Lindores Abbey Rapid Challenge: Dubov nails Nakamura in a thriller, takes title

Daniil Dubov gains USD 45,000 and a place in the Grand Final in August.

Russian Grandmaster Daniil Dubov, winner of the Lindores Abbey Rapid Challenge on Wednesday. - NIKI RIGA   -  Special Arrangement

Less than two years after surprisingly becoming the World rapid champion, Daniil Dubov firmly established his credentials as the next big speed-chess player by nailing Hikaru Nakamura 3-2 to win the USD 150,000 Lindores Abbey Rapid Challenge chess title on Wednesday.

Dubov, victorious over Russian compatriot Sergey Karjakin and Chinese No. 1 Ding Liren in last two matches, gained USD 45,000 and a place in the Grand Final in August. Nakamura, conqueror of World champion Magnus Carlsen in the semifinal, got USD 27,000.

Down 0-2 before losing the first mini-match comprising best-of-four games, on Monday, Dubov snatched the second 2.5-1.5 on Tuesday to set up Wednesday’s decider.

After a 25-move draw, Dubov surged ahead for the first time, by winning the second game with black pieces, in 44 moves. Nakamura, the favourite, kept his cool and draw level by claiming the third in 53 moves. The drawn fourth game lasted 39 moves. “Today was not our typical match. Normally, he plays better and I’m better prepared, but today was the opposite,” explained Dubov.

In the deciding Armageddon clash, Dubov played white, with five minutes on the clock, as against four for Nakamura. Aware that a draw would give the title to Nakamura, Dubov laid an early trap and Nakamura fell for it. On the 12th move, Nakamura overlooked the danger following an immediate recapture of a minor piece. Dubov quickly seized the initiative and eventually tightened the noose in 45 moves.


In Dubov’s words, “It’s a relief,” following a “wonderful journey” to the title. “Throughout the match, I had the feeling that he (Nakamura) is absolutely sure he’ll win the Armageddon with black,” revealed Dubov.

Effectively, Nakamura’s early mistake cost him a whopping USD 18,000 - the difference between the top two prizes.

Dubov, steadily climbing the success-ladder after becoming a Grandmaster at 14, assisted Magnus Carlsen in the defence of the world title in 2018. Now 24, Dubov defeated Carlsen 1.5-0.5 and eventually finished runner-up to the World No. 1 in the online Steintz memorial tournament last month.

Final results (third mini-match)
  • Daniil Dubov (Rus) bt Hikaru Nakamura (USA) 3-2.

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