International Chess Federation
Thursday, 17 Feb 2022 19:50
Hikaru Nakamura wins first leg of FIDE Grand Prix 2022

IM Michael Rahal, World Chess — BERLIN, Germany, February 17th, 2022 – Hikaru Nakamura won the first leg of the FIDE Grand Prix Series 2022, organized by World Chess, in a thrilling tiebreak. The US Grandmaster won 13 Grand Prix Points and is now a favourite to qualify for the Candidates Tournament. Nakamura also took home €24,000 in prize money.

This victory has propelled Hikaru to 1st place in the FIDE Grand Prix Series 2022. The next stages will take place in Belgrade (Serbia) and Berlin (Germany). After the three tournaments, the two best players of the series will qualify for the Candidates Tournament. The winner of that event will challenge current Champion Magnus Carlsen in the next World Championship match.

This afternoon's tiebreaks were dramatic. Nakamura faced Levon Aronian, a formidable and seasoned opponent. Hikaru pulled ahead after the first game, winning a rollercoaster encounter. After a very well-played opening, Nakamura returned his extra pawn to go into a slightly better ending.

Aronian defended tenaciously and at some point even had the chance to draw, but with less than ten seconds on the clock, it was an uphill battle for him. With precise play, Hikaru forced a technically winning rook and pawn against rook ending, and Aronian's flag fell in a lost position.

Forced to go all-out in the second game, Aronian secured an opening edge in another slow Italian Opening. Things were going well for him, but he eventually overpressed, and Nakamura took home the game - and a 2-0 final result - with a fine rook manoeuvre creating a mating net. Both players were interviewed by FIDEs press officer Michael Rahal after the game and generously gave their impressions on the playoff and their future plans. You can watch the interview here.

The FIDE Grand Prix Series has become one of the most attractive chess events of this championship cycle, and has been covered by worldwide media such as Zeit, Spiegel, The Guardian and others. More than 400,000 people followed the exclusive broadcasts of the games from Berlin via and other streaming platforms.

During the event, the honoured guests who participated in the First Move Ceremony included Deutsche Bahn CEO Richard Lutz, President of the German Chess Federation Ulrich Krause and famous local artist Matthias Deutschmann.

GP points after the first leg:

1. Hikaru Nakamura, (USA), 2736 — 13 points

2. Levon Aronian (USA), 2772 — 10 points

3. Leinier Dominguez (USA), 2752 — 7 points

4. Richard Rapport (Hungary), 2763 — 7points

5. Wesley So (USA), 2772 — 4 points

6. Radoslaw Wojtaszek (Poland), 2686 — 4 points

7. Andrey Esipenko (Russia), 2714 — 4 points

8. Vidit Gujrathi (India), 2727 — 3 points

9. Daniil Dubov (Russia), 2720 — 3 points

10. Alexander Grischuk (Russia), 2764 — 2 points

11. Vladimir Fedoseev (Russia), 2704 — 2 points

12. Pentala Harikrishna (India), 2717 — 2 points

13. Grigoriy Oparin (Russia), 2681 — 0 points

14. Etienne Bacrot (France), 2642 — 0 points

15. Vincent Keymer (Germany), 2664 — 0 points

16. Alexei Shirov (Spain), 2704 — 0 points

Immediately after the final game of the tiebreak, the playing venue was prepared for the closing ceremony in which the champion and runner-up were officially awarded their winners medals by Ilya Merenzon, CEO Of World Chess and Ivan Syrovy, Chief Arbiter of the event.

Ilya Merenzon: "Hikaru Nakamura is an exceptionally talented player, and I congratulate him on his beautiful victory. Thanks to all participants for such a great tournament."

GM Hikaru Nakamura: "Definitely, I didn't prepare anything because I was not expecting to win. First of all, I would like to thank the organizers and arbiters. I want to thank the fans. They are very interested in chess and Germany has a long history with this great game and seeing them coming was very nice. And of course, to Levon, he played really well, he came a bit short to the last games, but I hope we both have chances to qualify for the Candidates. It was generally a great experience and looking forward to be back in Berlin in about three weeks. Thank you!"

The FIDE Grand Prix Series is brought to you by World Chess.

The principal sponsors of the event, helping to make this Grand Prix possible, are:

Kaspersky as the Official Cybersecurity Partner
Algorand as the Official Blockchain Partner
Prytek as the Technology Transfer Partner
FIDE Online Arena as the official Partner

Text: IM Michael Rahal

Photo: Official Photo FIDE Grand Prix Berlin Press Kit