Speed ​​Chess Grand Prix 1: IM Drozdowski Triumphs

Saturday, September 18, brought chess fans around the world to the next leg of one of the most anticipated online tournaments of the year: the Speed ​​Chess Championship Grand Prix.

This event consists of four tournaments taking place between September 18 and October 9 with one tournament per week. Every week there is a Swiss tournament with prize money, and the top eight finishers advance to an eight-player knockout where they earn Grand Prix points. The player with the most Grand Prix points at the end of the event earns a coveted spot in the Speed ​​Chess Championship main event.

Let’s dive in to see how the action in the first event unfolded.

How to look?
The Speed ​​Chess Championship Grand Prix will take place on September 18, 25, October 2 and October 9. The winner of the Grand Prix will qualify for the Main Event of the 2021 Speed ​​Chess Championship. Matches and commentary will be broadcast on Chess.com/tv.

The format of this tournament takes eight players from the Swiss event to the knockout. The top 20 players in the final standings score Grand Prix points, which ultimately determine their final standings after all four tournaments have ended.

While it is not possible to cover even a significant proportion of all the matches played in a major Swiss tournament, I think it would be interesting to learn some dramatic facts and see some instructive excerpts.

For starters, the perennial top tier of most online blitz events, GM Hikaru Nakamura, started by scoring just three points in the first four rounds. He drew two matches, against GM Evgeniy Najer and against GM Sanan Sjugirov; the latter was a miraculous escape for Nakamura.

After getting pretty lucky in round four, Nakamura won an impressive five games in a row, followed by a quick draw against GM Jeffery Xiong on the final round in the infamous Berlin variant.

Among the players who qualified are grandmasters known for their blitz results, namely the aforementioned Nakamura and Xiong, as well as GMs Arjun Erigaisi, Matthias Bluebaum, Zviad Izoria and Baadur Jobava, who finished ninth but made it into the playoffs because Nakamura, who won the event, doesn’t have to play in the playoffs.

Additionally, three non-GMs qualified: Vietnam’s IM Tuan Minh Le, who placed second in the Swiss event, with a score of 8/10; IM Kacper Drozdowski, who came in third; and an unnamed player, Valery Sviridov of Russia, who tied for seventh eighth, with a score of 7.5/10. Make no mistake. Sviridov is certainly not a random player. Sviridov’s FIDE score is 2562 in classical chess. He just doesn’t have a title, which is often the case with players from Eastern Europe.

Among the great players who failed to qualify, we can mention GM’s Bogdan-Daniel Deac, Alexander Zubov, the bullet star Andrew Tang and many others.

In the playoffs there were four games: Minh Le vs. Jobava, Xiong vs. Erigaisi, Bluebaum vs. Sviridov and Izoria vs. Drozdowski. The top seeds started with the white bits.

The lower-rated Drozdowski defeated Izoria by the perfect score of 2-0 to advance to the next stage of the playoffs. Sviridov defeated Bluebaum 1.5-0.5 after playing the first games with the black pieces and winning with the white in the next round. Xiong advanced to the next round by winning his match against Erigaisi 2-0, and finally Minh defeated Le Jobava 2-1, after drawing 1-1 and then winning the tiebreaker match.

In the semifinals, Minh Le faced Xiong, while Drozdowski played against Sviridov. After winning both blitz games equally, Xiong won the tiebreak bullet game to reach the final. Meanwhile, Drozdowski continued his great run by beating Sviridov 2-0.

In the final between Drozdowski and Xiong, the first game was tied, which intrigued the audience more than ever. A win would mean you win today’s event! And this time Drozdowski turned out to be stronger. He won the second game with the black pieces to win the match. Xiong had an advantage through the opening and midgame, but he pressed too much and eventually lost.

Let’s see how that happened.

As a result, Drozdowski gained 15 points in the grand prix general classification. Xiong got 12, while Minh Le and Sviridov, who tied third-fourth, got eight points each. A fantastic result for everyone but especially for the IM’s and Sviridov, who are of course all grandmaster power; nevertheless it is a huge achievement to finish in front of so many strong grandmasters in an event of this caliber.

Live broadcast of this week’s tournament hosted by GM Daniel Naroditsky and NM James Canty III.

Grand Prix 1 Rapid Chess Championship | Final standings (Top 20)

Number Rk fed Title user name Name Rating To score Price
1 1 GM hikaru Hikaru Nakamura 3184 8.5 $2,500
2 8 I AM great time Tuan Minh Lec 2999 8 $1,800
3 19 GM msb2 Matthias Bluebaum 2936 7.5 $1,300
4 42 I AM Kacparov Kacper Drozdowski 2866 7.5 $2,000
5 25 GM ArjunErigaisi2003 Arjun Erigais 2938 7.5 $500
6 6 GM Jefferyx Jeffery Xion 2996 7.5 $400
7 36 GM Izoria123 Zviad Izoria 2827 7.5 $300
7 17 NM Sviridov_Valery Valery Sviridovi 2942 7.5 $250
9 11 GM exotic princess Baadur Jobava 2973 7 $250
9 15 GM BogdanDeac Bogdan Daniel Deac 2951 7 $100
11 22 GM Sanan_Sjugirov Sanan Sjugirov 2952 7 $100
12 10 GM fandorine Maxim Chigaev 2961 7 $100
13 31 GM Georg Meier George Meier 2864 7 $100
13 12 FM yavrukurt40 Dinner Tasdogen 2937 7 $100
15 30 GM moro182 Luca Moroni Jr 2865 7 $100
16 16 GM Alexander_Zubov Alexander Zubov 2941 7 $100
17 7 GM erichansen Eric Hansen 2965 6.5
18 23 GM penguinm1 Andrew Tang 2936 6.5
19 44 I AM ChessLover0108 Mahammad Muradlic 2787 6.5
20 5 GM champ2005 Raunak Sadhwanic 2966 6.5

(The full final standings here.)


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