Nakamura Dominates Speed Chess Match With Martirosyan

Nakamura Dominates Speed Chess Match With Martirosyan

| 27 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Hikaru Nakamura (@Hikaru) defeated GM Haik Martirosyan (@Micki-taryan) 21-5 in their match in the 2020 Speed Chess Championship Main Event. The next match is Caruana-Duda on Sunday, November 15, at 9 a.m. Pacific / 18:00 Central Europe.

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Sometimes numbers don't lie. Nakamura had scored +203 =19 -36 in earlier 3+0 and 1+0 games with Martirosyan on The highly talented Armenian GM will surely be a tougher opponent in the years to come, but on Thursday he was still no match for Nakamura, who lost just one game.

Nakamura's win is the second biggest in the championship so far, after GM Magnus Carlsen's 24-5 vs. GM Parham Maghsoodloo. The biggest win in SCC history is GM Ian Nepomniachtchi's 27-2 win vs. GM Elina Danielian in 2019.

The live broadcast of the match.

Nakamura started with three wins to set the tone right from the start. Martirosyan's loss in game two was very unfortunate, though; a well-played middlegame had given him a highly promising rook endgame.

There was one thing he had to avoid and, just as commentators GM Robert Hess and IM Danny Rensch showed why he had to be careful, he blundered right into it.

Martirosyan got on the scoreboard with a draw in game four and was also slightly better in that game. Getting only half a point from two promising white games had quite an effect on the remainder of the match.

Afterward, Nakamura stated that he felt that just like with GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov and GM Nihal Sarin, in their matches with GM Wesley So and GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave respectively, Martirosyan was too nervous at the start.

"When he wasn’t able to convert in games two or four, it was gonna be difficult," said Nakamura.

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When Martirosyan lost the next four games in a row, it started to become clear that his opponent was of a different caliber. Nakamura dropped a few draws here and there, but somehow he wasn't losing. He saved himself in the most precarious situations.

Maybe Martirosyan was just starstruck? Wouldn't he have played 62.Nf6 against most other players?

Nakamura's lead was a whopping 13-3 after the three-minute segment. Martirosyan's only win came in the third bullet game, while his opponent was eating a salade Nicoise on camera (skipping the croutons) and playing the game being a rook down for 33 more moves to win more time on the match clock.

Afterward, Nakamura explained his big win partly as the result of a "stylistic problem" for his opponent: "I think the first problem starts with Black more so than White. He started playing this Queen’s Indian Defense, and objectively the opening he plays is completely fine. The positions are OK, but in blitz especially it’s very hard to play them accurately, and White has the obvious plans and ideas. Black has to be very precise. Haik just couldn’t do that under the time constraints."

Nakamura added: "It felt like he always had chances, but I was able to always find some resources and draw. It was difficult."

Hikaru Nakamura Speed Chess 2020
Martirosyan won $384.62 based on win percentage; Nakamura won $2,000 for the victory plus $1,615.38 on percentage, totaling $3,615.38. He moves on to the quarterfinals, where he will play GM Vladimir Fedoseev (@Bigfish1995).

Nakamura called Fedoseev a dangerous opponent: "The thing that makes him so hard to play against is that he is very unpredictable. He plays a lot of stuff; he can sort of play everything under the sun. He can play very sharp, tactical positions as well.

"He showed in his match with Alireza that he’s very capable of playing universal openings. He’s a guy I’ve played a lot online, and I was not happy to see him win. I really would have preferred Alireza instead of him because of the unpredictability. He can be really hot and really cold; he’s got a wild style. Every match that I’ve played against him has been pretty close. It’s gonna be a good match."

All games

Here's the remaining schedule for the round of 16:

  • November 15, 2020 at 9 a.m. / 18:00 Central Europe: Caruana-Duda
  • November 16, 2020 at 9 a.m. / 18:00 Central Europe: Giri-Artemiev

2020 Speed Chess Bracket

The 2020 Speed Chess Championship Main Event is a knockout tournament among 16 of the best grandmasters in the world who will play for a $100,000 prize fund, double the amount of last year. The tournament will run November 1-December 13, 2020 on Each individual match will feature 90 minutes of 5+1 blitz, 60 minutes of 3+1 blitz, and 30 minutes of 1+1 bullet chess.

Speed Chess Guess the Move

SCC Fantasy
The current leaderboard for SCC Fantasy.

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