Carlsen-Grischuk, Nakamura-MVL Blitz Battle Dates Set

Carlsen-Grischuk, Nakamura-MVL Blitz Battle Dates Set

PeterDoggers
PeterDoggers
Jun 29, 2016, 2:28 AM |
17 | Chess Event Coverage

The dates for the Grandmaster Blitz Battle Championship's semifinals are set. Magnus Carlsen vs Alexander Grischuk will be played on August 18 (update: this one has moved to 23 August) and Hikaru Nakamura vs Maxime Vachier-Lagrave will be on August 24.

Soon after the last quarterfinal was played, between Magnus Carlsen and Tigran Petrosian, Chess.com got in touch with the four semifinalists for our Grandmaster Blitz Battle Championship. We were able to set the new dates quickly, and they nicely fit in between the Sinquefield Cup (August 4-16) and the Olympiad (September 1-14).

Here's the official schedule:

  • August 23, 10 a.m. Pacific / 7 p.m. Central Europe: Magnus Carlsen vs Alexander Grischuk
  • August 24, 10 a.m. Pacific / 7 p.m. Central Europe: Hikaru Nakamura vs Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

All GM Blitz Battle matches will air live on Chess.com/TV and Twitch.tv/Chess.

The four super grandmasters left in the Blitz Battles are arguably the four best blitz players in the world. Both matches are expected to be very hard fought, with Carlsen-Grischuk billed as the match between the classical/rapid world champion and the current blitz world champion. Nakamura's speciality is bullet, but MVL isn't bad in that area either!

Alexander Grischuk

The first to qualify for the semifinals was Alexander Grischuk, the long-time top 10 player from Russia and the reigning world blitz champion. On April 6 he defeated Levon Aronian 11.5-9.5 in what was the closest of the four matches (find our full report here). The 5|2 portion ended in 3-3, Grischuk won the 3|2 segment 4-3 and then he also won the 1|1 part, 4.5-3.5.

“The difference between me and Sasha is that he takes blitz very seriously, while I just enjoy to play and I don't look to win or lose. So I guess that shows in the result,” said Aronian. “I thought that I wasn't really playing my best today. I was trying my best but I was getting lucky at times, I have to admit, to equal the score. But I also got incredibly lucky!” said Grischuk.

Hikaru Nakamura

The second qualifier was Hikaru Nakamura, the winner of the Paris Grand Chess Tour and arguably the world's strongest bullet player. On May 4 the U.S. grandmaster defeated Pentala Harikrishna 16-9 in a match that was largely decided in the bullet segment (find our full report here). The 5|2 portion was won 5-3 by Nakamura, then Harikrishna won the 3|2 segment 4-3 and then Nakamura won the 1|1 part 8-2.

“You can't win every game when your opponent defends very well,” Nakamura said about the closeness of the match in the first two time controls. "It's not because of preparation he played better today," Harikrishna said. “I probably could have practiced some more but I don't think that would help.”

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

A week later, the third to qualify was Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, the French number-one and world number-four in the live ratings. On May 10, MVL defeated Fabiano Caruana 15.5-9.5 and again the bullet part played an important role (find our full report here). Caruana won the 5|2 portion 5-4 but then lost the 3|2 part 2.5-4.5, and MVL racked up the bullet segment 7-2.

“It was really close up till the end of the 3|2 portion I think,” said Vachier-Lagrave. “I am quite happy with how I played in the bullet section.” Caruana: “It started very well. I thought 1|1 would be the most difficult part for me.”

Magnus Carlsen

The fourth semifinalist was world champion Magnus Carlsen. With a devastating score of 21-4 the Norwegian routed Tigran Petrosian (find our full report here). The Armenian grandmaster had won the qualifier tournament on May 31 (report here). Carlsen won all three segments with a big score: 6-2 in the 5-2 portion, 7-1 in the 3|2 segment and 8-1 in the bullet part.

Petrosian said he was surprised by the course of the match. He was expecting to rely on tricks to save bad positions, but instead said: ”I [had] a lot of good positions, but I was blundering all the time.”

Carlsen said that the recent Grand Chess Tour blitz and rapid events in Paris and Leuven had helped get his blitz into form. “I was definitely more into the flow than I usually am,” said Carlsen. “It wasn't perfect by any means, but at least I was hustling.”

Chess.com's Grandmaster Blitz Battle Championship

The Grandmaster Blitz Battle Championship is a year-long, eight-player invitational event, with a knockout bracket of three rounds and $40,000 in cash prizes for the players.  For the full rules and format, click here

Similar to what we formerly called Blitz Death Matches, the Blitz Battle series are heads-up matches between the world's best grandmasters. With bigger prizes, official sponsors, and a running knockout format that leads to tougher and more exciting matchups, the championship will change the game for both fans of online chess and the world's top chess players.

The GM Blitz Battle Championship will be an annual event, growing each year (both in prizes and participation) as we look to market game and the format to major sponsors and each of the world's top players. 

Interested in sponsoring an event? See our press release. 

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