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Monday, July 22, 2024

Nakamura seals first Champions Chess Tour title with last-gasp win


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Bern: U.S. star Hikaru Nakamura came out on top in a thrilling last gasp Grand Final of the Chessable Masters to seal his first Champions Chess Tour title.

The 35-year-old, playing from Sunrise, Fl, was in full beast-mode as he launched an all-out assault on fellow American Fabiano Caruana, the previously unbeaten tournament leader.

Caruana fought back to take it to an Armageddon tiebreak, but it was not enough as Nakamura recovered from a blunder to push one last time and win the tournament overall. Nakamura takes home a $30,000 top prize and a ticket to the Champions Chess Tour Finals.

Caruana had gone into the final unbeaten and needing just one match win while Nakamura needed to win twice due to the double-elimination format.

Yet a win against Nakamura is never easy and he was too strong. Few will argue against him being a deserved winner. Caruana had no answer in the first match, the Grand Final proper, as Nakamura fired all cylinders to race to a 3-1 win.

Nakamura, who knocked out World Champion Magnus Carlsen the day before, now needed to keep his hot streak going and beat Caruana again in a two-game Reset.

With momentum behind him, Nakamura went ahead in the first game before Caruana rallied to take the second with a brilliant queen sacrifice and send it to the Armageddon tiebreak.

Nakamura ended with a flourish, pinning Caruana’s bishop in front of his king with 51.Rd2! and then 53.Ne3 to overwhelm his opponent. Nakamura had come back through the Losers Bracket to win the event overall.

Nakamura said afterwards: “I think I gave myself maybe a 20% chance of coming back, but I think that for Fabiano it was all about the first match and once the first match didn’t go so well I think the momentum was definitely in my favour.”

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