GM Wesley So defeated GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda in a Speed Chess Championship match that was tight in the beginning and tight in the end, but it was a tour de force by So in the middle. With the exception of World Champion Magnus Carlsen and GM Hikaru Nakamura, So is the most accomplished player in Speed Chess Championship history, and with this victory, he has advanced to the semifinals where he will face the winner of the match between Nakamura and GM Vladimir Fedoseev.
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So and Duda had played one previous Speed Chess Championship match in 2018, and So won convincingly, 20-7. Two years later, Duda is a considerably more accomplished player and no longer a junior. Would his performance against the reigning U.S. champion be superior this time around?
In general, yes, Duda performed much better. The final score of 16-10 was certainly closer, and Duda even leaped out to an early lead of 2.5-0.5. He ultimately drew the 5|1 time control (4-4) and won the 1|1 time control 5-4, but in the 3|1 time control, So was simply untouchable. He won 7 games and drew only two for a point total of 8-1. After the match, commentator GM Robert Hess said that So was “the best player in the entire world in the 3|1 time control.” Given that So has defeated both Carlsen and Nakamura in this time control, Hess has good supporting evidence for this bold claim