Nakamura's 7th Knockout Victory: 'Just Another Day At The Office'

Nakamura's 7th Knockout Victory: 'Just Another Day At The Office'

| 16 | Chess Event Coverage

The Rapid Chess Championship presented by Coinbase entered its 22nd week on Sunday and was won by a rampant GM Hikaru Nakamura who toppled GM Fabiano Caruana after winning all of his games en route to his seventh knockout victory.

A generational square-off took place in the semifinals with the elder players winning their encounters against GMs Nodirbek Abudsattorov and Hans Niemann respectively, with the latter playing the game of the event that featured an astounding king walk against GM Samuel Sevian in the quarterfinals. GMs Gata Kamsky, Jeffery Xiong, and Jules Moussard were all eliminated in the quarterfinals.

Participating in the event were 53 competitors—open to all GMs as well as the top-10 women, top-10 juniors, as well as 10 wildcards. The event continues next weekend, July 30, starting at 9 a.m. PT / 18:00 CEST.

How to watch?
You can watch the 2022 Rapid Chess Championship presented by Coinbase on You can also enjoy the show on Twitch channel and catch all our live broadcasts on Games from the event can be viewed on our events page.
Live broadcast of this weekend's tournament, hosted by GMs Daniel Naroditsky and Irina Krush as well as IM Tuan Minh Le.


Caruana was the clear winner in Saturday's Swiss with a commanding score of 7/9 and was almost impeccable on his way to yet another successful event. Caruana's undefeated run included five wins and four draws, with his dynamic exchange sacrifice against Moussard standing out as the head turner of his performance.

Caruana was not the only American to find success in the Swiss; five of the seven qualifying spots were taken by players from the country. In the second spot, Nakamura backed up a recent spate of exceptional performances with four consecutive wins followed by five draws to secure his spot. His game against GM Alexey Sarana was particularly brutal.

GM Grigoriy Oparin pulled out all the stops in round nine against GM Le Quang Liem by executing a sizzling rook sacrifice; however, his tiebreaks were only good enough to secure him the 10th spot, thus missing out on the knockout.

Multiple-time U.S. championship winner Kamsky was at his brilliant best on Saturday and worked his way into a qualifying spot with key wins over GMs Brandon Jacobson and Pavel Ponkratov. Moussard was the surprise of the event, joining a round late and still managing to qualify with 6/9! A stroke of luck came for the French Olympiad team's board one when GM Kiril Alekseenko made a horrific blunder on move eight, resulting in the event's shortest game.

Saturday Swiss | Final Standings (Top 20)

Number Rk Fed Title Username Name Rating Score SB
1 5 GM FabianoCaruana Fabiano Caruana 2769 7 32.75
2 1 GM Hikaru Hikaru Nakamura 2821 6.5 33.25
3 17 GM ChessWarrior7197 Nodirbek Abdusattorov 2677 6.5 30.25
4 32 GM HansOnTwitch Hans Niemann 2617 6.5 28.5
5 4 GM Konavets Sam Sevian 2766 6 27.75
6 6 GM jefferyx Jeffery Xiong 2722 6 25.75
7 22 GM TigrVShlyape Gata Kamsky 2630 6 24.75
8 14 GM Annawel Jules Moussard 2702 6 23.25
9 7 GM mishanick Alexey Sarana 2728 6 22.5
10 29 GM OparinGrigoriy Grigoriy Oparin 2596 6 21
11 16 GM Grischuk Alexander Grischuk 2672 5.5 29
12 34 GM AryanTari Aryan Tari 2604 5.5 27.5
13 20 GM LiemLe Liem Le 2641 5.5 19.25
14 15 GM dropstoneDP David Paravyan 2642 5 22.25
15 37 GM jcibarra José Carlos Ibarra Jerez 2551 5 20.75
16 43 GM LastGladiator1 Aydin Suleymanli 2513 5 20
17 35 GM vladislavkovalev Vladislav Kovalev 2559 5 17.5
18 41 GM FGHSMN Bharath Subramaniyam.H Harishankkar 2514 5 17
19 44 GM starworld123 Raja Rithvik R 2549 5 12
20 13 GM Oleksandr_Bortnyk Oleksandr Bortnyk 2649 4.5 21.25

(Full final standings here.) 


