On Saturday GM Hikaru Nakamura won the 2020 Speed Chess Championship final presented by OnJuno. The American grandmaster decided matters in the bullet segment as he defeated GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave 18.5-12.5 to win his third Speed Chess title in a row.
Early in the competition, Nakamura stated that his half of the bracket was tougher than Carlsen’s. You could say that, after eliminating Carlsen, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave was actually the one having survived the toughest half. The big question was: could he do it again in the final?
Up until the third bullet game, the answer was “yes” as the Frenchman with three names was actually leading by a point there. That’s how close things were.
However, where Carlsen clearly had an off-day, Nakamura didn’t. The American GM got himself together, rose to the occasion, and won five games in a row there to decide the match in his favor and claim his third title in as many years.
“It was a very tense and very difficult final match,” Nakamura said afterward. “I think there were a few critical moments where both Maxime and I had a chance to maybe take a big advantage which could have perhaps been insurmountable. But it remained very close and in the end, I was just able to keep it together and play a couple of good bullet games.”
Nakamura pointed out that Vachier-Lagrave was basically an equal opponent until just a few games before the end: “It was very evenly balanced. Maxime played extremely well so a lot of credit to him for playing a fantastic match.”