Blitzcoin Invitational Day 4: Naroditsky, Liang in the final


Day four of the Blitzcoin Invitational saw two semi-final matches, with the four fastest and most stubborn players competing for places in the final match.

Seeded GM Daniel Naroditsky defeated fastest ball player GM Andrew Tang, while GM Awonder Liang won his match against IM Justin Wang to advance to Sunday’s game against Naroditsky.

Not only did fans and spectators appreciate the fact that America’s most talented and seasoned young players face each other on Saturday, but also those who don’t find the ball as tasty as the blitz had some nice news to come: in the semi-finals, as there are only two matches instead of four, the format would be different.

Concretely, instead of two bullet games followed by one hour of chess with a time control chosen by the winner of a mini-match bullet, the opponents would instead play two hours of chess: the winner of the mini-bullet. match would choose the control time for the first hour, while the loser would choose the return match format. Above all, blitz games would have twice the weight. This meant that players who are better at slower time checks would have a good chance. In particular, many were curious how this would affect the first match between Naroditsky and Tang.

Tang won the first ball match with a nice combination, which guaranteed him the right to choose the first time check as he was the lowest rated participant in the match.

The second game was more of a formality, but Naroditsky immediately fought back and won a cute figure.

At this point, commentators, FM Pierre Giannatos and Chessbrahs star GM Aman Hambleton were speculating on which time control would be chosen. It’s no secret that Tang likes the bullet, but they thought both parties would be interested in the bullet at some point. However, if Tang were to choose 3/0 in the first leg, what would stop his opponent from seeking 5/0 time control in the second half, especially since many believe Naroditsky is a best blitz player?

Their morbid curiosity was quickly satisfied, as Tang chose the ball as planned, and the biggest game of the entire tournament so far has begun.

Naroditsky took the lead by confidently winning the first two games; however, it did not last too long, as his opponent immediately caught up: 2-2. Then the grandmaster who had just beaten GM Fabiano Caruana in the United States Championship a few weeks ago replied by winning three times in a row: 5-2. The opponents then traded a series of shots, which resulted in a score of 7.5-5.5.

In a ball game, a two-point lead doesn’t mean much, so a player needed a winning streak. And the one who got it was Naroditsky: he scored 5.5 / 6 in the following games, which gave him a very convincing seven-point advantage: 13-6.

With only about 25 minutes, the situation was rather alarming for Tang. Indeed, he never managed to catch up: when the time for the ball part was up, the scoreboard showed 24.5-12.5 in favor of Naroditsky. Some games are very informative: for example, here is a quick and decisive king’s wing attack made possible by a typical sacrifice.

Importantly, blitz wins are each worth two points instead of one, which meant that in order for Tang to equalize the match, he had to win the blitz game with a six-point advantage, which would be just enough to make up for his delay of 12 points. additional bullet losses. Not an easy task overall, and even more difficult when there is only an hour.

At the start of the blitz, Naroditsky reduced his opponent’s chances of success by winning the first two blitzes. With a score of 28.5-12.5, Tang needed eight (!) Blitz wins with 50 minutes remaining, which was nearly impossible.

The final score of 45.5-17.5 shows the absolute dominance of Naroditsky, which is a scenario that has occurred in all of his matches so far: the opponents have never had the advantage, and he doesn never seemed like he was in danger. A fantastic result, especially considering Tang’s incredible speed and experience on the ball. Naroditsky advances to the final not only with a good mood, but also with a huge psychological advantage: for anyone it would be very difficult to compete with an opponent who dominated the peloton by such a huge margin.

The next game looked very promising: Liang was the highest rated, most successful and most experienced player, but Wang had already beaten two GMs on the way to the semi-finals and had earned a reputation as a highly skilled tactician and a very dangerous ball player.

Liang won the first two games very convincingly, being ahead of both the clock and the board the entire time. Unsurprisingly, he opted for the ball as time control for the first leg.

Although he lost those warm-up matches in a somewhat depressing way, Wang was the first to score in the live match beautifully coordinating three minor plays against his opponent’s queen. As the commentators have pointed out, it is very difficult to use the queen successfully on the ball, as two or three pieces of an opponent are much easier to attack and create quick threats.

However, Liang responded with three straight wins. After another loss, he scored four more wins, bringing the score to 7-2. Let’s see how dramatic some matches have been, with both opponents having plenty of chances.

The fight was intense, but Wang never came close to equalizing the score. For example, with 20 minutes left in the game, Liang was leading 14-7.

Overall, the ball game ended with a score of 21-12 in favor of Liang. This meant Wang had to win five more blitz games to win the match, while four more wins would leave him one point short. As the difference was an odd number, a draw was virtually impossible at this point.

The leader started the blitz game strong by gaining three straight wins, which essentially buried the chances of Wang who at that point was eight behind in the blitz. He fought well; however, the outcome of the match was never really questioned. An hour later, Liang reached the final match with a 34-23 victory.

The last match on Sunday will pit Naroditsky against Liang. It’s probably fair to say that most think the former is the favorite, but Liang is an extremely strong and fast player, so the game will be incredibly exciting. Of course, what makes it even more exciting is that we will see the three (!) Time checks, and again the points will be weighed according to the control: 5/0 wins will count as three points, 3/0 will give the winner two points, while shooting wins will only be worth one point.

All matches of Day 4

Ranking after day 4

The fund for the price of a Bitcoin is provided by one of Daniel Naroditsky’s supporters: Chad Engan, also known as “Montanachess” on Twitch.

The 16 elite invited US Chess members will compete in blitz and bullet matches to see who wins. The event takes place from October 27 to 31.

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