Rapid Success from Vegas to Berlin: Nakamura and Carlsen

The top two rapid chess players in the World, Hikaru Nakamura and Magnus Carlsen, won big in rapid this week. Nakamura took 100K for his win in Millionaire Chess while Magnus retained his World Rapid Champs title.


Nakamura vs Kamsky, Photo David Llada

Millionaire Chess: Nakamura battles to the top

The only FIDE rating list where Magnus Carlsen doesn’t tower over his competitors is rapid chess. That honor currently belongs to Hikaru Nakamura — by a 3 rating point margin.

Millionaire Chess follows a unique format: At the end of seven rounds of classical chess, the top four scores in the tournament qualify for Millionaire Monday, a knockout match for the grand prize.

After the classical rounds, three leaders emerged: Yu Yangyi, Le Quang Liem, and Aleksandr Lenderman with six points. Meanwhile, the U.S. top three (Nakamura, Caruana, and So) along with seven other grandmasters tied for the fourth and final qualification spot for Millionaire Monday.

This lead to an elaborate tiebreak match system that involved splitting the competitors into two groups by rating and a series of rapid and blitz elimination games.

The quickest win was Nakamura’s shocking 11 move victory over Evgeny Bareev, an elite grandmaster formerly #4 in the world.

Tactic #1
Evgeny Bareev vs. Hikaru Nakamura, Tiebreaks

Black to move.

It’s so early in the game that only two pieces are developed for both sides. How did Nakamura find a way to get an advantage?


After several rounds, Nakamura was the winner of group B while So, last year’s Millionaire Chess champion, was the winner of group A. This meant another rapid chess match, of course.

The first two games were drawn. In the fourth game, Nakamura got the better of So.

Tactic #2
Hikaru Nakamura vs. Wesley So, Tiebreaks Final

White to move.

Black’s position is on the verge of collapsing. How did Nakamura finally breakthrough?

On Millionaire Monday, Nakamura and Le Quang won the semi-final matches. Nakamura defeated Yu Yangyi. Le Quang Liem, who had a fantastic tournament in the classical portion, went on to defeat Lenderman.

Here is Quang Liem’s position from his victory over Conrad Holt in round 4.

Tactic #3

Conrad Holt vs. Quang Liem Le, Round 4

Black to move. Which idea quickly leads to victory?

In the final, Nakamura achieved a commanding victory in the first game.

Tactic #4
Hikaru Nakamura vs. Quang Liem Le

White to move.

How did Nakamura convert his better position into a material advantage?

In the last game of the final, Nakamura achieved a comfortable draw, making him the 2015 Millionaire Open Champion. While most players in the open section played nine rounds of chess, it took Nakamura 21 rounds to earn the $100,000 grand prize. Find full details on the Millionaire Chess website and an on scene wrap-up by GM Chirila.

World Rapid Championship: Carlsen is the first player in history to win two years in a row

On the other side of the world in Berlin, Germany, Carlsen fought to defend his World Rapid Championship title.

Carlsen had a shaky start and ended the first day tied with 15 other grandmasters for 2nd place behind Sergey Karjakin, who won the World Cup just days before.

The next day, Carlsen took the lead and held it until the finish, ending the tournament a point ahead of the field.

Tactic #5

Sergei Zhigalko vs. Magnus Carlsen, World Rapid Championship

Black to move.

In the endgame, often the more advanced passed pawn determines the winner. How did Carlsen turn his into a victory?

The World Blitz Championships began today. As the returning blitz champion, Carlsen will have a chance to repeat his feat in the rapid. Look for a report from the scene from GM Ian Rogers.

Leave a Comment

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Announcements

  • US Chess Press