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    Entries in Hikaru Nakamura (62)

    Saturday
    Dec132014

    London Chess Classic, Round 4: Nakamura Beats Adams; Kramnik & Giri Still Lead

    Another long day here, so I'm afraid that only a brief summary of the round 4 action from the London Chess Classic is forthcoming. (Sorry.) Vladimir Kramnik and Anish Giri, the leaders coming into the round (and exiting it as well) both enjoyed a small pull at varying times in their games, but neither could make anything of it. Kramnik enjoyed some extra space and a solid - or rather, solid-looking - center on the white side of a Gruenfeld against Fabiano Caruana, but a very nicely timed tactical sequence by the world's #2 allowed him to liquidate into a drawn ending. (The star move: 20...Nxd4!)

    Viswanathan Anand had a pull against Giri, but when he couldn't figure out how to make anything of it he had to switch over to defense. Ultimately he succeeded, and that game was drawn as well.

    With a win over Hikaru Nakamura Mickey Adams could have leapfrogged them into first place, but he was ground down very nicely by Nakamura. Nakamura is now within a point of the leaders, who play each other in the final round, with Giri having White. If they draw and Nakamura manages to beat Caruana, he'll end up in clear first. In fact the situation is a little complicated given the tournament's 3-1-0 scoring, and in fact every player except for Caruana(!) could still wind up at least tied for first! Here are the last round pairings, and the scores: 

    • Adams (4) - Anand (4)
    • Caruana (3) - Nakamura (5)
    • Giri (6) - Kramnik (6) 

    If either Giri or Kramnik wins, that player will take clear first. If they draw and Nakamura wins, then Nakamura takes clear first. If they draw and Caruana scores, then Adams or Anand could tie for first with a win. In case of a tie, who wins on tiebreaks?

    The first tiebreaker is number of games won. If Adams is in a tie for first, he wins, as he'll have two wins compared to Giri's and Kramnik's one. If Anand wins and ties for first, then he takes first by the second tiebreaker, which is wins with Black. (Giri & Kramnik both got their one win with White.) If Giri & Kramnik are the only ones in the first place tie, then they have to play an Armageddon game, as they are tied on all three tiebreakers (the third was head-to-head; they drew). In that game White will have six minutes plus an increment of two seconds per move while Black gets 5' + 2" and draw odds.

    Sunday
    Dec072014

    Nakamura Wins London Rapid; Giri Second

    The London Chess Classic Super Rapidplay was anyone's tournament through eight rounds, but Hikaru Nakamura took over in the last two rounds. In round 9 he had Black in a tough game against Fabiano Caruana. The position was more or less equal for most of the game, but Caruana got short of time and lost speedily. 46.Nxb3 was a mistake in what was still an equal position, but Caruana probably thought that after 46...axb3 47.Qe3 that he would round up the b-pawn. This was wrong for many reasons, not least due to the game continuation 47...b2 48.Qe1 Rd4 and White resigned. The problem is that 49.Qb1 will not win the pawn on account of 49...Rxe4 50.fxe4 Qf4+ followed by 51...Qc1, or more precisely ...Qc1 when it comes with check. (Thus if 51.g3, first 51...Qd2+ and then 52...Qc1+.)

    Nakamura finished the round in clear first, with only his last round opponent, Viswanathan Anand, within half a point. The opening was a success for Anand: a better, risk-free position with a time advantage to boot. He must have felt that the risk-free approach wouldn't give him any real winning chances, but the way he went about things was rather too crazy, and Nakamura won pretty easily. Nakamura finished with a massive 9.5/10 while Anand and many others finished with 8 points. (Others on that point total included Vladimir Kramnik, Fabiano Caruana, and the American GMs Daniel Naroditsky and Aleks Lenderman.) Anish Giri took clear second with 8.5 points, defeating the semi-unretired British player Matthew Sadler and giving him his only defeat of the tournament.

    A reminder: the blitz tournament to determine the pairings for the six player main event will be tomorrow, which will in turn begin on Wednesday after a rest day.

