The "appetizer" for the Norway Chess tournament has concluded, and did so most satisfactorily for Wesley So. As in the first pair of games of his match with David Navara, so too in the second: he drew (reasonably) comfortably with Black before winning with White. So seemed to be in good form, and is now up to #8 in the world.
Entries in David Navara (8)
So far, the match between Wesley So and David Navara is not looking good for the home player (Navara). In game 1 he had to eke out a draw with the white pieces, and today with Black he was suffering throughout on his way to a loss. Around move 40 they reached a rook ending where So had good winning chances, but it wasn't clear whether it would merit a full point.
The critical moment came on move 46. So had a choice between 46.Rb6, aiming to grab as many pawns as possible as quickly as possible, and 46.Ke4, intending to activate the king. After 46.Rb6 Rh1 47.Rxf6+ Kh5 48.Rxa6 Re3+ 49.Kf2 Rxd3 I believe Black's counterplay is enough. Either White will deal with Black's center pawns in such a way that he loses his queenside passers, or he lets them go and gives Black a lot of counterplay - possibly too much. Either way Black should hold, as the swap of both sets of passers results in a drawn ending - probably even without Black's h-pawn.
So (therefore) chose 46.Ke4, and now Navara had to play 46...Rh1, so that by taking on h4 his king could protect the f-pawn from g5. The position is drawn after this, and if White goes all out for Black's f-pawn he can even lose: 47.Kd5 Rxh4 48.Ke6 Kg6 49.Rg7+?! Kf4 50.Kxf6? Rh6+ 51.Ke7 Kxf5 may well be winning for Black. Perhaps Navara missed this last point with 50...Rh6+, or had faith in his counterplay with 46...Re1+. If the latter, his faith was misplaced, and So went on to win pretty quickly and easily - though Navara did get in a little joke with his last move (a cute if simple stalemate trap).
Game 1 of the four-game match between Wesley So and David Navara finished in a long draw. Navara had White in a sharp Sicilian, but the middlegame and any white edge disappeared after 18.Nf5? Black took over the c4 square, which in turn more or less entailed a series of exchanges resulting in an opposite-colored bishop ending that favored Black. So made Navara suffer for a long, long time, and it paid off for all of one move. Navara figured out the right setup to achieve a draw, but goofed in his initial execution of the idea. Navara needed to play 58.Bb6 and only next Kg6 (if necessary). Instead, he played 58.Kg6?, allowing Black a forced win with 58...f3 59.Bb6 Kf4 60.Kh5 (else ...g4-g3) 60...Bg4+ 61.Kg6 Bd7 (so that 62.Kh5 can be met by 62...Be8+ followed by ...g4-g3) 62.Bc7+ Ke4 63.Bg3 g4 and Black will follow up with ...Ke3 (or ...Kd3 in case of 64.Bf2) and ...f2, winning. Black's bishop protects the g-pawn and covers White's c-pawn from its diagonal, so the win is trivial from this point.
Fortunately for Navara, So missed his chance, and afterwards Navara gave him no further opportunities to win. After 94 moves, the game was drawn, and both players have something to be happy about and unhappy about going into tomorrow's game.
Hikaru Nakamura finished his 4-game match with David Navara on a high note, winning the game to complete a very convincing victory. (To Navara's credit, he maintained a sense of humor, setting up a self-mate on the final move.) With this success Nakamura picked up 12 rating points and has moved up to #5 on the live rating list. Well done!
After a couple of losses, David Navara at least got to do the pressing in game 3 of his four-game match with Hikaru Nakamura. Ultimately he won a pawn in a rook ending, but with limited material and all the pawns on the same side of the board it wasn't nearly enough to win. The match concludes tomorrow.
American #1 and world #7 Hikaru Nakamura is taking on Czech #1 and world #25 David Navara in a four-game match in Prague. Game 1 was today and was won by Nakamura with the black pieces.
I assume they'll play the fourth game in any case, but in the Cez Trophy match in Prague between Peter Svidler and David Navara victory has already gone to the former. He drew the first game and won both games two and three to clinch the match ahead of schedule.