Wesley So bows to Nakamura in Speed Chess Championship finals

Roy Luarca
Wesley So bows to Nakamura in Speed Chess Championship finals
Despite having a higher Elo rating in classical play, the Cavite-born So surrenders a big edge to Nakamura in both rapid and blitz competitions

MANILA, Philippines – Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura made use of his vast experience in bullet chess to down fellow Team USA mainstay GM Wesley So, 15-12.5, and rule the 2018 Chess.com Speed Chess Championship on Monday, December 3. 

Living up to his top seeding, the Osaka-born Nakamura bested the Cavite-born So, 5.0-2.5, in the one minute + 1 second increment event to bag the title that went to absentee world champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway last year.

Despite Nakamura’s higher rating, So was able to forge a 5-5 deadlock in both the blitz (5+1) and blitz (3+1) events earlier, paving the way for bullet chess, which Nakamura regularly plays online.

The 30-year-old Nakamura bagged the $5,000 first prize, plus a majority share of another $5,000 for won games and winnings in the earlier rounds of the all-GM, 16-player tournament.

En route to the crown, Nakamura dumped Hou Yifan, the world’s highest rated female player, 27.5-2.5, France’s Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, 21.5-13.5, and Armenia’s Levon Aronian, 17-12, in the semifinals.

The 25-year-old So trounced Poland’s Jan-Krzystof Duda, 20-7, in the other semifinal tussle.

While So boasts a higher Elo rating over Nakamura in classical play, 2765 against 2746, Nakamura enjoys a big edge in both rapid, 2844-2797, and blitz, 2884-2775, competitions.

So plays board 2 and Nakamura board 3 for Team USA, which yielded its Chess Olympiad title to China in this year’s edition held in Batumi, Georgia.

Other competitors in the elite 16-player field are Russian-born Dutch Anish Giri, Azerbaijan’s Shakriyar Mamedyarov, Russia’s Ian Nepomniatchi, Rusia’s Alexander Grischuk and Armenia’s Zaven Adriasyan.

In the 2017 Speed Chess Championship, Carlsen routed Nakamura, 18-9, in the finals and So, 27.5-9.5, in the second round. Rappler.com


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