So Ends Duda Fairy Tale, Reaches Speed Chess Final

So Ends Duda Fairy Tale, Reaches Speed Chess Final

| 20 | Chess Event Coverage

After eliminating Sergey Karjakin and Alexander Grischuk, Jan-Krzysztof Duda couldn't score another upset in yesterday's Speed Chess semifinal. In fact, Wesley So was way too strong and won with a big 20-7 score.

At the start of the match, few would have predicted such a lopsided final score. The players were quite evenly matched, and things could have gone differently perhaps if Duda had grabbed a few more of his chances in that early stage.

The very first game was, in hindsight, quite typical. The Polish grandmaster reached a completely winning endgame, with a knight and five pawns versus a rook and one pawn, but suddenly allowed a draw that came out of nowhere.

Admittedly, So on his turn missed a win in game two, but then won game three. Game four was another example of Duda's misfortune.

"In the beginning I played very, very badly and well, I was in real shock when I didn’t win this Italian game two pawns up," he said afterward. "I was almost about to lose this game. I thought that when I would win some game the match would take a differente course but it wasn’t the case unfortunately."


After some more adventures and three more draws, So won game eight and took a two-point lead for the first time. Duda's Trompowsky wasn't very successful and he ended up in a lost position. What he didn't notice is that the evaluation jumped to 0.00 for one moment. Duda's frustration started to show as he continued playing until one move before the mate.

After the next game, the last in the five-minute portion, So's lead was back to just one point as he blundered terribly in a better position, forgetting that the b6-pawn defended the rook on c5 as well.

5+1 segment | Score

# Fed Player Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Score
1 GMWSO 2951 2898 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 0 5
2 Polish_fighter3000 2859 2912 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 1 4

In the first three-minute game Duda got another huge chance, but this time he didn't notice. Commentator IM Danny Rensch said he was curious about the pawn endgame and that the news report should discuss it, and as it turns out there's a good reason to do just that:

The story might be somewhat monotonous, but in game 12 Duda again missed a great chance. He played  33...Qh8+ a bit too quickly, forgetting about 34.Qh2 where 33...Qxg3 would have won easily. Timetrouble was definitely a factor here.


After a draw in game 13 (the last draw in the match!) in game 14 Duda disconnected and lost. A few games and some research later, decided that this hadn't been his fault and so this loss was removed from the scoreboard.

Meanwhile, Duda's suffering on the board continued with moments like this...

3+1 segment | Score

# Fed Player Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Score
1 GMWSO 2938 3086 ½ 1 1 ½ 1 1 0 1 6
2 Polish_fighter3000 2869 2721 ½ 0 0 ½ 0 0 1 0 2

The bullet portion was a complete massacre, with nine wins for So and just one for Duda. It was Murphy's Law all over for the Polish fighter. Caissa didn't even award him an honorable last win, which he definitely deserved:

1+1 segment | Score

# Fed Player Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Score
1 GMWSO 2925 3255 1 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 9
2 Polish_fighter3000 2874 2544 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1

So won So $5,222.22 and advanced to the finals, whereas Duda earned $777.78. So's opponent in the final is either Hikaru Nakamura or Levon Aronian, who play the other semifinal today at 10 a.m. Pacific (7 p.m. Central Europe).

Asked which opponent he would prefer, So replied "Levon!" with a big smile. "Nothing personal against him. I’ll probably be the underdog in both matches but Hikaru is kind of the king of online blitz. My score against Hikaru online has been really horrible so I don’t really want to know. I am very glad to win the match today."


"Everything was wrong for me today," said Duda. "Wesley of course played very good; he was very resourceful."

In many games, Duda got in time trouble. "I played too slowly definitely. It just wasn’t my day. In some moments I wanted to play good. Time management was also a factor of course. But even if I had more time it would be difficult because Wesley played just much better than me."

"Coming to the match I didn’t think I was the favourite," said So. "Jan-Krzystof has improved a lot recently and also he beat Sergey [Karjakin] and Alexander Grischuk. I didn’t know what to expect."


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.

Between 2007 and 2013 Peter was running ChessVibes, a major source for chess news and videos acquired by in October 2013.

As our Director News & Events, Peter writes many of our news reports. In the summer of 2022, The Guardian’s Leonard Barden described him as “widely regarded as the world’s best chess journalist.”

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