Nakamura tops Carlsen in blitz final!

GM Hikaru Nakamura

America’s #1 player Hikaru Nakamura is riding a successful year with several strong results including the U.S. Championship title and victories in San Sebastian and Mainz. He flamed out in Melody Amber after falling ill and finishing with a horrible score, but stated that December would be a pivotal moment for him and he looked forward to the challenge facing him at the BNbank Blitz Battle and the London Chess Classic. The biggest challenge of the tournament would no doubt come from hometown favorite Magnus Carlsen, the overwhelming winner of the Tal Memorial blitz tournament.

The tournament had two brackets in which both Nakamura (21) and Carlsen (19) dominated the field. Carlsen waltzed through the preliminaries with 5.5/6 and then beat Jon Ludwig Hammar 2.5/3 and blanked Sweden’s Emmanuel Berg 3-0. Nakamura simply demolished all of his competition winning the preliminaries with 6/6 and beating both Kjetil Lie and Peter Heine Nielsen 3-0. That set the stage for a Carlsen-Nakamura clash (three minutes apiece and two seconds extra per move).

There has been a lot of buzz lately on Carlsen’s 2800 rating and his ascendancy as the “hier apparent” to World Champion, Viswanathan Anand. While blitz cannot is not the sole determinant of strong play, this match captured worldwide interest.

Nakamura told The Chess Drum a week prior to the tournament that he was confident in his chances. Arguably the strongest blitz Internet player vs. the winner of the powerful Tal Memorial the two sat down to begin battle. This time Nakamura prevailed 3-1 in what will prove to become a heated rivalry.

Open game scores in separate window!

Game One

Game Two

Game Three

Game Four

Videos courtesy of MrGaarder.


  1. Why isn’t Nakamura invited to the World Blitz Championships? Beating Carlsen in a match is a major statement. Can he do the same at classical time controls?

  2. Nakamura is already known as one of the strongest blitz players in the world (and the highest rated on all Internet servers). We’ll find out at the London Classic, but he’s had a great year.

  3. Naka has the focus and the intensity to climb to the top of the world chess ladder. He is just now getting the attention that he deserve. Carlsen won the world blitzs championship by beating everyone with a 3 point margin (Anand was even 3 points behind Carlsen and 3 points ahead of the rest of the field) and some else comes back few weeks later to beat Carlsen with a 3 to 1 margin and this is not a big deal? Of course this is huge. Nakamura is not going away anytime soon and his best days of chess is yet to come. Everyone is scratching their heads whether it was an oversight not to have invited Nakamura to the world blitzts championship in the first place. He will be there next year. Congratulations Naka.

  4. great job naka!!! im sure everyone in the states including my self are happy for you. we as fans need to stop riding on your blitz results as a promise of your future. you need you to take out the big guns.
    the result should not shock anyone cause naka has spent more time playing blitz than most people what will be surprising is if he can knock out some of the big boys the way carlsen has and do it playing great chess. if he fails to do this then he may only be a footnote in the pages of chess history. the time is now hikaru nakamura

  5. Well… he has to get the invitations in order to accomplish what you are saying. Carlsen has gotten all the top invitations since he was 15-16. Nakamura never got these chances and players like Wesley So and Parimarjan Negi will not have the same opportunities either. Carlsen benefits from geographic proximity and a very good manager, his Dad.

  6. well he is young and he has time. he is very promising i feel he will be a serious contender on the top level for a long time. Excuses however will not propel him into the top or gain the invitations needed.

  7. Here is Nakamura’s synopsis of the match…

    Overall, I felt that my play was pretty good; unfortunately, the finals were a bit of a letdown for me personally. Having played so well and calmly throughout every game up until that point, it is hard to improve. Putting that aside, I felt that I was a bit too nervous and was not ready to up my play to the next level. Luckily, I calmed down and soundly outplayed Magnus in games 3 and 4. Objectively, I think the score should have been 2-2 but I am still happy that I won. For me, this was a nice victory, but I am looking forward to London a lot more and hope to put together a strong tournament there. Last but not least, I would like to thank the organization of the tournament and the sponsor BN Bank for putting together a great tournament as well as Dag Danielsen and Oystein Brekke for their involvement as well.

    11/30/2009 6:27 AM

    Carlsen also discusses the final match…

    Having enjoyed a relatively quiet week after returning from Moscow, I played the BNBank Blitz tournament staged at the Oslo Central station yesterday. In addition to 10 invitees, the 16 player field included 6 regional qualifiers. In the initial group play it took some time to get warmed up, but I got through to the quarterfinals fairly easy. After beating my friend and the second ranked Norwegian player Jon L.Hammer in the quarter final in a match that was more balanced than the numbers 2.5-0.5 indicates, I played quite well against Emanual Berg, the highest rated Swede, in the semifinal and won 3-0. American blitz specialist Hikaru Nakamura convincingly won all his initial games including a 3-0 victory against the top Danish player Peter H.Nielsen in the semi’s. In the final I managed to play quite well initially winning the first game with black and getting a totally winning position in the second game. I still don’t fully understand how I managed to lose the 2nd game in the end. It was certainly not my day. I went on to lose the third game and squandered a comfortable advantage in the 4th. In a must win situation I avoided repetitions and lost in the end. Hence Nakamura won the final 3-1. My congratulations. Next week I’ll start preparations for the London Classic starting December 8th. Magnus Carlsen

    2009-11-29 21:42:09

  8. @Daaim Shabazz: Your excuses are horrible. Carlsen is on his way to a historical chess career and you make petty excuses and explanations. The London chess tourney proved how inferior Naka still is in classical chess. He is a VERY promising talent, but making excuses for him is just horrible. Magnus comes from a country with absolutely no history of chess accomplishments. His rise can not be attributed to “his dad”. He started playing at a late age (compared to russians) and with far less support from mighty clubs you will find in Moscow etc. When, in a few years, he (possibly) becomes the youngest WC, blitz WC and strongest rated GM in history… what then? Was it “his dad” or his “location” which propelled him to the top?

  9. Johan,

    I’m not sure what excuses your are referring to. He won a blitz match and that is what this article said. You responded to this post more than a month late and have the benefit of hindsight. This article was written before the London Classic. You say Nakamura is inferior in classical, but he is 2708 in classical. Is that a poor level? Not to most players and fans. If you are saying he is inferior in classical to blitz I would say you are correct.

    No… Carlsen’s rise cannot be attributed solely to his Dad, but that has played a major part in his success. Nakamura’s Dad also played a role in his success. I’m not sure why you belittle the contribution of Magnus’ Dad (Henrik Carlsen) who has made tremendous sacrifices for Magnus to travel and to get training from several Norwegian masters including GM Simen Agdestein.

    Carlsen only recently got a sponsor and got very little financial support from his federation, according to his Dad. The rest is his immense talent and hard work. There is no belittling Carlsen here. Why do you think giving credit to his father was taking away from Magnus? It is a good chance he will eclipse 2851, but it will be very difficult to maintain the 2800 level.

    When and IF Carlsen becomes World Champion, his Dad will still have been a major factor in his success. You can never that away from Henrik. Also geography has provided Magnus with more opportunities for strong competition. Anyone in chess understands that you have to play in Europe to get the highest level. There are few opportunities for strong tournaments in the Americas (South and North).

    What are the excuses you mention?

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