Molina Wins 2021 I'M Not A GM Speed Chess Championship

Molina Wins 2021 I'M Not A GM Speed Chess Championship

| 47 | Chess Event Coverage

IM Roberto Molina won the 2021 I'M Not A GM Speed Chess Championship on Wednesday. The Brazilian player defeated IM Levy Rozman 12.5-7.5 in the final after taking the lead in the three-minute segment and holding on to it in the bullet.

The match was the final act of an exciting championship that started on January 3, 2021. Molina had eliminated WFM Alessia Santeramo, IM Lawrence Trent, and IM Lars Oskar Hauge to reach the final. Rozman knocked out NM James Canty III, IM Eric Rosen, and IM Greg Shahade.

2021 I'M Not A GM Speed Chess Championship bracket

As one fan put it, it was a battle between the pão de queijo (pronounced "pow dzhe case-you"), a typical Brazilian and delicious chess bread, and the bagel, the famous, ring-shaped bread widely popular in the northern part of the Americas.

With just 20 games in total, the match was quite short. The reason was several rather long games: eight lasted 50 moves or more, one of them running for 125 moves. That was one of just three games ending in draws.

It was 25-year-old Rozman, from Brooklyn, New York, who took the lead right from the start as Molina lost on time in a slightly worse endgame. The 35-year-old Brazilian IM from Belo Horizonte, a city about 400 km (248.5 mi) north of Rio de Janeiro, leveled the score immediately in a topsy-turvy game two:

After a draw in game three, both players won two games as White and two as Black. Therefore, the score was 3.5-3.5 at the end of the five-minute segment.

The three-minute segment was initially a copy of the first part, with Rozman taking the lead, Molina hitting back, and the score remaining equal until game 11.

Game 12, in hindsight, was the key moment in the match. Rozman got a winning position out of the opening. Instead, he ended up losing the game and also the final three-minute game, going into the bullet two points down.

"I totally messed it up. Roberto defended extremely well. I felt like that was the biggest difference in the match. Every time I felt good, he would just take my dreams away from me."

Every time I felt good, he would just take my dreams away from me.
—Levy Rozman

After this disappointing result, in the last blitz game Rozman spoiled a drawn rook endgame:

Levy Rozman chess Gothamchess

The score was 7.5-5.5 going into the bullet, but things were looking better for Rozman when he managed to win the first 1|1 game. He again used GM Magnus Carlsen's 2.Qa4 in the English and after a sharp middlegame, Molina ended up losing on time in a winning position:

Rozman said he was "hyped" after winning that first bullet game, but it would be his last win in the match as in the remainder, Molina drew two games and won four. "After that, he took my soul," said Rozman.

After that, he took my soul.
—Levy Rozman

With 10-7 on the scoreboard and 11 minutes left on the match clock, Rozman still had a chance. However, in game 18, Molina took full use of the match regulations as he played on in a drawn rook endgame, dragging that single bullet game on for six minutes and 20 seconds.

Suddenly, just four minutes and 40 seconds were left, and Rozman was still down three games. He didn't mind at all, saying afterward: "I would do it too. Don't worry!"

Molina, who is a streamer on Twitch like his opponent, mentioned that he had received great support from his fans: "The Brazilian people send good energy to me, so it was very important to play my best."

Maybe because of that, there was some tension early on. "At the beginning of the match, I was totally nervous," Molina said. "After this nervous start, I began to focus more and tried to find the best defenses. I think I dropped some pieces, but this is normal in blitz."

"Roberto made it very difficult," said Rozman. "Even the positions that I thought looked good, within a few moves, he's playing fast and I'm hesitating, and all of a sudden I'm down a minute.... He showed his wisdom. He's a few years my senior, he had that wisdom and the ability to keep his nerves down, I think better than me."

All games

Molina earned $900 as the winner and $562.50 on win percentage, receiving $1,462.50 in total for this final. Rozman earned $337.50 on percentage. 

The 2021 I'M Not A GM Speed Chess Championship was a knockout tournament among strong, non-grandmasters in an effort to bring top-level entertainment to the audience. You can find all the information and games here.

Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

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