Ultimate Blitz Challenge: The Results
Round Two Summary
Nakamura and So were leading the Ultimate Blitz Challenge going into the 2nd and final day of the event. The legendary Kasparov was trailing behind one point and seemed like he could pose some serious problems for the leaders if he could brush off the rustiness and avoid the blunders that plagued him all throughout the first day. Both Nakamura and So had a terrible start of the tournament but quickly picked their pace up and ranked up some important victories in order to regain the control.
The second day started with a full on revenge from So, who took the lead after he completely demolished Kasparov in a game that reminded the former world champion of the style of Paul Morphy.
In the press conference after the tournament, Kasparov stated that due to a very long night overwhelmed with negative thoughts due to his losses the previous days, he was extremely tired and could not fight effectively against the young titans.
Nakamura knew it was going to be a day filled with tense situations. He was ready, he was smiling, and overall had a very relaxed aura surrounding him. So was also showcasing a very tempered attitude, the race was heating up…
The decisive moment came in the 15th round. So was facing Nakamura in the battle between the leaders, the crowd was ecstatic, Kasparov was slowly seeing his title chances evaporating…The players repeated a topical line of the Queen’s Gambit Decline and soon the position petered into an almost draw. But Nakamura had a different mindset, with a relaxed attitude and poised confidence he continued to play natural moves and slowly improve his position. Suddenly So started to err, he chose to march his king towards the center and completely missed a nice tactic that allowed Nakamura to collect an important pawn and swerve the game in his direction. So was forced to accept the defeat and Nakamura emerged as the sole leader. Despite So’s pressure, who kept his chances all the way until last round, it was Nakamura who cemented his victory with a composed performance in the last round against his main rival.
Who would have thought these players would be so energetic and full of intense chess stamina after such a long and exhausting U.S. Championship? Not many. Despite that, these chess warriors managed to bring their A game to the table and with it smash absolutely any viewership records. More than a hundred thousand people were watching this eventful masterpiece each day. The players, the production crew, the organization and everybody else involved in it, they knew a secondhand effort would not cut it, they had to offer the best chess event broadcasted live! And they did. The numbers don’t lie! The comeback of a legend…the battles of the current American kings…it was all there, and everybody around the world witnessed it!
Congratulations to Nakamura, So, Kasparov, and Caruana. Chapeau!