Hikaru Nakamura Crowned Fischer Random World Champion

History has a way of repeating itself, as once again the chess world was abuzz with talk of Reykjavik, American world champions, and even Fischer. This time, it was GM Hikaru Nakamura winning the title, and Fischer’s contribution was to the variant of chess on display.



Nakamura won the second World Fischer Random Championship, taking home a cool $150,000 of the $400,000 prize fund for his efforts. Runner-up GM Ian Nepomniachtchi netted $85,000.

Eight participants, including four online qualifiers and four invitees, competed across multiple starting positions through a group stage and knock-out matches. The two finalists had to navigate eleven unique starting positions, counting the final tie-break.


Nepomniachtchi versus Nakamura, 2022 FRC
Image Caption
courtesy FIDE / David Llada


With only five minutes to strategize for the new starting position, Nepomniachtchi appeared in control early on. Nevertheless, the American speedster kept things complicated and capitalized on his chances.



The remaining prizes were split between the six other participants who qualified or were otherwise invited to play in Reykjavik across rapid mini-matches from October 25-30.

Over the course of the week, the competitors fought through eleven unique starting positions. Each mini-match consisted of two games, allowing the players to navigate the position from both sides.

For the first three days, the players competed in two parallel double round-robin rapid matches. In Group A, 18-year-old Uzbeki phenomenon GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov took clear first. Coming off last year’s triumph in the World Rapid championships, he solidified himself as a force in faster time controls.


So versus Nepomniachtchi
Image Caption
courtesy FIDE / David Llada


The second semi-final spot was between Nepomniachtchi and reigning Fischer Random champion GM Wesley So. Nepomniachtchi’s victory ended up coming down to a confusing game where it appeared that the champion blundered a one-move checkmate. As it turned out, So believed he could castle out of check, which was not the case.



In Group B, Nakamura and GM Magnus Carlsen tied for first with 9 match points each. Despite being held to all draws by Russian GM Vladimir Fedoseev, Nakamura went 1.5/2 in his matches against Carlsen to qualify for the semi-finals.


Carlsen and Nakamura set the pieces back up
Image Caption
courtesy FIDE / David Llada


While Carlsen’s play was uncharacteristically rife with errors throughout the event, he managed to surprise Nakamura as early as the first move with a clever piece sacrifice.



In the semi-finals, Nakamura blanked Abdusattorov 3-0. This match exhibited truly enterprising chess, particularly in the form of Nakamura’s blistering rooks.



Nepomniachtchi won his ‘rematch’ with Carlsen 3-1, playing the full board to take Carlsen’s king on a brisk walk.



All candidates had a chance to compete on the final day, with Carlsen ($55,000) beating Abdusattorov ($40,000) in a third-place match. Fedoseev ($25,000) upset the reigning champion So ($20,000). And the qualifier Bluebaum ($15,000) won his match against Icelandic GM Hjorvar Steinn Gretarsson ($10,000).

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