Nihal Shocks Giri in Armageddon, So Knocks Out Nakamura
So dispatched Nakamura in Saturday's semifinal with a 5-3 score. Photo: Eric Rosen/

Nihal Shocks Giri in Armageddon, So Knocks Out Nakamura

| 18 | Chess Event Coverage

GMs Wesley So and Nihal Sarin confirmed their progression to the Global Championship final after winning arduous semifinal matches on Saturday. The players will compete for the top prize of $200,000, and the winner will be crowned the inaugural champion. 

The semifinal between GMs Anish Giri and Nihal was decided in an armageddon tiebreaker following a 4-4 result in the regulation games. The 18-year-old Nihal bamboozled Giri in a theoretically drawn rook endgame and secured the win, one of the most important victories of his career.

So and GM Hikaru Nakamura began the day in the same fashion as on Friday, splitting the points in their first two matches before So lashed out in game seven and won with the black pieces.

In a must-win eighth game, Nakamura found himself in a tempestuous middlegame where the material was certainly imbalanced. So handled the situation calmly and booked his spot in the grand finale alongside Nihal.

The blockbuster final will begin on Sunday, November 6, starting at 9 a.m. PT / 17:00 CET.

How to watch?
You can watch the 2022 Global Championship on You can also enjoy the show on our Twitch channel and catch all our live broadcasts on Games from the event can be viewed on our events page.

The live broadcast was hosted by GMs Daniel Naroditsky, Robert Hess, Fabiano Caruana, and Aman Hambleton.

Giri had the perfect start to the second day of the semifinals, dispatching Nihal in a brilliant game on the white side of the Nimzowitsch Defense. After Giri's double-piece sacrifice on moves 15 and 16, Nihal struggled to coordinate his remaining pieces, and precise queen play from Giri meant that Nihal had no way to muddy the waters.

Just like Friday's proceedings, Nihal retaliated immediately and wiped Giri off the board in game two. By move 10, the players had departed from the master database, and a brutal kingside attack from Nihal left Giri with an uncastled king and several inactive pieces. It didn't take the young GM long to convert the position, and a picturesque bishop offering was the knockout blow that equalized the scores.

GM Rafael Leitao has analyzed our exciting game of the day below.

Caruana heaped praise on Nihal after the game, stating: "Nihal is finding chances in every game. He plays some innocuous sideline and after 20 moves, he's borderline winning against one of the best-prepared players in the world!"

Coming from perhaps the best-prepared player in the world right now, the commendation is a great nod to Nihal's work as he climbs the rating ladder.

The pre- and post-show team was also gushing over Nihal's performance. Photo: Eric Rosen/

With two games left in the match, Giri hoped to put some pressure on Nihal in his last chance with the white pieces and built a promising position out of the Italian Game: Two Knights Defense. A wall of five pawns on the fourth rank looked good for Giri, but Nihal was ready for the fight, vacuuming up any initiative and encouraging Giri to offer a draw on move 37, which was accepted. 

The Dutch GM flipped Nihal's strategy back on him in the final game of the match, soaking up his opponent's play and securing a quick draw to send the match into overtime. Nihal, who would later exclaim, "Of course not" when quizzed by IM Danny Rensch about whether he thought he would qualify for the finals at the beginning of the tournament, didn't seem nervous at all and actually declined a draw offer on the 11th move.

Playing energetically, Nihal poked and prodded to no avail during the early stages of the must-win armageddon game. He eventually found a way to swap into a rook and five pawns versus a rook and four pawns ending. Although such endings are normally drawn with the best play, in a rapid game with no increment, a win was still possible. Nihal played on for 70 moves before he found the decisive breakthrough that left Giri shaking his head and staring despondently at his computer screen. 

Nakamura and So started the day with a 116-move Scotch Game: Schmidt, Tartakower Variation where they put on a show. Both performed with a 99 CAPS score, and just two mistakes between them in the 232 moves were played. The game naturally ended in a draw as did the following, which was a shorter affair featuring a drawish version of the Giuoco Pianissimo.

Plenty of love for chess has spread with the CGC, and the commentators are lapping it up. Photo: Eric Rosen/

With six consecutive draws dotting the scoreboard, the match called for one of the players to step things up a notch. It was So who struck first, utilizing his bishop pair to cause problems for Nakamura.

Needing to win on demand with black, Nakamura whipped out his tried and true King's Indian Defense, but So was clearly prepared for the trademark opening of his compatriot. So's early e5-push left Nakamura writhing, and he soon faced a huge deficit as So's advantage had leaped to +6. In classic Nakamura style, though, he was able to muddy the waters and traded his queen for a rook and knight. 

Although the engine favored White at first, So was unable to take full advantage, and the evaluation settled at even. The prospect of a Nakamura comeback still seemed unlikely and a few flashes of hope were quickly quelled by So's monarch.

With three seconds on the clock and 81 moves in, Nakamura finally blundered his rook and So pounced, claiming a two-point victory over one of his toughest rivals and assuring his seat in the finals.

The final promises to be an action-packed, inter-generational encounter where So will hope to add another title to his extensive resume while Nihal will look to cause another upset and claim the most prestigious title of his career so far.

The winner will become the first Global Chess Champion and win $200,000. Photo: Eric Rosen/

All Games Semifinals Day 2

Semifinals Scoreboard

The 2022 Global Championship (CGC) is the first global championship cycle open to all verified players. Players compete in official verified events for their share of the $1,100,000 prize fund and the Global Champion title.

Chess legends, such as GMs Viswanathan Anand, Vasyl Ivanchuk, Vladimir Kramnik, and Veselin Topalov, compete against today's best (online) players, including GMs Hikaru Nakamura, Ding Liren, Levon Aronian, and Jan-Krzysztof Duda, and more. 

Previous coverage

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