Titled Tuesday
Chess.com’s Online Blitz Tournament

Blitz chess is the most exciting format of a chess game. Players usually have between 3 and 5 minutes for the entire game, and several times the game gets decided in wild time scrambles. The experience is extremely exhilarating for the players, and audience as well. With less time to think, the game is mostly played on intuition. I have an affinity for Blitz, and shorter time control in general, and incidentally learnt a few days ago that I am the #1 Junior (U21) Rapid Player (15 to 25 minute Time Controls) in the United States!

A few months ago, Chess.com started an online Blitz tournament for Titled players. Known as “Titled Tuesday,” the tournament occurs on the last Tuesday of each month, and attracts a pool of Titled Players, including several renowned GM’s, from all over the world. I decided to play the Titled Tuesday tournament yesterday, which turned out to be the strongest edition to date (probably because the prize fund increased from 1000$ to 2500$ 🙂 ). Hikaru Nakamura, the #1 US chess player, Maxime Vachier Lagrave (MVL), the #1 French player, Baadur Jobava, the #1 Georgian Player, who had already won 3 editions of the Titled Tuesday, were some of the prominent names who participated in the event. The time control was 3 minutes with a 2-second increment per move.

Since I recently started playing on Chess.com, my website blitz rating was 2196, which meant my starting rank was fairly low – 70 out of 100 players. I didn’t mind that, as it meant that I’d be playing more higher rated than lower rated. In round 1, I faced an IM rated 2500 (Chess.com Blitz rating) as Black. The game was uneventful, and ended in a boring draw. In R2, I faced Ukranian GM Vovk Andrey, rated 2642 FIDE. I blundered a pawn early on in the opening, although the computers say it was the best move! But he made an error, followed by the decisive mistake, and I won the game.

That set the tone for me, and I raced onwards to 5.5/6, defeating a Russian FM (anonymous), a French IM (anonymous), FM Eric Rosen (2299 FIDE)  from the United States, and Armenian GM Gevorg Harutjunyan (2459 FIDE) in a cliffhanger game.

I was now tied for second with 2 other GM’s, heading into the home stretch. In R7, I was White against the #1 French player MVL! I played poorly, and my opponent outplayed me and had a nearly-winning advantage. But then he made a blunder, and I realized that I might have a win, but messed up the move-order, and played a losing move instead. MVL found the only move that wins for him, and won the game shortly after.

I lost the 8th round to an IM from Argentina, but was able to rebound in the last round, and beat a very strong blitz player, GM Igor Kovalenko (2656 FIDE, 2700 FIDE Blitz!) as Black. I finished tied 3rd on points with 6.5/9, and 10th on tiebreaks. The tournament was won by GM’s Eltaj Safarli (2641 FIDE) from Azerbaijan, Jose Carlos Ibarra Jerez (2537 FIDE), and (of course) the #1 Georgian player, Baadur Jobava (2696 FIDE).

Overall, it was an extremely thrilling tournament, and I was happy with how I played. The next Titled Tuesday is on March 3 2:00 EST, so don’t forget to tune in then!

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