The first round of the knockout, which pitted the top seed Caruana against the eight seed Moussard, was anything but one-sided, and some resolute defense from Moussard on the black side of a Catalan indicated that he had come prepared for a match.

After a draw in their first game, Moussard again looked to be holding against Caruana with the Nimzowitsch-Larsen attack, proving that going off the beaten track may be the only way to faze the American superstar. Unfortunately, Moussard came undone on move 33, and Caruana made no mistakes converting and booking his spots in the semifinals.

The clash between compatriots Niemann and Sevian saw the most exciting game of the knockout. Both players, known for their creative, combative styles, looked to embrace imbalance. Sevian was able to make some inroads via a knight sacrifice that opened up Niemann's king, though Niemann weathered the storm and found a fascinating way to defend... running his king all the way to h6 while queens and rooks were still on the board! Sevian found the defense less humorous than his opponent, who struggled to hide his surprise that it had worked.

Nakamura's knockout run began with a resounding win over Kamsky courtesy of a classic trick that commentator Naroditsky immediately recognized, exclaiming, "Hikaru has won maybe 10 games with this trap in the RCC." A pawn to the good, Nakamura converted and eliminated Kamsky.

Young stars Xiong and Abdusattorov then faced off in the remaining quarterfinal and the world rapid champion showed his class with "a very impressive game" and was labeled "a monster" by Naroditsky and Le after finding the brilliant 43.Nexd5!!.

Caruana was then back in the box seat against Niemann in the semifinal and tamed him with a solid draw, perhaps trying to reduce the confidence the latter had gained after his astounding king walk. The blitz tiebreaker game also ended drawn, but this time the evaluation bar was swinging like a pendulum throughout. Yet another draw followed in the bullet tiebreaker to take the match into an armageddon game.

Gaining yet another solid position in the final game, Caruana capitalized on a positional error by Niemann and won an exchange. Several moves later Niemann resigned but could walk away happy knowing he had created somewhat of an online "immortal" game and had fought hard against the world number-five.

Meanwhile, against Abdusattorov, Nakamura employed the Trompowsky, an opening he had played just 214 times on (compared to his 30,000 blitz games, meaning this is quite a rare occasion). The Uzbek world rapid champion handled the opening well but quickly blundered a pawn, leaving the floodgates open for Nakamura to "take, take, and take" until he had liquidated into a winning ending.

Nakamura, with GM Levon Aronian, has had a busy few months on and off the board. Photo: World Chess.

In the final between the RCC season leaders, it was clear that Nakamura's smooth run to the finals had left him with slightly more energy than Caruana. Like many games in the faster time controls, the final came down to one or two key moments under significant time pressure, which Nakamura was able to handle better and win the game and the knockout.

Standings, Results, Prizes

The winner of the Swiss tournament was Caruana, while the winner of the knockout was Nakamura. Below are the full standings and prizes of the knockout:

Sunday Knockout | Final Standings 

# Fed Player Place Prize
1 Hikaru Nakamura Winner $7,500
2 Fabiano Caruana Finalist $3,500
3-4 Nodirbek Abudsattorov Semifinalist $2,500
3-4 Hans Niemann Semifinalist $2,500
5-8 Gata Kamsky Quarterfinalist $1,000
5-8 Jules Moussard Quarterfinalist $1,000
5-8 Samuel Sevian Quarterfinalist $1,000
5-8 Jeffrey Xiong Quarterfinalist $1,000

The Rapid Chess Championship is a weekly tournament held by It is a nine-round Swiss event with a 10+0 time control held every Saturday, followed by a knockout event on Sunday between the top eight finishers and a 10+2 time control. If players draw, they play another 3+2 game; if drawn, they play a 1+1 game; and if that is drawn, a single armageddon game is played.

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