GM Hikaru Nakamura was crowned FIDE Fischer Random World Chess Champion on Sunday after winning a thrilling Armageddon semi-final against GM Ian Nepomniachtchi.
After splitting the points in their four-game mini-match, Nakamura saved his best effort for the decider and honored the heroics of his format’s namesake, GM Bobby Fischer, by claiming his first world title in 50 years in Reykjavik. The US defeated GM Boris Spassky in the Cold War.
Nakamura won $150,000 for winning the event, with the remaining $400,000 prize pool split among the other participants.
In the consolations, GM Magnus Carlsen recovered from a 1-0 deficit to claim the podium over world speed champion GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov.
He played brilliantly all week and won the final Armageddon match against Nepo to claim the title. 👏 pic.twitter.com/ZwhA0FyacQ
— Chess.com (@chesscom) October 30 2022
For Nakamura and Nepomniachtchi; The final day of the Fischer Random World Championship, which will decide a player’s first world title, has been on the rise since the start at 3pm local time.
The starting locations for the first two matches are fairly straightforward. Key features include a queen in the corner and bishops remaining in their normal squares.
Nakamura quickly commanded the center while playing with the black pieces, pushing Nepomniachtchi back. Unable to wrestle Nakamura’s initiative, Eventually, Nepomniachtchi succumbed to the strategy, which saw him lose a piece.
Although the early loss hurt his chances of winning the title, Nepomniachtchi knows well that a comeback is possible after Saturday’s semi-final against Carlsen.
In the second game, Nakamura was able to switch to a position similar to his trusty Nimzowitsch-Larsen opening, which has had a huge impact on online tournaments for years. With move 40, Nakamura had a +2.5 advantage, but chose to move again instead of pressing for the win.
With a firm pressure on his shoulders, Nepomniachtchi struck in the best time in three games, and Nakamura lost his first (and only) entire match. Nepomniachtchi practiced with the black pieces and confidently sacrificed exchange on move 20 to open lines of attack on the queen to reach a score level heading into the final regulation game.
Nakamura stunned onlookers in the fourth game by drawing 15 after an early draw with the black pieces, prompting commentator Hess to exclaim, “Are they allowed to draw?!” Both players are clearly happy to settle matters with an Armageddon tiebreaker, but the loser will inevitably regret the unfinished business in round four.
“Are they allowed to vote?” –@GM_Hess
— ChesscomLive (@ChesscomLive) October 30 2022
A bidding process was conducted to determine who would play which color within the ring. Nepomniachtchi won a bid to play with black to Nakamura’s 15 in the 13th minute with draw rate. Soon after, the final starting location was announced, and players had about five minutes to strategize.
Nepomniachtchi tried to gain early control of the Armageddon game after trading into an opposite-suited bishop midgame, but Nakamura was swamped in the water and stormed home to claim his first world title. GM Rafael Leitao notes our game below.
Nakamura celebrated the historic victory, as many expected at this point, with a YouTube video covering his games. At the end of the video, He said he will soon be leaving for Toronto, where he will compete in the Chess.com Global Championship Finals. With his astronomical performance rating of 2924 (calculated based on FIDE rapid ratings) for this tournament, Nakamura is certainly one of the favorites to win in Toronto.
In addition to the championship, Three consolation matches were held in Reykjavik on Sunday and will determine the final order for the rest of the field. After a disappointing semi-final loss, Carlsen faced Abdusattorov early and lost the first game after the Uzbek GM cleverly trapped his bishop.
In the end, Carlsen defeated Abdusattorov 3-1 to return to the match and climb the podium. All in all, the world champion is clearly not in his best form, but he will have two more chances to clinch the world title and the speedway titles in December.
GM Vladimir Fedoseev exceeded his rating and sent defending champion GM Wesley So two points clear to move into fourth place, while GM Matthias Bluebaum and local Hjorvar Gretarsson finished seventh and eighth respectively.
This year’s Fischer Random World Championship has set the debate about the future of chess at rest, providing a refreshing step away from the near-perfect performances of the world’s elite in the classics. As Nepomniachtchi kindly tweeted after his loss on Sunday, the chess world hopes to see more Fischer Random tournaments in the future.
Logic is rarely found in Armageddon games. But this turn has its own logic.
I hope to see more Fischer Random contests in the future.
— Yan Nepomniachtchi (@lachesisq) October 30 2022
The Fischer Random World Championship brings together top players from around the world to compete in the classic Fischer Random game series for a $400,000 prize fund and the FIDE Fischer Random World title, brought to you by the Government of Iceland and the City of Reykjavik. Champion. Fischer Random (also known as Chess960) is a variant of chess in which all the standard chess rules are the same except for the starting position of the pieces, which is one of the 960 quasi-random settings. 11th world champion GM Bobby Fischer has strong endorsements; The variation sidesteps the opening preparation to highlight the true understanding of chess players.