London Grand Prix, Round 10: Five Draws and a Nakamura Win
Tuesday, October 2, 2012 at 4:51PM
Dennis Monokroussos in Hikaru Nakamura, London Grand Prix

All the leaders wound up drawing their games, but the one and only win in the penultimate round of the London Grand Prix was noteworthy. After four consecutive losses, Hikaru Nakamura defeated Anish Giri, and did it with a very nice combination coming soon to a tactics book near you. Ironically, he met Giri's Petroff (draw, anyone?) with 5.Qe2 (I'll see your draw and raise you to a boring draw), but he didn't do so to end the game but to avoid heavy theory. Nevertheless, Giri handled the position better until move 22 and in the players' opinion, stood better. Had Black played 22...Rd4, Nakamura said he would have played for a draw; instead, 22...Nd5 helped White, and soon Nakamura was the one pressing for whatever was there.

The next moment singled out by the players afterwards was when White played 28.h4. Giri opined that he should have played "like everyone else" (either his exact words, or very close) and erected the standard defensive setup with ...h5 and ...g6. Failing to do so let White tighten his bind, though the game was still tenable at this point. The last position to note came after Nakamura's 46.Re1, when Giri played 46...Bd6-e5. This was a mistake, but why?

The solution is spectacular, and to cheer you up even more you've got a better chance of solving it than your computer. (I let Deep Rybka try it, and I think it might have finally worked it out at depth 29.) Here it is: 47.g5!! (not for the move by itself, but for the whole concept) 47...hxg5 48.h6 gxh6 49.Rxe5 fxe5 50.f6 and White regains material with a won position. After 50...Bd7 (best) 51.f7+ Ke7 52.Bxd7 Black has a choice between a rook vs. two bishops ending (after 52...Kxf7) or trying his luck with pawns against a bishop (with 52...Kxd7 53.Bc5 followed by 54.f8Q). Giri went for the latter, but his kingside passers weren't enough of a distraction to save the game.

(Would 52...Kxf7 have saved the game? Mark Crowther apparently thinks so, but with all due respect to the chess world's most important amateur, I think he's guilty of looking superficially at the engine's initial evaluation. If you don't trust yourself enough to know that the bishop pair will massacre the rook, analyze with the computer for a few minutes and you'll see that it's utterly hopeless - Black has no chance whatsoever to save the ending.)

Tomorrow is the final round, and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov leads with 6.5/10, half a point ahead of Alexander Grischuk, Veselin Topalov and Boris Gelfand. Here are the pairings, with player scores in parentheses:

One final note: the last round starts two hours earlier than usual, at noon London time/7 in the bleary morning ET and 4 a.m. for you night owls on the west coast in North America.

Article originally appeared on The Chess Mind (
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