GM Hikaru Nakamura of the USA made a triumphant return to his first love of online blitz at the weekend by winning the first prize of $600 in the 1st ICC Open.
Nakamura won the first of the four online qualifiers to be the top-seed and hot favorite in the eight-player knockout final that also included (in ICC blitz rating order) GM Simonian Hrair (Armenia), GM Eduardo Iturrizaga (Venezuela), GM Robert Hovhannisyan (Armenia), GM Dmitry Andrekin (Russia), GM Dmitry Bocharov (Russia), FM Conrad Holt (USA), and IM Levon Altounian (USA).
Nakamura - who played from Madrid, Spain, as he was en route to Romania for the upcoming Bazna tournament - easily progressed to the final by beating Hovhannisyan and Altounian. And he looked set for a comfortable win in the final against Hrair, but the young Armenian fought back to tie the pulsating match at 3-3. But Nakamura had more than just a little luck on his side as he went on to win the best-of-two-game tiebreaker to take the title by 4.5-3.5
A record-breaking 2,216 ICC members took part in the 1st ICC Open (Q1, 661; Q2, 441; Q3, 643; Q4, 471) that also included class prizes for those rated U2200, U2000, U1800 and U1600, the prize-winners of which will be announced shortly.