    Tuesday
    Nov252014

    St. Louis, Final Day: Nakamura Defeats Aronian in Blitz

    The "Showdown in St. Louis" between Levon Aronian and Hikaru Nakamura was tied after four classical games, so the winner in tonight's best-of-16 blitz match would win the event and $60,000, while the loser would "only" get $40,000. After a shaky first couple of games, Nakamura felt he got in the zone, while Aronian kept getting into time trouble and all the difficulties it tends to generate. Afterwards Aronian opined that while he's a good blitz player when it's 4'+2", 3'+2" - the time control used in this match - was a bit too fast for him. In the end Nakamura won 9.5-6.5, clinching match victory with two games to spare.

    In the GM norm event Sam Sevian drew his last game (a long game, not a quick handshake deal as in his previous game with the black pieces) and finished in clear first with 7.5/9, a ton of rating points and the grandmaster title. He is the youngest U.S. player to achieve the title, and the sixth-youngest of all time.

    Congrats to him, to Nakamura, and also to Michael William Brown who made norm in the concurrent IM norm event as well!

    Monday
    Nov242014

    St. Louis News, Day 4: Just Like Day 3

    In brief: game 4 of the match between Levon Aronian and Hikaru Nakamura was drawn, and thus they finished the classical portion of the match 2-2 - or rather, 8-8. (Classical games were worth 4 points each, while each blitz game tomorrow will be worth a single point.) That means that whoever wins the blitz part of their competition (16 games!) tomorrow will take match victory.

    Meanwhile, in the GM norm event 13-year-old Sam Sevian continues to make a mockery of the field. He took a very quick draw with Black in the morning round before dragging another bamboozled opponent to his death in his white game in the evening. His score is 7-1 and his TPR 2801. It isn't quite Fabiano Caruana at the Sinquefield Cup, but it's incredibly impressive all the same. With the white pieces he has been brutal, winning all five of his games; four with smashing attacks that went fewer than 40 moves.

    Sunday
    Nov232014

    St. Louis News: Nakamura-Aronian Draw Game 3, Sevian Keeps Rolling

    After a couple of wacky match games Hikaru Nakamura and Levon Aronian drew game 3, leaving their match tied 6-6 with one more classical game to go before the blitz battles on Tuesday. Even this game had some ups and downs though, with first Nakamura and then Aronian briefly enjoying a strong plus before equality was restored.

    In the concurrent GM norm tournament, 13-year-old Sam Sevian was slowed down briefly in the morning round, drawing a tough game with an IM before beating GM Ben Finegold in the evening round in yet another tactically flashy game. He has blown past the 2500 rating level he needed to achieve his GM title, and right now has a fantastic 2873 TPR. (It's amazing to think that's pretty much just another day at the office for Magnus Carlsen.) It will be exciting to see if he can maintain and increase the level of tactical savagery he has displayed in this tournament as he grows as a player.

    Saturday
    Nov222014

    Ongoing & Completed Events: St. Louis (x3), Ukrainian Championship, Tal Memorial Blitz

    The ongoing world championship match between Magnus Carlsen and Viswanathan Anand has drawn the lion's share of the chess world's attention the past couple of weeks, but some other interesting events have taken place in the meantime as well. Let's take a quick tour of the landscape.

    1. Aronian - Nakamura. This is the main event in St. Louis, a five day match with four classical games (worth four points apiece) followed by 16 blitz games (worth one point per game). Game 1 was won by Hikaru Nakamura, when Levon Aronian got into time trouble and lost what would normally be considered a very drawish position. Today the reverse happened: it looked like Nakamura wanted to squeeze blood from a stone, and to his surprise wound up in an ending that should still have been drawn but turned out to be more challenging. He lost, and so the match is tied 4-4.

    2. There are concurrent GM and IM norm tournaments in St. Louis, and the big story is taking place in the GM event, where 13-year-old Sam Sevian is about to earn - or perhaps, has now earned - his grandmaster title. He already had the three norms needed, and simply had to get his rating over 2500 at some point. He entered the tournament rated 2484, and his 4-0 start, including two wins over GMs, has brought him to the promised land. He won't be awarded the title on the spot, but he has now become the youngest American player in history to achieve the grandmaster title. Have a look at these two wins from the tournament, and you won't find his accomplishment at all surprising. Congratulations to him!

