On his 33rd birthday, GM Hikaru Nakamura defeated Wesley So 13.5-12.5, thereby qualifying for Saturday’s final of the 2020 Speed Chess Championship. GM Magnus Carlsen and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave will play on Friday for the other spot in the final.
The Nakamura-So match was a repeat of both the 2018 and 2019 finals of the Speed Chess Championship as well as a recurrence of their recent encounter in the Skilling Open.
Nakamura lost that last one and had made it clear that he was out for revenge, after his win in the SCC quarterfinal: “Certainly, it’s payback time. I’m gonna be out for blood, I will say that much!”
The match was one of the closest of the championship so far, with the players still in a tie before the bullet segment. Nakamura expectedly made the difference in the 1+1 games but in the end, the margin was only one game.
It was So who started strongly in the five-minute segment. After two draws, he won both games that followed. To turn the tide, Nakamura decided to play a bit sharper. He chose the rare plan of castling queenside in the Italian and it worked out well.