Tag Archive for Nakamura

London, Final Results

The London Classic finished with Magnus Carlsen winning in style after recovering from a miserable start. He quickly and efficiently dismantled tail-ender Nigel Short’s French defense in the final round to move into clear first place. For his efforts he won a beautiful crystal trophy and a fat check for €50,000 ($67,000). It’s tough to make a living playing chess, but Magnus is doing just fine. So is Vishy Anand, who took in $1,570,000 when he beat Mr. Topalov in their world championship match earlier in 2010. This week he tied for second with Luke McShane, winning $27,000.

Final Standings:

Pl Name Rtg Home Pts Born
1 Carlsen, Magnus 2802 NOR 13 1990
2 Anand, Viswanathan 2804 IND 11 1969
2 McShane, Luke J 2645 ENG 11 1984
4 Nakamura, Hikaru 2741 USA 10 1987
5 Kramnik, Vladimir 2791 RUS 10 1975
6 Adams, Michael 2723 ENG 8 1971
7 Howell, David W L 2611 ENG 4 1990
8 Short, Nigel D 2680 ENG 2 1965

Standings, games, videos, pictures, reports, etc. can be found at the official website.

Musings…Many super-strong chess tournaments are riddled with what is affectionately known as “grandmaster draws” — games that end in a draw in less than 20 moves, before any real action has occurred and there is still plenty of play left. The players agree to a draw because they want to rest and they don’t want to risk losing. The London Chess Classic was refreshingly different. Virtually all the games were hard-fought, and the event featured an unusually high number of great, exciting games. Why so many good games? Three reasons, listed with the with the more effective and less controversial on top:

  1. organizers invited players who are fighters and would rather battle for the win than take a safe, uncontested draw in order to relax.
  2. “Sofia rules” were in effect. With Sofia rules, draw offers must be approved by an arbiter. Quick draws when there is still play left in the position are not allowed.
  3. They used “Bilbao scoring” with three points for a win, one point for a draw, and zero points for a loss, so a win is three times as valuable as a draw. In the traditional 1, 1/2, 0 scoring, a win is only twice as valuable as a draw. Bilbao scoring encourages players to fight for a valuable win rather than agree to a premature draw.

London, Round 1

A great round of ferocious, fighting chess by some of the strongest players in the world…

Anand-Nakamura, 1/2-1/2
Nakamura, the strongest player in the US and currently among the top ten in the world, had the dubious honor of playing black against World Champion Anand in the first round. He decided to play the Berlin Wall. White gets a slight advantage in the opening, but Black gets a solid position that is tough to beat. The opening was popular for awhile a hundred years ago, but no one really played very much again until Vladmir Kramnik dusted it off as a drawing weapon in his world championship match against Garry Kasparov in 2000. It’s curious that a dynamic attacking player like Nakamura would use a dull opening like the Berlin, but he’s new to top-level chess and is playing it safe. Anand was two pawns up but Nakamura’s wall was too strong to tear down. Said Nakamura after the game: “Pretty horrendously bad game against Anand today, but luckily the Berlin Wall is a forced draw!”

Adams-Howell, 1-0
Another Berlin! Unfortunately, Howell ignored Kramnik’s lessons from his match with Kasparov and tried playing an old-fashioned version. Adams sac’d two pawns and a knight and shredded him in a blistering attack against the king.

White to Move
r1b1r1k1/1p1np1bp/3p2p1/1Pq2p2/pNP5/Q1N1P1P1/P4PBP/1R1R2K1 w - - 0 21
20. Nxh7!
After capturing the knight, Black king will be wide open to attack from White’s queen, rook, and remaining knight. The game finished with:
20 … Rxf3
21 gxf3 Kxh7
22 Ng5+ Kg8
23 Qh4 Bxc4
24 Qh7+ Kf8
25 Re5 Be6
26 Qh8+ Ke7
27 Qxg7 Kd6
28 Ne4#
McShane-Carlsen, 1-0
Englishman McShane played the English opening in England and thoroughly outplayed Norwegian super-star Magnus Carlsen in a big upset. McShane played a creative, energetic game. A clever maneuver (see diagram) gave him the advantage, and he never looked back.

White to move
r1b1r1k1/1p1np1bp/3p2p1/1Pq2p2/pNP5/Q1N1P1P1/P4PBP/1R1R2K1 w - - 0 21
21. Nxa4! At first glance, it is not safe to take the pawn because the black rook pins the knight. Black will be able to immediately attack the knight a second time with his queen:
21. … Qa7 Now the knight is twice attacked and only once defended. Unfortunately, White doesn’t have any other defenders available for the knight, but McShane already had a clever defense figured out before he took the pawn:
22. Na6! A surprising and beautiful move. After Black captures the knight, White keeps moving his pieces forward and strangles the black pieces in the corner. White first wins a knight, then a pawn, and finally a rook for a knight. Game over.

Short-Kramnik, 0-1
Short played an old-fashioned bishop’s opening against Kramnik to try to throw him off. I think Short already knew this, but Kramnik is not the kind of player you can beat with cheap tricks. Short wanted to play a patient, strategic game, but Kramnik turned it into a swashbuckling, all-out assault on the white king. With checkmate looming over him in a few moves, Short resigned on move 38.

Replay games here.