International Chess Federation
Wednesday, 03 Jun 2020 18:06
Lindores Abbey: Fast and furious Dubov rules supreme

Russian hot-shot Daniil Dubov is chess24's 2020 Rapid Challenge champion after winning one of the best online super-tournament finals ever seen today.

The 24-year-old former World Champion in rapid Daniil Dubov bested the pre-match favorite Hikaru Nakamura in an intense winner-takes-all battle that finished in an Armageddon tiebreak. Dubov takes home the $45,000 top prize and has booked his place in the $300,000 Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour Grand Final. Nakamura received $27,000 for his effort. It was a phenomenal end to what has been a fascinating tournament as two noted speed chess specialists vied for supremacy.

Dubov went into the event having got to the final of the FIDE Steinitz Online Memorial where he was beaten soundly by World Champion Magnus Carlsen. However, in the preliminary stage of the Rapid Challenge Dubov exacted sweet revenge on his friend - despite only just scraping into the last 16. Carlsen, meanwhile, was eventually knocked out by Nakamura. 

Now in the knockout, Dubov went on to hit top form as he destroyed countryman Sergey Karjakin in the quarters and after that Chinese number 1 Ding Liren in the semis. On the first day of the final against Nakamura, however, Dubov - as in the Steinitz event - appeared outclassed and nervy as he suffered a nightmare start. 

But on the second the super-sharp young Russian recovered his composure to take the match to a decider. Going into today, Nakamura had looked refreshed and well prepared having revealed he had taken the night off from streaming chess to his army of fans. 

Nakamura's preparation showed in game 1, as the American neutralized his opponent and made a draw from the position of strength. However, game 2 sent shockwaves that fired the match into life. Nakamura appeared better out of the opening and Dubov was behind on time in a dangerous position.  

But then at the key moment in the endgame, Nakamura appeared to lose concentration. A series of small inaccuracies followed and Hikaru lost the thread and then the game. Game 3 was vital. Nakamura could not lose and had to bounce back with the Black pieces. And - showing incredible poise under pressure - he did it. 

One of the commentators, Peter Svidler said: "This is tremendously impressive from Hikaru considering what happened in game 2. This is an unbelievable level of mental fortitude being displayed." 

Game 4 was another draw that took the final - and $45,000 top prize - to an Armageddon play-off and it was Dubov who kept his cool when it mattered.

Dubov said "it’s a relief" and described the tournament as a "wonderful journey". "Throughout the match, I had the feeling that he's [Nakamura is] absolutely sure he'll win the Armageddon with Black," he added.  "Today was not our typical match. Normally he plays better and I'm better prepared, but today was the opposite." It was a fitting end to a phenomenal contest. 

The event, part of the Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour, has been put on in association with the Lindores Abbey Heritage Society, which maintains the historic site in Scotland. 

The remaining schedule for the Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour is as follows:

  • June 20 – July 5 | Online Chess Masters | $150,000
  • July 21 – August 5 | Legends of Chess | $150,000
  • August 9 – 20 | Grand Final | $300,000

Highlights English 

Leon Watson
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