    3. The Ukranian Championship finished earlier today (yesterday now, for the Ukranians themselves), and after a dramatic last round Yuriy Kuzubov and Pavel Eljanov finished tied for first with 7.5 points out of 11, with Kuzubov finishing first on tiebreaks.

    4. Tal Memorial Blitz. This took place a week or so ago, but deserved to be mentioned. It was a 12 player double-round robin event spread over two days, and on day 1 Shakhriyar Mamedyarov had a fantastic score of 10/11, giving up just two draws. He received enough gifts for a couple of Christmases, and not all of them could be chalked up to his very great tactical resourcefulness. He had a big lead, but the next day he had only normal luck and scored just 6 points out of 11, but Alexander Grischuk couldn't quite catch up and finished half a point behind. Alexander Morozevich, Boris Gelfand and Sergey Karjakin tied for third. Video coverage links: day 1, rounds 1-6; day 1, rounds 7-11; day 2, all rounds.

    Friday
    Nov212014

    Aronian - Nakamura: Nakamura Wins Game 1 With White

    A good game for Hikaru Nakamura, but Levon Aronian will be disappointed by how many mistakes he made - including a blunder on the last move. More here.

    Thursday
    Nov202014

    Aronian - Nakamura Starts Tomorrow (Friday) (Updated)

    As mentioned a couple of weeks ago, Levon Aronian and Hikaru Nakamura are playing a five "round" match consisting of four classical games and a 16-game "round" of blitz chess. The action starts tomorrow at 2 p.m. local time (= 3 p.m. ET/9 p.m. CET) at the St. Louis Chess Club & Scholastic Center and runs through Tuesday. The prize fund is $100,000 and will be split 60-40.

    Predictions? Since they're calling it a five round match, I assume that even if one player wins the blitz 16-0 that still only counts as one point for match purposes. I think it's a coin flip, and will go out on a limb and say that the coin will land on its edge: the match will be drawn.

    Update: My assumption about the scoring system was wrong. Here's how it works: each classical game is worth four points and each blitz game is worth one, meaning the two stages are worth a total of 16 points each.

    Friday
    Nov072014

    Aronian - Nakamura at the End of the Month

    Levon Aronian and Hikaru Nakamura will play a five "round" event consisting of four classical games followed by 16 blitz games in St. Louis in a few weeks, from November 21-25.

    More info here.

    Monday
    Oct272014

    Tashkent Grand Prix, Round 6: Andreikin, Nakamura Lead

    It was another day of aggressive chess in Tashkent, and those who started the game with an advantage didn't necessarily finish it that way.

    Maxime Vachier-Lagrave came up with an interesting but possibly dubious novelty in the Gruenfeld, and Boris Gelfand seemed to have a significant advantage. It soon slipped away though, and later it was "MVL" who stood better and could have obtained a rook ending with a solid extra pawn. He missed his chance too, and the game wound up drawn. Another drawn game with shifting fortunes was the battle of the Americans (thinking hopefully here): Fabiano Caruana had an extra pawn, and while Hikaru Nakamura had some compensation Caruana probably could have extinguished it with a sufficient stretch of precise play. By the end, however, Nakamura was even pressing a little, though it wasn't enough.

    Shakhriyar Mamedyarov played an offbeat Vienna against Rustam Kasimdzhanov and was worse, but as the game grew more complicated and time grew short it was hard for Kasimdzhanov to keep Mamedyarov's initiative under control. A couple of serious errors later, Kasimdzhanov lost.

    The other decisive game was won by Dmitry Andreikin, against Sergey Karjakin. Andreikin went for a sharp line of the Torre Attack, and while his opponent's initial reaction was good the decision to play 15...Ke7 and 16...g5 was not. Between the light-squared weaknesses and the exposed king plenty could go wrong, and after 28.c5! Black soon collapsed.

    Jobava-Jakovenko and Giri-Rajdabov were more stable draws, and you can replay all the games, with my comments, here.

    Round 7 Pairings:

    • Caruana (2.5) - Gelfand (2)
    • Kasimdzhanov (1.5) - Nakamura (4)
    • Radjabov (3) - Mamedyarov (3.5) (count on a draw)
    • Karjakin (2.5) - Giri (3)
    • Jakovenko (3) - Andreikin (4)
    • Vachier-Lagrave (3.5) - Jobava (3.5)