Speed Chess Preview: Nepomniachtchi vs. Aronian

Speed Chess Preview: Nepomniachtchi vs. Aronian

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The fifth match in the 2020 Speed Chess Championship Main Event is the big clash between GM Ian Nepomniachtchi (@lachesisQ) and GM Levon Aronian (@LevonAronian). The action starts on Wednesday, November 11, at 9 a.m. Pacific / 18:00 Central Europe.

How to watch?
The games of the Speed Chess Championship Main Event will be played on the live server. They will also be available on our platform for watching live at and on our apps under "Watch." Expert commentary can be enjoyed at

We've reached the halfway point of the Round of 16, and today we'll be seeing the first clash between two top-10 players. In classical chess, it's the world number-four from Russia vs. the world number-six from Armenia. More relevant perhaps are the FIDE blitz ratings: Nepomniachtchi is 10th in the world with 2785, and Aronian 29th with 2739.

Nepomniachtchi was born in 1990 in Bryansk, Russia, a city approximately 400 km southwest of Moscow. His first claim to fame was his victory at the World Youth U12 Championship in 2002, ahead of a certain GM Magnus Carlsen (born in the same year).

Nepomniachtchi broke the 2400-rating threshold for the first time in April 2003. He then broke 2500 in April 2005, and 2600 in the same month in 2007. The year 2010 was one of his most successful, as he won both the European Individual Championship and the Russian Championship.

"Nepo" is currently tied for first place in the FIDE Candidates tournament. An interesting trivia tidbit is that he has a positive score against world champions Vladimir Kramnik, Vishy Anand, and Carlsen(!) in classical chess and also against Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov in faster time controls.

Nepomniachtchi entered the Speed Chess Main Event as an invitee. He reached round two in 2017, lost in round one in 2018, and last year lost in the semifinals to GM Hikaru Nakamura.

Ian Nepomniachtchi 2020 Speed Chess

Aronian was born in 1982 in Yerevan, Armenia. Like his opponent, he won the World Youth U12 Championship but eight years earlier, in 1994. He has been a top-20 player in the world since 2005.

In March 2014, Aronian's rating peaked at 2830, making him the fourth-highest rated player in history. Aronian is also the only player in history to win the FIDE World Cup twice, in 2005 and 2017.

Although he hasn't managed to reach the Olympus for classical chess, Aronian has several world championship titles: rapid (2009), blitz (2010), and Chess960 (2005 and 2007).

He was named Honored Master of Sport of Armenia in 2009, and CNN has described him as "the David Beckham of chess."

Aronian also entered the Speed Chess Main Event as an invitee. He reached the second round in both 2018 and 2019, where he was eliminated by Nakamura and GM Vladislav Artemiev, respectively.

Levon Aronian 2020 Speed Chess

As both players have been among the world's elite for a long time, they have played many games together. In classical chess, Nepomniachtchi leads 3-2 with seven draws. In over-the-board rapid and blitz, however, Aronian leads 19 to 14 with 17 draws.

Today's matchup is a repeat of the first round of the 2017 Speed Chess Championship when Nepomniachtchi defeated Aronian 15-13That earlier match between the players might be the best predictor for today, but as always, we also have @SmarterChess's odds calculations. It is suggested that the match might be even closer than three years ago.

The match between Aronian and Nepomniachtchi is the fifth in the championship. Earlier, GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (@Lyonbeast), GM Magnus Carlsen (@MagnusCarlsen), Vladimir Fedoseev (@Bigfish1995), and GM Wesley So (@GMWSO) qualified for the quarterfinals.

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

  • November 11, 2020 at 9 a.m. / 18:00 Central Europe: Nepomniachtchi-Aronian
  • November 12, 2020 at 9 a.m. / 18:00 Central Europe: Nakamura-Martirosyan
  • 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.

Find all information about the Speed Chess Championship here.

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