Have you been following the Grandmaster Blitz Battle Championship?
So far, three exciting matches have taken place:
- Fabiano Caruana vs. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave
- Hikaru Nakamura vs. Pentala Harikrishna
- Levon Aronian vs. Alexander Grischuk
Let’s take a look at the results and the strongest attacking games from each match.
Caruana vs. MVL
This match featured the U.S. Champion against MVL, one of the strongest blitz players in the world.
Perhaps the most telling moments of the match was when MVL showed how super-GMs set-up for online chess matches:
— MVL (@Vachier_Lagrave) May 10, 2016
The match began with a convincing attacking game by Caruana.
Fabiano Caruana vs. Maxime Vachier Lagrave
How did Caruana begin his kingside attack?
White to move.
Caruana continued to lead the 5-minute blitz and chess 960 portion of the match. At one point, he was ahead by a full 3 points.
However, as the time control lowered, MVL proved to be stronger and stronger. By the end of the 3-minute blitz, MVL had a 1 game lead. And, in the bullet portion, MVL eventually ran away with the match, ending with 4 straight victories.
Aronian vs. Grischuk
This match featured Aronian, whose blitz rating is just a few points shy of 2800 against Grischuk, the World Blitz Champion.
“Sasha [Grischuk] has been a player I played many games with. It’s always very exciting to play with him because he’s a creative player.”
The match was very close in score throughout—with never more than a 2 point difference.
In one of the blitz games, Aronian missed an interesting opportunity to sacrifice for an attack.
Levon Aronian vs. Alexander Grischuk
What attacking move did Aronian overlook? And, what was Grischuk’s best defense?
White to move.
Grischuk showed great sportsmanship in one bullet game, resigning when Aronian had mate in 1, but less than a second left on the clock to make the move.
“It is clear that Levon is a bit inexperienced in bullet. One thing is to play a more or less playable position to use his inexperience, but another thing is just to try to flag him when he can mate me in one and he has two extra pieces. It’s a different thing.”
In the end, the World Blitz Champion prevailed, winning the match with 11.5 points to 9.5. Neither player was too focused on the score, and, in fact, they began another game when Grischuk had already won the match.
“The difference between me and Sasha is that he takes blitz very seriously while I just enjoy to play, and I don’t look to win or lose. So I guess that shows in the result.”
Nakamura vs. Harikrishna
Nakamura, the highest ranked blitz player on Chess.com, was the big favorite prior to the match. Yet, for the 5-minute and 3-minute games, this match was the closest one yet. Nakamura emerged from those portions with just a 1 game lead.
The best attacking game of the match was played by Harikrishna, who cornered Nakamura’s king with Anastasia’s Mate.
Pentala Harikrishna vs. Hikaru Nakamura
White to move.
“Include as many pieces in the attack as you can without losing your momentum.”
-Grandmaster Jacob Aagaard, Attack & Defense
However, in the bullet games, Nakamura won convincingly. Ultimately, Nakamura won the match with a score of 16 to 9.
While Harikrishna was playing with enough speed to hang with most, Nakamura’s mouse finger fluttered about with the Midas touch.
-FM Mike Klein
Here is the Grandmaster Blitz Battle Championship bracket so far:
The next stage of the competition is the IM/GM Qualifier on May 31 to determine who will play a blitz battle match against Magnus Carlsen.
Could it be you?