Rozman defeats Nemo: IMSCC 2022, Round of 16
The 16-game first round of this year’s I’M Not A GM Speed Chess Championship featured an exciting battle between two well-known names in the streaming chess community: IM Levy Rozman (GothamChess), the number one chess streamer on YouTube and last year’s IMSCC finalist, and WGM Nemo Zhou (aka Nemsko), the Canadian chess streaming star who also broadcast during the match.
Rozman won 19-4 after getting off to an incredibly strong start in the first two segments and stabilizing his advantage in the balls segment.
The next round of 16 between IMs Greg Shahade and Lawrence Trent will take place on May 11 at 11 a.m. PT / 8 p.m. CET.
The I’M Not A GM Speed Chess Championship (IMSCC) is an online event where some of the strongest IMs and other guest players compete in a series of speed chess matches. Each match consists of a 5+1 blitz segment, a 3+1 blitz segment and a 1+1 bullet segment, with the player who scores the most points winning the match. If there is a tie, the players play a four-game 1+1 match to determine the winner. If the tie persists, an Armageddon game with a bidding system decides the winner.
Blitz 5|1: Rozman-Nemo 6-1
The first and longest segment of the match began with three straight and convincing wins for Rozman. On paper, with American IM’s online blitz odds in the 2600s and Nemo’s in the 2300s, that would make sense, but the score doesn’t quite reflect the Canadian’s tenacity when fighting back in the worst positions.
In the very first game, for example, she got a bad position quite quickly on the black side of what is known today as Jobava London, but the game continued. At move 33, she finally had opportunities to complicate the game since Rozman did not find (the very difficult) 34.Ne5!. The possible variations would have been impossible to see in blitz, as the players both had less than 10 seconds each, but they were quite fun to analyze afterwards.
In game four, however, Nemo fired back to stop what threatened to become an insurmountable lead for Rozman. She created a passed outside pawn on the A-file and it proved to be stronger than Black’s middle pawns in the game.
The following clip was one of the most exciting games of the 5+1 game judging by the increasing volume of commentator voices. Nemo had defended with about two seconds on her clock for quite a long time until suddenly she was back in the game. At the very end, both players had a chance to win, and Rozman emerged victorious in what turned out to be a pure battle of nerves.
The running narrative of this segment was the story of Nemo’s missed opportunities, and there were certainly opportunities. In the following clip, the Grandmaster’s commentators concisely explain how she could have saved an ending:
Coming back from a 6-1 start would prove to be a Herculean task for Nemo, but not impossible, as shown in the recent match between GM Raunak Sadhwani and MI Mahammad Muradli in Junior Speed Chess Championship 2022.
Our SmarterChess predictions called for US MI to win the blitz segment 5-2, which Rozman outplayed. Although Nemo won the very first blitz time control match after Rozman incorrectly followed an (initially) sound queen sacrifice, she was unable to win another match after that despite promising positions on several occasions. .
As Rozman’s lead continued to grow, tilt began to seep in. As the score reached 2-0 for the international master in this segment, the next game featured a very quick loss after black grabbed the a2-pawn and obtained its queen. trap:
Nemo certainly had chances, like in the next match. She had a dominant position, but time problems allowed Rozman to play the revolutionary game…Rxe3 and ultimately snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat.
In the next game, Rozman came up with a nice combination starting with 23.Nxb6, exposing the black king completely on the queenside. After navigating difficult tactics once he allowed 26…Bb5—although the rating never went from a decisive advantage to White—he managed to checkmate the board.
After the next match, commentator Naroditsky exclaimed, “This match is spiraling out of control for Nemo.”
In the penultimate game, she was a piece with the white pieces and the rating bar was as white as snow, but Rozman still managed to complicate the game and scam a checkmate.
And in the last game of the segment, the position was completely locked and a proper breakthrough for either side would have been difficult to cobble together. Rozman, feeling the match’s psychological bias weighing heavily in his favor, opted for a dubious knight sacrifice which objectively speaking didn’t work out, but he still won the game.
It seemed that even when the games were happening, the finishing touch remained out of reach.
The ball segment featured Nemo’s best play in the match as she often played faster than her opponent and with more confidence than she did in any other segment, but Rozman’s overwhelming lead was already mathematically almost impossible to catch.
After Rozman won the first match, Nemo won the second, making it his third victory in the match. In an endgame where Rozman was leading a piece, she managed to capture all but one of her pawns (thereby increasing her chances of a draw), and some more imprecise moves from White in the time rush won her what Naroditsky called it “possibly the craziest bullet sequence I’ve ever seen.”
The penultimate game provided the funniest moment of the day as commentators completely lost their minds over the ensuing blunder before the kick off, with Naroditsky unable to keep his place.
In the post-match interview, Rozman shared his expectations for the match, “I was watching Nemo’s openings before the match. And so she has the style of play which is the worst for me, which is [to] playing the same openings every game and being bored to death…so I tried to go for lines that weren’t too dumb, at least down to the ball.”
Nemo, who also joined the interview afterwards, said: “I think the result of the match could have been closer if I had done much better…in the time rush situations.”
All matches – Round of 16
I am not a GM Speed Chess Championship 2022 Bracket
The I’M Not A GM Speed Chess Championship (IMSCC) 2022 is an online event where some of the strongest IMs compete in a series of speed chess matches. The event runs from May 9 to June 15, with players vying for their share of the $10,000 prize and the world’s fastest IM title.