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31 Oct, 2022 10:01

Russian grandmaster suffers ‘Armageddon’ defeat

Ian Nepomniachtchi was beaten by rival Hikaru Nakamura in their final in Iceland
Russian grandmaster suffers ‘Armageddon’ defeat

Russian chess grandmaster Ian Nepomniachtchi fell to defeat against American rival Hikaru Nakamura in the final of the 2022 FIDE Fischer Random World Championship in Reykjavik, losing a tense ‘Armageddon’ playoff after the match ended 2-2 on Sunday.

Nepomniachtchi, 32, had beaten five-time world champion Magnus Carlsen in the semifinals on Saturday but fell just short against Nakamura in a close contest in the Icelandic capital.

With the match deadlocked after four games, an ‘Armageddon’ playoff – a type of sudden death tiebreaker in which the players draw lots to determine which color they play – ended with Nakamura clinching the title with the white pieces.

It was a first world title for Nakamura, 34, at an event which was being held in Iceland to commemorate the iconic 1972 meeting in Reykjavik, when America’s Bobby Fischer defeated Soviet star Boris Spassky to win the world title.

The FIDE Fischer Random World Championship is named in honor of Fischer, and is based on the variation of chess which he created – also known as Chess960 – in which the starting positions of the players’ home ranks is randomized.

Sunday’s result was disappointing for Nepomniachtchi, although he congratulated the victor in a social media message.

“Logic could hardly ever be found in the Armageddon games,” tweeted the Russian.

“But this, in turn, has its own logic. Hope to see more Fischer Random tournaments in the future. Congrats to [Nakamura]!”

Nepomniachtchi will take home $85,000 for his second-place finish, while title winner Nakamura pockets $150,000.

Meanwhile, Norwegian world champion Carlsen – who had been beaten 3-1 by Nepomniachtchi in their Fischer Random semifinal on Saturday – ensured third place with a comfortable 3-0 win over Uzbek teenager Nodirbek Abdusattorov.

Carlsen had been due to defend his world title against Nepomniachtchi next year, after the Russian won the FIDE Candidates tournament in July.

However, Carlsen later announced that he was lacking the motivation for sixth world title match, having defeated Nepomniachtchi in the 2021 World Championships last December.

Instead, Nepomniachtchi will play Ding Liren for the title, after the Chinese player finished runner-up at the Candidates tournament.           

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