Safarli, Nakamura Win July Titled Tuesday

Safarli, Nakamura Win July Titled Tuesday

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In a rough and tumble, jam-packed Titled Tuesday, GM Eltaj Safarli emerged atop the field twice, in both the early and late event. This impressive achievement would have impressed more had IM Minh Tran not done the same last month.

Safarli shared victory in the early event with the number-one seed GM Hikaru Nakamura, who also had an excellent day and shared second in the late event.

Safarli's sole victory in the late event also meant that he claimed the biggest prize available in the event, free airfare to the Isle of Man International Masters tournament, scheduled October 1-9.

WFM Sai Nirupama Kotepalli received the same prize as the top female finisher in the late event. 

Peel Castle: One of the many non-chess reasons (if you need em) to visit the Isle of Man!

As the event got underway, it was clear that this would be one of the strongest Titled Tuesdays on record.  Some 146 players entered the early event, and elite players such as GMs Nakamura, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Dmitry Andreikin, and Georg Meier were raring to go.

Andreikin, always a contender, started with a nice win as Black. A clean victory like this always puts a little extra pep in your mouse-click.

Safarli delivered what might well have been the best game of the day with a brutally accurate and instructive victory against the talented GM Grigory Oparin, who won the strong Higher League only a few days ago.

Safarli offered a classic Nd5 sacrifice and didn't release the pressure for a moment in the ensuing play. This victory permitted him to move to an undefeated 5.0/5.


Leading the pack that tied for third was GM Evgeny Shaponshnikov whose best game may have been his fifth-round adventure against GM Cayse.

Another piquant fifth-rounder was played by GM Sanan Sjugirov, whose conclusion's simplicity makes it no less appealing.

Nakamura showed his class in the sixth round by outplaying Shaposhnikov. First he demonstrated that Black's passed e-pawn wasn't going anywhere. Then he demonstrated the dangers of placing pawns on the same color as your bishop in the endgame.

If a 5.0/5 start was insufficient, Safarli piled on with a sixth victory. Commentator IM Aman Hambleton was convinced that White, IM Minh Le, had left a win on the table somwhere, but the cold-hearted silicon thundercat denies that any win was available against Safarli's accurate defense.

Vachier-Lagrave was in chase mode for most of the tournament after a first-round upset, but he still delivered some gorgeous play. Most satisfying was his grind against Cayse in which his bishop and king corralled a wandering knight.

That's how aspiring 2800s do!

If Safarli's Nd5 sac doesn't tickle your fancy, perhaps you'll like his grind against Sjugirov. Like Nakamura, Safarli demonstrates the dangers of bishops on the same color as your pawns.

Co-winners Safarli and Nakamura faced off in round seven in the most meh of games.

The audience was understanding...

The lowest-rated entrant was GM Baskaran Adhiban who was playing in his first Titled Tuesday on a fresh account. He managed to make the tie for third. His round-eight victory was fun for the whole family.

The shared third-place finisher, the French IM LaStreetCmaMaison, found a nice solution against GM Conrad Holt in round eight.

Safarli had to work a bit for his final draw as Black against Vachier-Lagrave, but he earned it confidently. That guaranteed him a share of first with Nakamura being the only player capable of catching him.

Nakamura delivered in fine fashion in his own must-win game against Andreikin. One couldn't ask for a more exhilarating final round slugfest between two blitz elites.

Titled Tuesday, Early Event | Final Standings (6.5 Points And Up)

Place Seed Fed Title Username Name Score SB
1 1 GM Hikaru Hikaru Nakamura 8 50.75
2 4 GM EltajSafarli Eltaj Safarli 8 42.5
3 13 GM E-Shaposhnikov Evgeny Shaposhnikov 7 37.75
4 69 IM LaStreetCmaMaison 7 34.5
5 2 GM LyonBeast Maxime Vachier Lagrave 7 33.75
6 6 GM platy3 Alan Pichot 7 32.5
7 146 GM fireheart92 Adhiban Baskaran 7 29.5
8 46 GM Gabrielian_Artur Артур Габриелян 7 29
9 12 GM daro94 Dariusz Świercz 7 28.5
10 28 GM Cayse 6.5 36.5
11 3 GM 2Vladimirovich90 Dmitry Andreikin 6.5 31.75
12 88 FM Abrito99 Ruben Domingo Nuñez 6.5 30.75
13 103 FM LazovT Toni Lazov 6.5 26

Full V3 tournament tables available here.

For their victory, Nakamura and Safarli each won $375. Seven players tied for third, winning an even $35. These were GMs Shaposhnikov, Vachier-Lagrave, Alan Pichot, Adhiban, Artur Gabrielian, and Darius Swiercz. The only IM in the mix was LaStreetCmaMaison, Christophe Sochacki from France.

Moving into the late event, perhaps the most impressive feat in Titled Tuesday history was Safarli starting BOTH events with 6.0/6. Rounds five and six were particularly impressive as he beat both Andreikin and Nakamura in back-to-back games.

Only Sjugirov managed to momentarily derail Safarli in a game where his king marched to b5 to assist in mate.

Nakamura had a good day in both events, but his success was sometimes overshadowed by his mishaps as in this mutual debacle against GM Zviad Izoria.

Andreikin was off pace after losses in rounds five and six against Safarli (above) and GM Alex Lenderman, but he did play a nice attack in round two.

Lenderman couldn't follow up on his victory over Andreikin, but he did finish solidly with 5.5.

Sjugirov was actually the sole lead after round eight, but his round-nine pairing against Nakamura was certainly tough. After an extremely tense game, he flagged in a position that still possessed resources. That left Safarli, who outplayed GM Evgeny Levin, in clear first.

WFM Sai Nirupama Kotepalli, the top female in the late event, won multiple aggressive bouts in the tournament and finished with two successes in a row to pass the remaining female field. Her attacking play was on display in round two where her opponent seemed to miss Qf5!

Titled Tuesday, Late Event | Final Standings (6 Points And Up)

Place Seed Fed Title Username Name Score SB
1 2 GM EltajSafarli Eltaj Safarli 7.5 41.5
2 6 GM E-Shaposhnikov Evgeny Shaposhnikov 7 36.5
3 1 GM Hikaru Hikaru Nakamura 7 35.75
4 9 GM Sanan_Sjugirov Sanan Sjugirov 7 32
5 10 GM jcibarra José Carlos Ibarra Jerez 6.5 32.75
6 8 IM wonderfultime Minh Le 6.5 32.25
7 5 GM DanielNaroditsky Daniel Naroditsky 6.5 31
8 26 FM ZapataCharlesS Santiago Zapata Charles 6.5 25
9 3 GM 2Vladimirovich90 Dmitry Andreikin 6 27.25
10 16 GM Cayse 6 27
11 14 GM Izoria123 Zviad Izoria 6 24
12 27 IM MaestroASK Aleksei Kireev 6 21.5
13 17 GM Indianlad Mr Unknown Mystery 6 21
14 7 GM Evgeny_Levin Evgeny Levin 6 19
15 72 NM Viaje 6 18.5

Full V3 tournament tables available here.

Safarli received $500 for sole first place in the late event. In total, he won $875 plus airfare to Isle of Man. GMs Shaposhnikov, Nakamura, and Sjugirov each won $150 for shared second. $12.50 goes to GMs Jose Ibarra Jerez, Daniel Naroditsky, IM Minh Le, and FM Santiago Zapata Charles.

The next Titled Tuesday will take place on Tuesday, August 2 at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Pacific time. Live broadcasts will be available on and

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