Hikaru Nakamura Wins Fischer Random World Championship

GM Hikaru Nakamura was crowned Fischer Random Chess World Champion on Sunday after winning a thrilling Armageddon final against GM Jan Nepomniachtchi.

Splitting the points in his four-game mini-match, Nakamura saved all effort for the decider and paid tribute to the format’s namesake, GM Bobby Fischer, by claiming his first world title in Reykjavík, 50 years after his kind. American General Motors defeated Boris Spassky at the height of the Cold War.

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Nakamura won $150,000 for winning the event while the rest of the $400,000 prize pool was split between the other contestants.

In the consolation races, GM Magnus Carlsen completed the podium by defeating GM Noderbek Abdulvasatorov, the fastest world champion, recovering from a 1-0 deficit in the process.

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For Nakamura and Nepomniachtchi, the final day of the Fisherman’s Random World Championship ended in a first world title for either player and tensions were high from the moment the clock started at 3pm local time.

The starting positions for the first two games were relatively simple. Key features included a queen in the corner and bishops remaining in their normal squares.

Nakamura, playing with the black pieces, quickly took command of the center and pushed Nepomniachtchi back. Unable to wrest the initiative from Nakamura, Nepomniachtchi eventually succumbed to a tactic that cost him a piece.

Although an early loss hurt his title chances, Nepomniachtchi knew full well that a comeback was possible after a thrilling rebound against Carlsen in Saturday’s semifinals.

One of the more expressive players on the circuit, Nepomniachtchi doesn’t always take away the power of his positions with his facial expressions. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

In the second game, Nakamura was able to convert to a position that resembles the trusted Niemzowitsch-Larsen opening, which he has used for years in online tournaments. By move 40, Nakamura had a 2.5+ lead, but chose to repeat moves instead of pushing for the win.

With the pressure firmly on his shoulders, Nepomniachtchi hit a perfectly timed three in the game, handing Nakamura his first (and only) loss of the entire event. Nepomniachtchi was clinical with the black pieces and confidently sacrificed an exchange on move 20 to open lines of attack on the queenside to bring the result to the final legal game.

Nakamura stunned onlookers in the fourth game as he offered a draw on move 15 after drawing early with the black pieces, prompting commentator Hess to ask, “Are they allowed to offer a draw?!” Both players were clearly happy to settle matters with an Armageddon tiebreaker, but the loser will inevitably regret the unfinished business in the fourth round.

A bidding process was conducted to decide who would play what color in the tiebreaker. Nepomniachtchi won the bid to play the blacks with a tie chance and 13 minutes to Nakamura’s 15. The final starting position was announced soon after and the players had 5 minutes to strategize.

Nepomniachtchi looked to have Armageddon in control early on after trading in an opposite-suited bishop midgame, but Nakamura muddied the waters and stormed home to claim his first world title. General Motors Rafael Leitao explains our game of the day below.

Nakamura celebrated the historic win, as many expected at this point, with a quick YouTube video covering his matches! At the end of the video, he mentions that he will soon go to Toronto and compete in the finals of the Chess.com World Championship. Nakamura is undoubtedly one of the favorites to win in Toronto as well, given his astronomical 2,924 performance score (calculated by FIDE Quick Rankings) for the tournament.

Apart from the title fight, three consolation matches were played in Reykjavík on Sunday to determine the order of finish for the rest of the field. After a disappointing semi-final loss, Carlsen found himself in early trouble against Abdolvasatturov, losing the first game after the GM of Uzbekistan cleverly trapped his bishop.

Carlsen finally returned to the game after defeating Abdulvasatorov 3-1 and went on the podium. All in all, the world champion was clearly not in his best form, but he will have two more chances to steal the world titles at the lightning fast world races in December.

Despite a poor performance by his excellent standards, Carlsen still finished third. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

GM Vladimir Fedosiev continued to outperform his rank, edging defending champion Wesley Sue by two points to fourth, while local GM Matthias Bloebaum and Horvar Gertarsson finished seventh and eighth respectively.

This year’s Fischer Random World Championship has reignited the debate about the future of chess, offering a fresh step up from the near-perfect performance of the world’s elite in the classics. As Nepomniachtchi graciously tweeted after losing his match on Sunday, the chess world “hopes to see more random Fischer matches in the future.”


Brought to you by the Government of Iceland and the City of Reykjavik, the Fisher Random World Championship brings together the world’s top players to compete in a series of classic Fisher Random games for their share of the $400,000 prize pool and the FIDE Fisher Random World Title. . Hero. Fischer Random (also known as Chess960) is a chess variant in which all the standard chess rules are the same except for the starting position of the pieces, which can be in one of 960 semi-random settings. Strongly endorsed by 11th World Champion GM Bobby Fischer, this variant avoids early preparation to highlight players’ true understanding of chess.


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