponsa's bad luck was epitomized by a stunning moment, where he was in a seemingly winning position, only to find that by auto-promoting to a queen he would have to settle for a draw. Unfortunately, Perez Ponsa did not have time to remove auto-queen from his settings in order to promote to a rook and drew on time.

Sarana will progress to play the loser of the upcoming match between GMs Jose Martinez and Tang, which will be a high voltage matchup on March 9.

Today's games showed that even in the Losers Bracket, the highest level of fast chess is being displayed in this event. With super GMs and 3000+ rated bullet chess players gracing the bracket, every match is competitive. 

For masters in the Losers Bracket, there is an air of excitement as every match is a must-win for players wishing to challenge the eventual winner of the Winners Bracket. We anticipate there will be fire on the board when the tournament resumes on March 9.


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