GM Hikaru Nakamura was crowned FIDE Fischer Random World Chess Champion on Sunday after winning a thrilling Armageddon tiebreaker final against GM Ian Nepomniachtchi.
After splitting points in their four-game mini-match, Nakamura saved his best efforts for the decider and won his partner’s first world championship in Reykjavík in 50 years, honoring GM Bobby Fischer’s heroics in the format’s namesake. Tribute paid. The American defeated GM Boris Spassky at the height of the Cold War.
Nakamura won $150,000 for winning the event while the rest of the $400,000 prize pool was split among the other participants.
In the consolation matches, GM Magnus Carlsen rounded out the podium by overpowering world rapid champion GM Nodyrbek Abdusatorov, overcoming a 1-0 deficit in the process.
He played brilliantly all week and won the final Armageddon tiebreak against Nepo to secure the title! 👏 pic.twitter.com/ZwhA0FyacQ
— Chess.com (@chesscom) 30 October 2022
For Nakamura and Nipomanyachi, the final day of the Fischer Random World Championships would culminate in the first world title for either player, and tension was high as the clocks struck at 3pm local time.
The starting positions for the first two games were relatively straightforward. Key features include a queen in the corner and a bishop remaining on their normal squares.
Nakamura, playing with the black pieces, quickly took command of the center and pushed Nipomanyachi back. Unable to gain the initiative from Nakamura, Nipomanyachi eventually adopted a maneuver that saw him lose a piece.
Although the early loss hurt his chances of securing the title, Nipomaniachi was well aware that a comeback was possible after his sensational comeback against Carlson in Saturday’s semifinals.
In the second game, Nakamura was able to switch to a position that resembled his trusty Nimzowitsch-Larsen opening, which he has used to great effect in online tournaments over the years. By move 40, Nakamura had gained a +2.5 advantage but instead of pressing for the win, he chose to repeat the move.
With the pressure firmly on his shoulders, Nipomanyachi struck at the perfect time in game three and handed 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 level the score taking the queen’s side attacking lines into the final regulation game.
Nakamura stunned the audience in the fourth game when he offered a draw on move 15 after an early draw with the black pieces, prompting commentator Hess to question: “They’re 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 round four.
“They’re allowed to offer raffles?!” –@GM_Hess
– ChesscomLive (@ChesscomLive) 30 October 2022
A bidding process took place to decide who would play which color in the tiebreaker. Nepomniachtchi won the bid to play with black with draw odds and 13 minutes left on the clock to Nakamura’s 15. The final starting position was announced shortly thereafter, and players had five minutes to strategize.
Nepomniachtchi looked to be in control of the Armageddon game early on after trading an opposite-colored bishop in the middle game, but Nakamura muddied the waters and stormed home to win his first World Championship title. GM Rafael Leitao explains our play of the day below.
Nakamura celebrated the historic victory, as many are expecting at this point, with a quick YouTube video covering his games! At the end of the video, he mentions that he will soon be traveling to Toronto where he will compete in the Chess.com Global Championship Finals. Given his astronomical performance rating of 2924 (based on FIDE Rapid Ratings) for this tournament, Nakamura is undoubtedly one of the favorites to win in Toronto as well.
In addition to the title clash, three consolation matches took place in Reykjavík on Sunday to decide the final order for the rest of the field. After a disappointing semi-final loss, Carlsen found himself in trouble early against Abdulsaturov and lost the first game after the Uzbek GM cleverly trapped his bishop.
Carlsen eventually fought his way back into the match and onto the podium, defeating Abdulsaturov 3–1. Overall, the world champion was clearly not in his best form but will have two more chances to take the world championship titles in December at the World Blitz and Rapid Championships.
GM Vladimir Fedoseev moved up his ratings, sending defending champion GM Wesley So up two points to fourth, while GMs Matthias Bluebaum and local Hjorvar Gretarsson finished seventh and eighth, respectively.
This year’s Fischer Random World Championship has reignited the debate about the future of chess and provided a refreshing step away from the close-quarters performances of the world’s elite in classical competitions. As Nepomaniachi graciously tweeted after losing his match on Sunday, the chess world “hopes to see more Fischer Random tournaments in the future.”
Logic is hardly ever found in Armageddon games. But instead it has its own logic.
Hope to see more Fisher Random tournaments in the future.
Congratulations to @GMHikaru!
— Yan Nepomaniachi (@lachesisq) 30 October 2022
The Fischer Random World Championship, brought to you by the Government of Iceland and the City of Reykjavik, brings together top players from around the world to compete in a series of classical Fischer Random games for their $400,000 prize fund and the FIDE Fischer Random World Championship. can participate in the title of The champion Fisher Random (also known as Chess 960) is a type of chess where 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 setups. Strongly supported by 11th World Champion GM Bobby Fischer, the preparation of various aspects to highlight the players’ true understanding of chess.