Nepomniachtchi Uses 1.b3/1...b6 To Win His 1st Speed Chess Championship Grand Prix

Nepomniachtchi Uses 1.b3/1...b6 To Win His 1st Speed Chess Championship Grand Prix

| 13 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Ian Nepomniachtchi won the 18th Speed Chess Championship Grand Prix, his first win in the series, or in any Titled Tuesday before. The Russian grandmaster beat the German grandmaster Matthias Bluebaum 2-0 in the knockout final.

The next Speed Chess Championship Grand Prix will be played on October 6 at 10 a.m. Pacific / 19:00 Central Europe.

The 18th Speed Chess Grand Prix tournament was held on Tuesday, September 29, with 674 participants. Nepomniachtchi (@lachesisQ) had the best tiebreak of seven players who finished on 8.5/10 in the Swiss part. GM Hikaru Nakamura just missed the knockout this time as he finished ninth.

The live broadcast of the tournament.

After he had beaten both GMs Magnus Carlsen and Nakamura with 1.b3 at the recent Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz, Nepomniachtchi said: "Probably I should try 1...b6; perhaps this would bring me more points than today with black. Clearly, there is some potential!"

That potential materialized today as Nepo scored his first-ever victory in's weekly blitz tournament on Tuesdays—using his b-pawn on the first move in most games.

The world number-four player started with 6/6. Then after three draws and one more win, he finished among the top group of seven players with 8.5 points. He played 1.b3 in many of his white games and even 1...b6 as Black, keeping the promise he had made.

He did the latter against the Belarusian GM Sergei Zhigalko and played the remainder of the game in true gambit style:

Nepomniachtchi and Bluebaum qualified for the final-eight knockout together with GMs Paulius Pultinevicius, Maxim Chigaev, Vladimir Fedoseev, Le Quang Liem, Anton Demchenko, and S.L. Narayanan.

September 29 Speed Chess Grand Prix | Swiss Final Standings (Top 20)

Rk Fed Title Name Username Score SB
1 GM Ian Nepomniachtchi @lachesisQ 8.5 56.5
2 GM Paulius Pultinevicius @Pultis 8.5 55.25
3 GM Maksim Chigaev @Fandorine 8.5 54.25
4 GM Vladimir Fedoseev @Bigfish1995 8.5 51.25
5 GM Le Quang Liem @LiemLe 8.5 49.25
6 GM Matthias Bluebaum @Msb2 8.5 47.25
7 GM Anton Demchenko @Anton_Demchenko 8.5 40.75
8 GM S.L. Narayanan @Indianlad 8 50.5
9 GM Hikaru Nakamura @Hikaru 8 48.25
9 GM Andrey Esipenko @Andreikka 8 48.25
11 GM Jose Eduardo Martinez Alcantara @Jospem 8 48
12 GM Sergei Zhigalko @Zhigalko_Sergei 8 47
13 GM Dmitry Andreikin @FairChess_on_YouTube 8 46.75
14 IM Alex Ostrovskiy @Manbunovich 8 45.5
15 GM Baadur Jobava @exoticprincess 8 45.25
16 GM Rasmus Svane @rasmussvane 8 44.5
17 FM Petros Trimitzios @TrimitziosP7 8 43.75
18 GM Maxim Matlakov @Borsch7 8 36.75
19 GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov @ChessWarrior7197 7.5 48
20 GM Vladislav Kovalev @vladislavkovalev 7.5 44.25

Nepomniachtchi went on to win the tournament in minimalistic style as he needed just five more games that he all won: the single-elimination game vs. Narayanan (yes, with 1.b3) and then the two games vs. Fedoseev (who beat Nepo in last week's final) and Bluebaum.

While the tournament winner used normal openings against his compatriot Fedoseev, he went even further (in fact, one square further) in his white game with Bluebaum (@Msb2) as he mouse slipped 1.b4. The German GM followed the mainline and was automatically better out of the opening as Black, but later started to make mistakes:

Nepomniachtchi won the $1,000 first prize and 12 GP points. Bluebaum took second ($500 and eight GP points). Demchenko and Fedoseev both won $200 and four GP points, while the losing quarterfinalists each earned $100 and two GP points. 

GM Aleksandra Goryachkina (@Goryachkina) won the $100 prize for being the top-scoring female player.

Below are the current Speed Chess Championship Grand Prix standings. At the end of the season, the players with the four best scores will advance to the Speed Chess Championship to be hosted later this year.

Speed Chess Championship Grand Prix | Standings After September 29 (Top 20)

# Fed Title Name Username Swiss
1 GM Hikaru Nakamura @Hikaru 69 56 125
2 GM Vladimir Fedoseev @Bigfish1995 66.5 32 98.5
3 GM Vladislav Artemiev @Sibelephant 58.5 38 96.5
4 GM Parham Maghsoodloo @Parhamov 68 24 92
5 GM Haik Martirosyan @Micki-taryan 59.5 28 87.5
6 GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov @ChessWarrior7197 67.5 16 83.5
7 GM Alireza Firouzja @Firouzja2003 65 14 79
8 GM Maksim Chigaev @Fandorine 65 14 79
9 GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave @LyonBeast 49 28 77
10 IM Le Tuan Minhe @wonderfultime 66.5 10 76.5
11 GM Sergey Karjakin @SergeyKarjakin 65 10 75
12 GM Vladislav Kovalev @vladislavkovalev 66 8 74
13 GM Dmitry Andreikin @2Vladimirovich90 57 14 71
14 GM Grigoriy Oparin @OparinGrigoriy 50.5 20 70.5
15 GM Raunak Sadhwani @RaunakSadhwani2005 63.5 4 67.5
16 GM Peter Svidler @PSvidler 50 14 64
17 GM Le Quang Liem @LiemLe 50 14 64
18 GM Aleksandar Indjic @Beca95 57 6 63
19 GM Rasmus Svane @rasmussvane 55.5 4 59.5
20 GM Boris Grachev @Guenplen 47.5 12 59.5

Games final eight

The Speed Chess Championship Grand Prix is presented by Gambit, where you can play classic games like Reversi, Backgammon, and Oh Ship with players from around the world.

More information about the Speed Chess Championship Grand Prix can be found 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.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

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