The final of the IM Not A GM Speed Chess Championship takes place on Saturday, May 23 at 10 a.m. Pacific Time (19:00 CEST) between IM John Bartholomew and IM Alina Kashlinskaya. Here’s a preview, with profiles of the players and their route to the final.

The match between Bartholomew and Kashlinskaya will be broadcast live on Chess.com/TV with commentary by GMs Robert Hess and Daniel Naroditsky. In addition, a super grandmaster guest is likely to join the broadcast.

The players

Alina Kashlinskya

Kashlinskaya is a 26-year-old player from Moscow, Russia. She has held the Women Grandmaster title since 2009, and the International Master title since 2014. Before winning some major events, she took quite a few second places early in her career.

As early as 2003, when she was nine years old, Kashlinskaya won her first major prize with chess: the silver medal at the European Youth Championships in the Girls U10 category. Seven years later she gained another (individual) silver medal at the Olympiad in Khanty-Mansiysk.

She came second also at the 2011 World Youth Championships (Girls U18) and the 2012 Women’s World University Championship before finally clinching a first prize at the 2013 Russian Girls Championship.

Alina Kashlinskaya
Kashlinskaya at the 2018 Chess.com Isle of Man tournament. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

The 2018 Chess.com Isle of Man tournament was a big success for Kashlinskaya, who won the top women’s prize of £7,000, while her husband GM Radoslaw Wojtaszek won the main prize in the same tournament. An even bigger success came half a year later when she won the European Women’s Individual Championship.

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Kashlinkskaya said her game in the last round of Isle of Man (2018) against GM Sam Sevian was her best game so far.

In the IM Not A GM Speed Chess Championship, Kashlinskaya first defeated IM Christof Sielecki, who actually put up the toughest resistance (13-11), after which IM Eric Rosen (13-8) and IM Teddy Coleman (17.5-6.5) were dispatched with even bigger numbers.

John Bartholomew
33-year-old Bartholomew, from Minnesota (USA), is an International Master since 2006. At the age of 15 he won his first major prize as the winner of the 2002 National High School Chess Championship.

While still playing occasionally, and having one grandmaster norm in the bag, Bartholomew has mostly focused on coaching in recent years, while also posting instructive videos on his YouTube channel that currently has 126K subscribers.

These days Bartholomew spends most of his time with Chessable, of which he is a co-founder and which was taken over by Play Magnus in September 2019.

About a year ago, he was inducted into the Minnesota Chess Hall of Fame.

Asked for his best game, Bartholomew chose this battle with GM Alexander Shabalov from 2003. The annotations are by himself—see also this blog.

Bartholomew reached the final with a big win against IM David Pruess (20-6), followed by another large margin of victory (15.5-7.5) against IM Lawrence Trent and then a similar score against IM Greg Shahade (15.5-6.5).

IM Not A GM Bracket

The match

Kashlinskaya will be playing the match from her home in Warsaw. “The same place where I’ve played all the matches. My husband will be in another room hopefully rooting for me,” she added. It’s hard to imagine him rooting for anyone else!

Bartholomew will be playing from his home in Minnesota, “with the big king trophy in the background, as usual!” he added. As for preparation, he plans to re-watch a bit of Kashlinskaya’s previous matches, and also “brush up on some openings, and try to get a good night’s sleep.”

Kashlinskaya about her preparation: “First of all, I have to confess because after my semifinal match I said that I will not be watching the match Bartholomew-Shahade, but it turned out that I was so curious that I watched it the next morning after the match.

“Apart from this, I will prepare as for the other matches—by checking my opponent’s games and revising some ideas, but the most important for me is my state of mind, so I will try to be in good shape.”

As for describing her opponent, Kashlinskaya strategically chose to remain brief: “I don’t like to speak about my opponents before the games, so I would limit myself by saying that it seems to me that John is a very solid player with good endgame technique.”

Bartholomew said about his opponent: “Alina is very good at seizing the momentum in a game match. I think she has excellent competitive instincts.”

As always, the match will feature 75 minutes of 5+1 blitz, 45 minutes of 3+1 blitz, and 25 minutes of 1+1 bullet chess.

“Before this event I thought that bullet is the most difficult for me, as I had almost no experience in it,” said Kashlinskaya. “But with every match, I like it more and more, so by now I can say that I feel comfortable with every time control.”

Bartholomew: “I’d say 3+1, as this is also the Titled Tuesday time control. It’s also time control that nicely balances speed and sound decision-making.”

Don’t miss the final of IM Not A GM Speed Chess Championship, on Saturday, May 23 at 10 a.m. Pacific Time (19:00 CEST) on Chess.com/TV with commentary by GMs Robert Hess and Daniel Naroditsky.


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