The Big One: Nakamura-MVL In Next Death Match

The Big One: Nakamura-MVL In Next Death Match

MikeKlein
FM MikeKlein
Nov 8, 2015, 8:38 AM |
25 | Chess.com News

No banal introduction needed for Death Match 34, this one sells itself.

GM Hikaru Nakamura, the self-proclaimed best bullet player in the world, will face off against GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, who was a whisker away from winning this year's World Blitz Championship. The match will be Monday, December 21 at 9 a.m. Pacific (GMT-7), 12 p.m. Eastern and will be broadcast live at www.chess.com/TV.

Both men have won a previous Death Match, so the winner in December will become only the second person to win multiple matches (GM Georg Meier was the first player to do it; the overall record of players competing in their second match is a disappointing 1-5). 

phpBQPgYX.jpeg
Vachier-Lagrave will play from France and Nakamura from Italy. They'll battle for all the argent/soldi.

Nakamura has the highest bullet rating in the history of Chess.com. Last month he nearly rang the bell of 3200 and naturally ranks number one out of the 600,000+ members with a bullet rating. His reached his peak blitz rating of 2978 only a week ago, and he seems destined to be one of the very few to break 3000 there.

How hard is it to beat Nakamura in a game, let alone a match? For every 100 games of bullet played on Chess.com, on average he wins 90 and draws four. His blitz percentage is only marginally worse.

And he's not just playing cupcakes. In fact, he's not even a stranger to his Death Match opponent on the site:

Nakamura once typed this in the chat while watching a tournament broadcast on Chess.com/TV:

phpJdXPAi.png

Despite the proclamation, many speed demons have tried! "Chessbrah" GM Eric Hansen (himself once the highest-rated bullet player on Chess.com) tried for quite a while to get the best of Nakamura in a bullet-only "quasi" death match last month. Their session lasted two hours, whereas a Death Match is three. (Nakamura can win 12 games in 20 minutes -- see for yourself!)

Hansen is known for his celerity and got off to an early 2-0 lead. Then Nakamura became, well, Nakamura. (Warning: explicit language is heard in the commentary to the match.)

In case you didn't watch until the end, the final score of 59-13 for Nakamura was almost triple the success rate for Hansen compared to his opponent's lifetime record against all players.

Nakamura even co-wrote a book about bullet chess.

Is there anything Nakamura can't do? Vachier-Lagrave may be hoping he has a few more hard collisions before the match:

php4ZtVon.png

Nakamura at free safety? Well even the Carolina Panthers are 7-0, so clearly he can't be stopped.

Joking aside, Vachier-Lagrave is no slouch, and serious chess fans already know this will be a battle.

What are the Frenchman's qualifications? He's the former world junior champion and currently number three on the FIDE Blitz Ratings list (trailing only Nakamura and Magnus Carlsen).

 

phpYr9Yps.jpeg

Both players enjoy tennis — perhaps that should be the tiebreaker?

"Mr. Biel" also nearly won this year's FIDE World Blitz Championship — he led all players with 9.5/11 after day one. He won the 2010 and 2012 European Blitz Championships.

The two have played blitz over the board in an official setting several times. At the 2010 World Blitz Championship, Vachier-Lagrave won both of their head-to-head encounters.

At this year's Norway Tournament, which was preceeded by a blitz event, Nakamura won.

Here's another video from the 2014 World Blitz Championship where Vachier-Lagrave almost gets tricked by GM Judit Polgar, but with dwindling time quickly finds a way to deal with her pesky pawn. Nakamura finished second in 2014 but did not play this year.

php0sMqnd.jpeg
Nakamura missed out on the 2015 World Rapid and Blitz Championships but instead showed off his prowess at those time controls in Las Vegas. He went undefeated in 12 rapid and blitz games in winning Millionaire Chess.

When it comes to Titled Tuesday, Nakamura clearly has outperformed Vachier-Lagrave. The American has three titles to his credit, whereas Vachier-Lagrave plays often but is still searching for his first crown (though he has "cashed" several times).

After you've sorted through all this data, let us know in the comments who you think is the favorite, and make sure to mark your calendars for Monday, December 21 at 9 a.m. Pacific (GMT-7), 12 p.m. Eastern. Vachier-Lagrave will be in France and Nakamura in Italy, but chess fans will be on Chess.com/TV.

You never know; maybe we'll see someone play another 271 moves (just think what they can do with increment):



More from FM MikeKlein
So Wins At U.S. Championship To Start Title Defense

So Wins At U.S. Championship To Start Title Defense

U.S. Chess Championships Begin In St. Louis

U.S. Chess Championships Begin In St. Louis