Four points down in the match and three going into the bullet portion, Jan-Krzysztof Duda prevailed in the end. On Friday he eliminated world number-four Anish Giri from the Speed Chess Championship in the fourth match of the round of 16.
“I am thinking what went wrong because the match was sort of mine for the taking,“ Giri said in the post-match interview. “Probably Jan-Krzysztof tricked me by playing very bad in the first two segments, and then his level of play in the bullet increased dramatically. In the first part he was giving me so many chances. In some ways he spoiled me a little bit. I lost the sense of danger to some extent.”
Using the handle @Polish_fighter3000, Duda took a long run-up as he lost both the 5+1 and the 3+1 segments but came back in the bullet to win with the smallest possible margin. After kicking out Sergey Karjakin and Alexander Grischuk last year, Duda defeated yet another world-class grandmaster.
After four draws it was Duda who opened the score in the match with a crushing attack on the kingside. His last move was the prettiest of several winning possibilities.
Giri won the next convincingly, but in game seven Duda got a great opportunity to take the lead again. Black had blundered a fork on e7, so the Polish player needed only to find the basic tactic 44.Qxc6… but he didn’t!
As the players were visible via their webcams, it was clear that Giri noticed the tactic, and it was good for him that his opponent couldn’t see him! Duda soon erred again and even lost this one.
The next fragment highlights the excellent tactical skills of co-commentator GM Robert Hess, who immediately spotted a Puzzle Rush-like tactic. In this phase the players were handing all kinds of “unwanted gifts” to each other.
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The three-minute portion went even worse for Duda, who later said: “I was very lucky that I managed to play reasonably well in the bullet because, especially in the 3+1 section, I was playing… close to beginner, I think. It was a disaster.”
He surely meant the following game as one example, where he first blew a winning rook endgame (see the instructive rook maneuver in the annotations!) and then, when Giri blundered himself, he missed a mate in five and allowed a stalemate.
In the following game Giri successfully confused his opponent with a somewhat speculative but very practical piece sacrifice:
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Because the players each started with a win in the bullet segment, Duda was still three points down. That’s when everything turned around.
After the Polish GM took off his headphones (apparently not happy with the music) and changed his shirt, he won four games in a row—the biggest streak in the match. He won the third game despite completely missing that his opponent left another piece hanging.
Giri: “It seems you can give a couple of pieces and still win the match!”
Duda had taken over but by a small margin only. After 26 games he was leading 13.5-12.5, and the next game was crucial for the match. Giri went for a knight sacrifice on g3 for two pawns, and his attack seemed very strong. What followed was a comedy of errors typical of bullet chess, and it was Giri who made the final mistake:
With almost no time left on the match clock, the last bullet game didn’t matter anymore as Duda had a two-point lead. Giri did win the last one, but when their new game was aborted, he realized he had lost the match.
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Giri said: “To be honest I don’t remember a single game that I played today. That probably goes to show how concentrated I was during the games.”
He earned $482 based on win percentage. Duda picked up $1,000 for overall match victory and an additional $518 on win percentage. The Polish GM will face the winner of Hikaru Nakamura vs. Vlad Dobrov, scheduled for Oct. 3.
With Nakamura being the heavy favorite, Duda commented on meeting him: “I played many times against him online and I lost like 15-0 or something in 1+0 bullet. I’ve played a match against him in St. Louis, so I am more used to him, but obviously he is much stronger than me.”
The following matches are scheduled after the upcoming FIDE World Cup:
- Oct. 1, 9 a.m. Pacific (noon Eastern, 18:00 CEST) Aronian vs. Firouzja
- Oct. 2, 9 a.m. Pacific (noon Eastern, 18:00 CEST) Mamedyarov vs. So
- Oct. 3, 9 a.m. Pacific (noon Eastern, 18:00 CEST) Nakamura vs. Dobrov
The time and date for the match Artemiev vs. Grischuk will soon be announced.
The live broadcast for replay.
All games of the match for replay.