Nakamura Beats Duda In Speed Chess Quarterfinal
In a hard-fought battle, the number-one seed Nakamura was victorious over the Polish prodigy Duda.

Nakamura Beats Duda In Speed Chess Quarterfinal

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Hikaru Nakamura defeated Jan-Krzysztof Duda 15.5-11.5 in Wednesday's Speed Chess Championship quarterfinal. It was the last match of the four quarterfinals, and the Speed Chess bracket now enters the final four. 

Duda started with two wins and won the five-minute segment, but eventually stood no chance against the American speed chess specialist, who won both the three-minute and the one-minute portions.

Nakamura's pre-match assessment that he was the favorite with a 60-40 margin was more modest than the statistical prediction by SmarterChess:

Speed Chess Nakamura Duda SmarterChess prediction
The SmarterChess predictions for Nakamura-Duda.

Those predictions and expectations meant something of course, but when Duda started off the match with two wins and threatened to take a three-point lead in game eight, the excitement of an upset was hanging in the air.

It should be noted that Nakamura lost the first game due to a mouse-slip that dropped a full piece, but the second was a good win for Duda in a Berlin:

Jan-Krzysztof Duda Speed Chess Championship 2019
Nakamura then won games three and five with the white pieces to level the score. In game three he nicely profited from Duda's unnecessary weakening of his kingside:

After a draw, Duda won another Berlin. Then Nakamura was about to level the score once again, when his New York hotel internet connection let him down; while up huge in material he suffered a sad loss.

Since the problem was clearly caused by Nakamura's own connection and not the server, the result was not changed. The score was now 4.5-2.5 for Duda.

For the remainder of the match, the American GM played without his webcam on to save bandwidth, a condition to which Duda graciously agreed.

Nakamura finished the five-minute segment by winning both his black games, and so he limited the damage to a one-point deficit. The first of those wins was described by both players as a key game, as Duda was winning and could have reached a three-point lead. 

The game included a nice tactic that would have been possible at the end:

5+1 games | Score

# Fed Name Handle Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Score
1 Duda @Polish_fighter3000 2991 3234 1 1 0 ½ 0 1 1 0 ½ 5.0/9
2 Nakamura @Hikaru 3196 2953 0 0 1 ½ 1 0 0 1 ½ 4.0/9

Nakamura started the three-minute segment with a win, and so the score was all even again. That wasn't yet the turning point of the match, as Duda then won game 11—and what a game! It was one of the most beautiful games played in Speed Chess history.

Starting from a quiet Petroff, out of the blue Duda came up with a pretty queen sac that could not be taken because of mate, but at the same time mate was threatened. Nakamura survived the first wave of the attack but then fell for another queen sac:

Nakamura recovered well from this blow as he would win four games in the remainder of the three-minute portion, while Duda added just one more. This meant that the American GM went into the bullet up 10.5-8.5.

Game 12 was a sharp fight where Duda was probably winning at first. Nakamura had to abandon the queenside and put all his cards on an attack on the kingside, and just when that could have given him the full point, the game ended in a draw:

Hikaru Nakamura Speed Chess Championship 2019

Game 13 ended with a basic pawn ending, which demonstrated that such endgames are quite tricky, even for top grandmasters (although they were seriously limited by the clock).

3+1 games | Score

# Fed Name Handle Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Score
1 Nakamura @Hikaru 3171 3124 1 0 ½ 1 1 ½ 0 1 ½ 1 6.5/10
2 Duda @Polish_fighter3000 3016 3063 0 1 ½ 0 0 ½ 1 0 ½ 0 3.5/10

As expected, Nakamura won the bullet segment and so he clinched the match convincingly. After everything had been decided, Duda did manage to finish with two straight wins, just as he had started.

In game 26, Nakamura missed a mate-in-one:

1+1 games | Score

# Fed Name Handle Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Score
1 Nakamura @Hikaru 3268 3012 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 1 0 0 5.0/8
2 Duda @Polish_fighter3000 2923 3179 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 0 1 1 3.0/8

"I didn't expect to get 2-0 at the start, and then I definitely played too slowly; then I definitely lost some games [due to] time trouble," said Duda. "In the bullet I did everything just to lose every game."

"If he wins this [eighth] game, I think he wins the match," said Nakamura. "Pretty much I felt like I was on tilt for the whole match, until probably the bullet section. But I found a way to win the games that mattered."

Nakamura also noted that Duda had put him on tilt earlier this year in St. Louis. "Definitely credit to him; he did play quite well," the American said.

2019 Speed Chess Championship bracket semifinals
Duda earned $639 based on win percentage. Nakamura won $1,500 for the victory plus $861 on percentage, totaling $2,361.

Nakamura will now play Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia in the semifinals, who eliminated Ding Liren in the quarterfinals. The Nakamura-Nepo match date will be scheduled soon. The Artemiev-So semifinal is scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 5. 

Using the same word one more time, Nakamura said that his next opponent is "much more liable to tilt" than Duda. Nakamura has played Nepomniachtchi more often than the Polish prodigy. 

"I like my chances again," said Nakamura. "I'll do some prep and hopefully things work out."

Replay the commentary with GM Robert Hess & IM Danny Rensch.

All match games for replay and download:

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